Having agonized for a couple days over which new game to pick up (I was torn between Hacienda, Thurn and Taxis, and Goa), I finally went with Goa (I'll have to pick up the other two at a later date).
Prior to buying it, I never actually played Goa. This decision was made strictly by research on the Geek and talking to others who have played it. After 2 plays (both of which were 2-player), I can safely say this is a great game.
As you might expect, the goal of the game is to earn the most victory points (VPs). Earning those VPs can be done in a number of different ways which will be touched upon.
Each player has a development board which has 5 upgradeable columns: Spice harvesting, ship building, tax collecting, expedition cards, and colonists. As you upgrade each of your columns, not only do you increase your ability for that column (e.g. when you upgrade your spice harvesting column, you are able to harvest more spices), you also gain VPs. Upgrading your development board is done by harvesting and shipping spices, but the number of spices and ships you can produce is dependant on the progress of your development board.
VPs can also be earned by founding colonies, building plantations, buying certain tiles, collecting expedition cards with similar symbols, and having the most money at the end of the game.
The game is played in 8 rounds. In each round, each player participates in an auction for tiles, performs 3 standard actions, and then performs any additional actions they may have acquired. It is during these actions that the players can upgrade their development boards, harvest spices, build ships, collect taxes, draw expedition cards, and/or found colonies.
At the end of 8 rounds the VPs are totaled and the winner is determined.
I really like this game. It requires many intertwined and consequential decisions. From the auctions to developments, you will constantly be faced with tough decisions which will have far reaching consequences. The game may be a bit difficult to learn at first, but after one solid play, the rules are clear enough, and the game is quite straight forward from then on. My first play took about 2 hours since it was a learning game, but the second play was around an hour. But even the 2 hour game was quite enjoyable.