Fantastic 2-player version of Carcassonne. I find the interaction is less direct than with the original or H&G. The wall tiles make the game a bit more random. The fact that you only need to match up road edges (as in The City) gives more choices for tile placement.
The best of the Carcassonne family. So much going on. Tile placement, wall placement, and guard placement. All are somewhat opposing forces, making you have to keep your eyes on everything the whole time.
Rating could go up or down depending on how stagnant play becomes. Does the initial setup and randomness of the cards allow for a nice variety, or does the game become repetetive? [04/06] Starting to feel like tug-of-war. Down a half point.
Kind of an area influence game. You want the majority of bridges to an island in order to place a stone of your own upon it. However, bridges connect 2 islands, so they count for majority in 2 places. If an opponent "captures" an island, you lose all your bridges to that island. This can have a ripple effect. Nice little 2 player abstract.
This is not the simple "chase each other around the board" game that you may think. Every decision is painful. If you play in one area, you know you are giving up something elsewhere. While the game is pretty, the colors detract from functionality, and the quality (FFG) is subpar.
The only randomness is the draw of the tile(s) when you set sail; this might be a little too random for some; you can get a lucky break and have half the board for yourself. Otherwise, very chess-like in its play. Trying to calculate a complicated series of chain reactions is difficult.