To get a sense of when I actually write these posts, I wrote this just after August Long weekend. Which means I got to spend extra time with my family. We frolicked in the pool, saw wooden sculptures of birds, and went out to the beach. Summer fun all around!
What are the lengths you’ll go to, to introduce a game to someone? This weekend I invited another couple and their toddler to join us at the beach, then invited them over for lunch, and once the kids were down for a nap, I trapped them in a game of Bullet❤️.
If you haven’t caught my previous posts where I rave over this game, Bullet❤️ is a puzzle-y, push your luck, pattern matching game for 1 – 4 players, designed by Joshua Van Laningham and published by Level 99 Games. In Bullet❤️ each player takes control of one of the very asymmetric heroines and tries to out last their opponents. The game revolves around pulling tokens (called bullets) from your bag, placing them into your player board, and manipulating them to match patterns on your cards, so you can clear them from your board and send them to your opponent. The push your luck aspect comes into play as you pull bullets from your bag. Each bullet has a colour and a number, the colour indicates which column the bullet will go into, and the number indicates the number of spaces down it will go, skipping over any full spots. Should the bullet hit the very bottom row, BANG! You’re hit. Lose all your life and you’re out. The last player standing wins.
Bullet❤️ is supposed to be played with a 3-minute timer each round. This prevents players from stagnating and agonizing over their decisions, but because this was a first play for all of us, we chose to eschew the timer. This let the players weigh their options and ask questions about how their specific heroine’s abilities worked. As the game wore on and more bullets were added to our bags, the rounds stretched longer. Without the timer, there was no rush, no feeling of pressure to push your luck recklessly. Going forward, I’ll be insisting the timer gets used to keep that pressure on all players.
Acquire by Sid Sackson was released in 1964, and I’m kind of amazed that this isn’t more popular. In Acquire, players have a hand of tiles that they can place one at a time onto a central board. Should two tiles ever meet, a hotel is formed. Players can then buy shares in a hotel company at a price based on how many tiles that hotel is (obviously starting at a size 2). If two hotel chains ever meet, the smaller hotel is absorbed by the bigger hotel. Whoever happened to have the majority of shares in the smaller hotel gets a bonus, and the player who held the second most (or a minority) of shares gets a bonus, half the size of the majority share holder. Then, all players have the option to either sell their shares at the market rate back to the bank, or, convert the shares at a 2 to 1 ratio of the new company. For an example, the orange hotel is 5 squares big, while the blue hotel is only 3 squares big. If a tile gets placed adjacent to both of those hotels, Blue is absorbed. If I was holding 4 blue shares, I can trade them in and get 2 orange shares, which might be more valuable, now that the orange hotel is 9 squares large.
Play continues until either one hotel chain is 41 tiles big, or all hotels on the board are larger than a size 11 (once a hotel chain is 11 squares or bigger, it’s considered safe. It cannot be absorbed by other hotel chains as it’s too big to fail or something like that).
Acquire is kind of brilliant. It’s fairly rules light for how deep it is. The decisions you make on your turn can be agonizing, and while luck can play a large role, you still feel in control. You’ll curse your opponents as they wrestle majorities from your grip, and you’ll need to choose between trading in your cheap stock for one lucrative one, but having all your money tied up in stocks means you’ll be unable to get in on the ground floor of any newly formed hotel chains. The game will quickly have all 7 small hotel chains dotting around the board, then suddenly the mergers start. Hotels leap in value from $200 a share to $900 each, and very quickly nothing seems safe from the blue hotel chain, which is gobbling everything in its path.
I don’t know how widely available Acquire is, but if someone you know has it, and you haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend it. The replayability of this game feels immense, as I feel there is a mastery that can be developed. Knowing when to invest in a small company, and when to merge it with a bigger one, is key. There’s a limited number of stocks in each company, and ensuring you have the majority when that deck runs out can be paramount. I lost this game because Otter had the opportunity to buy during a merger and drained the deck, snatching the majority of the purple hotel away from me. That single move earned him over $3,000, and I ended losing to him by a mere 500 bucks.
I suspect Acquire will be hitting the table more frequently with my group. We all quite enjoyed this classic game.