So I've been noticing that there's a vogue in gaming recently for the starting player to be chosen by some method other than simple lot. I'm wondering if this is a good fashion, or if it's just getting silly. Here's a representative list of some of the starting-player-choosing mechanism I can think of off the top of my head:
- Youngest player first (e.g. St Petersburg)
- Player with the longest beard first (Once Upon A Time)
- Player with the pointiest ears (Small World)
- Most well-travelled player (Ticket To Ride)
- Nicest player (Dungeon Lords)
- Player who lives closest to water (Le Havre)
Others can probably add a few examples of their own. My question is: are any of these actually superior, on a long-term basis, to just choosing at random?
I do like "youngest player first" in games where the first player has an advantage, on the assumption that if you're playing with children it's nice to give them a little help - but on the other hand, if the youngest player at your table is in their 30s and a boardgames fanatic, the rule may end up hurting more than it helps.
Likewise, in Ticket To Ride the "best travelled-player" is charming to start with, but can get annoying as the same person who spent 3 months seeing Europe by train goes first forever. And this is before we get onto largely subjective quantities like ear-pointiness and niceness (in all fairness to Dungeon Lords, I think that's a joke and really you're meant to end up choosing the start player randomly).
Are these rules mostly just there to be cute - and quickly ignored - or should be follow them religiously?