How did it play? Well, I very much enjoyed the complexity of the game in terms of its reflection of reality. You can't grow sugar on your plantation unless you've got people to work the farm, you can't sell the sugar unless there's a place to mill it, and the mill ain't running unless it has got folks there, too. But I still haven't figured out what the best strategy for winning the game is. Is it making the most buildings? Is it creating a plantation that allows you to sell the most high priced goods? Or is it getting the most goods onto a boat, in which case you could just plant corn (doesn't require processing) and rock out? I guess the fact that I haven't figured out what a winning strategy is means that there's plenty of reasons to play the game again.
Is the game worthy of a 9 rating? I'll have to see how it plays after a second try. And I'd really like to figure out if the game is any fun with just three people or if it pretty much needs five people to be tenable.