Good piece! I want to play this game after reading this and hearing about it on the 'cast.
One thing that stood out was this bit though:
Civilization would have this problem as well; its accessibility, I increasingly believe, is a figment born of familiarity. Even as abstracted as Civilization is, it’s an enormously complicated game with absurdly long threads of cause-and-effect that would be excruciating to pick-up without the comforting knowledge that, after six games and however many spin-offs, you’ve done all this a hundred times before.
This might be true in general but it doesn’t match my own personal experience. My first (and only) civ game was Civ 5, and, while a very complex game, I was able to learn it pretty easily without needing resources outside of the game itself. For me, that game managed to be accessible on its own, to someone (me) who isn’t very familiar with 4X games. That particular game might be an exception though. I’m very glad I was able to get into it since I played a lot of it and enjoyed my time, but also I don’t think accessibility is a quality all games need to have either.