(1) Learning takes several games. Repetition helps you absorb the rules, grasp how to win, and discern subtle advantages.
(2) Play a practice game where veterans help newbies. Don’t worry about feeling awkward. It takes practice to work out the kinks.
(3) Don’t care about losing. Focus on improving. Figure out how to learn.
(4) Each group has its own game culture. Watch for it. Is this a “look out for one another” group, or an “every man for himself” event?
(5) Reflect on it afterwards. Let the meaning of the game soak in. Think of what to try next time.
(6) Quiet and watchful often wins the game.
(7) Play enough to get good. If the game will be part of your life, play often at first. The cost of experience is cheap when the game is new, and games are more fun when competition is keen.