There have been claims that shrines becoming connected is simply an effect of the players being inexperienced. This seems reasonable, but it doesn't make it any more satisfying. While Attika will certainly get a great deal more play, it may often be with those who have not had a huge amount of experience with the game, and having the game end with a "sudden death" connection seems a shame, especially given how much more fun the game can be when played toward the 30 building goal. The connecting of shrines just feels disappointing as a win condition.
There seem two obvious fixes to this:
draws wouldn't give someone the game.
I'll probably play Attika a few more times with the published rules before I try one of these variants, but they are appealing.
I played again (with the official rules, withe 3 players) and two shrines got connected, after each player had built about 15 buildings. While I wouldn't say the win was undeserved, it is still substantially less satisfying. I think next time I play I'll try the "draw 5 cards" variant I describe above.
I finally got around to playing with the the variant, with 4 cards as the "bonus". I like it better, but I think 4 cards may be an insufficient bonus. The problem with eliminating the shrin connection altogether (or too small of a bonus) is that it eliminates much of the motivation to pay attention to what other players are doing. When it's the win condition, it's absolutely essential to pay a lot of attention, and that's a nice feature. We did have a bit of play where players tried to connect shrines, and some of others trying to stop them, but the winner was one of the players who neither connected nor spent much resources blocking connections. I find the game much more satisfying when played to the 30 tile end condition, so I will definitely try this variant again, probably with a 6 card bonus. We'll see.