Basic premise is that in general production, you are forced to settle for 2 out of 3 of the following:
Likewise for boardgames, one needs to choose 2 out of 3 between the game being:
2. Simple to play
3. Richly detailed
"Richly detailed" seems vague and seemingly pointing to aesthetics but Pulsipher clarifies in a comment to the Boardgame News' post:
"Richly detailed” is intended to refer to the play, not the appearance, though appearance can contribute. It is what I call “atmosphere”, which is different from the way I use theme. Theme should make a difference in the gameplay; atmosphere alone doesn’t affect gameplay.
So nicely manufactured pieces are not in themselves rich detail.
I'm not sure that's the maxim I struggle with since while I don't appreciate abstract games much, a game's atmosphere plays second fiddle to the following:
1. Simple-to-explain rules (gateway potential?)
2. Depth of play (ideally possessing multiple routes to victory)
3. Reasonable game time (under 90min or even better, 60min)
But I suppose this set of criteria differs from the original in that such games are far easier to come by. Here's looking at you Hansa Teutonica and Chicago Express...