Although all 3 players were playing this for the first time, one of my two opponents is quite the strategist and it was immediately apparent that the 10 minutes he spent before the game intently studying the rules had paid off. He chose the Wizard, I chose the Squire, and the third player chose the Taxman.
Right off the bat, the Wizard got a huge advantage, playing an intrigue that gave 1 standing to any number of candidates. He gave 1 to all 5; the Taxman and I figured this was fine and both voted Pass 0. Big mistake. The Wizard took credit for all 5, vastly increasing his income, which would allow him to use his special ability of buying an extra card for three gold on every turn for the rest of the game.
I played the Squire poorly, never realizing that since his votes always cost two less, it never makes sense to vote less than Pass/Fail 2, since this is free. I focused on Galahad, though his ability of Pass +5 to positive intrigues and Fail -5 to negative intrigues seemed negligible once we started having votes with values of 30+. I got him to 6 before a -2 Intrigue soured his chances.
The Taxman was getting his wits about him most of the game. He had high standing with Venetia, but Venetia did not advance very high in standing herself.
Midway through the game, the Wizard played Wealth Tax, Redistribution of Wealth, and Share the Wealth one after the other to devastating effect. He then had the most gold, and was still getting two cards per turn, while the Taxman and I were drawing 1 and had no cash reserves. The Wizard then began currying favor with Arianna with virtually no opposition.
We agreed to end the game at 9PM. The Wizard won, having 4 influence with Arianna. Next was the Taxman with 2. I had 2 as well, but came in 3rd because I had no gold and the Taxman had 10.
The Wizard loved the game (not surprising). I enjoyed it, but will enjoy it much more when the strategy starts to sink in. The Taxman had a mediocre reaction, but agreed that he might like it more on a second play. We all agreed that having 5 players would also make the game much more fun.