I just recently played my first game, in real life with work colleagues. Had a blast, but don’t have the time to start another one right now. We did it in teams of 2 which made the dynamics even more interesting. I was Russia, and we established an early lead which proved detrimental as virtually all the other countries then allied against us (except Turkey, who stayed allies with us all game, and Austria-Hungary, who we destroyed on about turn 3). I think we could have coped with this had we not over-extended ourselves, leaving us fighting on two fronts. In the end Germany ground us down and won the game (they were by far the most experienced partnership).
What surprised me about the game was how much defensive resilience Italy had - with support from Germany and France, the combined forces of Russia, Turkey, and naval attack from Britain could not defeat them.