I tried one turn of this new GMT title a few days ago, but wanted to give it one more shot at solo play before we all get together and try it out for real this time next week. I'm quite glad I did.
I mentioned that the negotiations were a bit hard to do, and that's still true. However, what I did was skip most of the fiddly parts of negotiation, and went straight to declarations of war, sueing for peace, and ransoming leaders. Good call. To determine if I thought going to war was a good idea, I simply thought about whether each country, in turn order, would want to do that very thing. It's worked out well, although aside from a little squeeze play on the French by the Brits and the Turks and Hapsburgs duking it out at the gates of Vienna, there hasn't been much going on wrt war.
The good news is that, at the start of turn 8, everyone is in position to win. The English got a lot of unrest tokens late in the turn that they have to get rid of, and the Papacy had a ton of cards thanks to Miss Jane Grey and managed to convert a lot of Germany back to Catholicism, but otherwise most players are at 22 points, very close to a standard victory. If the Turks can take Vienna and perhaps eke out a VP with the pirates, they have the best shot, as the Papacy's score will drop as the Protestants start taking back spaces (although those Jesuits really put a cramp in their style - the whole German language area was Protestant, at least religion-wise, at the beginning of turn 7).
Not sure if I'll finish, it's been a *long* game.
Some things I've screwed up -
o Too many reformation/counter attempts on the same space twice in the same impulse - only one is allowed per burn/treatise attempt.
o Not enough attention paid to the debater's super mutant powers.
o No naval action other than piracy. I kept that to a minimum simply to allow me to better understand the other parts of the game.
o Charles V took troops with him after using the HRE card.
o Mandatory events get two CPs. Doh!
o Didn't realize how useful Unrest could be for the Papacy, and what a pain for the Brits/Protestants.
o It's really hard to keep track of the Religion track when it's just you. I have to double check VP/spaces on a regular basis, like every couple of times around the action track.
Some cool things -
o How close the game is.
o Henry finally getting a healthy Edward with the last of the wives. Whew.
o The French Reformation never really took off because of the Jesuits in Lyon, a choke point for Geneva.
o The Hapburgs getting circumnavigation early, but nothing else until the Incas last turn. Whoops, forgot that I can roll for those as colonies...
o The English exploring all of NA, but the French conquered the Maya and explored the Amazon (plus, the Silver Mines and Galleons). The New World part is very peripheral in a lot of ways, but for the Brits and French, those extra cards can really come in handy if they are lucky with their rolls.
I'm really looking forward to giving this a shot in a few days! There are a lot of little fiddly chrome rules, but in this game they give each power a real sense of individualism, with each having strengths and weaknesses that do a good job of mirroring history. Of all of the powers, I think I'd enjoy the Papacy, the Ottomans, or the British the most.