So, Jeffro Johnson put up a post during GenCon about Wizard Kings and how his son loved playing it, and thinking about army construction, etc. I walked over to the Columbia Games booth after finishing my time sitting down, and bought both that game and this one. The Last Spike has already gotten some recognition from Mensa, so it doesn't need my promotion to the mainstream, but there are those that disparage the Mensa lot, so I thought some words might be in order.
This is after one play, so please keep that in mind.
The rules are great, and play is very streamlined. If you end up with a "what if I" question, either they're high or you can find the answer in about 20 seconds and explain inside of another 10. The strongest points for this game are the simplicity of rules, and ease of play. That does not make the game simple to play well. If you have played Acquire, this has a great number of similarities: play a tile, buy some land(if you can). Of course, the differences add up as well, each tile has a cost, and that's doubled if it isn't adjacent to an existing tile or city. If you can't afford to play a tile, sell land until you can, at half price(the only way to sell land). When two cities connect, owning the land in those cities pays out by how many of that land you have. Over time, the game rewards a little more spread in assets than Acquire, as there are no majority bonuses, just payouts.
My only slightly negative comments are with some components, and they're fine, honestly. The board isn't a fully mounted board, but is a nice folding board. The money is wooden discs in 3 colors. I might upgrade to coins at some point, but the discs are fine. I almost would like a deluxe edition with coins, a slightly larger mounted board, and slightly larger wooden tiles that are stamped instead of the stickers. Again, the components are all fine, and I have no real complaints, as it's all functional, and none of it is unattractive.
This is a fine game for those not into 18xx games, and want something a bit more than Ticket to Ride with railroad games.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.