It can be very difficult to get the pairs into your hand, but there are plenty of support cards dealing with that problem. I'd say this makes the game a little luckier, but it seemed manageable. Thus far I prefer the Hoax, but there's some fun stuff here. (1 play)
Initially I really liked this expansion; now I am not so sure. It makes the game much longer and considerably more random. The barbarians are kinda fun, but is it worth it? On the whole, I don't think so.
This expansion adds several options, some new cards and abilities, and the possibility of playing with five or six players. Thus far, I've only tried it with for, and while some of the new stuff is nice, it is mostly very similar to the original. Some exceptions: France is a very cool addition which I like quite a lot, and the black master builder is, hmmm, goofy. (2 plays)
Decreases the time investment--I like it a lot. Advantageous placement is very different from the base game--the middle is useful, because you need to get to EVERYTHING. Power plants run out!! Moves even faster when combined with the Power Plant Deck 2. (3 plays)
China map. I liked this quite a bit. It's a nice tight map in which the cheapest section is a peninsula (!). The mechanic of the less random card deck is also quite interesting. Putting out one card fewer than the number of players really increases the tension while bidding. When we played, it was a pretty cash-poor game and I think this was directly related to this. (1 play)
Korea map. Coal is even tougher than usual; if you have a big coal plant, you just have to hope fervently that Step 3 will not come up. Takes a little longer for nuclear to be good too. Very interesting map. (1 play)
I like playing with five and I really like the new starting worlds. I'm not convinced I like the goal cards, though. They take away some of the spontaneity of the game play and reward strategies that are already good. (2-3 plays)
I think it is more balanced, particularly the Observatory, and new stuff like the Sycophant and the New Farmer is very interesting (though I am still unsure whether the New Farmer is actually worthwhile). And I really like playing with five. And the game has much the same feel as the original, though it's hard to get used to remembering the fifth player. Even without five, the game is quite different because it is longer and that changes the timing. This is great stuff. Seriously considering bumping this up to a 10. Playing with both expansions and four players increases the length and arc of the game, making it more of a gamer's game than heretofore.(4 plays)
This is one of those expansions that makes the game longer. It's harder for any player to win because you don't cycle through your tiles as quickly. However, it also adds some interesting things--the 1/2/3 paddle is a nice addition, as are the double canoes, not to mention that all-important sixth player.