It was kind of a light evening, with just Richard & I showing up early, and Ray and his kids slightly after that. The younger kids wanted to player HeroClix, so they did that while Richard & I played 2-player Feurio. This actually worked out pretty well; I wasn’t sold on the 3-player version of the game, while I liked the 4-player. 2-player is actually quite nice, there is some additional decision-making (which color of firefighter to place each turn) and given the large number of firefighters you have access to, you have a little more flexibility in doing blocking moves. I probably tried to block a bit too agressively, as I lost a close game.
Kim (who had been delayed with work-related activities) and Carl showed up in the meantime, so we did two games – Kim & Carl & I played Acquire while the others played Can’t Stop.
Acquire is a mysterious game to me. On the one hand, it certainly seems that there is a great deal of luck involved in the tile draws. On the other hand, there is crushing emperical evidence that this is absolutely not the case, as the same skilled players convincingly win game after game. Acquire has proved resistant to my abilities to analyze, much as Puerto Rico was.
So I went into this game with more of a “risk analysis” mindset on stock purchases. I stayed away from getting involved in any chains in which I had no information, i.e., no tiles nearby that might conceivably turn into merger tiles, especially when immediate neighboring chains are far off. This meant I largely ended up hoarding my cash early, which worked well as I was able to anticipate the first round of mergers and had cash flexibility after Carl & Kim were tapped out, so was able to get in on all the early mergers. I lost a bit of my focus in the middle game, though, which I think is where the game is won and lost. The first round of mergers is just the test to stay in; if you don’t get payouts early, you’re out of it. The middle game is where you get a lot more control, since options become more limited and crucial tilies more plentiful. I made a few ill-advised stock purchases, getting into the big-priced hotels to fight for the end-of-game payouts too early, before I had cash to burn, so I came in second.
By forcing myself to think a bit differently, I came away with more appreciation for the game. Acquire really is a great game, and worthy of its classic label. It’s a simple game with remarkable subtlety. Compare to Big Boss, which is very Acquire-ish; but the economic system in Big Boss succumbed to about 5 minutes of analysis, and I went on to a crushing victory in that game the first time I played. Acquire is far more subtle, with a very interesting mix of analysis and risk.
Last game of the night was Titan: the Arena, a classic game that hasn’t come out in a while. I like this one a lot, much more in fact than either its predecessor (Grand National Derby) or its successor (Galaxy: The Arena). It’s a nice light game, but one with some significant strategy – sort of like Clash of the Gladiators, although a more subtle game in that since your fate in Titan is so intertwined with the other players. Somehow, for me, the special powers of Titan: The Arena give the game a fun factor which was absent from Grand National Derby. Glad to see this classic will be rereleased in 2004 by Fantasy Flight.