Oh yeah. There is no accounting for how someone experiences the game mechanics, which is why I prefaced it with a discussion of Carr’s essay. If you check upstream here, my initial experiences with the game (as a collection of rules) were much more favourable than where I ended up with it eventually, so there’s plenty of variance even with one person’s experience(s) with a particular game!
Yeah, this is where it falls apart for me as far as it being a “historical” game is concerned. I don’t reference Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in the review, or the (superior) Origins, but those games do a lot better. Even though those AC games are rife with historical inaccuracies (I wrote thousands of words about them!), they at least try to feel authentic, which is easier to pull off than simply making sure you skip the leather breastplates and bracers (since authenticity plays into players’ expectations).
With those games, I never felt the frustration that I felt with Old World, and I guess that’s partially because the AC games have a much tighter focus (a more specific period of history), but also because within that smaller scope they try to get the broad outlines correct (e.g. the Peloponnesian War is a conflict between Sparta and Athens and their respective allies, in a world where the sea plays a major role, featuring mostly dudes who live in cities with marble temples and run around with big round shields and spears – never mind the anachronistic Corinthian helmets, the stark white statues, or the catapults).
I think Old World lives in this weird space where the focus is on a more narrow slice of history than Civ (and so details matter), but also a much broader scope than something like the AC games (and so you need to get a lot of different stuff right as well as a great many more broad strokes for it to not feel weird/ahistorical or, in a word, inauthentic). As I say in the review, I think it was a mistake for Old World to mix and match Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures, for example.
And I should add that there are plenty of gamers who don’t give a spear’s sauroter about whether or not a game is historically accurate or authentic, only if it’s fun. More power to them, of course.