A quick game of Trans America, which I lost brutally, doing at least as bad as everyone else and ending the game in three rounds; a middling-long game of that grow-your-civilization game that's sort-of the sequel to Settlers of Catan but whose name I never learned, which I guess I tied for last place or maybe came in third; and a six-player game of Union Pacific in which the top three scores were 97, 96, and 94, I believe; I scored 78 and came in around last place.
I detect a pattern, and not just tonight.
In all fairness, I was totally screwed at Union Pacific by the cards--my first five track cards were all the same type, which sorely limited my ability to improve the things I owned, and I probably drew that track type over 50% of the time the whole game--never drew one type until about the 2/3 point. My opening deal of stock was all of small trains (8 cards and under), and on my turns I rarely had the opportunity to pick up a stock of 9 or more. Also, we drew the last two cards-that-cause-a-payoff together, so everybody was caught with their pants down. That seemed pointless and stupid, but the rules explicitly called it out that they both counted, and hence the game was over. At least I was actually in something like second place at the halfway point in the game, despite only being invested in the <=8-card trains. Afterwards, everybody agreed that the whole random-stock-acquisition scheme was fairly annoying, and Acquire seems far better since you can go after whatever you want. Doug suggested that perhaps if you could trade money for something, that would add some dimension to it and involve other players more, but that would also slow it down way too much. Perhaps it's much better with only four players.
The settlers-sequel we need to get more of an experience at playing before we'll really understand how it's balanced; we weren't really sure "how" to play it, so everyone was sort of using a generic and obvious strategy. The upshot seemed to me to be that there's too much useful to do with your cards, and as a result there's much less trading, and that's probably a bad thing.
Trans America was viewed as a quicky silly game, and people agreed there didn't seem to be much strategy, just a lot more luck about how things happened to come together and what happened to already be covered for you. Of course, this is pretty much my attitude towards all multiplayer games--that there's an awful lot of luck due to the "chaotic unpredictability" of all the other players. Of course, I'd say that about Diplomacy too, but clearly there are Diplomacy players who are better than others. And perhaps my opinion should be viewed with suspicion given the frequency with which I come in last.