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Playa Del Rey
After a couple plays, it seems to me that the secret nature of the goal color is pretty nominal. The game is short and the spreads are small. You can't afford to pretend disinterest in your color just to keep your opponents guessing. They have to play against whatever colors are ahead of them, no matter who they think they are playing against.
Oi! Hands off...
The key words there are 'after a couple of plays'. After another couple, you'll realise that you can make moves early to prevent other colours scoring. Don't forget that virtually every counter on the board has the potential to score, so pairing (and tripling) up 'other' colours is a strong strategy.
After a few more, you'll get the gut feeling that your opponent(s) are a certain colour (probably because they're pairing and tripling as described above) and start making moves to reduce their scores. Of course, then, you'll move onto making 'bluff' plays and trying to hide your colour because the other players will be counter-acting your moves.
Clans is an extraordinarily deep game in that respect. My current feeling about it is actually completely opposite to yours: the Secret Colour is crucially important: so much so that being able to fathom it is just too difficult.
I think the importance of secret colors also varies by number of players. In a 4-player game it almost becomes irrelevant in a sense: you don't want ANY of the other colors to do well in the end, because all but one of them belong to opponents. In a 2-player game, it becomes much more important to know/guess which other color matters.
...which is why this game really shines with two players.