1964 - Sid's Vacation is "Acquired" by 3M Part II

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1964 - Origins of ACQUIRE Part II

The Origin of ACQUIRE

1964 – Sid’s Vacation is “Acquired” by 3M (Part II)

 1963 ACQUIRE Promo PictureOn June 3rd Sid wrote a letter to Bill Caruson in which he talks about his attempts at playing with the bonus for founding. He then tries to sell his next idea of stock options. “to give players the opportunity to fight their way back into the game…” “I then thought of another idea which eliminates the luck of the bonuses. It distributes an equal amount of stock to each player but eliminates the illogic of owning stock before chains are formed and, I believe, allows for the economies you desire. Use is made of a set of 25 “stock option” cards. These not need be more elaborate than those I am enclosing and I believe they would be inexpensive. The stock cards could, of course, be printed on a lighter stock and could be reduced in number – 20 for Continental up to 32 for Festival. The players are given an additional $2000 in money (For a total of $8,000 – 5 each of $1000, $500, $100) at the start of the game. The stock option cards are shuffled and dealt out equally. If other than 5 are playing there is one card unused. This is placed aside without divulgiSid Sackson Letter June 3, 1964 Page 1ng the chain. Players also keep the identity of their stock option cards secret until used.At the time in a players turn when he is purchasing stock he may, in addition exercise one of his stock options by surrendering his card to the banker and purchase two blocks at the prevailing price. A chain must, of course, be on the board before stock can be bought in it. Since the secret stock option cards introduce an element of uncertainty in themselves, we do not keep the number of stock cards owned secret. For players who have difficulty maintaining a neat pile, this is a welcome change. This method of playing has tested out perfectly in many games and I believe overcomes all the drawbacks of the other versions. I am very anxious to hear your opinion.”

Sid’s efforts were an attempt to try and keep the mystery and strategy in the game and minimize the luck. Yet one idea he was proposing caused more luck and he states that the idea of stock options “eliminates the luck of the bonuses.” If stock options are created to eliminate the luck of the bonuses, then why create the bSid Sackson Letter June 3, 1964 Page 3onuses? Things were moving so fast that thinking was not at it clearest moments. Sid was trying to fix the changes made by 3M by using the method of addition by addition. This was a classic example of a need for addition by subtraction. Since 3M had eliminated the distribution of stocks before game play, then they also needed to eliminate the 2 for 1 trade during game play. Sid’s original idea needed to balance out. If one illogical rule is erased from the original idea, then the other needs to be eliminated to preserve the greatness of the original idea.

In this same letter of June 3rd Sid tried to erase the illogical thinking of giving free shares before opening, but still keep the semblance of mystery and balance, by replacing them with stock options. Since these stock options weren’t going to be free, he decided to give each player more money at the beginning to help pay for those stock options. Yet his method still called for the “shuffle” of the stock options. He tried to sell the idea of keeping the shuffle by claiming they could be printed on cheaper material. 3M already had their mind set on not shuffling any cards because they ultimately didn’t want to pay for the wax coating on the cards. This meant that no matter how hard Sid tried to sell his idea of stock options, 3M wasn’t listening. Well, they did ultimately listen to some of his ideas.

Sid still fights to sway them in this same letter by suggesting chipboard tiles instead of the wood tiles that were used by 3M. “In the interest of economy, have you seriously considered uSid Sackson Letter June 3, 1964 Page 2sing pressed board, or even cardboard, for the tiles and reintroducing racks to hold them.” Sid then proceeds to make a pitch for tile racks even if they don’t change to chipboard tiles. It is interesting that he is trying to make a pitch to save his stock options, by reducing the costs of the tiles, but then suggests another production cost for racks that wipes out the savings of the tiles. 3M’s economy was based on the fact that the same wood tiles could be used in three different games. Sid’s world map idea needed to fit into their idea of mass production.

This letter was written to Caruson on June 3rd. From that point, there was only one entry in the diary about an advertisement for ACQUIRE and no correspondence with 3M until July 30th. This was a span of almost two months. Sid never wrote about it but he must have been on pins and needles. Especially after the 2nd quarter report came out on July 20th. It showed that sales of ACQUIRE had fallen to $191.72 with Sid’s 5% at $9.59. This figure seems almost impossible after 3 months of sales in large department stores, even if it was only in eight major cities. It tends to imply that either 3M was manipulating the figures or they had seriously under stocked the inventory in stores. This thinking is further amplified after the third quarter figures are released. If Sid was disappointed in January with December’s sales, imagine how he must have been feeling at this point.

