"Settling Zion" took longer in real life than the boardgame, but at 4 hours we still had not finished the game. With only 2 players, it took forever. I had ran out of the settlement chits, so I could do nothing but gain resources and spend them on the victory point cards. My wife had a few of hers left, bad missionary rolls for her so she never got many freebie settlements.
So here is the painful truth:
It is an exact settlers game with only a few differentces. You have robber rolls separately, so they only affect the current player's resources (but they lose all resources in this game). You can make a branch into a ward into a stake, giving you 1 missionary card for each add-on (place settlement chit on top another one to declare this) which can be used to roll each turn for freebie branches(first settlement placed is a branch), the board is a square grid so each settlement gets 4 numbers to get resources with, and lastly the victory points are in stuff that costs a bunch (kind of like buying the statue each turn for one victory point) of resources with which is how you win + 1/2 point for each missionary card, and no roads just placement wherever you feel like on the non-changing board. No tiles for this one, same thing every time.
Game board and bits need help, no actual cards, so it is a pain getting the resources each turn with little thin cardboard(cards), I prefer settlers of catan(even the german card size is better, though I prefer the US English size), the thick cardboard chits are too large, and not easy puched out of the page.
Far too long. Needs to be streamlined down to an hour and a half if possible. The resources are "supposed" to be able to get easily with some card that keeps track of how many of each resource you have available on which numbers, but it didn't come with my copy. (made our own after we played just so we could try it once more and speed things up). Doing the same thing over and over gets monotonous. I never got the feeling that I was having fun. It was along the lines of "is it over yet?" My wife was having fun she said. I was ahead of her early on, so about the time she was catching up, I was getting burned-out.
The freebie branches is cool for the missionary cards, but after you have enough branches(or all of them) it is not needed. Something to do other than make a new branch would be good. Things costs far too much, and usually every resource is needed for each thing. Some cards to prevent the robber or black cricket(robber placement) is good, and yes, very expensive. Paying tithing to help you is a nice feature, and yes it pays off "blessings" most of the time.
The game is not a brainburner, you know which things to get and when. Things cost about the same, so no thinking about saving anything to purchase next time. Gold can be traded eventually for 1:1 of any other resource, so one of the ending victory point card costs 10 gold which is easily obtained when you're missing one livestock or something but you have 10 resources and the ZCMI card (allows 1:1 traading-in). Stuff costs too much. Too fiddly with those "cards" in it. I never felt like I was "settling" anything. The missionary idea was about the only idea I liked; it had a new mechanic that the other settlers do not have. Worth 34 dollars? Compared to others for that cost, hmm maybe Settlers of Catan for instance, definitely not. It needs more play-testing to streamline it down some, some real cards and a different way to end the game.