Hmmm... I'm not too sure how I feel about the neutral armies - it just feels like there are a lot of them, and it's not as if this is the biggest map in the world in the first place
I think a better solution would be to create 3 starting positions, as follows:
This breaks up all the small bonus regions, and ensures that in 2/3 player games, nobody will get a small bonus from the drop (and that each player will have at least 1 torri, but not all of them). The territories not included in starting positions are then divided equally among the players, so the rest of the map will be allocated randomly. The start positions are ignored if there are more players than positions, so will not effect larger player games, where it can be argued that the drop is less of an influencing factor.
I'd be inclined to leave 2 neutrals on Borgo Maggiore and Serravalle to ensure that nobody starts with the biggest bonuses in any case.
Ben I don't agree. The problem is not the starting positions, but the ease by which some of the 2 and 3 territory bonuses can be conquered when one starts as well as starting with a torri bonus.
Putting 2 neutrals on each torri territory effectively solves both the problems. Also note that the main problem is not with Borgo Maggiore and Serravalle, the biggest bonuses, as these are tough to conquer, but with the smaller bonuses.
I have played some doubles and triples on San Marino with the new settings and I think the gameplay is much more balanced.
However I am looking at Game 4542098
which is the game which you are playing with the new settings right now Ben. I guess the experience from this game is what triggered the comments above. Something is not normal in this game. Apart from the 2 neutrals on the torri territories, there are also 10 territories with 3 neutrals on them which should not be there! Those 10 territories should be equally distributed among players 1 and 2. So I guess that's why you have the feeling that there are too many neutrals because in fact there are 10 territories which should not be neutral. I don't know if it's something to do with the XML, but that's not normal and is something that I will have to look into.
Edit: Is it possible that that particular tournament game was created before the XML was updated at that this somehow messed things up because in the new games I started I did not have this problem?