On July 30th, Caruson sent a letter to Sid. “I must apologize for not acknowledging your letter of June 3 in which you forwarded several suggested changes for ACQUIRE. The only reason I have not done so until now is that we wanted to try your ideas out on test panels, who have been playing games for us all summSid Sackson Letter June 3, 1964 Page 4er. You will be happy to learn that the over-all reaction of these groups, as far as ACQUIRE is concerned, is that it is one of the best games they have ever played. This has also been confirmed by the consumer reports we have received from people who have actually purchased ACQUIRE. Quite frankly, the basic concept of your game is so sound it doesn’t seem to make too much difference what we do to change the rules to make the game more interesting. However, after much play of several different versions, we have arrived at what we think, and what we are sure you will think, is a real good game. Incidentally, this is not much different than your original game concept.”

3M had decided on the final version of Sid’s idea and they were sending him the set of rules. They settled on their choice, with no communication with Sid, yet they were convinced Sid would like their decision also. What choice did Sid have at this point? There were no choices addressed in this letter because “it doesn’t seem to make too much difference what we do to change the rules to make the game more interesting.”This is the version they were going to market. Sid’s vision of “Vacation” is now their version of “ACQUIRE.”

On August 3rd Sid writes in his diary, They have been trying ACQUIRE all summer and have adapted a variation which allows purchase of 3 shares on a turn, and gives a founders bonus of 1 share. The 4 of us tried it and it wasn’t too bad. Letter said it was very popular with test panel & those who bought it.”

“It wasn’t too bad.” The greatest game inventor of all time is playing the final rules version of his factory production game for the first time and he says, “It wasn’t too bad.” It would appear he was a little disappointed. 3M is basically telling Sid that this version is the beSid Sackson Diary Entry August 3, 1964st randomly scrambled set of variations they found. He focuses on two points in this entry, the purchase of 3 shares of stock each turn and the founder’s bonus. These must have been two things he liked. They also reflect that 3M was listening to Sid in some aspects. He introduced the founding bonus which is a realistic piece of the game. A player who starts a company should have some sort of controlling interest in the beginning which in turn affords them the ability to try and keep control. Sid also probably liked their idea of giving players the ability to purchase 3 shares because it helped somewhat balance the loss of the initial stock distribution.

On August 5th Sid wrote a letter to Caruson, “The new rules, while tending somewhat to shift the emphasis from a battle of control to a drive for expansion do not alter theSid Sackson Letter August 5, 1964 Page 1 basic concept and do result in, as you say, “a real good game.” 3M wanted a “good game” but Sid wanted a “great game.” Apparently the world must settle for “a real good game.” Sid’s reference to the shift in emphasis in the game is driven by his realization that there are no longer any staggered amounts of stock certificates. This is another example where they listened to Sid, but not in the manner he wanted them to. They reduced the overall stock amount in the game. Sid had proposed lowering the number of stocks for each company so that the overall number would still be 200 cards with the stock options. 3M used part of this suggestion by lowering the stock amounts to 175 because they didn’t want to use the stock options, which in turn lowered their production costs by printing less cards. Sid's suggestion of 25 stock options opened a door for 3M to make an arbitrary decision about the final game. If they didn't print the stock options and only made 175 stocks then it evenly divided into the seven hotel chains. At the same time, they reduced more mystery in the game by making all chains have the same amount of stocks instead of the staggered amount that Sid had envisioned. This makes it much easier to keep track of what other players possess. Hence the “battle of control” now has no mystery and has actually been significantly altered to rely on the luck of mergers, or the “drive for expansion.”

