Some games get you into the zone. For me, its Puerto Rico. There are several stages to be passed:
1) Learning the rules
Trying to figure out what the rules actually do.
2) Learning the victory conditions
Trying to figure out what makes points, and acting to get or prevent opponents from doing it.
3) Maximizing the points
Learning how each action contributes the more or less points over the course of the game, and taking better actions with less points now for more points later.
Trying to anticipate how the next action after this one will affect the results of this one. This starts with the immediate next phase taken by your opponent, and progresses to your own next actions, and then futher.
5) Confusion, frustration, disgust
All necessary ingredients in making headway. At some point, the game seems almost done, and it's time to move on.
6) In the zone 1
But hang on. The lookahead becomes clearer. You can see not just actions, but rounds ahead of time, and start calling, to yourself, what your opponents will be doing. Sometimes it is good to give your opponents benefits to do something, just so that you know what they will do.
Of course, it doesn't always work this way. And sometimes, for all your planning, you get tempted into doing the wrong thing, or just didn't see quite far enough.
Nobody said that staying in the zone doesn't take hard work.
7) In the zone 2