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Heavy is one word I'd use to describe this game, and not just the heft factor. This game is essentially Sid Meier's Civilization without the computer. There's lots of little bits to move around each turn, and lots to remember. Having said that, Civ is one of my favourite games, so I ended up liking it.

I played half of a two-player game to get the mechanics down. We called the game early because it was getting late and it was clear that I was going to lose.

There are a number of neat mechanisms, including one that enables players to play simultaneously unless one player requests turn order be determined (and that's done in a very cute way too). This makes sure that the game doesn't drag. There's also an absolute ceiling on the number of rounds in the game, and the ability for players to spend surplus resources for extra victory points.

The bits are pretty good quality, better than your average home publisher. The pieces - several hundred - are nice thick cardboard and professionally punched; there are a few wooden pieces and there's room for creativity for the players as they can draw roads, bridged and landscapes on the transparent plastic sheeting that covers the hexes.

This game isn't for everyone, since there's a fair amount of micromanagement (but not as much as, say, Union vs Central), but there's a rewarding depth to it, as you turn in your donkeys and make carts, boats, trucks and mine gold into coins and coins into stocks. I have to play it again soon, to consolidate my understanding of the mechanisms.

 
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