I've maybe played it a dozen times. I have my own copy, one of the 3M editions, which I never played, until a few nights ago, the night after Thanksgiving, when there were five of us (my parents, brother & sister-in-law, and me) and we were looking for a game to play. Hmm, I thought, too bad I don't have any of those cool German games we play at work like Tigris & Euphrates. You know, those games that are simple to learn but are actually interesting, unlike, say, Monopoly or Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit.
And then I remembered my old copy of Acquire. I pulled it out - the rules fit in the inside cover - it's that simple. So I figured my family would be able to handle it. We started playing. I took a turn, to show them how it's played, and then my brother took a turn, and then my mom said, "You know, I can just tell this isn't my kind of game. I'm going to go read a book."
So. Acquire fails the "mom test." Why do you suppose that is?
It's not (completely) the complexity. My mom is a geneticist; knows several scripting languages on her Mac (has even authored a multimedia wildflowers DVD); and has no problem working her digital cameras. You know, those same cameras that The Inmates Are Running The Asylum lambastes for their poor UI design?
I ask my mom why she refuses to play without even tasting it. "I can just tell that it's not my kind of game. I'm not interested in finance." So - okay, bad color. But my mom has played Monopoly many a time. And she didn't refuse to play the game at first - it wasn't until a couple of us had made our moves that she backed out. So...hmm.
Turn length? Once you're used to Acquire you can play it pretty quick, but there was a fair bit of overhead getting started there.
Presentation? Acquire isn't a pretty game - although apparently it recently has gotten prettier.
I like Acquire. It's one of the best examples of "layers" I can think of. You've got this bone-simple tile-placing game, where you're placing tiles to grow and connect companies. And you've got this bone-simple stock-trading game, where you try to buy low, sell high, and maintain majority ownership. And the magic comes from how the two games, or layers, interact.
I suck at it, by the way. Playing against the three remaining people, all of whom had never played the game before, I came in third. And I usually seem to come in last. I guess there's something counter-intuitive about the strategy. So that appeals to me, as well: there's this space to explore and get better in.
And something that's both a blessing and a curse is you don't really know how well you're doing until you finish the game and you all see how much money you've made. You have a fuzzy idea, but no concrete proof. This is good, in that, you don't end up in that "I'm hopeless" zone where you just want to quit. It's also bad, in that it's a very hard game to learn, because you don't get feedback on your strategy until the game's over. And then, if you've lost or won, you're never that sure why.
So, all these things to like. But boy does it fail the mom test. And that's too bad, because I think if those problems could be fixed mom would enjoy it.
Anybody know if there's a place I can play this online? There was a game called "Star Traders" which was a near-clone of the mechanics on the multiline BBS I used to frequent as a teenager. You'd think there'd be something like it on Yahoo! games or something.