Yep, it's a game about doing things in the right order. And it's lots and lots of fun. I love putting together my farm and making things work together. I love the card combos and the way it feels like really building something and the free form nature of it--it really feels as if you can put you farm together however you like, though it isn't obvious if you look at it at the end. Really satisfying and after over 20 plays, I think it's safe to say this will be a favorite for a long time.
EDIT: Frankly, if you don't think Agricola is awesome, you simply don't play games for the same reasons I do. If you want a satisfying building experience, this is it! Must.. play...more...
EDIT AGAIN: Yeah, for now I am pretty sure I'm madly in love with this. The more I play, the more I want to keep playing.
COOLER OBSERVATIONS: The issues with the game are as follows: 1) it is very much a giant fiddly mess. The upkeep is pretty intense. 2) Turn order can matter, especially with a smaller number of players. 3) Yes, it is possible to get a very good hand and that does influence the outcome. I have tried the drafting variant and like it quite a bit.
But except for #2, these are integral parts of what I love about the game too and I will happily forgive them.
I knew I was looking forward to this for a reason. If you are planning on going around labeling games as "elegant," El Grande is the one to do it with. The game seems really deep, with plenty to think about each turn, and yet it's simple to play, and even with my current rather inexpert attempts at the game I've been able to feel happy with my decisions (while still grasping for a deeper level of understanding). As everyone probably knows by now, it is an area control game with many ways to move cubes around the board and interesting tradeoffs between the ability to do interesting stuff and/or go first, and the ability to get more cabelleros on the board. Absolutely love it. Yes, there is a memory element, but unless you are playing with people who are particularly good at counting cubes, it just adds another level of doubt and tension to the game.
P.S. I love Ra. This is a great game. I love how the values are constantly shifting and always difficult to calculate. I love the tension and the importance of each decision. The game has GREAT replayability and it is always exciting. One of the best auction games out there.
I'm a huge fan of what I call investment games and this is the prototypical example of such a game in my mind. I love the investment-over-time aspect of it as well as the turn order manipulation. Trying to predict when the game will end and knowing when to change your strategy are very important and enjoyable aspects of the game as well. Good stuff.