Get Hostile is a DHTML-based, abstract, multiplayer strategy game based on the board game Acquire. Like most great strategy games of its kind, Get Hostile packs an enormous amount of complexity into surprisingly few rules. The object is simple: finish with the most money. However, as discussed in the analysis of the game, there are many ways to do this, and not every strategy fits every game.
Get Hostile is a no-frills implementation of the original board game—there are no avatars or even any real graphics, and the only sound offered is an optional beep to let you know when it is your turn. And why should there be? This is a purist's strategy game. Essentially, the game consists of a blank grid, onto which can be placed tiles. When two tiles connect, a company is formed and the founder gets one bonus stock in the company. When two companies are connected by a tile, they merge and the larger company takes over the smaller one. The stockholders of the smaller company have the option to sell their stock, trade it in 2 for 1 for stock in the parent company, or keep it in case the company is reformed in the future. As companies grow in size, their stock becomes worth more.
However, the real meat of the strategy doesn't come in the form of "buy low, sell high." When a company is taken over, its top two stockholders receive cash bonuses equal to 5 and 10 times the current price of stock. Thus it is often more lucrative to put yourself in position to get these bonuses, especially if it only takes a few stock to become the top holder.
The rules are few but can sometimes be complex. They are available to peruse on the website—just click HELP. Also available on the help page is a movie walkthrough which explains all of the essential plays of the game, as well as a few basic strategies. Once you've watched that, you're ready to play. I recommend starting with the tutorial—it's essentially the real thing, except you get some helpful hints. Once you've mastered the basics (and it really isn't that hard) you can register or login as a guest and join a game or start your own.
Analysis: As mentioned before, the bonuses for the top two shareholders really drive the strategy of Get Hostile. A small investment in a company that is about to be taken over can pay large returns. However, all companies are liquidated at the end of the game, so being the top dog in the largest company will pay off in the long run. Your strategy will change depending on what sort of growth the companies go through—a game in which one giant company just swallows up all of its competitors will be very different than a game in which several medium-sized companies duke it out.
Once you play a few games, you'll start to realize that a major part of the strategy is whether to place your money in stocks or keep it in cash. For the most part, it's best to buy as much stock as possible—the price never decreases, so you'll always at least gain back what you invested. However, sometimes you can get stuck with all of your money tied up in stock, with no freedom to maneuver yourself into one of those coveted top positions. It will take you a few games to see how the system really works—this can be done easily by playing a game or five against just computer players. Even then, it will probably take many more games to become reasonably skilled.
The website itself can be a bit confusing at times. The HELP screen goes a long way in explaining things that are non-intuitive, but some things—such as where each of your playable tiles are—you'll just have to get used to. Also, the chart listing all the various stock prices is not in view during the game, although it is readily available via mouse.