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Our group of four players tried this game out last weekend.
It hits all the notes in terms of modern eurogaming. Each player gets a tableau representing his castle and surrounding areas. He has to add buildings, mines, farms, and the like, which come available as little hex counters. They appear semi-randomly in a 6 region area, and each player rolls 2 dice each round. You can get access to the 6 areas by rolling that number on one of your dice, modifiable by "workers" if you are off.
But those die rolls can be used for other actions as well, such as selling off trade goods or placing the counters you have accumulated in your holding area. So you end up playing the numbers, acting on different short-term goals as fate allows, and adding more workers when you can, to alter fate.
Scoring favors both quick action and thoughtful multi-turn strategy. Players are well-advised to watch each other's games and interfere when necessary to prevent leaders from game-winning maneuvers.
There are many possible strategies. At first glance, it seemed like mines were almost *necessary* because they produce a flow of gold each turn, but I ended up winning without a single mine in place. This seems to be the general thrust of these eurogames -- provide multiple channels for victory, allow the players to navigate between channels as their strategies clash (and with a small bit of randomness), and reward careful observation.
It is somewhat challenging in that there are an ever-greater number of things to keep track of as the game progresses, so beginning players might be frustrated. And I think the game might be improved with more opportunity for player interaction (beyond snatching away counters you think the other guy needs.)
But overall it was quite fun to play, and I see lots of replayability here, particularly in the different player tableaus. (We all played using the "standard" one for this first game, but will likely mix it up next time.) I look forward to checking out any mods, house rules, and variants people post here.
IMHO, variability comes also a lot from the order in which some tiles (buildings, intelligence) appears.
Great game all around. Thanks for your review!