Nice review Rob.
I agree with your take on the game.
I dont think a player will be able to develop a winning statagey as too much randomness in the card draws will prevent this.
I actually find this aspect to be a nice change. Especially in our group. (Rob and I are in the same game group... The Strangline Spielers)
We have two players that are quite good at developing strategies, and they play a lot more games than we do. Its nice to have a game where all you have to do to beat your opponents is react better to your turn than they do. Cleopatra is such a reactionary game that as long as you pay attention to what your opponents are building and maximize what you do each turn... you should have a shot.
So for a change, this one is nice.