I picked this up on Prime day, and it got the the table right away. There were just two of us(myself and Jacob), so we learned the game quickly and got into it.
We were using the standard player boards, so we were both working with the same regions.
In the first turn, we both took tiles to cover up both single sized regions (building and pasture), gaining us each a lot of quick points. I got an early mine, and Jacob focused on animals.
As the rounds progressed, the score stayed fairly close, with each of us leapfroggging the other. I focused on getting buildings, while Jacob focused on animals.
In round 3, Jacob zoomed ahead, completing his last pasture to gain the completion bonus for the pasture, the points for all the sheep in the pasture, the round bonus for completion, and the bonus tile points. He crossed 100 points, while I was stuck around 70.
Even when I completed my building areas, I couldn't close the gap. I was still behind by 20-30 points.
However, in round 4, something interesting happened. I had seen Jacob make a big push with pasture tiles, so I knew I had to get to that point. Through a mix of good die rolls, and the fact that Jacob had no reason to take pasture tiles anymore, I was able to start filling up my pasture. I also snagged a bonus tile which gave me extra points per tile when scoring animals which helped a little.
In one turn I was down by 30 points. At the end of the turn, I was up by 10. I was able to score the animals, the pasture completion bonus, the round bonus, and the 2nd bonus tile. In addition, I was able to complete a ship section, which scored a nice chunk of points.
I never trailed again. While Jacob got his mines completed first, I was right behind, and also managed to get my castles completed. The bonus actions were huge, allowing me a lot more flexibility on the last turns. Jacob wasn't able to build any additional castles. He focused on yellow knowledge tiles, and trying to catch up in buildings in the last turns.
We both found the game really interesting. It seemed like an early lead was a dangerous thing to have, since it locked you out of points later on and allowed other players to catch up. I imagine using some of the other boards changes the strategy quite a bit.
Looking forward to exploring more.
Andy - 200
Jacob - 176
A great game it is