In the last week I've played two games of Taj Mahal and won them both. The first was against three newbies and an experienced player, the second was against four newbies. On the other hand, these were only the second and third times I've played, and tonight's game was the first to use the correct rules :-).
First game was at Critical Mass where we played a 5 player game with almost the correct rules - we were allowing players to play two coloured cards instead of a coloured and a white. White cards are much more important with the correct rules! I've got no idea how I won that game - I collected a few bonus tiles, had minor trade goods points, minor connection points, and probably about 12 points from the yellow +2 girl, and 7 or so from cards in hand at the end of the game. I won by one point.
After that game I was a bit interested and read some strategy articles on BGG which suggested that having no particular strategy wasn't the best plan. Apparently there is a connection strategy and a goods strategy. I didn't have a clear plan this evening, but in about round 5 it was clear that I had the basics of a connection strategy going. I checked out what order the remaining numbers were in, and realised I needed to connect in 10 and 12 to get good points, but could afford to slack off in 7 and 11. As it turned out I was able to get trade goods in two regions where I didn't need to connect, and then got all the connections I needed, plus 7 points for cards in hand at the end. It all worked beautifully and I won by about 10 points.
Considering the same opponents had just ALL thrashed me at Puerto Rico I felt pretty good about that. I must be hyped, I'm blogging at 3am.