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Subject: Comprehensive article on basic strategy rss

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Andrew Rae
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Acquire

Introduction

Acquire fits squarely in my list of top five games and offers me a competent balance of luck, self directed strategy and competition. One might think that a share market game would bore you with a barrage of economics, but the mechanics are simple and the share market is a nice theme for game.

You will need to have played the game or read the rules to get benefit from this article. If you have then it will bring the learner quickly up to speed and hopefully provide the familiar player with a little hint or to they may have missed.

Further I have labelled this comprehensive knowing that it will immediately attract the critics amoungst you bless your souls. In doing so I hope we can get a fuller discussion of basic strategy and provide the aspiring player to brilliance.

The early game

Principle 1 – Always invest in merging companies

In the beginning you have two key decisions, which company to build and which company to invest in. Given the opportunity to build a new company most players always will because of the free share. This basically a bonus to your portfolio and should always be taken in the early game.

Given the choice of building two companies you want to build the company that is most likely to merge. Eventually in the mid game you will run out of cash and the only way to get cash is through merging and the sale of shares. Hence the beginning of the game and your initial portfolio will determine the success of your mid game.

If no other companies exist then the best company to build is the one closer to the middle and closer to other pieces already on the board. Companies in the middle of the board have more companies adjacent and hence more companies likely to merge with it.

The exception is if you have specific tiles which will allow you to merge companies in the future. These provide you with an advantage and early investment in these companies is permissible knowing that the money can be recouped at any time.

Principle 2 – The size of the company is important

If because of your playing order or the fall of tiles you are forced to build and the invest in a company on the outside of the board then I would suggest this be a expensive company. I would also suggest that the investment you make in this is strictly limited. At most you will spend one turn buying 3 shares to give a total of four. Four shares may well give you the majority for the near future but if someone is convinced they want to fight you for it, let them have it. Unless it has a great chance of merging then never fight for control of a company. The short way to a Acquire graveyard is to invest heavily in a company that will never merge and struggle to grow all game. More often than not though, the expensive price of shares will force others elsewhere and leave you with control of a tidy little investment to return on later on in the game. A good response to a bad starting position

If however the company has fine prospects and sits in the middle of the board then initially you ought to build a medium sized company. Medium sized companies balance the cash you are required to invest (and a good company will often be competed for) and the return on investment in the mid game.

A small company is the excellent response to indecision. Small companies maximise the amount of cash that you have and if you build it and have the advantage you can comfortably defend a small company if it’s prospects rise. Ultimately you’re unsure of the future for this guy so a small company can minimise your risk while maintaining control.

Occasionally you will get the chance to build when you are reasonably short on cash. Take the small building and you may well be able to keep control until a cash windfall comes your way. It may be tempting to take a more expensive company but don’t unless it’s likely to merge immediately. What is an extra 200 when there are merging bonuses to think about.

The mid game

Principle 3 – One share can be like a lottery ticket

One share can often pay off for you big time. More often in the mid game a new company will be formed and then merged within the space of a couple of turns. Therefore if the company is not owned by two players a single share can sometimes be enough to earn you a second place bonus and valuable cash in the mid game.

There is subtle little rule tucked into acquire that only comes into play very rarely. It says that if a one person is the only shareholder in a company when it is merged that owner gets both the first and second place bonuses. A single share is enough to deny your opponent that bonus.

Principle 4 – Company control and merging

There are many instances where it is useful to buy shares in a company that you cannot hope to control and is likely to be merged at the expense of investing in a relatively untouched one. This is especially true if the shares are cheap. Merged shares can be traded at a rate of 2:1 into the merging company. Investing in the smaller company not only gets you cheaper shares in the company it allows you to increase your stake holding without it being your turn. This may be what gains you controlling interest in a large expensive company.

Principle 5 – Keeping shares

Unless you are poor it is almost always better to keep shares rather than selling them when companies merge. A controlling interest in a company is a minimum of $2000 and is likely worth far more. People will almost always form a new company in the mid game if they can simply for the free share. If you can afford to retaining shares in a company that is yet to be formed constitutes extra action and a sound financial return.

End Game

Principle 6 – Keeping active

Keep making new companies and retaining shares until the opportunities have run dry.

Conclusion

I hope that as you next play Acquire you can begin to see some of these principles in play. Learn them, practice them and then improve on them and you will become a far better player than I am.
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David desJardins
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citylife wrote:
Principle 1 – Always invest in merging companies


An important corollary is: "Always merge your invested companies." I.e., you don't always have a good choice which companies to invest in, but sometimes you can control which companies merge, instead. Growing your own companies is not always right. Sometimes keeping them small lets you retain the key tile that will later merge them into another company, providing capital and cash flow.

Quote:
Occasionally you will get the chance to build when you are reasonably short on cash. Take the small building and you may well be able to keep control until a cash windfall comes your way. It may be tempting to take a more expensive company but don’t unless it’s likely to merge immediately. What is an extra 200 when there are merging bonuses to think about.


This is a bit simplistic. The value of founding an expensive company is more than the extra $200 for the free share. First, if you do get the majority bonus, then that's worth an extra $2000 if you founded the expensive company. That's a lot. Secondly, it can be easier to defend the more expensive company. If you found an expensive company, that means that an opponent has to invest $800 more than you can, to take control (because of your free share). For the cheap company, it's only $400. That can be a big difference if everyone is tight on cash.

