edit: I think the unthinkable has happend. With my purchase of the A&A Revised edition I must admit this game is getting out-of-date. While still a good game it should be demoted to a 9.
edit: again... because Revised is so obviously a better game, with more variation, this game will not be played again. I will keep it since it's one of my very first games bought. I'm a sentimental guy.
The BGG rating system is the reason why this game is rated so low by me. It's not that it's a bad game, it's just I gave up on MY game improving. That's why I decided not to play anymore and that makes it a category 3 game.
Bought it at Essen 2007! Finaly I got to play the game. Gameplay does take too long. Our first play lasted 4 hours (including rules explanation). If we had played the official variant it would have been even longer. In the end, it's the variant we played that kept the game alive, and will make sure we play it again some time.
our second play lasted well over three hours... it's getting there but still it's too long.
24-08-08: this was our third play... we played a 4 player game with the 5 player goals. As the first two games; that just takes forever... It's not a bad game, not at all. I can get passed the fundamental flaws this game also has, with a few simple house rules. But I have to address this time issue first. Without that addressed, this game will not be played ever again.
I did a lot of research for my first play, and it felt pretty obvious how to play 'best'. My first two plays I won from 4 moderate players. That - to me - is not good. If you can win easily from experienced players as a beginner, something smells... My third play I had the misfortune of sitting next to someone who 'didn't know what to do' so he took the Goudzoeker (I believe it's called) and so I couldn't benefit from the ground work of someone else. That ruined it for me.
Bough at Essen 2009 Update: It's ok. Needs to be shortened. We played 4 player six round game in 4 hours. In the end nothing changes that much in a single round. In the final round all is about who can stall the game long enough to make the final move probably winning the game. There is no need for 6 rounds to make that an exiting thing. That is easily achieved in 4-5 rounds. While shortening the game helps. We now play rounds 1&2, 3, 4&5, 6&7 as just 4 round combining them with just slight modifications, there isn't really a game there. Not a lot to influence and it all comes down to the last round and who can hold on to the last card basically.