We played a 5-player game of Antike; 3 of us had played once before and 2 were newcomers (Greeks & Persians), but experienced gamers.
Turn order was as follows:
Although there is a lot of debate about the importance of turn order, it proved to be significant in this game.
Egypt & Phoenicia armed themselves immediately based on their prior game experience which saw a lot of combat between them. In this game, there were only a few combats, and only 1 temple sacking at the end. The Persians chose arming as their first action also.
The Arabs (me) and Greeks built marble in order to get an early temple. Interestingly, we finished 1st & 2nd respectively lending support to the thought that arming on the 1st turn is not the best action to take.
The Arabs, moving 2nd, were able to obtain a Market first, frustrating the Greeks, who purchased Navigation instead.
The Arabs and Egyptians reached an early border agreement which helped both to conserve resources. Persia however insisted on incursions into the Arabian Peninsula which ultimately led to its downfall. The Arabs claimed Ommana and the Persians then took it by force, compelling Arabia to pursue a balanced strategy of advances, temples and military buildup.
During the midgame, through negotiations, everyone laid claim to 10 territories which interestingly saw a Persian city in Melitene, compeletely surronded by Phoenician cities! The Greeks and Egyptians aggressively built temples, ending up with 6 each. The Arabs built 4 and the Phoenicians and Persians could only get 2 each due to their early military buildup. The Persians built a temple in Ommana, which I reminded them was Arab land (sand?).
VPs were very tight between Arabia, Egypt and Greece. In the endgame, there were no more temples available and everyone but Persia owned all 8 know-hows. The Arabs got their 7th VP by building fleets, and the intent was to get the 8th VP by building fleets also, without ever chucking a spear. However events changed that.
Unfortunately for Persia, with only 2 temples its production was limited. So once all the technologies were obtained and with no more temples left, the Arabs were able to construct a large military force in the later turns.
Everyone assumed that the Arabs would turn on its ally, Egypt, and sack one of his undefended border temples, so Phoenicia sent a few legions into Petra and Taima to cut down the Arabian forces there. The pesky Persians didn't have the strength to sack my Gold temple at Moscha, but sent in a few legions and galleys to weaken its defenses.
Greece was tied with me and looked like it would win this turn by sacking an Egyptian temple, so the only course left for the Arabs was to reclaim its natural territory of Ommana, that the Persians had conquered early in the game. So with plenty of galleys available, the more distant ones sailed in and eliminated the Persian Fleet. The 3 galleys stationed at Moscha sailed next door, plus a few legions from the nearby territories, and Ommana was returned to the Arabs, sacking its temple and giving the Arabs the win, with the Greeks protesting that the game was flawed due to the advantage the Arabs had of moving earlier. However the Greek player admitted he had made a mistake which would have given him the win earlier. Considering this was the first time he had played the game, despite the Arab win, this game seems to provide further support for the argument that Greece is by far in the best position on this map. Knowing that, however, the other players may need to take some action to contain Greece earlier in the game.
All in all everyone enjoyed themselves and were ready to play again.
Just finished a similar game. I was Arabia but this was my first game and I made many mistakes. Greece expanded totally unchecked and the Phoenican player sacked my temple pissing me off and forcing me to take his city, all the while leaving Greece to take the western portion of the map: he even got the 20 city bonus! Interesting game, but you really need a few players to prohibit others players from a run away. My neighbor didnt seem interested in diplomacy. It's one of the problems of this game that some people just play for their points and don't pay attention to their neighbors. But whoever uses units to weaken a leader is then weakened in return, perhaps that is the allure of the game. That said you can't take away points so its probably hard to bash the leader.
I'm glad I didn't buy the game, but I'll play it again should it be brought to the table.