Board Games 1085
It is a engine building game with a sheen of sci-fi pasted over it. I don't remember if its the first one to use the 'pay with the same thing you are building' schtick or not, but its fairly early. It is better than San Juan, due to the ability to pick your own role. This speeds things up significantly, while lowering player interaction alittle. This doesn't quite have the crazy combinations that things like Glory to Rome have, and it ends right as your 'engine' feels like its starting to work.