The majority of the letter focuses on the rules themselves. Sid had disliked the fact that the rules kept getting condensed and now they were just fit onto a box lid. “Perhaps the following is superfluous, since I am not sure whether you intend to have additional material on the other side of the rules.” He then outlined points that he saw as needing more clarification. He felt that it should be stated when the player purchases their stock, either before or after they play their tile. He also felt it should be stated who initiates the 2 for 1 stock trade. Since it is such an illogical practice anyway, “there can be quite a squabble as to who is entitled to a limited number of shares that can be traded for if there is no order.” Sid suggested that the trade starts with the merge maker. Sid, still convinced that they can’t just have condensed rules for this game, ends the letter, “We believe (and this may be just what you have in mind) that it would be an excellent idea to have the rules, similar to the ones you sent to us, followed by an amplification of points liable to be misinterpreted, and concluding with some remarks on strategy.”Bill Caruson Letter October 16th, 1964

There was no correspondence for two and a half months. Then there was a letter from Caruson on October 16th. “Under separate cover we are sending you a sample of the new ACQUIRE, which is from our latest production run. To date the national introduction of our game line looks very encouraging, but I am sure it will be several years before it is going in full tilt.” It would be interesting to know when the game of ACQUIRE actually reached “full tilt.”

Sid writes in his diary on October 22nd, “(Received) the new edition of ACQUIRE from 3M. They added the points I wrote about but kept the rules very brief. They changed the prices too, upping them on most of the chains.” 3M was listening to Sid to a degree. They cleaned up one of the three rules like he asked. Yet now that he received the game, and not just the very condensed rules, he could see that they raised the stock prices. His idea was to have all the prices the same starting at $200 per share. 3M staggered the pricing to $200, $300, & $400. Since 3M had made it so all the hotels have the same amount of stocks this must have been there arbitrary way to counter act that move. No staggered stocks to save money on printing, we’ll just stagger the price. Should be the same difference, right? It is interesting that Sid commented on this in his diary but only off offhandedly commented about the non-staggered stocks earlier in a letter to Caruson. Since 3M was hell bent on saving production costs over increasing dynamics in this game, at least this arbitrary thought added some strategy back into the game.

This next diary entry on October 20 is a very interesting insight into Sid Sackson. “(Received) check for $818.59 for 3rd quarter from 3M for ACQUIRE.” This is the first diary entry by Sid since January that references his payments from 3M. In January he stated that he was disappointed with the statement. Yet he received $51.49 for only one month of sales. The entire first quarter of 1964 he only received $57.37 for three months. Then the second quarter of 1964 completely plummeted to a 5% royalty of $9.59 for three months of sales. Now Sid receives a check for the third quarter of 1964 for $818.59, or the equivalent of $6,700 in today’s dollars, and allSid Sackson Letter November 6, 1964 he does is write a matter of fact sentence in his diary.

On October 31st Sid writes in his diary, “Played ACQUIRE (new rules) with Renee & Jack Clark. Worked well. Renee won.” Then on November 6th Sid wrote a letter to Caruson. “Unfortunately, Alice tells me she has jumped the gun. I spoke to her after only one game, a most unhappy one. It was a three-handed game in which all three player ran out of money early in the game. Then my son managed a good size bonus and was able to run up an unbeatable lead in all the chains before my wife and I could obtain enough money to start competing effectively again. With the addition of the points I covered in my last letter the rules are now, I must admit, remarkably complete, concise, and clear.”

It has to be wondered if Sid is being facetious in his comment about the rules. Considering 3M produced the rules as “bare bones” as they can, and they only fixed one out of three of Sid’s request, they are not as Sid says,remarkably complete, concise, and clear."

This letter reveals the need for a rule of strategy that should have been added in the final production of ACQUIRE. This is the time in the game that makes trading of stocks necessary. The inevitability of a player running out of money is the normal course for the game of ACQUIRE. It is at this point that a player needs a way to stay in the game or they might as well just “fold.” To make this game more exiting and competitive, players need a way to generate money when they have none. If the 2 for 1 method of trading stocks had been eliminated, then players could be allowed to trade stocks when they are out of money in order to obtain the three shares of stock they desire on their turn. The rule would allow the game of ACQUIRE to better utilize logical thinking. In the stock market, if a person has invested in a company that they no longer wish to retain ownership in, they can sell those stocks. This allows the investor to speculate and profit off of companies that grow quickly by purchasing the stocks when they are at a low price and selling them when Sid's Diary Entry December 17, 1964they are at a higher price or just getting their money back to invest elsewhere. If this rule had been adopted in the game of ACQUIRE players would not be tasked with the threat of being stuck with stocks that do not benefit their quest to win the game and it allows them to try and stay in the game while other players have money.
1964 4th Quarter Report - ACQUIRE

The last diary entry in 1964 concerning ACQUIRE reads, “Looked at Gimbels. Had a lot of ACQUIRE and salesman said it was doing well.” The fourth quarter report for 1964 shows sales of $57,419.56 with Sid’s 5% at $2,870.98, or in today’s money, $23,578.50. The game of ACQUIRE was “doing well.”

