MULE - 1983 - never surpassed!
So far I have only set up the game and played through on my own to learn the rules. It may be too early as a concern, but the Economic Interest cards just don't seem to add much to the game.
Here's my thinking...
1. You get them at the start of the game - but they only have an impact at the end - as such I think they seem an unnecessary distraction early on.
2. They give you one cube of a fixed colour (defined on the card) if you control that region at the end - for two out of three colours this will have no impact on the final scoring, so if they don't give you whatever you have least of they are useless to you.
3. There are two cards for each region and you get three cards - if you have both cards for one region no-one else will be trying to get the bonus, and if you control the region at the end you get two bonus cubes - if you have one card for a region, then (for 4 players) you know someone else is also going to try for the region bonus so you may get no bonus.
I felt dissatisfied with the way these cards are used - they seem to have a large chance of having no impact, and a small chance of giving someone a double bonus for one region. if you leave them out completely it would streamline the game.
If they are to be included then maybe deal one per turn? or all before the final turn? Maybe better to deal 2 rather than 3?
My biggest question is... If they are to be worth having why not make the reward a cube of the players choice?
I feel a house rule coming on, e.g....
Deal one Economic Interest card to each player at the end of turns 1 and 2. Player gets one cube of their choice if they control the region at the end of the game. Only one cube is awarded per region.
Experiencing senility daily since... I forget.
I have played the game many times. The Economic Interest Cards are very important. They have decided the game on several occasions.
As players collect cubes, their acquisitions are common knowledge. Player objectives during the final moves therefore are often discernible. Players must decide where to try to prohibit opponents from obtaining certain color cubes while maximizing their own chances to obtain the cube colors they need to increase their score.
The Economic Interest Card contents remain hidden until the game end. Because of this, players will never be sure exactly how many points their opponents might net at game end assuming their opponent can control the required area. In a runaway game this does not matter, but in a close game it can make all the difference.
To totally do away with the cards means stripping suspense and strategy from the game. Dealing one a turn means not being able to plan your moves. There is a surprising amount of strategy in this game for those who look to find it.