I ran a second session of Diaspora yesterday afternoon. I think my overall feeling is that the jury is still out. Some aspects of the game worked well, but others really didn't (although I have to hold up my hands and say that for some reason I felt really off form, like a striker snatching at chances).
What I dislike most about the system is that it abstracts wealth. The way economics works is, you have a "wealth track" which represents how financially secure you are. If it goes down to zero - you're out forever: fiscally dead, reduced to a lifetime of flipping burgers or serving as a debt slave, or whatever. (This in itself is something I strongly dislike, by the way - as long as a PC is alive I want his player thinking about ways to get out of whatever difficulty he is in. That seems like a large percentage of "the game". I recognise that there is a sort of 'story' oriented view that it is interesting to have available the negative consequence of being removed from the narrative permanently, but death seems to me to be the only genuine way of doing this. Though I digress.)
You take financial 'damage' by failing an assets roll. What this boils down to is, to see if you can afford something, you roll against your assets skill. If you miss the required target, you take hits to your wealth track. You can mitigate this damage by taking consequences - from the minor (you are worried about your finances and it might affect your concentration) to the major (you owe a loan shark a shit load of money), but you always get what you want to buy. This is supposed to represent an interesting choice (either don't take a risk and never get anything, or get whatever you want but take a huge risk, potentially involving what is effectively death, in the process), but at least to my gaming style it feels like it takes away something interesting.
That "something interesting" is that, by keeping wealth concrete and not abstract, you prevent players being able to get all the things they want - and this forces them to do interesting things to get the money they need to do that. Wanting better stuff is one of the key seeds from which adventure sprouts, to use a rather shit metaphor. You want a spaceship but don't have the credits? You go out and do whatever it takes to afford one - or you steal one. You want a sword +5 but you don't have the gold? You know there is one at the bottom of that huge abyssal chasm full of hordes of demons - so you go down. Maybe keeping track of gold pieces is a bit bean-counter-ish to some people (I get the sense the Diaspora designers are that kind of person), but it seems to me to be a vital element in giving the game any sort of engine and stopping the players being reactive.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, but I have to confess to feeling as if there is something crucial missing when wealth is abstracted in this way.