It was a five player game, three of us having played before i believe and two of us not.
It seems like straight off we may have messed up one of the rules, which may have adversely affected me. At first we were told that we each went around and picked out starting race, and then we started playing. However upon glancing at the rules it looked to me more like we were supposed to each in turn pick our race, and then immediately take our first turn. ie picking races is part of your turn on the first round, not a separate event that everyone does first.
So the first player, who was the other one who hadn't played before, got Mounted Ratmen. The second player got the Ghouls. I was third, and i decided to try Dragon Master Sorcerers. I figured i could use the Dragon to bust through any fortified positions so i could get to the juicy 1 army regions behind them and use my Vampire power to convert them. I don't remember what exactly the last two players picked. Hobbits and Wizards i think.
However after that the troop placement actually happened. The Ratman guy did the predictable thing and spread all over hell and gone, starting from the south. Then the Ghoul player did what is apparently predictable in retrospect and plopped down three concentrated piles in the SW corner of the map. He was within reach of the first player, but a small number of concentrated piles are not a good target for Sorcerers. If i'd seen that layout before having to choose my starting race i think i might have gone with something else.
So i Dragoned one of the big piles of ghouls and then Vamped one of the Ratmen regions, and then players 4 and 5 of course spawned as far away as possible from the cluster-fuck that the SW corner had become. Then to add insult to injury the Ghoul player went into decline on the second turn. Again, predictable in retrospect, but it didn't exactly put me in a good position with the Sorcerers.
In any event, i eventually proceeded to Marsh Tritons, which worked reasonably well, and then for the last two turns Merchant Dwarves, which worked out much better than i expected. Though that in large part was because A: there was already a small pile of VP on them from other players passing them by, and B: it was the last two rounds and everyone else had better things to do than molest me in the corner with my two mines and one regular region.
So in the end the other new guy won with 101 points (after the Ratmen he also got Forest Amazons, which were also pretty stompy,) player #4 came in second with 98 points (after a couple very good rounds with Berserker Elves) and i came in third with 93 points. The other two weren't very vocal about what their scores were, in fact one of them declared "i'm not even going to count this." I think the other got something in the 60s or 70s.
I'm certainly interested in trying the game again. Not sure if i'll pick up my own copy or not. I would be interested in getting the chance to grab some Wealthy Ghouls, or Spirit Ghouls, or Stout Ghouls. I'm sure there are all kind of awesome combos, but the Ghoul ones seem to really stand out.