I finally got a chance to play this game over the weekend. And I will have to say that I had a blast and I'm pretty sure everyone else had a blast. The rules are pretty straightforward as laid out, although we did have a couple questions about the cards but the folks who made this game were kind enough to include a card appendix which gave further explanation to the cards.
The components and setup for this game are pretty nice. Each of the Empires have their own set of components and this company was kind enough to bag each empire's stuff (unlike other companies). The Balaclava of Evil is a pretty nice touch, although we didn't use it as intended, since my apartment has two heat settings, hot and off. The board is nicely laid out and there is enough space in each country for everything that is going on. The Axis of Evil is another nice touch.
The Gameplay is pretty straightforward. Each player rolls the action die which tells them how many developments can be made during their turn. The rules for placing new developments is pretty straightforward and I like the touch of being able to go all the way from a village to a city and only using 1 action.
This is a game that encourages some negotiation, backstabbing and what not as each empire is vying to be the ultimate empire. The rules dealing with the terrorists is pretty nice as once you get eliminated as an empire, you can play as a terrorist. As more players get eliminated, they are sort of a team. Since Empires can buy terrorists, they seemed to have alot of pieces to pick from.
The cards range from the very good to the very nasty. Some of the good cards are the ones that allow you to double or triple your oil revenue and the ones that let you place free developments. some of the nasty cards are the nukes and the WMD. The terrorist cards were mostly nasty.
The only thing we didn't have clear in our game was the fact that you needed similar size terrorists to attack empire pieces. So in our game, the terrorists seemed a little unbalanced. I think in a different play, they wont seem as bad.
The Evil Empire ability is pretty nice as he gets access to the terrorist deck as an Empire. This makes for some nasty things.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. Sure it's mechanics aren't as tight as some of the Eurogames, but then I don't think this is a game about the mechanics. This is a game to have fun.