What a rich and deep game. I'm not like a lot of folks here who've played every version. (I think I might have played II or III.) Still, I'm really impressed with what they did, and the sheer addictive nature of the thing. For some reason, the early game feels a lot more compelling than the late game. The acquisition of gun-powder and canons really feels climatic. Maybe that's why I haven't finished a full game yet.
Anyway, I like Elizabeth and Hiawatha the best. There's something romantic about a sea-faring empire, plus "The Sun Never Sets" is a pretty cool name. I'm so over Askia. And yet there's something slightly discomfiting about rejoicing in your conquest of Africa. Even if Songhai is in Asia. And Persia is in Mexico.
Great, great game.