Reiner Knizia's take on acquiring and merging
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Yes, Reiner Knizia does revisit some of his or others' ideas time after time. The question is, is that a problem if he can add something new to the idea again and again?

This is about games that use some or more ideas from a non-Knizia game: Acquire by Sid Sackson.

I would never call them "clones" or "reworkings" though as they are rather different from Aquire in several aspects - but they do use some of the Acquire ideas. What I mean is that they are usually far more different from Acquire than, say, Wolfgang Kramer's Big Boss which is like Acquire with added "levels" or Chinatown which adds negotiation to the basics.
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1. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:95]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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1997

While a completely different game, Tigris & Euphrates certainly has some strong similarities to Acquire. But although many don't agree I do think theme is really strong in T&E. Of course it's not AT-strong but for example it's a lot easier to learn the rules of the game if you know the theme and what's happening why. It's an unusual and complex game.

Basic differences
4 colors
No shares
Instead of sharing chains, the chains are more like mixes of 4 different chains: when 'merging', they don't count as one if there are leaders
You can place your tiles anywhere - exception: rivers and farmers. A lot more strategic possibilities!
End of the conflict: loser tiles are taken off the board
No endgame scoring: you collect everything during the game!

Main similarities
square grid board
There are some tiles placed as part of the basic set-up
Everyone has 6 tiles that they can place on the board and refill their hand in the end of each turn
It is possible (here as a special action) to discard tiles and re-draw
Bigger color eats smaller color (but here tiles of the losing party are taken off the board which makes a great difference)
You get points (cubes) for successful merging

Novelties
Leaders & Colors: Leaders add one more layer, 4 different colors add another
--> Highest lowest scoring
Internal conflicts
Playing tiles added to conflicts, so nothing is sure (see e.g. Lord of the Rings: Confrontation vs. Stratego)
Monuments
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2. Board Game: Rheinländer [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2308]
Board Game: Rheinländer
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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It seems in these years Knizia was trying to find different ways of using the old classic as an inspiration: after T&E (1997) both Stephenson's Rocket and Rheinländer was released in 1999.

Rheinländer might have the most obvious similarities to Acquire as unlike in any other games in this list, here you do place your counters to the numbered fields, using the cards you have in hand - even though an important rule makes it less luck-dependent (instead of using the numbers, you can use the cards to place tokens on fields adjacent to previously placed tokens as well). Of course there's merging here as well, with the owner of the smaller area giving up their territory and getting points for doing so. And larger chains can even be made fortified ('safe') by bastions. But here you don't have chains with multiple owners: a chain is always owned by the bigger fish.

Basic differences
Board layout - completely different: basically you have 2 rows (with the same number) and a third row between them (you can go there only if the number played is already occupied on both sides).
No "shares": the chain is always "owned" by the player who owns the most area.
When merging, the new chain (duchy) is owned by the owner of the most area (it's not "the bigger chain eats the smaller chain"). In case of a tie, the original owner remains the owner. Only the previous owner gets points for merging.
End of the game: someone has placed the last knight

Main similarities
You do have money here
Given number of cards (here: 5) in hand, play some, refill.
Placement of knights: play a card and place a knight on the field of the number shown. (BUT here you have the option to place the knight next to an already placed knight instead)
You have incomes from merging
After merging, knights stay on board (unlike in T&E)
Incomes for the duchies in the end of the game

Novelties
Board layout (see above) and river
Board layout 2: tiles make the basic layout different for each game
Enforcement of chains by bastion (for a bit similar reason but quite differently from 11-long chains in Acquire)
"re-shuffle" card makes it possible to see the same number come up multiple times
castle allows placement of +1 figure
owning the most churches activates special ability (exchanging a knight to own knight)
 
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3. Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1279]
Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Stephenson's Rocket might have the most Acquire-y feel to it of the games in this list. Still, it has a "connection game" aspect, several added levels for complexity, and a luck level reduced to zero.

