Our first game took about ninety minutes with four players, I think.
I too made the mistake of playing with 6 new players & allowing for the strategic action variation. It was a nightmar-ishly long game. After almost 2 hours, we all agreed to skip two of the cards on the last season.
Here is what I learned: on larger play counts ALWAYS play with the simultaneous selection rules. This speeds up the game. Also, I don't know if playing with 5 or 6 people are really the best player counts at all; it seams to make the game just drag on. Then again, with experienced players, the outcome may be different. I will have to try it again to know for sure.