Acquire is a turn-based board game.
Game Pieces: The game board is a rectangular grid that consists of 12 columns, labeled 1 through 12, and 9 rows, labeled A through I:
The game also comes with 12 × 9 tiles labeled with the coordinates of the game board: 1A through 12I. Here is a visual example:
The final physical ingredient is a collection of six seven hotel chains, each of which is represented by a color:
In addition, the game comes with hotel stock certificates and game-money bills. For our purposes, it suffices to represent these entities with text and numbers. There is an infinite amount of money available, but only a finite number of stock certificates, namely, 25 per hotel chain.
Objective: The objective is to maximize your wealth. You create wealth by buying and selling shares in hotel chains, which are built, expanded, and merged over the course of the game.
Playing Acquire: Like all board games, a game of Acquire consists of three steps:
Setup: Each player receives $6,000 in cash and six randomly chosen tiles. The order in which players draw tiles is chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Players keep the identity of their tiles secret.
A "banker" administrates the money, the remaining stock certificates, the remaining tiles, and the available hotel chains. In the beginning, all hotel chains are available.
Play: Once the game is set up, each player gets a turn until the game is over; see below for recognizing when the game is over.Each turn consists of three steps:
A player places one of his tiles on the board. This may have the additional effect of growing an existing hotel chain, founding a new one, or merging hotel chains:
In order to found a hotel chain, a player places a tile vertically or horizontally next to a single tile without neighbors on the board. Assuming the pool of available chains contains at least one hotel, the player must then remove a hotel chain from the available ones and "paint" the two connected tiles with the hotel chain’s color.
The founder receives one free stock certificate for the just-founded chain, if available.
If there are no available hotel chains, the player can place the tile but cannot found a new hotel and does not receive a free stock certificate.
In order to grow a hotel chain, a player places a tile next to (vertically or horizontally) a tile that belongs to an in-play hotel chain.
Growing a hotel chain may be (un)desirable as it affects its share price.
In order to merge hotel chains, a player places a tile next to (vertically or horizontally) tiles that belong to at least two distinct hotels. A merger proceeds in four steps:
The first step is to determine which of the hotels acquires the other one. In principle, the larger hotel acquires the smaller one. If the two are of the same size, it is the active player’s decision to determine which chain is the acquirer and which one is the acquired.
The second step is to rank the stock holders for the acquired hotel before the merger takes place. The player with the largest number of shares is the majority stock holder; the player with the second number of shares is the minority stock holder.
The banker pays the majority owner a bonus of 10x of the current price for a single stock certificate. The minority owner receives a bonus of 5x of the current price. If there is a tie for majority owner, they all equally share the sum of the two bonuses and all minority owners receive nothing. If there is a single majority owner and a tie for minority owner, the majority owner is paid out normally and the minority owners share the minority bonus equally, rounded to the nearest full unit of dollars.
The label of the acquired hotel chain is moved to the banker’s pool of available hotels.
If any of the hotels in a merger is safe—
consists of at least 11 tiles— the player may not place the tile in this spot.
A player may then buy up to three stock certificates. The price of a stock certificate depends on how many tiles are associated with an in-play hotel chain. Concretely, the following table defines the prices of stock certificates:
Festival, Imperial, American
For example, it says that if the Continental hotel is in-play and consists of eight tiles, a certificate costs $800. In general, if a hotel H consists of N tiles, find the column for H and, starting from the bottom, find the row with the first number smaller or equal to N. This row determines the current price of the certificate for H.
A player receives another random tile from the banker.
Ending the game: The game can end in two ways. First, the game is over when a hotel chain consists of 41 tiles or more. A player may make such an announcement during his turn, right after placing a tile. Second, the game is also over when all hotel chains are safe. In either case, a player must announce this fact publicly. A player may make such an announcement during his turn, right after placing a tile on the board. The current player must then complete his turn.
A computer scientist recognizes a state machine in this description. "Setup" creates the initial state; "play" is about intermediate states and state transitions; and "ending the game" specifies what the final states of the machine are. Depending on how you organize this machine the state space and the transition space (alphabet) are finite.
Scoring: At the end of the game, the majority and minority stock holders of each hotel chain receive a bonus according to the bonus rules for mergers. Once the bonus is distributed, the hotel chains buy back their stock. The player with the most money wins.
Note: The description above is intentionally vague though it will serve as the basis for running a game. Part of the "software development" learning process is to turn vague descriptions into interfaces, components, and complete, running systems. The project will refine the above description over the course of the semester.
The rules also differ a bit from the original game. The projects may add additional small wrinkles. Be prepared for changes.