Played T&E for the first time; mixed reactions
So I allowed a friend to finally convince me to play a few games of Tigris and Euphrates recently, and I thought I'd share my thoughts since everyone seems to big-up this game so much. Since praise for this game is in no short supply and I probably wouldn't offer anything new here, I'll just say that I agree the mechanics are superbly crafted, and move on to what I didn't like.
My first complaint concerns the incredibly thin theme, this is not to say I dislike the theme, but rather to say that the theme has very little to do with the actual mechanics of the game. T&E could just as easily be a game about gardening or culturing bacteria. The theme in this case is just a paper-thin veneer of fluff over raw, abstract game mechanics. This complaint is by no means unique to T&E, but rather a common criticism of this style of German board game.
There's nothing inherently wrong with abstract puzzle games, I just prefer a game that offers some potential for immersion and Role Play. Such abstract games just aren't that engaging for me. I prefer a game whose mechanics are designed around a specific theme to represent that theme in gameplay terms(Dune, which you recently discussed, does this perfectly). Many German game designers actually develop the game mechanics and then slap a theme on it that kinda sorta fits those mechanics. So I guess what I'm getting at in a circuitous way, is that I think the game is dry.
To prevent this from becoming an essay I'll just say that I also have problems with the randomness in the game, and the chaotic nature of the game if played with more than two people.
Overall I'd give it a B-