Even today the game of ACQUIRE should be “doing fantastic.” ACQUIRE should be more popular than Monopoly and should be on the tongues of everyone as the best game ever. The year of 1964 was the pivotal year for creating the difference between something great or something real good. Here we are, sixty years later with versions of ACQUIRE that still play the same as this first mass production model with no hope of creative change in the future. Corporate has truly taken individual creativity hostage.

Proceed to the History of ACQUIRE - 3M Era >

1964 - Sid's Vacation is "Acquired" by 3M Part I

Written by Administrator. Posted in History

Origin of ACQUIRE 1964 Part I

The Origin of ACQUIRE

1964 – Sid’s Vacation is “Acquired” by 3M (Part I)

1963 was a whirlwind for Sid Sackson. He began the year as a little known game inventor and ended the year with one of his game ideas being sold in major stores in eight large cities in the U.S. But was the final 1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Adproduct of ACQUIRE really going to be Sid Sackson’s game? There is part of humanity that sees more than others. We tend to call them “artists.” The problem with artists is they are usually starving while they are trying to sell their art. This is where the corporate world takes control. Artists want to be known for their creations, corporations have the money to make this dream a reality. The downfall is that the corporations then own the rights and creativity from the artist and usually leave them with little or nothing. The Beatles do not control the usage rights to their music, neither does Taylor Swift, and Sid Sackson could do little as 3M changed his idea to fit their vision for profit.

To recap from the previous article, Sid had an idea for a game called “Vacation.” 3M had an idea for a game called “ACQUIRE.” 3M’s idea must not have been too good. Sid’s idea was brilliant. So, corporate America decided to take Sid’s creativity and fit it into their mold. Sid had an idea th1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Ad IIat the game would play out on a board that depicted different continents and the tiles would reflect different cities around the world. 3M had other games they were looking at for the Bookshelf Series that could use the same tiles that they could fit into Sid’s idea, so they altered Sid’s idea. Sid had the idea to distribute stock at the beginning of the game to cause mystery throughout the game of who is in control and also, at the same time, increase the mystery and strategy by staggering the number of stocks in each company. 3M had obviously already made the decision, when they put out the test market games in December of 1963, that they were going to shy away from Sid’s idea of distributing stock at the beginning of the game. Evidence of this was that they printed all the stocks on the same color paper instead of white and yellow as Sid had designed.

Sid wrote in his diary on January 18, 1964, “(Received) statement from 3M on ACQUIRE. Disappointing.” It is interesting to ponder what Sid was thinking at this moment. The test market games had only been on sale for the month of December and they sold $1,029.80, or in today’s money approximately $8,300. Sid’s 5% commission was $51.49, or approximately $420. Not bad for some extra income in a month. Yet it may have been all the hype for the game and the fact that it was in such major stores that Sid had higher expectations.

Diary Entry January 21, 1964On January 21, 1964 Sid wrote in his diary, To I/S Bill Caruson from 3M there. Talked about ACQUIRE. Final decision will be made sometime in February. Bill Caruson says that ACQUIRE sold the least of all their games but got the most favorable comment from the questionnaires.” 3M had already taken a lot of liberties with Sid’s idea, and more than he even knew at that time, yet they still proceeded to tell him that they weren’t sold on his idea. Caruson tells him this even though the 3M promotional picture that was used in December of 1963 to promote the game of ACQUIRE already depicted a different box and board than the one that was being sold in the test market games. 3M was already progressing on the game of ACQUIRE but they wouldn’t tell Sid. 

The rapid progression that was happening at 3M became evident when Larry Winters, the designer of the game Auction Block, received six copies of “ACQUIRE” a few days later by mistake that were heavily damaged. He brought them over tSid Sacksono Sid’s house on the 7th of February and Sid sorted through them the next day and was able to make five complete games. By the 12th of February, 3M had sent Sid six more good copies. These games were different variants of the game. 3M was testing many different versions and wanted Sid to try them out and offer his feedback.

