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Subject: Can someone explain to me how this game doesn't suck? rss

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Brian Schroth
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So I played this for the first time on Monday. 4 players. We're all pretty blind about the strategy, but we stumble our way along. We all were trying to be the biggest shareholders in a hotel chain that looked like it would get acquired.

Eventually we all run out of money to buy stocks. Each player has specific chain(s) that they're hoping will get bought out. So it feels like a race to draw a tile that is actually useful.

Well, after a while I finally got the tile I needed to get the hotel chain I had the majority stake in acquired. I then used the large influx of money to become the majority shareholder in the other chains that were likely to be acquired. So then when they finally were, it was again me getting the huge amount of cash, which I then used to further improve my stake in the other hotels.

The end result is that as soon as the first hotel acquisition happened, I thought "well, I've basically won this game", and we all trudged through what seemed like a completely foregone conclusion. The rich got richer, the poor stayed that way, and eventually the game ended and I won by a huge margin. The game was terrible because it felt pretty luck-based as to who would profit off the first merger, and then whoever did that would be able to use that profit to snowball their way to victory.

So what did we do wrong? This game is in the BGG Top 100 and is highly regarded, it's by an acclaimed designer and regarded as a classic that has withstood the test of time. Why did my playgroup find it to be so ridiculously terrible? Did we misunderstand the strategy? Miss a rule?
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Russ Williams
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The way you describe it, it sounds like you think it's normal that everyone goes broke and then sits around waiting a long time until someone gets a lucky tile to make a favorable merger.

I think you perceived it that way because you were all inexperienced newbies and didn't know how to plan ahead well and significantly increase your likelihood of being part of a merger where you're a heavy investor in a smaller chain that gets taken over, and didn't have a feel for how rapidly you should be spending your cash (i.e. when is it reasonable to buy shares of the expensive chains).
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Tim Koppang
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BagelManB wrote:
Did we misunderstand the strategy?

Assuredly, emphatically, yes. But that's ok, you're beginners.

1. If you all ran out of money, and you were all simply waiting around for the first merger, then you all missed a major point of strategy. Namely, you should diversify your stock portfolio a bit, invest in smaller chains that are likely to be taken over, and collect on majority/minority bonuses. If you are holding a tile that will allow, or will likely allow for a key merger to occur, then you need to set yourself up, through appropriate stock purchases, to benefit from the merger when you play your key tile.

2. If you were all purchasing stock in just one corporation, then you need to break the habit. A key strategy is owning stock in multiple corporations so that you can increase your ability to profit from mergers.

There are additional points I could make, but I recommend reading a few general strategy articles. The publisher even has a decent introduction on its website that is worth a look.
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Jason Carlough
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I'm not going to lie, the game can be very unforgiving if you do not invest right. The most important thing is that you get cash, you do not even need to be the majority shareholder to accomplish this. Especially in the beginning being secondary shareholder can still get you the money you need to keep going. Even just having some shares of a company that grows from when you bought it also generates cash if you sell the shares.

The key is that you invest in companies that will get acquired. I usually choose companies that are in the middle of the board and very close to other companies. You also don't want to be the only shareholder as other people will be loathe to help you by merging your company (at least until the endgame when they might want your company for their behemoth).
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Brian Schroth
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tckoppang wrote:
BagelManB wrote:
Did we misunderstand the strategy?

Assuredly, emphatically, yes. But that's ok, you're beginners.

1. If you all ran out of money, and you were all simply waiting around for the first merger, then you all missed a major point of strategy. Namely, you should diversify your stock portfolio a bit, invest in smaller chains that are likely to be taken over, and collect on majority/minority bonuses. If you are holding a tile that will allow, or will likely allow for a key merger to occur, then you need to set yourself up, through appropriate stock purchases, to benefit from the merger when you play your key tile.


Hmmmm. This sounds like exactly what we were doing. Everyone was diversified, and trying to invest in the chains that looked like they were going to get acquired. We ran out of money because anyone who stopped buying stock would no longer be a #1 or #2 shareholder, losing out those positions to the people who didn't stop buying.
 
