I played Maharaja last week with some friends from the London Mennonite Centre. Mennonites may be pacifists, but let me tell you that they are not above some low-level whining. Thankfully, this wasn't your toxic, overbearing whining that makes me want to gnash my teeth, rend my garments, toss the board into the air and run out of the room screaming denunciations. It was more of a good-natured, background grumbling that wasn't too hard to bear, was even fairly humorous. I think the difference is, no-one was seriously trying to use whining to affect the outcome of the game, it was more of a faintly depressive character trait in some of the players. Who knows, perhaps this gentle pessimism really is a Mennonite thing?
Maharaja struck me as a strange game, sort of like Taj Mahal only clunkier. The stroke of brilliance is the little dials - these allow everyone to make their big decisions in parallel, not in serial as in most games, which saves a lot of waiting around for other players to think. I came in a pretty poor third, which always lowers my initial opinion of a game, but I was intrigued enough to want to try it again some time. (But only if Taj Mahal is not available!)