On February 21st, Sid received a letter from Caruson. This letter covered many different aspects about 3M’s desire to make changes to the game. It also illustrated how fast things were moving at 3M since the games had arrived to Bill Winters over a month before yet it is not until now Caruson is telling Sid the reason for them. “I have recently tried many variations of the game; and I would like to have you try them out, if you have not already done so, and give me your thinking on some possible changes.” This letter finally explains the reason for sending 6 games to Sid. This is also where the idea to not distribute stock at the beginning of the game is introduced. “At the beginning of the game do not distribute any stock. Realistically, in investing money in any venture that has not been developed yet, you would not possess any stock. Instead distribute an additional $3,000 to each player.”

Then the letter took a turn in3M Letter February 21, 1964to the corporate world of thinking. The next suggestion for the game that Caruson offered was a classic view from the top. “Permit any player during his turn to buy as much stock as is available in any established chain that he wants.” Caruson goes on to say, “The game takes on an entirely different complexion and in my estimation becomes a better game in the sense that it is a real struggle for bigness and power.”

This letter addressed another aspect of the game that was sometimes, but not always, clarified in the rules of later editions of the game. “Also, in order to give the game a faster start, we have the tiles that are turned over to designate who goes first actually placed on the board.” Mr. Caruson also explains another reason why he does not want to distribute stock at the beginning of the game. “I am proposing these changes would be to permit us to print the stock certificates on lighter weight material, since shuffling at the beginning of the game would no longer be a factor. This is almost going to be a must if we are able to produce the game profitably.”

This introduction of “lighter weight material” into the game of ACQUIRE didn’t come to fruition until the 1966 production runs. It was not a good decision. It seemed that the games produced in 1966, with stock certificates that didn’t have wax coating, were a factory error. This letter suggests that it was a corporate decision to try and save money. This move by 3M severely cheapened the game of ACQUIRE with those production runs. Just because 3M eliminated the idea that the cards would be shuffled and dealt out doesn’t mean the remaining cards weren’t going to be handled continuously and wear out quickly. It is an age old trade off in business, do you make cuts in production costs hoping to maintain, or increase, sales with an inferior product. 

Diary Entry February 24, 1964Three days later on February 24th Sid wrote in his diary, “They want to make changes to ACQUIRE to eliminate dealing shares at the start so that paper can be used instead of cardboard. They want to allow purchase of as many shares as you wish on a turn. This is horrible. I was thinking of having 25 “stock option” cards which are dealt out at the beginning, instead of shares.”

The next day, on the 25th, Alice from I/S called saying she had received a letter from 3M and Sid wrote in his diary, “They are continuing with the game…told her of yesterday’s letter. Prepared a rough Diary Entry February 25, 1964set of “stock options” cards for ACQUIRE.” 3M had allowed Sid to linger for over a month wondering if they were going to continue with his idea. 3M knew they were going to continue, they just used this month to make Sid sweat and to gain leverage on their ability to further change his original ideas without his opposition. Yet still he held steadfast in his idea to keep mystery in the game with his attempt to make stock options. It was his concession for losing the shuffle and distribution of cards at the beginning of the game. He wanted to keep his creativity and balance in the game.

By February 29th, Sid was tirelessly attempting numerous versions of ACQUIRE as he wrote in his diary, Played ACQUIRE with BB, Dana, & Dale with unlimited stock purchases. No good. Then the 4 of us played with a bonus of 2 shares for starting a chain. (See 3M correspondence.) GooSid Sackson Letter March 1, 1964 Page 1d. Played without Dale. Then in evening 5 hand with Phil, Annette, & Dana. All worked well.” BB is Sid’s wife. Dana is Sid’s son, Dale is his daughter. The dedication of this family to Sid’s dream was very admirable. This was something that could become enormous for this family.

The next day, March 1st, Sid was writing a letter to Caruson. He wanted to give his feedback on the various editions that 3M had sent but mainly he wanted to sell the new ideas he had developed within the last two months. “First of all I agree with you that the dealing out of stocks before the chains are formed is illogical. In my own mind I thought of these shares as representing influence in the chain rather than actual shares. However, if this feature could be eliminated it would make things neater, and of course, I can certainly understand the necessity of economy since there are 200 of the cards.” Sid was losing his ability to create mystery in the game and 3M simply just wanted to create inexpensive game pieces.