Basic differences
Hexagonal board
Products & passengers (a set collection aspect)
Connection element: placement of tiles is not driven by numbers but train lines are continued, developed. Lines have directions: you can't continue them anywhere. New directions van be vetoed.
No cards/tiles at player (no hand)
Placement of stations (on the board, or to another space)
You get a passenger token for connecting to others' stations
No price/reward differences between lines

Main similarities
7 lines (here, trains)
You have shares in the lines; you also have money
While you can choose what action to take, these are partly similar to the ones in acquire: place tiles (and for moving, get shares), buy products
No 'owners', only 'shareholders'
Income from a version of 'merging': connecting to big and small cities here: the one with majority and the 2nd gets money
When two lines are connected, they are merged (no decision on which line remains though) and tiles remain on the board
Income according to the number of shares (and number of connected cities)
When merging, you can get a new share for 2 old shares
Final scoring of shares is more or less similar to the one in Acquire

Novelties
Products & passengers: instead of the one "shares" layer of Acquire, strategy has 3 different layers and multiple ways to win is more than possible. Products and train stations provide a majority scoring when connected to certain points.
As stated above, it's a kind of connection game as well, where trains go to directions and connect to cities. Also vetoing is totally new
Without hands and number-driven tile placement, luck level is reduced to zero: it's really a heavy brain-burner.
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4. Board Game: The Great Chinese Railway Game [Average Rating:9.00 Unranked]
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Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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This Stephenson's Rocket update is coming (or is it already released?) in 2010. or 2011 or 2012. No details known yet; maybe the rules stay the same, only the map is changed to China.

Update: see item below.
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5. Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket: Eastern USA & China [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket: Eastern USA & China
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Samurai, Tigris, Yellow, Babylonia. Through the Desert, Ingenious, Stephensons Rocket also rock!
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2018

So yes, China was in development for long, then there was word on a Northern America map coming, then it seemed like neither one would be published, then it was released as a KS extra when the new edition of Stephensons Rocket arrived.

The two maps feature the same gameplay as Stephensons Rocket, only with a different layout and a different number of different industries.
 
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6. Board Game: Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:4534]
Board Game: Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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After the square grids of T&E, the hexagonal fields of SR and the fields-in-two-connected-rows of Rheinländer here comes a new variation which is kind of a hybrid of the first and the last one!

Basic differences
No board - and the lay-out has a very special shape; it's like as if it was linear with one free space between two kingdoms and a maximum of 8 cards in each kingdoms
4 colors
No shares
Instead of sharing chains, the chains are more like mixes of 4 different chains: when 'merging', they don't count as one if there are leaders
You can place your cards anywhere (not exceeding the length of 8 downwards)
End of the conflict: loser cards are taken off the board
No endgame scoring: you collect everything during the game!

Main similarities
Everyone has 6 tiles 8 cards that they can place on the board and refill their hand in the end of each turn
It is possible (here as a special action) to discard cards and re-draw
Bigger color eats smaller color (but here cards of the losing party are taken off the board which makes a great difference)
You get points (cards) for successful merging - and the points are based on the nr. of cards in the losing chain

Novelties
Leaders & Colors: Leaders add one more layer, 4 different colors add another
To score points you have to have the cards for scoring in hand or available in conflicts
--> "Highest lowest" scoring
Internal conflicts
Playing cards added to conflicts, so nothing is sure (see e.g. Lord of the Rings: Confrontation vs. Stratego)
Ships (same as monuments)
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7. Board Game Publisher: eggertspiele
Board Game Publisher: eggertspiele
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Autumn 2012:
Board Game: Spectaculum
Board Game: Qin


Eggertspiele published two Knizia games within a month, Spectaculum and Qin, two games that, added together, feel like another Acquire-like game split in two: both of them are tile-laying, Spectaculum with stocks (entertainer cards) and Qin with merging (absorbing provinces).