Quote:
Unless you are poor it is almost always better to keep shares rather than selling them when companies merge.


I guess this is true, but in my experience most players are "poor" most of the time, so the advice is of limited utility. I prefer to play 3 or 4 player games. If you play with 5 or 6, then the cash flow is significantly different.
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Mike Romigh
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Very thorough strategy guide on one of my all time favorite games. One of the things I love about Acquire is that the strategy changes depending on who you're playing with, something not many games can boast.

To get stuck in a "This is the way I'll play this game" mentality will most likely leave you scratching your head ater a game of Acquire. You can force your will on the game ocassionaly, but not all the time.

 
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The tile distribution has alot to do with it as well.
IT is truly a great game.
 
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Ralph H. Anderson
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Good basic beginner strategy. However, the real finesse in the game is how you play your tiles! Which companies should you make bigger, which should you keep small, how should you invest based on your tile holdings and companies available in terms of position on the board . . . these are the things that make Acquire so good!
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DragonCat wrote:
Good basic beginner strategy. However, the real finesse in the game is how you play your tiles! Which companies should you make bigger, which should you keep small, how should you invest based on your tile holdings and companies available in terms of position on the board . . . these are the things that make Acquire so good!


True, thats almost a game within a game.
 
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Done playin'... Logan... done playin'...
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Noord Brabant
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In our games, we tend to keep the centre tiles, thus forming a 'ring' around the middle which... odly enough... then becomes more important then the centre in the early/mid game.

We have 5 out-of-box added strategy cards (per player) that most versions don't seem to have. They should be included in a strategy article as well.

Keeping your stock is the only way to go, we've found out. Even if you're budget is tight. Funding a new company you can always sell shares. At that; it's even a sure way of having potential competitors sell theirs, since you're keeping yours! I'd always advise a newbie to keep the shares.

There are certain 'safe' throw away tiles we could mention, that can be used if you have a bad hand. these tiles are the corner and outer most tiles. Playing those is quite safe, if you're not in the business of aiding other players
 
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Kevin Brokish
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Quote:
Funding a new company you can always sell shares.

What do you mean by this?
 
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C M
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Quote:
Quote:
Funding a new company you can always sell shares.

What do you mean by this?


I think what he means by that is when you make a new company it is almost certainly going to merge at which point you will be able to sell the shares.

If the company is never merged and remains till the game end, then you will be able to sell the stocks during the end game scoring.
 
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Tom Dickson
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Our rules state that you can do "one or more" when merging (selling stock, trading, holding) and I find it can be nice to hold 3 or 4 shares and trade or sell the rest. Our recent game had a player hold large amounts of shares in Worldwide and American; I simply didn't start a new chain until Continental merged out (because I didn't want to start a chain I wouldn't control).

Of course a very early merger of Continental when I was the only holder lead to pulling away early. I was surprised that no one had picked up an additional share of Continental, but I knew I could merge it in two turns total - one turn to create it, the very next turn merge it.

This game is great.
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Kenneth Lee
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One of the subtle strategies is the need to work cooperatively with other players. Having two players who are interested in seeing a chain merged doubles the likelihood that it will happen. Often one can force another player to cooperate. For example, one can take control of a chain of a player who is strapped for cash knowing that they will still likely work for a merger in order to get the second shareholder bonus and cash for their shares. In the end game, the chains that grow the fastest are the ones with many large shareholders. The key is to be just one share larger than everyone else in the end. Dominating control of a company wastes resources that could be used elsewhere and reduces the likelihood that others will help grow or merge the company. Many players like to maintain four share leads in their chains in order to ensure the majority bonus. However, I think that in some instances a three share lead is appropriate since it is more likely to entice the second place player to cooperate if they can tie for the lead. Of course it can often become impossible to control the situation if one faces competition in more than one chain. All these subtle variables are what makes this such a great game.
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James Ruddle
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Nice summary of basic strategy.

A few thoughts that I would see as potentially important depending on how the game is going, in no particular order:

1) New players see 13 as a defining key number thinking of 25 stocks in a 2 horse race. This takes 4 rounds including the one free stock. If you can win a three of even four horse race it is a better investment in terms of actions - you may only require 7 stock and 2 rounds. Consequently, I find holding 7 stock often changes how other players react to the investment. If you unexpectedly start to lose a 3-4 horse race (something more important came up) try to lose it on an even number of stock to keep your options open.

2) You can go on buying more than 13 stock in order to trade up 2-1, really worth doing if the company can only be merged off the board and you hold at least one tile capable of doing that. Players often don't see that coming having thought they were safe because stock was prohibitively expensive and they know you don't have enough money.

3) It is worth considering second place stock buys in twos rather than a token one stock. You rarely get much more than an extra $100 back from expansion of a buy-to-merge. You'll get your second place bonus just the same but maybe swap a couple of $200 for a $1100. Especially worth it if there is a chance to swing a majority bonus.

4) If you have a merge tile and can afford not to merge (eg. still buy stock) then don't merge. This may result in another player effectively losing a turn by not being able to take their action. You can combine this with also buying stock in the larger company to "hedge" the effect of another player merging later that round. Instead of now feeling cheated of your merger your tile now improves the price of the stock you just bought. *Obviously rethink this "not merging" if there is parity in the size of the companies.

5) Don't spend your last bit of money until you have a plan for where more is coming from. This helps avoid people playing you aggresively into last place knowing you are powerless to do anything about it.

You may well disagree with all the above...

Good Luck
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