Every setting has its luck, but I find sequential escalating has ALOT of luck. It seems to me 80% of the games I played were decided by a misplay &/or bad luck, which occasionally threw it to me or to whoever's turn was next. Freestyle escalating I imagine would mitigate that problem, but again, there is still the problem for those of us who can't be online all the time.
I prefer 6-8 player no spoils/chained or flat rate/chained, on random map. I tend to go with chained because it forces you to plan ahead with your deployments and fortification. You can't just place 3 armies all over the place and then fort em all up in one turn. Not that I find that a cheap strategy, but I do find it an easy, common sense one that anyone can stumble on. No spoils/flat rate decreases the luck factor associated with having spoils and increases the diplomacy factor. There is STILL luck involved in this kind of setting but I believe it is way less than any of the other styles mentioned.
This is a very sound strategy.KIRON: Usually in stalemate games, I tend to not want to be the strongest. Usually I like to attack both players (to appear fair) to wittle down my troops count (i know it sounds bizarre) until the two other players appear about equal strength. This way you will seem the weakest and the other two will not attack you but be more concerned about the other. When they beat the snot out of each other, the game becomes chaotic again and hopefully u can find some opportunity to win again.