Re:Is it as good as I remember?
I don't think the game stands up to modern standards. The rules are rife with grammatical and spelling errors that range from minor annoyance to critical errors that could change the whole flavor of a rule. The component quality of the TSR version is poor...counters are only gloss coated on the front with bare cardboard on the back. The map is heavy cardstock but subject to warping. The 20th Century Games version has similar issues...the counters are very thin cardstock and the advanced rules are only available on the CD Rom that comes with the game. Hope you have a printer. Amazingly enough, with this second printing the editing is still horrible. First time I have ever seen a game where the second version (25 years later even) has the same gross errors that were in the first version.
...Having said that...
The richness of the game's fluff and the way it is integrated into the board game makes this one unique even 25 years after its initial publishing. The stylistic artwork on both the board and in the illustrations is simple yet attractive. The personality cards for monarchs and diplomats really add a great spin to the diplomatic portion of the game.
If you liked this game in the 80's you will still probably enjoy it today. The 20th Century Games version is more raw material than game. They give you the components you need to play the basic game, but with the information supplied on the CD Rom that comes with the game will enable you to make your own components. In fact, if you have this CD you can pretty much re-create your own copies of the game should your existing one become damaged. With today's desktop publishing capabilities you could probably make a game that would exceed the quality of the original TSR game. I do suggest going through the rules and make the changes appropriate to correct grammar and such before you play so everyone is on the same page as to what you can and can't do with it. The other great thing about the 20th century version is that the map is mounted. Unfortunately, they didn't use the same colors that were in the original TSR one but we can't get everything I guess.