Played the game for my 3rd time this evening. Loving it! We are playing the "equal opportunities" scenario (D) with 2 extra railroads. The veteran player says about it that - although would not prefer this scenario - he certainly agrees with what it does for newbie players. It helps keeping everyone involved in one way or another.
I've watched this game grow from foetus into the gem we see today. many comment on apparent flaws that actually are well designed balancing shemes like the Discovery & Luck the tiles etc. It's a unique game and it teaches very fast (about 10 minutes).
Edit 01-12-08 I piped it down a bit from a 9 to an 8. Don't know why exactly but I felt after my last game (which I won) like I just didn't care anymore... It happened on more then one occasion that I or others had to ask whose turn it is. As another poster here said too, that is typically a sign that players are not really involved / experience angst or anything like that. Hope this feeling will not stick...
Update: I don't know... there is something about the game that makes me want to play less and less. I can't say I look forward to playing it, and then again I don't find it a crime either when I do play. I suppose I never get fully immerged by AoeIII 'anymore' or... was I ever? I played Caylus the other day, and although it has nothing to do with that game apart from the worker placement, that kind of 'angst' never comes to me in a game of AoeIII. The stress of 'my spot being taken by another player' is seldom felt. Some of that has to do with the fact that the only truly place to feel this 'angst' is in the Capitol Building placement, since it is the most comparable perhaps to a single worker-building. But if taken by someone else earlier in turn order, that feels like a done deal and there is nothing that you really could have done about it (besides being earlier in turn order, duh). So it's easier to just sigh and be done with it. Apart from that the game bogs down much faster to 'scripted' placing and many times players seem to forget it's their turn. Finally I'm beginning to relate to the people that are sometimes surprised by the fact that they have done so well/bad in the game, when it's time to score. Sometimes someone wins or loses and I have no clue why that happened. I have an idea, but what it is exactly... That can be frustrating as it is a sign that I don't really understand what is going on in the game. Which is strange jet again because I've played it almost two dozen times...
Bought this game for a mere 10 bucks. That's nothing for the pleasure it gives me and my friends! If it was only playable with less then 5 people (albeit 4 is doable) and didn't have such apparent strategy choices (go for camels or for farming) it would get a lot more attention. Still a future classic.
Seems like a good game. Dug into Spanish Civil War games a while ago, and I kind of like the idea of having one. But this one has been picked up by Phalanx... hmmm!
Bought at Essen 2008
Edit: 16-01-2009, what a brilliant first play! So different from the two other CDG's I know (1960 and TS). There goes so much agony into deciding to play a card NOW for the Bonus or Penalty or hold it until the Events,. which comes waaayyy later. Holding it for the Event is somtimes so obvious, because it's a strong card, yet, since the game could be over by then... you're forced/doubtful to take it now for either B or P, since it could be the last thing you can do!
I'm proud to announce my '38 scenario win as the Republican player! It was a hard fought, lucky, but strategically sound offensive, with all the cards played and available at the right time and the right place. The Republic won with 7-5 cities (none contested) after a devastating breakthrough at Huesca!
Played it only once so far, but it got me right away. Love the original approach of not having one position. Plenty of diverse strategies available.
Played my 3rd game last night. I tried the gambit written here on the geek somewhere. My fellow players noticed what I was aiming for and pretty soon locked me out of the cheap stocks. I was locked out of the game after the first half hour and could not re-enter as a player owning a flag untill the last turn, no matter what I tried. But... I managed to come in second in the end with only 10K less then number one... That's not good. I think it has the same scriptiness as Antike although we all don't really understand right now, what that exact script will be.
Very nice game. It has a lot of known mechanics, but they are mashed together in a very unique and thoughtful manner. There is voting, worker placement and "area majority" in the form of a war that can be won.
Updated again. On Boardgamearena you can find players that are on your level and beyond. This means that play is now more balanced and not dependant on bad play from others. Over there your own tactical choices start to matter more. Still, a game that needs those kind of conditions to shine should not have a higher rating than 7.
Update. Improved my rating from a 3 to a 6 after playing this on Boardgamearena. Over there you can choose the level of the opponents. So being stuck with a weak player to your right is not an issue. That makes for far more interesting plays.
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.
I finally opened it... boy was I on the fense about that... I figured I would only buy other games with the money it was supposed to bring in, and I kind of liked having the story lying about. So it's cool, and I'm cool with the decision I made. The game is OK btw. It has the basics of risk so it can still bite you in the ass at times...
Finally I got my hands on a game of Samurai Swords or Shogun as it's called in the Netherlands. I love this game. I played it as a child and although it is a typical Ameritrash game with a lot of dice, kingmaker, king basher, turtle, player elimination and downtime issues... I still love it! It is not the best MB Gamemaster series game made (that would be A&A Classic in my opinion), but it's still good and against all other classics: Conquest of the empire (broken), A&A Classic (made obsolete) and Fortress America (flawed) it can still withstand the test of time!
03-05-2008 We played my Victory Point variant the other day, and it works like a charm. The game accumulates to a climax after (only) 5 3/4 hours. The tention that someone could win was always there as soon as we all got experience 2-3 for our Daymio. I upgraded my rating to an 8 and will continue with this variant, since one of its best advantages is that it does create an ending to the game, and rewards offensive play, rather then turtling.