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Frank Feldmann
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I have run into the OP's situation before, and it can be frustrating. However, each time that has happened, I felt as though there was a subtle point of strategy that I did't grasp. I really don't think this is a brute force game. (Understand that I have stayed away from strategy articles, so I still don't always know what I am doing.
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Tim Koppang
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Jason has some good advice.

I'd also mention that you need to make mergers happen. You cannot wait around. Build companies close to one another so that mergers are more likely. Then try to manipulate your stock portfolio and the tiles on the board so that you will benefit from any merger.

Importantly, you really need to manage your cash-flow so that you do not run out of money. Running out of money for more than a turn or two is death. More than the boredom of not being able to do much on your turn, a lack of money means you lose the ability to invest sufficiently in corporations that will make you money.

Take a look at the strategy article I linked to. It has some good tips. I don't necessarily agree with all of the finer points the author is making, but that's just nit-picking. It's a good start.
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Marshall Miller
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In our first game we had one player make that mistake (all in very early) and they had a rough go of it. We've since played and no one made that mistake again. Its amazing how every game turns out so uniquely.
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Tim Koppang
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feldmafx wrote:
I have run into the OP's situation before, and it can be frustrating. However, each time that has happened, I felt as though there was a subtle point of strategy that I did't grasp. I really don't think this is a brute force game. (Understand that I have stayed away from strategy articles, so I still don't always know what I am doing.

You raise a good point, although indirectly. Acquire is a game that really asks you to play it again and again. In many games, the strategies are obvious. In Acquire, not so. If you don't jump in with a strategy article, you are going to have to play the game a few times before getting a handle on strategy.
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David Boeren
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I get what the OP is talking about, and it's one of my complaints about the game too. The tile draw is a somewhat inconsistent element where some tiles do nothing much but a few tiles can do exciting things so you feel like you're drawing and waiting, drawing and waiting.

"Hey, any interesting tiles yet?"
"No, but maybe soon..."

Personally I prefer Union Pacific for my go-to stock game.
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Marshall Miller
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I'm trying to work my group up the "Ticket to Ride - Acquire - Union Pacific - Imperial - Poseidon - 1830" ladder. We're as far as UP and all is going well...
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Brian Schroth
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The big advice appears to be to not spend all your money.

If you don't spend your money, how will you ever win the shareholder bonuses against players who are spending all of theirs?
 
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Jason Carlough
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As I said, at first you need to focus all of your efforts on just keeping the cash coming. Whether that is through the majority or secondary bonus or just through capital gains is not important. Obviously you want to try and make the most money but you have to take what you can get and just set yourself up to get any money that you can.

I ran out of cash once in this game and it sucked. Since then I have made a point of not running out of money and I have been successful, so I am convinced that it is not just a matter of luck.

The tiles in this game are really of secondary importance to buying the right stocks. In theory you can win this game with the worst tile draw. It certainly makes it easier on you if you draw good tiles but with shrewd investing you can be successful no matter what.
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Tim Koppang
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BagelManB wrote:
The big advice appears to be to not spend all your money.

You're over-simplifying things a bit. As Jason said, it's not a matter of keeping some money on hand, but rather figuring out how to make money through lots of profitable mergers. If you can do that, you'll be well on your way.
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T.L.W.
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BagelManB wrote:
The big advice appears to be to not spend all your money.

If you don't spend your money, how will you ever win the shareholder bonuses against players who are spending all of theirs?


Well, you're going to have to spend your money and there will be time when no one has any money left and you are waiting for a merger. Yes, tile selection does play a big part of this game but I have always contended that even with crappy tiles a good player will make the game competitive by knowing where to place the tiles that they have so that there is a better chance for a merger in their favor. Having said that, I have played in games where no matter what you do nothing helps and you're just stuck. But, as someone pointed out above, each game is different and once the group develops the strategy you might see why this is my only game that I have rated a "10".

Convince your group to try it again and see if they like it better the next time. Good luck.
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Kelly Bass
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jasoncarlough wrote:
The tiles in this game are really of secondary importance to buying the right stocks. In theory you can win this game with the worst tile draw. It certainly makes it easier on you if you draw good tiles but with shrewd investing you can be successful no matter what.

Exactly! If you are lucky enough to have potential merger tiles, then you can control when the merger happens. But even if you don't have any, you can bet someone else does, so it pays to watch what other players are doing.
 
