I just started reading about this game and it seems amazing. Before purchasing it, I have several questions:
1) How long does this game really take? Is there a lengthy setup or does playing start quickly?
2) Has anybody played it solo?
3) How does it compare to Stone Age?
4) Can this be played with willing non-gamers?
Thanks for helping me get off the fence regarding this game.
1. a) Set up is fairly quick, although it will take a several minutes to grasp the rules, there are quite a few different components you will either need to segregate or have alot of baggies.
b) game length is variable, but here there is a highly modular aspect of the game as you have different victory conditions to choose from. Most games I have been involved in take around 60 - 90 minutes.
2. Have not tried it solo except to do a walk-through to learn and understand the rules.
3. I much prefer this game to Stone Age. Both have their luck factors (card draw in Tribune, die rolling in Stone Age). I find the game to be a relatively quick-playing meaty game, something that is fairly rare. My only caveat is NOT to play with the mandatory Tribune victory conditions, as a lucky card draw could practically hand the game to one player on the first turn, although if everyone is alert they could counteract this play. Playing without the mandatory Tribune requirement allows for more freedom and variable strategies.
4. Hard one to answer. I would say this is probably NOT a gateway game in that sense that games like Ticket to Ride, Ingenious, Lost Cities could be considered as pulling new people into the hobby. Most people who are already into gaming whom I have taught this game seemed to enjoy it.
Hope this helps. I still view Tribune as the best of last year's Essen; indeed many on BGG seem to forget that it finished #1 ahead of Agricola in the Fairplay poll there last year.