A Brief History of Acquire

By Frank Cunliffe
25 Nov 2003

Acquire has been around for over forty years and three different American publishers, with the first two publishers having several different major versions.

The first publisher was 3M, (the company that makes tape).

The first 3M version was wood; its rules are what I posted yesterday. I've never seen this.

The second version was plastic, with the board being clear. A picture of this clear board was used for the back cover art for the next two versions; around a quarter century after it was replaced by a yellow board. John and Lou have this version.

The third version had a yellow plastic board.

In the mid-1970s 3M decided to get back to its core business and sold its game division to Avalon Hill.

The first AH edition was essentially identical to the 3M yellow board edition, including the back cover picture of the defunct clear plastic board. A slight difference was the rule for disposing of shares after a merger. With the 3M version the majority holder declared first, in the AH version it's the person initiating the merger.

Around 1990 AH changed from the traditional blue box to a silver/gray one. (I don't remember what the picture on the back cover looked like.) I've never played with one of these, though I've seen it in stores, hence I don't know if there are any other differences. I suspect not.

Most Avalon Hill games were made of paper and cardboard, (what do you expect from a company owned by a printer?) Yet they continued to produce Acquire with a plastic board for twenty years because they still had the 3M plastic mold. Around 1995 AH's plastic contractor went out of business, the mold vanishing along with the company. Hence AH made a cardboard version. This came in a huge airbox. This edition also contained variant rules. Some of us played the variant at Penn Gamers a couple of weeks ago. It's OK for variety's sake, but otherwise pretty lame.

In 1998 AH was sold to Hasbro.

Most AH games were discontinued, but Acquire was reissued in a beautiful plastic version, considerably different than the original 3M/AH plastic editions.

Both 3M and AH had great difficulty getting exactly 25 certificates for each company in each box. Of the sets I've encountered, perhaps 2/3rds have had incorrect amounts.