Secret Santa 2007 Gift! Fun game. Similar appearance to its cousin, Twilight Struggle, but different gameplay. It's a little hard to know where you stand in the game (unless you can calculate states in your head or have a computer handy). The break up of the debates and the elections help the game move along and feel like you have mini-goals throughout.
Akin to Carcassonne where you claim areas and those areas score points based on tiles. This is more mechanics than theme. It plays well enough with some thought going on in the order and selection of tiles to activate the vault or the order side. I think I would rather play Carcassonne though.
Decent party game. The biggest thing lacking is enough question cards. After only 3 plays, we pretty much went through the whole deck of cards and I have learned most of the 1st and 2nd round questions. Plus 2nd edition did little to correct the probelm if a member of the opposite sex was knoweldgable about the "other side's" area of expertise. 1st edition, if a guy was a cook or a lady a sportsfan, they had this game locked up. 2nd edition, though I don't remember the categories, had similar problems.
Interesting take on the worker placement as you have natural alliances but then must compete against those to gather resources.
The game is a little too tight in that there isn't enough time to get anything going before it is over. Perhaps with more players and more initial starting spaces, the game will open up and resources are more likely to be gathered.
The game is pretty broken. You want to win? All you have to do is read the clues in a robot voice (like a bad 60's movie) and people can usually pick up on the clues right away. Once we figured this out, nearly impossible not to blow through the clues and pile up a bunch of correct answers.
I want to like this game more but the chaos is not a good thing in this game. The rich get richer and it can be tough to catch up to the leader. Though a random event can put you back in the lead, it has more to do with luck than strategy. Only using half of each deck lends to great variety between games, but it also seems to unbalance things: the cards that might be used to tackle the leader may just never come up. The random ending borrows from Dominant Species but again is too random compared to that game. At least DS still allows you to react and plan for the end as someone has to actually execute it as an action.
I will keep playing because I want to like this and I hope some strategies develop. But it is not quite the game I had hoped it would be.