I've opened and read the rulebook, but doubt I'll get more than one play out of it. The rules overhead is simply too high to ramp up any new players:
- The action cards don't have their real effect printed on them. Instead, they're event cards with the name of the action on the top. So you have to know what all the actions do, based only on the player card, which also has the turn structure on the opposite side.
- You can see your events before they happen. 7/8 of your hand is bad events. So you're reading all these terrible things, and you have to pick which of them you like the least, before round 1. That means you have to know all the mechanics before you've played a turn.
- The manual is terrible: repetitive, windy, and focused on everything but the core gameplay loop (Glitterhoof gets almost a page of content). There are so many little rules and edge cases designed to improve the simulation fidelity that you'll have to consult the manual a lot, so this is especially grating.
- There seem to be a lot of overlapping ways to do the same thing. Want to defend against an aggressive neighbor? Promote a duke, raise troops, build a castle, research tech, sabotage their rolls, or play an event card that screws with Cassus Belli. So much work!