It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Acquire without mentioning the OTHER best board game ever, Axis and Allies.
Axis and Allies is like Risk on steroids. In fact, after you’ve played Axis and Allies, Risk seems so un-strategic and pointless, it is hard to ever play it again.
Like Risk, you have a certain number of units that “fight” against an opponents units by rolling dice. That’s about where the similarities end though, because in Axis and Allies there are many different types of units, and each need to roll a different number for a “kill”. For example, if I am attacking you with my infantry men and my fighter jets, my infantry needs to roll a 1 to kill one of your guys, but my jets need to roll a 3 or lower (obviously a jet is a lot more powerful than an infantry men).
So why wouldn’t you just have only jets then? Well, much like Risk, you gain “points” during your turn based on how much territory you control. In Axis and Allies, these points are money, and you can spend them on units. This is where some of the strategy comes in: do I buy a ton of cheap infantry to throw into the breach and eat up bullets, or do I buy something more expensive, like tanks or bombers? Do I spend money on a navy, and patrol the Atlantic with wolf-packs of subs, or do I blitzkrieg my panzer divisions across Africa? Or maybe I should be going Luftwaffe all the way?
As you’ve probably picked up, this game is centered on World War II, and is eerily accurate, historically. In fact, the initial setup of the board is to replicate the troop placements of a specific year of the war. I’ve seen alternate setups online where you can replicate the troop placements of other years of the war. And if you make the same historical decisions (good or bad) made by the countries in those wars, you tend to have the same results those countries had. I am always amazed at how accurate the whole thing plays out (like the way Russia is almost forced to sacrifice ridiculous numbers of infantry men to buy time against the German army, or the way the U.S. has very little effect on the war until the end, when they become a powerhouse. The “sleeping giant” indeed!) History classes should be forced to play this game; I think they would learn a lot about why certain decisions were made.
However, the game gets interesting when you DON’T follow the precedent of history. Russia captured by Japanese invaders from the East. Britain fighting Pacific naval battles from a base in Australia. A powerful Russian navy (strategy-wise, this is about as bad as it sounds). D-Day taking place, but in Africa, or Scandinavia, or some other strange location. Now we’re talking!
The downside to this game is that it takes a long time to set up and an eternity to play. If you have people who don’t know all the troop placements off the top of their heads, it can literally take 45 minutes to an hour to set up. An hour before you can even begin playing! But that’s nothing compared to the game itself. I’d say 6 hours is not unreasonable.
This is crazy talk, you’re probably saying. 6 hours or more to play one game? Well, sometimes a long game can be immensely more satisfying than a short one. These are games that you’ll be recounting years later (no joke!). It is also technically possible to play a game over a couple sessions, unless you have kids or a cat. Seriously, I swear Nala just *has* to lay in the middle of the board! In high school we used to keep a game going in the back of Mrs. Jones’ class, and she would keep curious kids from messing up the board. Then we would run in and take a turn in between classes. Games would last for weeks! And don’t even get me started about the ill-will we generated playing a game entirely through the night on Christmas eve.
Anyway, I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a gaming session as much as I’ve enjoyed a session of Axis and Allies, but it’s pretty intense, and the length of the game makes it difficult to play very often. If you have a chance though, it’s well worth it!