Learn and Teach C&C:ANCIENTS
original BGG article.
To start with, I'd suggest setting up the first scenario 001 Akragas (406 BC) and playing it through, and solo is fine.
Keep the hands face up to look at your options, but the main thing to begin with is to get the basic mechanics down-- play a card, do all the moving/commanding that comes with that card, then do range fire and close combat-- IN ANY ORDER you like, declaring one attack at a time.
For now, don't worry about whether an attack is "smart." The point is to get the mechanics. Use the reference chart to check for defender evade possibility (and what that would mean) and to figure how many die the attacker throws. Check the special notes for units which can "ignore" certain results-- that can be confusing at first. Note about "support" and what that means for flag results, go through things carefully when you do a battle back, and note what your options are in terms of momentum advance and bonus combat.
Just take yourself through a few turns with no effort to be clever in maneuver-- get them close and whack away-- you want to pick up on the differences in unit capability. Note in particular the difference in "Light" and "Auxilia." They're both 'green' and the art is not that different, compared to other units. They both can "shoot" but they have big differences that you will want to get comfy with.
Walk yourself through the differences of having a leader stacked with a unit, adjacent to a unit, or not there at all.
Walk through leader hit possibilities (and check the FAQ on that-- it's better than the rules at explaining the what and when).
Use the chart to check for retreat distances too-- they are just inconsistent enough to need to look.
Rules that trip people up the most seem to be:
- Leader hits/evasion/escape
as well as the baseline realization that if I'm attacking and have 3 different units next to your one unit, it really is 3 separate 1 on 1 attacks, done in any order I choose, and what happens with any of them can affect the ones that haven't happened yet (and maybe make them not happen because there is no longer a target.)
As the movement and combat mechanics stop being a struggle, then you can think more about card selection-- the core of the game is what you do with the choices you have, and when you do it. Seeing two hands in a solo game will give you some views into the possibilities and the choices involved-- and let you see that sometimes a "small" move is good to help set up a big move, sometimes it's hard choosing which of several possible big moves you could do, and sometimes you'll just scratch to be productive.
When you start a new person, I'd say follow the same basic procedure-- start with the first scenario (no terrain or tricky special rules, no elephants, which complicate things a bit--check the FAQ for elephants too!), and start with both hands face up. This isn't a time to 'win,' it's a teaching tool, and your student will do much better seeing the various card possibilities and talking with you about why he/she might want to choose one over another.
You have 7 kinds of infantry and 5 kinds of mounted in the core game. Get familiar with what makes them different so that it isn't confusing (see Units List). Note that bows and slings have NO differences at all-- that sometimes confuses people who are looking for "what's different." When you get so that you can go through most combat situations without needing the chart, you'll be able to focus more on what the cards do or don't do. The FAQ is helpful on a number of those. Note in particular how many units can be commanded by each card and what cards can allow a leader to move by himself.
That covers doing it all by yourself. There are some on-line play options and you may be able to get into those and pick up some on-line guidance during a game.
Hope that helps.