See Michael, a passionate collector of artifacts and designer of unique puzzles, at Boing Boing's three-day extravaganza, the Weekend of Wonder, running Sept. 18-20. A weekend of workshops, tech demons and wild performances, there'll be plenty of fun surprises!
When I was very young, my Uncle Terry was a huge influence in my life. To me, he had the most fascinating set of interests. He collected comics, and seemed to know everything about music. Without my knowing it, he molded so much of what I thought was cool and fun.
We bowled, sure. We played baseball and rode bikes together. But the thing that I looked forward to most, when we hung out, was playing an unlikely board game from the early 1960's that was created by the 3M company – the company that invented the Post-it note.
The game was Acquire and to me it was beautiful.
Why would a kid be drawn to a game with the tagline, "HIGH ADVENTURE IN THE WORLD OF HIGH FINANCE"? What was so aspirational about that grey haired dude on the cover whose cufflinks matched the tiles that the game is played with. Even the back of the box, with its abandoned setting for game-play, was just as fascinating to me. I always imagined "old cufflinks" playing the game by himself. In my mind, he'd move from seat to seat as he played each turn because he thought the game was as fun as I did.
The rules of the game were simple.
Like scrabble, there was a well of tiles that were kept face down on the table and at the beginning of the game, each player took 5 of them and kept their identities a secret. Each tile had a position on the grid that they could be played on and players took turns placing tiles on the board to try to make "companies" by aligning two tiles that touched vertically or horizontally. A company was denoted by a colored tile that was placed on top of it. As a company got bigger, it became more powerful and more valuable.
If two companies ever touched, a merger would occur and the larger company would absorb the smaller one and the game would go on. Though the game was geared more toward adults, the simplicity of the gridded game-board and the nature of merging companies made the game approachable and VERY real. Plus I was fascinated with the art on the game currency as it was handled more like real money than how Monopoly handled it. There was even a little puzzle in the serial number on the bills to boot.
You can easily snag one of these relics on Ebay as well as other 3M Bookshelf Games. But be warned, some of the other games in the Bookshelf Game family are considered to be very, very complex. But even if you don't like the games themselves, you'll have to admit that the box covers are all pieces of fine art in their own right. They are very affordable and I believe they look great wherever you put them. They have been decorating my home and place of work for years and still attract a whole lot of attention.
In 1998, the look of the game was redesigned and rereleased by Hasbro and Avalon Hill. But to me, there is no substitution for the original version of Acquire. There is just something about the color pallet of the vintage version that puts me in a good memory zone. I just can't help but remember the good times of pretending I was taking over the world with my Uncle. To me the game was so fun, that winning or losing didn't matter. I was playing my favorite game with my favorite person.
While the game-play of Acquire may seem a bit ho-hum at first glance, the mechanics of the game holds up. But I wonder if I am still in love with it because I idolized my Uncle Terry so much. If you knew him like I did…you would too.