Ah, how I enjoy this game. It's mostly about developing your own board position, but there's just enough of a "gotcha" factor in setting up "attacking" positions to draw off citizens from your opponents.
We had a full five-player game, with two (counting me) with a previous game or two of experience, and three rookies. We went with the standard five-player setup rather than the random one.
As is traditional with me (and believe me, I'm trying to break this tradition!), failure to plan for the game session means I didn't review the rules ahead of time, and that led to an early rules breakdown. I forgot that you had to replenish the political cards each time one was selected, so we got to the end of the first turn without enough cards to play all five rounds. One player still had an Action card left, so we let him use it, so he had five actions to our four. He was the eventual winner; did that seal it for him from the start? I don't think so, but we'll never know for sure.
Early on, I decided to stake out another city location on the edge of the board, in preference to building up both of my initial cities. This meant that the one in the center of the board had a couple farms and a quarry, but no attraction points. Later, this would spell DOOM for this city, as I could not catch it up with its neighbors. I did add a 3-point building there (I think it was a Cathedral) in an attempt to grab some citizens, but without good advance knowledge of the "Voice of the People" cards, this is a desperate tactic.
So, my central city (which seem to be the most vulnerable, and the most useful for "attacking" if you are in a good position, because they have the most neighbors) quickly became the target of several neighbors, and drained away to nearly-empty by the latter half of the game. Then starvation began to affect my "good" city, so I had to build more farms on it. My early third city never amounted to much; it was placed in a spot where there wasn't much food (I didn't think I needed more, since my central city had so much available to it), and I couldn't afford to build it into an attraction-point powerhouse.
I ended the game in a distant fourth place, having lost five points in the last round to starvation, but I did manage to gain the three bonus points for my "good" city having all three colors of attraction points. I tend to believe that the winning tactic in this game is not to amass the largest population, because that's unmanageable, but to set up all four of your cities, and balance them with attraction points. For instance, if you could get all four out, with a modest selection of buildings (e.g., a hospital and a statue, or a fountain, school, and palace), that would score 12 points plus your population, which is likely to be 15-20. I've not played this enough, or read any session reports, to know if ~30 points is a good score in a four-to-five player game, but it seemed to be a decent score in our games.