See:

1. Play one of your 6 tiles on the board - 3 of your 3/4 tiles (Spectaculum)/1 of your 3 tiles (Qin)
- placing it next to another tile means founding a hotel chain (and acquiring a bonus stock) - in Spectaculum you place it next to the corresponding starting field, in Qin first the starting province spaces, thus already founding a province and placing one of your pagodas.
- growing a hotel chain means raising stock value - in Spectaculum it might raise OR decrease entertainer card value; in Qin you get to place another pagoda if it size grows 5-tile or larger
- connecting to other tiles can also raise stock value - in Qin if you reach villages you might place another pagoda there
- merging two chains: is not possible in Spectaculum but very possible in Qin.
- Just like in Acquire, bigger chain acquires smaller chain (absorb province).
- Hotels with 11 tiles or more are safe and cannot be acquired: provinces with 5 tiles or more are safe and cannot be absorbed (Qin). Still these can acquire/absorb further smaller chains/provinces.

2. Buy up to 3 stock at current price
- Buy OR sell up to 2 entertainer cards at current price, before AND/OR after the placement of tiles.

3. Draw a new random tile
- draw 3/1 new random tiles (Spectaculum/Qin)

In the end, active hotels pay bonuses and players can sell all of their stock at current price
- Players can sell all of their entertainer cards at current price (Spectaculum)


As the two games are so interestingly connected I even wrote a double-review of them:
Acquire Your Circus Artists Low, Sell Them High Through the Kingdom (1st Part of the Knizia/eggertspiele Fall 2012 Tile-laying Brothers Double-review)
Lion & Bird – Found, Expand, Absorb Provinces, Connnect and Conquer Villages in Ancient China (2nd Part of the Knizia/eggertspiele Fall 2012 Tile-laying Brothers Double-review)
 
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8. Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:848]
Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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2018

As a 'sister game' of Tigris & Euphrates most of the differences and similarities of T&E apply here as well so I'm going to copy - and modify where necessary - the list of T&E here.

Basic differences
4 colors
No shares
Instead of sharing chains, the chains are more like mixes of 5 different chains: when 'merging', they don't count as one if there are leaders
You can place your tiles anywhere - exception: rivers and farmers. A lot more strategic possibilities!
End of the conflict: loser RED tiles are taken off the board. Also some winning red tiles might be taken off depending on the number of extra tiles contributed to the war.
No endgame scoring: you collect everything during the game!
Hex board

Main similarities
There are some tiles placed as part of the basic set-up
Everyone has 6 tiles that they can place on the board and refill their hand in the end of each turn
It is possible (here as a special action) to discard tiles and re-draw
Bigger color eats smaller color? Well yes, but only count red tiles in the two groups of tiles (wars are fought by reds - soldiers).
You get points (cubes) for successful merging


Novelties
Leaders & Colors: Leaders add one more layer, 5 different colors add another
--> Highest lowest scoring (of 4 colors)
Internal conflicts - revolts (this time with black tiles)
Playing tiles added to conflicts, so nothing is sure (see e.g. Lord of the Rings: Confrontation vs. Stratego)
Monuments and that these can be stolen
Special helper function of leaders
Possibility to play multiple blue tiles as one action
Merging with ties - the one who caused decides the outcome
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9. Board Game: Genesis [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4908]
Board Game: Genesis
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Genesis doesn't have much to do with acquire. Still it has some similar ideas used.
- placement of tiles is partly controlled by luck: you can place 4 different territory tiles of your type based on the luck of the draw: 4 sides of the two dice thrown show the territories and 2 sides show jokers. So you might have the decision - and if you don't, you still can decide to place only 1 tile of your choice instead of the 2 the dice show.
- Chains (of one territory type) can be merged or you might want to avoid merging them. When merged, a chain might get a lot more valuable as in the end the biggest chain scores triple and the second biggest chain scores double of the usual scoring.
- Play continues in this manner until there are no longer three empty connected/adjacent spaces on the board.
- When scoring, the majority holder (of the biggest chain of own species in a color) gets the biggest bonus and the player with the 2nd largest chain gets half of it. The largest chains score more.

Of course similarities are superficial here. I could make a comparison like this in case of Ingenious as well. It's just to show that you can find similarities in completely different games as well; but the games above do really share some important ideas.
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