You'll see me....unless I was "John" :)
I am more than a little jealous, and hope to hear some good reviews of games, techniques used, etc. :P
Did you get a chance to actually play? I'm hesitent to drop $100 on a board game I've never played (since I rarely play them), and really I just want to get my hands on the new art more than anything else.
It has a feel for aspects of Diplomacy, the Fantasy Flight Game of Thrones game, Rex, and other territory control games.
You can adjust play length with different victory point levels (15, 20, 30 points to win)
As described, you talk about alliances, play cards face down that confirm those deals, place movement order tokens under the pieces (in secret) and then resolve moves. the movement tokens also break ties on troop strength. Victors gain treasure cards which add advantages and story cards which do cool stuff too but I am blanking on specifics.
The mechanical walkthrough of a minimized turn I took felt like it will have a good strong competitive play style that my group enjoys. The heroes will be a nice way to make an end run on a player with tactical advantage and the cards can change everything but not in a way that ruins a player that has been doing everything right.
John mentioned a Reis "hero" that would fight for the highest bidder (unless it's a tie, then Reis just takes the money and runs) and a Sarmatian that would aid whoever is in last place. Probably stretch goals.
Graphically, the board and card art is really nice. The 3-d printed figs they had were nice as well. Relative to what I paid for Terraforming Mars, Fortune and Glory, Mice and Mystics, or Blood Rage it has as much or more in terms of parts and bits.
At 80 bucks I would have considered it a steal. At the 100 pledge that it is with the potential add ons from stretch goals, I think it is a very fair price in the current market.
Best praise I can give it is that I already pledged.