I'd definitely take argwinkle's approach and set the table up so you can easily (physically) switch sides.
As for learning the correct rules, just keep the rulebook close at hand, and give yourself time to get all the nuances. I had never played C&C-style game before, so I played my first BoW battle with half a dozen infantry on both sides, ignored engagement, stalwart counterattacks, and at least a dozen other secondary rules, and just got used to the core mechanics. Once you've got a framework to build from, you can fill in the items that really make it an exciting tactical game.
Best of luck!