My first impressions of Shadow are good. The rules are somewhat convoluted but the game has a lot of moving parts and decisions to make so it’s difficult to get your head around the game by reading. However, although the game reads as slightly complex it has the feel that play will not be complex.
Shadows has a rich theme. Players vie for retaining the role of the Emperor which grants special privileges. Players allocate barons, knights, couples, and cities to areas of the board (Electorates) and take actions and special privileges of controlled electorates. Allocated “people” then age providing a unique twist on your ability to retain control of an Electorate (aged people are removed from the board).
Changes in who controls the Emperor’s seat, negotiation between players for marriages of descendants, obtaining enough votes through strategic placement of people and card purchases, etc. all make for a rich and rewarding game. I’m looking forward to my first game. No if only I can get my group to be willing to slog through a learning game.
I also received Winner’s Circle but I’m not up to speed yet on that one much. I traded for the game mostly because I don’t own a “race/betting” game like it and it came highly rated on BGG. The fact that it supports up to 6 players and has a fairly short playing time (60 minutes) I thought it would be a nice change of pace from the standard Euro-fare that can get a little monotonous over time. Time will tell. Unfortunately the box came with a pretty severe crush that appears to have occurred during shipment. The game was not packed with much internal padding and so it suffered the blow as well. It doesn’t appear to have injured the game itself…just the box. That’s the risk you take when trading though.