just did my first portugal game yesterday (won on first try yay!) and i really liked them. i benefitted from a pretty sweet starting location (my second city had 3 crab and 3 fish that i got to quick) and i went with the goddess of the sea. after awhile i was making stupid amounts of gold and just bought off all the city states. not sure if the nice start skewed things but they were fun. forget what it's called but the workers can build something in city states territory that gives you copies of their lux items which was sweet and the unique ship was cool too. haven't really seen anyone talking about them though.