I picked this up from Tanga a little while ago and it finally hit the table at the Tuesday night Northbay Gamers meetup.
Only Max had played before, but as we are all experienced gamers no one had any real problem with the rules. We each actually even started developing a strategy as we played out the turns.
I came last, pursuing a trade goods strategy, with a tad of military -- was able to get to 3 sets of 4, but everyone had lots of goods to offset it. I was able to be first in 2 regions, but that was my sole presence in the New World. I didn't realize just how tight money would be during the game, and just how important which building you buy is -- a lesson learned.
Sean came in next to last, and he was very expansionist -- he had a presence in every colony, getting lots of 2nds but few firsts -- he had bought the building that gives him the Y colonist.
Kenny was 1 pt behind Paul with a discovery strategy -- he had also bought the +$20 building on turn with followed up by 2 buildings on turn 2.
Paul had gone big money -- the +$5 and +$10 buildings, along with +$8 from piracy. He had a lot of points from buildings, both the fixed ones (Cartography etc) and a couple from the variable end game ones.
Max was able to get a solid win margin of 7pts based on a heavy colonization strategy -- he first got the building that gave a Monk every turn, followed by the building that gave you +1 colonist when you used your monk.
The game took a little long at around 3 hours setup to teardown, but we also had to punch it and go over all the rules.
I think everyone enjoyed how meaningful your decisions where throughout the game, and the level of contention between players during worker placement.
The extra missionary/boosted missionaries building combination is very powerful. It's how I won my second and third games. When possible, you should try to prevent both these buildings going to the same player.
An effective counter to this strategy is to send a bunch of soldiers to his colonies. The extra spot on the colonist dock buildings are good too. Blocking the missionary specialist space is always a good idea.
If everyone is using the colonist dock, he shouldn't be able to send both missionaries and soldiers over to the New World. Or at least he is not sending 2 missionaries/turn.