Schmidt, about £40
Designed by Sid Sackson
Reviewed by Stuart Dagger
Acquire is one of the classic games, which makes it all the more regrettable that in the 3M and Avalon Hill editions the designer isn't even mentioned. So it was good that when Schmidt Spiele decided to launch a series of games in which the designer got top billing, Acquire was one of the first releases. In this edition, which is presumably targeted at the collectors' market, they have also decided to try to do something to improve the game's appearance: in the American versions the board and pieces, though well made and very functional, are undeniably plain, so this time the Art Department has been let loose.
The game now has a board with spaces for the money and the share certificates - useful, but not essential. In the centre of the board is the expected numbered and lettered grid, and there is a raised plastic grid which fits on top of this to hold the hotels in place. The hotels themselves come in three colours and heights, not for any game reason, but just to make for visual variety as the board fills up. Is it good to look at? Some people will certainly think so, but I am neutral, and Dane Maslen, writing in Cut and Thrust, considered it hideous. So, controversial is the best that can be said. Is it functional? No, it isn't. The heights of the hotels are 2, 3 and 4cm, and if you usually play your games on the dining room table, you will find that the taller pieces block your view of both the smaller pieces and of the numbers on still vacant squares. The picture on the box shows people perched on the edge of chairs, with the board on a coffee table at knee height. If this is your practice, fine, you will have no problems, but if you prefer to be more comfortable and to have the board higher, irritation will soon set in.
The rules of the game have not been tampered with - there would have been an outcry if they had tried - but there is, as an extra, an interesting variant provided by Sid Sackson himself. In this each player is given a set of five tactical cards. Each of these cards can be used once only, and a player may use at most one in each turn. Freely translated the cards say:
1) At the beginning of your turn you may exchange 2 shares in one active chain for a share from the bank. You may perform up to three such 2 for 1 exchanges.
2) At the beginning of your turn you may pick up 5 additional hotel cards - this edition uses cards rather than tiles - thereby bringing your holding up to 11. You then pick up no more cards until your hand is back down to 5, when you make it up to 6 in the usual way.
3) The shares you buy in this share buying round cost nothing.
4) You may buy up to 5 shares in your turn instead of the usual 3. You pay the current market price for such shares.
5) In your turn you may play up to 4 hotel cards, one after the other. At the end of your turn you make your hand back up to 6 in the usual way. If any mergers occur, they are dealt with immediately, before the next hotel card is played.
I haven't tried this yet, but I like the look of it. The actions are not so powerful as to unbalance things, but they are all well worth doing, and deciding when to play each card will add a lot to the tactics of the game.
On to the review of WizWar or back to the review of Montgolfiere.
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