Had a great 5-player Cuba game last night. Here's the background:
Blue, Yellow, and Red were all new to the game but experienced players. Green and Purple (me) had played a few times before.
Blue started as 1st player and started going for a legislative strategy, building the town hall on his first turn. In the meantime, Yellow built a cement factory (stone to VPs). Green and Red fought over the banks in the first couple turns, with Green getting the large bank as part of his goal to have cash on hand to build a shipping empire. I started out building the rum cafe and purchased a distillery on my 2nd turn so I could turn my two sugars into rum into VP without having to rely too heavily on shipping.
Unfortunately for Blue, in the first turn he made the understandable beginner's mistake of overvaluing the parliamentary phase, spending almost all his money to guarantee himself the election. As a result, he controlled Parliament for all but one turn, but didn't have the money to comply with the taxes every turn. I think for beginners understanding the strategy involved with the legislation can be the most difficult piece to pick up. It's not always wise to try to control the bills unless you can see how they'll benefit you/screw others. Though Blue did well choosing which bills to pick, the right ones didn't always come up at the right time.
My distillery-rum cafe strategy was strong but conservative enough that it couldn't guarantee me the game. Green was on my heels constantly, benefiting mainly from his risky shipping strategy as well as a cigar factory that was letting him fill ships in the 3VP dock pretty much unconstested....at least at first.
Once they began to really get the idea of the game, Yellow decided to ship to the 2VP dock whenever possible. Also, Red was saving up goods to fill 4-5 spots on a ship at once. He also would go for the 2VP dock and a couple of times Green missed the boat (groan). Basically he'd hope to ship for 3VP each but get blocked.
On the other hand, no one else was producing rum effectively and I was able to ship a couple rums for 3VPs each as well as buying sugar from the market and using my rum cafe. I also bought the cigar cafe to prevent Green from being able to directly turn his cigars into VPs, but this didn't matter so much in the end.
Closer to the end, Yellow was realizing his cement factory wasn't paying off enough, so he decided to purchase the dam and golf course for a water strategy. Unfortunately the water subsidy bill had already been rejected in a session of Parliament, so he wasn't able to make as much of it as he could've by starting earlier.
In the end it was very close. I (purple) won by 4 points over Green, who would have beat me had he been able to ship on the last turn. In the end, my conservative strategy won out (though only barely) over the riskier one. The other players were all in a dead heat not far behind.
The general consensus of the noobs seemed to be that it was a bit of a brain burner the first time, but everyone enjoyed it. A good game night overall!