We had a lively 4 player session the other night, to test out the new action selection system. The game wasn't significantly shorter as hoped, but several of us are slow, deliberate players anyway, so it's difficult to say for certain. The new mechanic was a success and was well received. The ability to choose two abilities creates interesting situations. For example, I know I can initiate up to 3 combats each generation, but only once each can I pair combat with the migrate (lets me move warriors AND peasants), raid (lets me move warriors only, and loot resources) and produce (grab bonus resources from one territory) actions. That means each use of the combat action will give me slightly different abilities, and I have to plan carefully if I expect to need to fight multiple times in a given generation. And most of the abilities, especially build and advance, have similar considerations.
Overall, the session was a good success, and the final scores were very close (44/41/33/32), with the winner determined by the game end bonuses. I anticipate only two small changes prior to the next session (no Events in the final epoch, and don't reshuffle the Events until the deck is fully depleted). The newly rebalanced scoring cards seem to be producing fairly close games, and none of the payouts seem too generous or too stingy so far.
One concern a player brought up: since Roads homogenize the trade route landscape so much, does "Trade Routes" make sense as a scoring category? Will players be very differentiated in this, or can any player basically score the same as anyone else? Something to watch for.
A report on the session has been placed in the DropBox folder.