“We had strong objections to allowing unlimited purchases of stock and I will try and convey our thinking on this to you. However, I have worked out a method of eliminating the initial deal which leads to a game at least as good as the original, and possibly better. In general what was missing was the opportunity to make choices, the chance to overcome the disadvantages of unlucky tiles by astute purchasing of stock.”Sid Sackson Letter March 1, 1964 Page 3

In this last statement resides the crux of the question of will ACQUIRE be a “good” game or will it be a “great” game? Sid was trying to make it a great game while 3M was trying to make it a good game. Sid’s ideas and suggestions were based on the aspect of fairness to all players in the game while 3M was more concerned about economies of scale. It was at this point, in the history of the game of ACQUIRE, that expediency of time to get the product to the market did not allow adequate time for thoughtful thinking. Sid’s idea of distributing stock at the beginning of the game was his way of giving the players the opportunity to make choices, and the chance to overcome the disadvantages of unlucky tiles by astute purchasing of stock.” Sid was concerned about keeping the game fair.

It would appear, looking at the makeup of Sid’s original idea, that the necessity of dealing stocks at the beginning of the game was predicated on balancing the practice that players are essentially “given” stocks at the time of merging chains. Sid and Caruson both agreed that giving out stocks before companies are formed is illogical. They should have then realized that giving out stocks to a vanquished company, which in some cases allows them to assume majority in the conquering company, is also illogical. Without the balance of the free shares distributed in the beginning of the game, then the rule that allows players to trade stocks from the vanquished chain 2 for 1 in the conquering chain increases the “disadvantages of unlucky tiles” and also hampers “the opportunity toSid Sackson Letter March 1,1964 Page 4 make wise choices.”

These two issues were paramount in Sid's mind to create a great game. It seems plausible that Sid initially envisioned that the 2 for 1 rule would give the players a semblance of the stock market by giving them the ability to trade stocks. Yet this rule often ends up in giving a player an unrealistic, and lucky, way of gaining control of the game. By simply eliminating the 2 for 1 rule, Sid would have eliminated his need to distribute stocks at the beginning of the game or even now to try and conceive the practice of “bonus” stocks." There were other realistic methods that could have been created to trade stocks during game play other than the 2 for 1 rule. Time was not being allowed for deep thinking of game play when production costs became important and this exercise in game creation had gone beyond 3M wanting strong input from Sid.

In his letter, Sid again addresses his distaste for the loss of mystery in his game while trying all the different variants, even though the changes by 3M are inevitable. “Since there are no dealt out certificates and consequently no unknown factors, we decided to eliminate the placing of certificates in neat piles. Instead we fan them slightly so that all players know exactly where they stand at all times.” Sid Sackson Letter March 1. 1964 Page 5

While Sid was trying his different ideas to balance the game, he toyed with the idea of giving founding shares for opening chains. He still wanted to maintain his original idea of only purchasing one share per turn, even though players would not start with a hand of stocks. He proceeded to write, “Whenever a player starts a chain he is given 2 free certificates in that chain as a founder’s bonus.” Yet by adding this feature, he felt he needed to adjust how the chains were opened. He felt there was a certain advantage to opening one chain over another when they had staggered amounts of stock. So he also proposed a way to shuffle the chains and force the players to open certain chains in order.

Every change in the original idea created consequences in other directions. This was evident in another change that 3M wanted to make. As Sid continued to write, “We tried placing the first turned tiles on the board. It does get the game off to a faster start. However, what happens if those tiles in themselves form a chain, or with 4,5, or 6 players – two or three chains? I suppose that logically the first player would have the choice of naming them. Thus, in addition to the first chance to match up with tiles on the board, gives the first player a considerable advantage.” Sid felt it was just better to put the tiles back in the pile, but this is still a debated topic in the game.

By the end of the letter it appears that Sid feels exhausted, “As you can well understand, I am quite concerned over any changes in ACQUIRE which can be, in my opinion, one of the great games of o3M 1st Quarter 1964 Statementur time. I am sure that by working together we can not only come up with a game that is great, but profitable, for all concerned. I look forward to hearing from you and possibly speaking to you on the phone if it becomes necessary to make decisions in a hurry.” Sid could sense the specter of the corporate influence on his game.

