MEGAcquire Featured in Spielbox Magazine
Spielbox (www.spielbox-magazin.de), a German magazine founded in 1981 that is "All about Games in a Box," published an article about MEGAcquire in the summer of 2013. That article is reprinted here.
It was in 1979 that Lloyd Solon first became acquainted with Sid Sackson's classic game ACQUIRE, and he was dissatisfied with it. He was always running out of cash and therefore unable to take an active part in the later stages of the game. No, something was clearly not working properly here. At the same time he really liked the gaming principles. Maybe the rules just needed to be tweaked a little . . .
Lloyd Solon gave ACQUIRE a second chance, this time with his own rules, "Lloyd's Rules of Acquire". When you ran out of money, you were allowed to trade in your previously purchased shares. This way, players could buy additional shares, which would suddenly turn out to be lucrative, and then in exchange get rid of their bad investments. The entrepreneurial risk was diminished and nobody had to fear bankruptcy any more.
You could also find fault with the original rules with regards to the fusion of two chains. The fact that the shares of the chain that was swallowed could be exchanged 2:1 against those of the party taking over was ─ according to Solon ─ firstly unrealistic and secondly would lead to the majority stockholder of the large chain losing his majority. Without much fuss, he declared this rule void.
With these changes he liked the game much better, and he was also able to win over his circle of friends to play it. For many years they played ACQUIRE according to the new rules with great enthusiasm ─ and then the game board became too small for them. They placed two boards next to each other and started to experiment. The result was not convincing. Now they had more shares, but not more hotel chains at their disposal. And all the squares were double. Help was in sight in 1999. Hasbro reissued a new edition of ACQUIRE and replaced the hotel chains with stock corporations under new names. From now on Solon's gamers, when setting up a chain, were able to choose among 14 companies, the old hotels and the new corporations. That went much better. However, events still took place in two separate locations and in this aspect the game remained unsatisfactory.
Lloyd Solon had already tried repeatedly to whip up enthusiasm with the diverse publishers of ACQUIRE about his ideas regarding change and expansion ─ in the 1980s with Avalon Hill, later with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast. To achieve his aim he even hired an agent, but without success. Nobody showed an interest in publishing his vision of ACQUIRE. According to Solon, Wizards of the Coast justified their rejection by stating they did not want to pay licensing fees to two authors for the same game.
The impetus to take the project into his own hands came from Solon's brother. It led to the plan for a larger game board. However, made from cardboard it looked too plain ─ very much like the very first editions of ACQUIRE did. No, the big board should also be made from plastic just like the current editions. The search for a manufacturer was not easy as most of them wanted to produce at least 5,000 units as the tools for such a production are technically demanding. This went beyond Solon's financial resources. He only wanted to order 500 copies. At last he found a small games manufacturer in Nevada who gave him the idea to use hex tiles for the hotels instead of square ones. The chains would then also extend diagonally across the game board, an appealing idea.
In spring 2012 the big moment finally arrived. Thanks to successful funding on Kickstarter, manufacturing got the go-ahead and only shortly afterwards the finished game became available. The game board measures 34 by 40 centimeters and, according to Solon's estimates, it may well be the largest plastic board ever manufactured for a game [Editor's note: That is unlikely, only think of CHIPS OLYMPIAD (Holger Thiesen, 1984) with a size of 50 by 75 centimeters.] It comprises 182 instead of the usual 108 spaces. They are hex-shaped and have a rim so that the tiles cannot shift. Instead of 7 you can now start 14 different chains, hotels as well as corporations. Of course, "Lloyd's Rules of Acquire" did also find an entry in the rulebook. And because everything is so much larger than the original, Solon called his version of the game MEGAcquire. That was a mistake.
While the Kickstarter process was still running, Sackson fans on the web were criticizing, often in quite harsh words, the exploitation of the deceased author's game idea. Solon is feeling misunderstood and professes to be using his version to advertise Sackson's great game. After all, Sackson himself was constantly working to modify and improve his ACQUIRE, which initially rose from a solitaire version of BINGO (source: Games & Puzzles 11/1973). But Hasbro's legal department also started to oppose the Solon project ─ though only against the title. And so the second edition is going to be called MEGAcquisitions─ if it ever gets to that. Because until now only the first half of the first edition has been sold.
How does MEGAcquire play compared with the original? In Sid Sackson's game money was always tight and all players were well advised to invest carefully, so that in the subsequent course of the game they would still have freedom of action. Exactly this fact had bugged Lloyd Solon and he remedied it. On the one hand, an important element of the game has been lost; on the other hand, the hotel tycoons may now draw on unlimited resources and invest without risk. Players who enjoy stock trading will get their money's worth, as the purchase limit has also been raised. In the drawing of the hotel tiles luck has always played an important role; now it becomes even more pertinent as the board is larger. This is compensated for by the number of tiles available to each player in every round; double the amount compared to the normal ACQUIRE. But their hex-shape allows more possibilities for the chains to merge.
Really the Future?
We can believe that Lloyd Solon is a fan of ACQUIRE. On his website www.megacquisitions.com (formerly www.megacquire.com) he has documented the history of Sid Sackson's classic game in great detail, starting from the early 3M and Avalon Hill editions and through the international editions to the "Holy Grail of Acquire" (see box). In the rulebook, he also mentions ACQUIRE as his source of inspiration and gives a brief outline of the development of the game over the years. But is MEGAcquire really the future of ACQUIRE, as Solon suggests at the end of his rulebook?