George Van Voorn
... in fact, the game is probably more closely related to El Grande, in that it features area control as the primary goal.
I think of it more as a 'sweep-of-history' game in the lines like Britannia. It shares more features with that game: invasions starting at the rim of the board, every civ has different abilities and thus different areas valuable for scoring points, an empire grows for a few turns, then gets rolled up by a new one, etc.
One big advantage (a nice change to the regular games) is the fact that combat is diceless. Thus, you can calculate how far you can get. Also nice is that every game is different (there are different sets of tiles that get offered).
A disadvantage in my opinion is that it is a typical "bash-the-leader" game: you gang up on the one who is leading in points (Britannia for instance is better in that every player scores big at different moments).
While not the two-hour Civilization game it initially was touted as, Vinci is still an outstanding positional strategy game, that features interesting choices and varied play, due to the randomness of the civilization counters.
I don't know why they did that, but on the other hand, it seems every new game involving trade or combat gets compared to civ (Mare Nostrum, La Citta, heck, even Attika).