During the months of March and April 1964, Sid played numerous different combinations of the game. He mostly centered on the new ideas he wanted to introduce concerning 3M’s decision to not distribute stock at the beginning of the game. On April 10th he wrote in his diary, “The players who had the chances to start chains came out ahead. I was dissatisfied with the way it worked.” This is still a problem today in the game of ACQUIRE. On April 12th he wrote, “Played ACQUIRE giving a bonus for causing a merger – 2 shares if chain has 10 or less hotels – 1 share if chain has 11 or more hotels. It makes more interesting play but the luck of the draw is very important.” Sid always had a distaste for luck in a game but he felt he needed to formulate something to keep fairness and the semblance of strategy in the game. On April 27th he entered into his diary, Finished “stock option” cards for ACQUIRE.”Diary Entry May 1, 1964

On May 1st he entered in his diary that he had received a check from 3M. The statement from 3M had a total of $1,147.39 in sales while Sid’s 5% royalty payment was for $57.37 which was not much more for the first three months of the year than they sold in one month at Christmas. He also wrote that he introduced the stock options into the game. Worked will even tho we didn’t finish due to time limitations.” Through the rest of the month of May, Sid continually tried his different ideas for the game.

Proceed to History of ACQUIRE - 1964 Part II >
< Return to History of ACQUIRE - The Origin of the Game of ACQUIRE

History of ACQUIRE: The 3M Era

1962/1963 World Map Edition
World Map Edition

The earliest concept of ACQUIRE, produced by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) in December 1963, was played on a board that portrayed a world map. These games were only sold in eight U.S. cities for test marketing and only for a few months. The amount of stock certificates were staggered for each hotel. Continental had 22 shares, Tower 24, Luxor 26, American 29, Worldwide 31, Imperial 33 and Festival had 35.

All hotel stocks sold for the same price, starting at $200. A quantity of 60 stock certificates were shuffled and dealt out to the players before game play. Bonus stocks were not awarded for founding hotels. This method of play made it impossible to keep track of other players stock holdings unless the players agreed to disclose their holdings.

World Map Board
World Map Board

Players could only purchase one stock certificate per turn, which explains why they still put far too many $100 bills and not enough $1000 bills in the later editions. By purchasing only one stock certificate per turn, the player only had to spend a few hundred dollars at a time. Yet now in the later editions, since the players can purchase three stock certificates per turn, the $1000 bills run out far too often.

The tiles were made of wood and were slightly larger than tiles in later editions. The tile designations were marked with the letter first (A-1 instead of 1-A). The wood tiles had a fleur-de-lis imprinted on the back of the tiles. Due to the size of the board, the tiles do not connect together and with no restraints, they can slide across the board. If these games can be found, they sell for anywhere from $150 to $500.

1962/1963 Wood Tile Game
Wood Tile Game

When mass production of ACQUIRE began (in 1964 using a 1962 copyright on the outside box and a 1963 copyright on the inside box with the rules) the board was made into a grid that held the wood tiles. A plastic film was laid over a cardboard playing board to create the holders for the tiles. All seven hotels were given 25 stock certificates. Stock certificates were sold at different price levels to create a hierarchy of hotels:

  • Two (2) low-priced hotels starting at $200 (Luxor & Tower)
  • Three (3) medium-priced hotels starting at $300 (Festival, American, & Worldwide)
  • Two (2) high-priced hotels starting at $400 (Imperial & Continental)

Players could buy three stock certificates per turn and a stock certificate was awarded to the player who founded a hotel. This method of play allowed a better ability to keep track of opponents' stock holdings without discloser.

1962/1963 Plastic Tile Game
Plastic Tile Game

The backs of the stocks were printed with the 3M logo. The hotel markers were colored, but blank on the topside (no letter designation).

Wood tile editions can be found for around $50 - $100.

3M soon went to plastic tile versions during those initial production runs. The initial hotel markers in plastic were also colored but unmarked. Both of these versions had $100 bills that were colored green and the $1,000 bills were colored blue. The colors easily caused confusion during game play because of their close similarities.

1962/1966 Uncoated Stock Certificates
Stock Certificates

3M made the next production runs in 1966. The outer box had a 1962 copyright, while the rules on the inside box were copyright 1966. (See picture as compared to 1962/63 inner box.) The board was the 1962 cardboard/plastic film board. The money was the 1962 version and the hotel markers were unmarked.

1966/1968 Clear Board Edition
Clear Board Edition

The main difference in this version is that the stock certificates were not wax coated (possibly a faulty production run).

This made the stock certificates susceptible to quicker wear and they were also harder to handle since they didn't slide easily.

