1990: No question about this one! Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. We're starting to see the German design influence appearing on our shores - Adel Verpflichtet was also published in 1990.
1997: Great game that combines several different game play elements into a totally satisfying whole. Nice bits, too. Too bad it only accommodates 4 players. A very close 2nd was Twilight Imperium - a truly great game of epic splendor.