My initial fascination with the game was definitely the components. My sister loves camels but isn't a gamer. However, I thought due to the simplicity and components, this might be a game my sister would like. She lives in Indiana, so I haven't had a chance to play it with her since I bought my copy. However, that was part of the reason I bought it. Though the main reason I bought TTD is because my friend who runs the board game club I belong to, really liked this game when we played it with another member. And from the first time I played it, it was a game I knew I would have to add to my collection.
As people have mentioned, the concept of the game is simple, but it has amazing depth. Although it does have some similarities to Go, it has much more depth than Go. Its not surprising that this is another Knizia game........some of my favorite games in my collection are Knizia games. Another Knizia game I own that is a favorite among my gaming group is King of Beasts. It also has simple game play, but has a lot of depth at the same time, which is why everyone likes it. That and it is about a 20 minute game, so it is something that can be played at the beginning of game night, while we wait for everyone to arrive.
Anyway, I would have to agree that the game play is definitely the more important factor here, although the components do make it an attractive game to even non-gamers. Another thing about TTD is that the more people you have, the more challenging the game becomes, which is something else I like about it. Although the game board size is dependent on how many players you have, playing with five people does prove to be more challenging, changing your strategy a bit.
Although the camels or "humpies" (I like humpies better than meeples also, because meeples I've always associated with wood components as well) as someone referred to them, are definitely a draw, one thing I dislike about them are the colors. In my game, I initially had two sets of blue camels and no green ones. FFG sent me some green replacement camels, which are practically the same color as the blue ones, so its hard to differentiate between the two. I have seen and played the original version of TTD once, and if I recall correctly, its a much nicer, the colors of the components more distinct.
I've heard of Oasis or Yspahan, but never played them before. How do they differ from TTD?