I just bought a copy of Settlers, and noticed that there was a suggested starting layout that is included in the Almanac. I noticed it was mentioned online as well:
"new editions of the game also depict a fixed layout in their manual, which has been proven to be fairly even-handed by computer simulations, and recommend this to be used by beginners" wikipedia
I have found a pretty decent tool for generating random boards, but I find myself flipping through multiple ones that place 6s or 8s next to their respective ports, or place all the clay on 3s, 11s, and the like.
Is there a list of user created recommended starting positions for tiles? Perhaps for tournament play? What do competitive players do to ensure variety and balance? I understand that the rules say to place the tiles randomly, but it can sometimes lead to long and boring games.
We have also experimented with a "drafting" of tiles as we lay them down, with rules about putting too many of the same resource touching, or near a port. I'm open to any suggestions in this regard as well.