Board Games 2619
Engine-building, in a way, through the tableau that provides special abilities and income, but your engine is always unsteady and prone to collapse. Take that, certainly, but such moves will often give your opponent points. Simple card play, once you've got it - there are basically 6 card types and 9 actions, some of which are hardly used - and yet, the vast number of cards creates uncertainty and a different story every time. Lots of thematic touches (beyond the ridiculous amount of historical flavour text on each card) - using bandits gives the gunstore owner income; creating unrest on a plantation makes it prone to slave revolt, which could land you in jail. And above this sits the neat victory system that drives the game, in the form of the changing political regime that also changes the suit of victory points you need. Altogether, a magnificent thing that puts the player squarely into the Mexican Revolution, hands them a Mauser Carbine, 2 bandoliers, a posse of banditos and a steady stream of ill-gotten pesos and says, "dale, dale, dale".