I have read the reviews of Go West! contained in these hallowed [web]pages and come away mostly agreeing...but wanting to make sure folks don't miss what might be a diamond in the rough.
A Simple Overview:
Player use cards to place wooden tokens (I called them 'outposts') along the routes wagon trains will take from the east to the west of the good 'ol USA in the 1800's. Also dictated by the cards is how many and how far wagon trains will move across the board. As wagon trains sit in a region on the map a player may use one of several scoring opportunities (special cards they hold, and pay increasing amounts to use) to have the wagons pay players of the region in which they reside.
It is this tension between the number of wagons in a region, the number of outposts each player has in several regions, and these payouts that are the point of the game. In a phrase, get the most wagons where you are the main 'outpost' holder; and try to prevent your opponents from doing the same.
Why other reviewers are unimpressed:
Several of the reviews I read seemed unimpressed with the complexity or strategic depth of the game (as in, not having enough). I cannot disagree. If you are looking to plot out several turns ahead...this is not the game, changes too fast. If you like a tight hold on your destiny...this is not it...card drawing and opponents messing with you are definitely happening here. If you want a lot of rules or component interaction rewarding complex strategies...nope, these mechanics are simple and new players are still in the game at the end.
I think these qualities makes Go West a nice little gateway game. Simple rules and component interaction quickly make sense to players. The tie-break mechanism is the only tricky bit and isn't crucial in the first turn or two, so there is time to learn it 'in game'. I like to have a couple games that are not the usual-suspects and that allow a new player (new to this game, or more crucially, new to the wider world of board gaming) to quickly pick up the mechanics, make definitive decisions and not feel constantly outclassed by the guy next to them saying over and over "no, don't do that, you best move is...".
The high quality components are a plus; but its low rating here on BGG has made Go West! a sale item (I got my copy at a nice discount). If you see it, I say pick it up. When you find yourself across from newer, younger or less-serious board gamers, this is a great choice. And, if you find yourself wanting a quicker, lighter game, this fits that bill as well.