Wonderful game. You have to find a balance of strategy, tactics, and opportunity in the hand you're dealt. The two actions you get per turn are rarely enough to complete the action you want, so gaming the turn order is vital to get turns when you want them.
There's tension and opportunity cost between all of your options: build coal/iron now and take an immediate payoff? build/ship cotton early for the foriegn market, or build up more cotton & ports to bulk ship later? build now, or develop and build more valuable industry next turn... if the space is still available? Burn an industry card that might give you options later, or use a city card that might be your only way into a city you don't expect to use? take loans at the end of the canal age or flip one more tile?
My rating for Brit creeps upward as we get better at playing quickly (4-5hrs). The asymmetric nature and multiple tribes per player is really cool, and I'm seeing very different strategies emerge in email games. Friendly discussions with Dr Pulsipher on the 'geek add to uniqueness and historical appeal of the game.
Downside is that we often need newbies to play a full game, and said newbies can skew the game with shortsighted moves
The powerful cards add something to Dominion that previous expansions have lacked, and that adds something that really pops. I'm not quite convinced that province-collectors can compete with colony-collectors in the same game, so the strategic space hasn't exactly doubled, but the variety certainly has.
El Grande seems like the most elegant game we have... all of the decisions balance multiple objectives, and the board position is just stable enough to allow for clever but forgiving strategy and tactics.
Downsides: My wife (and recently, everyone else )finds this dry, combattive, and a little long, so we either end up playing something short & sweet, or a railroad game
Very nice map for RR Tycoon. The game is both financially and geographically tighter, and the map is has a color structure, with red cities in the middle, and yellow and purple cities at the perimeter, to encourage building from center to edge. On the downside, this did create less differentiation among play, making it more about competing at parallel tasks. RoE forces balance and competition, where RRT expects the players to provide it through intelligent play and bidding.
I'm rating this below RRT for a couple reasons: It lacks some of the grandeur of the original map, and fails to bring any exciting innovations to the game, as opposed to cool rules in several BGGer-made maps.
It's nice to have a more expensive map that takes 5-6 players. The shorter game length (due to fewer cubes on the map) changes the debt dynamic to compensate, too. My one complaint is that the plethora of mountains (even in places where the land is rough but flat) limits the number of smart routes, such that the Rockies and coast might as well be a point-to-point grid, and the plains seem too poor to compete.
This is offset by the ability to put the eastern, western, and/or Mexican maps together for mega-games.
This is just a game that makes me smile... in a cringing sort of way, after we realize that we did one point of damage too few and the space amoeba is going to eat our heads. Can't argue with the 20-30 minute playing time either. I worry a little that it will get formulaic, but we haven't nearly gotten there yet.
The strange thing about VQ is that it looks like a wargame, but building an army and taking people's keys is the least efficient way to score points, and a prolonged stalemate will likely knock both players out of the running. It's just so much easier to score points with piracy, weddings, and patronage, so the peace dividend is very, very high.
But that, in turn, captures how the second half of the 16th century differed from the first, and from Here I Stand. I'm not sure how I feel yet about "slot machine" payouts from piracy, weddings, and patronage, but I've enjoyed my first few games, and the rest of the groups has as well.