Resources are used to construct buildings, which have various abilities, including defending the kingdom from invaders. At the end of each of the 5 years in the game, the kingdom is invaded, and the invaders gradually grow in strength. There are rewards for defending successfully, and penalties otherwise.
Chong Sean kept telling me the game is good, that I should have played the boardgame version and not the computer version. Now that I have done so, I still find the game to be so-so. I may be biased by the initial poor experience. I don't find the dice mechanism particularly interesting, despite its uniqueness. The game feels like repeating cycles of collect-stuff-build-stuff. The building types are different and you can go for different approaches for gaining victory points. You do feel like you are building up your domain to protect the kingdom.
I have also learnt a few more things about the game. (1) Coins can often be a big part of your score. That situation in my first game where the winner Henry had a huge stack of coins is not really rare. (2) Specialisation is not necessary to win. Quite often a well balanced civilisation can win. Specialisation can be more effective for some strategies, e.g. the science strategy.
I still enjoy Cyclades. It is more about the preparation and manoeuvring for war, rather than war itself. During the game you spend most of your time in the auctions. There can be at most one island invasion in a round. You not only need to position your navy to support the invasion, you also need to make sure that you win the auction for the army movement, and that your plans are not interrupted by some creature. But then of course when an invasion does occur, it can have a big impact to the game. One player's chances may be significantly boosted, another player's shattered. Money is tight and discounts (for gods' favours and for creatures) are very helpful.