In 1968 they made a clear hard plastic board with the tile designation printed on a piece of paper that was glued to the back of the board. They started putting this board in with the 1966 inner boxes. In fact, most of the 1966 rules boxes had mixed parts from many different production runs. Once 3M used up its supply of unmarked hotel markers they began to print a letter designation on the tiles and they quickly abandoned the non-wax coated stock certificates.

1968/1971 Yellow Board Edition
Yellow Board Edition

In 1968 and 1971, 3M created a hard plastic board that had a yellow background with black letters for extended durability and better readability.

1968/1971 Green Box Edition
Green Box Edition

The color of the $100 bills was changed to pink and the color of the $1,000 bills was changed to gray, which made them easier to tell apart.

Yet they still didn't adjust to the aspect of buying three stock certificates by increasing the amount of $1,000 bills and decreasing the amount of $100 bills. It is very easy to run out of $1,000 bills during game play while at the same time using less than half of the $100 bills.

3M also put out a "Green Box" edition in 1971 that printed the artwork into the box instead of using a sticker laid over the box. The dominant color of the outer and inner box was green instead of the traditional bluish color. After their production runs in 1971, 3M sold the rights to Avalon Hill.

© 2018 Lloyd T. Solon

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History of ACQUIRE: The Avalon Hill Era

1976/1986 Avalon Hill Edition

1976-1986 Avalon Hill Edition

Avalon Hill’s first production of ACQUIRE was in 1976. The front of the box had the same artwork as the 3M editions, but the box was a two-piece design instead of the outer-sleeve/inner-box design employed by 3M. The board was the same as the 1968/1971 3M production runs, but in a brighter yellow. Avalon Hill produced these editions through the mid 1980's.

1989/1992 Grey Box Edition

1989-1992 Grey Box Edition

Avalon Hill changed the artwork on the box during production runs in the late 1980’s and early 1990's to display a prominent hotel in Baltimore. The board was changed to a tan color and the color of the $500 bills was also changed from salmon to tan.

1995 Special Powers Edition

1995 Special Powers Edition

In 1995 Avalon Hill abandoned the “bookshelf” look and produced a bigger, flat board with cardboard tiles. It was a disappointing version in terms of the tiles being able to slide across the board, but it introduced the “Special Power Variants” to the United States.

Special Power Variants were tiles that could be played during the game to allow the player to make a "special" move during their turn, such as buying extra stock or playing extra tiles. The background of the board was a map, which was a throwback to the original concept game. Tile holders were used in this version since the cardboard tiles were too thin to stand on their own.

History of ACQUIRE: The Hasbro Era

1999 Hasbro Edition

1999 Hasbro Edition

Hasbro acquired the rights to Avalon Hill in 1997 for six million dollars. They proceeded to produce a version of ACQUIRE in 1999 that was visually stimulating. The big box version contained larger plastic tiles that were easy to handle and read. The instruction booklet was a major upgrade and professionally done. (Avalon Hill had been printing the rules on a single sheet of paper.) Yet the design of the stock certificates and the money did not match the upgrade afforded the rest of the game.

Hasbro changed the hotels to corporations and updated the names. Sackson and Zeta were low-priced; Fusion, America and Hydra were medium-priced; and Phoenix and Quantum were high-priced. Corporation markers were three-dimensional, which was a nice touch. Hasbro provided a plastic holder for the stock certificates and the corporation markers during game play. The information cards are also enlarged for better viewing.

2008 Wizards of the Coast Edition

Wizards of the Coast Edition

This 1999 game commands the largest price today out of all the other versions of ACQUIRE except for the World Map edition. A used 1999 version of ACQUIRE will cost around $100, while a shrink-wrapped version will cost around $150.

Hasbro has since passed the rights for ACQUIRE to their subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast. Wizards produced a version of ACQUIRE in 2008 that they considered the "50th Anniversary Edition." This edition was inexpensive. The pieces are made out of cardboard and even the information cards have to be cut out of the instruction booklet. They did, however, build an information card into the board along with designated places for the stock certificates.

The only redeeming quality of this version was the design of the stock certificates. The hierarchy and the traditional colors of the hotel chains were also changed. Luxor was replaced by Sackson (for obvious reasons) and paired with Worldwide as the lower priced hotels. Festival, Imperial and American are the mid-priced hotels and Continental and Tower are the higher priced hotels. This version was a huge disappointment to a game that has acquired such a lengthy legacy. This version should be available for under $30 with shipping.

© 2018 Lloyd T. Solon

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