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Rob Rob
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I haven't seen it mentioned but starting small corporations with the express intent of quickly absorbing them (with the benefit of the additional founder's share) as well as the decision to hold on to shares of a now extinct corporation in anticipation of it re-emerging, are also points to consider.
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
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Interestingly, I have won doing just about everything that can be done: lots of small mergers, buy and hold (not on purpose, believe me), having cool tiles, having a hand full of awful tiles, being biggest stockholder, being third biggest stock holder, etc.

Being first or second stockholder of early to middle mergers allows you the option of taking lots of cash (bonus plus stock sales), taking less cash and holding onto stock in the non-existent company (expecting it to float soon), or taking less cash and trading merged shares for shares in a behemoth. If you fall outside the top two, you really need to sell shares for cash...

Lots of options all around, but I can understand the frustration of poor tile draws. One pays one's money, one takes one's chances! Better tile play would probably alleviate much of the problem the OP experienced, or it could be a rare bad tile deal (they happen).
 
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Brian Schroth
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jasoncarlough wrote:
As I said, at first you need to focus all of your efforts on just keeping the cash coming. Whether that is through the majority or secondary bonus or just through capital gains is not important. Obviously you want to try and make the most money but you have to take what you can get and just set yourself up to get any money that you can.


OK, maybe we played a rule wrong. My understanding is that the only way you can ever make money is when a merger happens. That's the only time the bonuses are paid out, and the only time you can sell your stock (and you can only sell shares in the corporation being acquired).

So there is no way to "keep the cash coming". You have to wait for a merger, and certainly in the game I played we were all out of money several rounds before a merger ever happened. I'm sure with luckier tile draws someone might have merged sooner. As soon as it did, the cash difference between me (the primary shareholder) and everyone else was massive, and I was able to use it to become the primary shareholder on the next corporation that was close to being acquired. Rinse, repeat.

A lot of people are posting as if my complaint was about bad tile draws. I won the game, I was quite happy with my tile draws. About the only tile complaint I have is that the first merger of the game was between two almost equally sized corporations. Two of us fought each other to be #1 in one, and the other two of us fought each other to be #1 in the other. I'm sure if someone on the other side drew the right tile(s) to make the merger in the other direction, they would have won the game instead in the same exact way. Which seems silly, but the annoying part was the massive rich-get-richer system, not the luck of the draw.
 
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Russ Williams
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BagelManB wrote:
OK, maybe we played a rule wrong. My understanding is that the only way you can ever make money is when a merger happens. That's the only time the bonuses are paid out, and the only time you can sell your stock (and you can only sell shares in the corporation being acquired).

It sounds like you grok the rules correctly.

But if all the players were broke for a long time, it sounds like at least some of the players did not play as well as they could have.

Don't get me wrong: you can certainly be hurt by luck of the draw, and it's not uncommon for some of the players to be broke for a while. But for all players to be broke for a long time suggests suboptimal strategy to me.
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Marshall Miller
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In acquire, its hard to come up with a strategy that always wins you the game but there are certainly strategies that will always lose you the game. It just so happened that your whole table spontaneously attempted a losing strategy. Lesson: Don't go all in unless you control the merger. Your next games will go better.
 
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Todd Redden
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It sounds like you suck, not the game kiss
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Brian Schroth
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Mease19 wrote:
In acquire, its hard to come up with a strategy that always wins you the game but there are certainly strategies that will always lose you the game. It just so happened that your whole table spontaneously attempted a losing strategy. Lesson: Don't go all in unless you control the merger. Your next games will go better.


What does "Don't go all in unless you control the merger" even mean?

I don't think there will ever be a 'next game'. I don't think my group has ever so resoundingly and unanimously disliked a game.
 
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Brian Schroth
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tmredden wrote:
It sounds like you suck, not the game kiss


Never been told I suck at a game for winning it before ;-)
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Marshall Miller
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BagelManB wrote:
What does "Don't go all in unless you control the merger" even mean?


Don't fully invest (spend all your money) unless you have the tile(s) to control the merger in hand. Keep some money back so that when you see the writing on the wall (all of the sudden someone starts buying shares) you can be financially agile and invest in a timely fashion.
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