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The Origin of the Game of ACQUIRE - Part IX

Article Index

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.”

Sid's Diary Entry August 3, 1964
Sid's Diary Entry
 August 3, 1964

“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 best randomly scrambled set of variations they found.

He focuses on two points in this entry − the purchase of three 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 to keep control.  Sid also probably liked their idea of giving players the ability to purchase three 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 the basic concept and do result in, as you say, 'a real good game'.”

Sid Sackson Letter to 3M dated August 5, 1964 - Page 1
Sid Sackson letter to 3M
 dated August 5, 1964
Page 1

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 condensed enough to be able to 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.”