Currently, the resource spawns are too drastically random. I think starting resources should be slightly fixed. To eliminate the element of luck early game. It is completely senseless to introduce an element of luck in a competitive game, imo. It was always sort of there in previous titles, but AOE4 is a bit too drastic, leading to inconsistent experience. This is because there are civs that can exploit randomness and also civs that can be killed off with randomness.
Here’s how it would be fixed:
The first 2 neutral sheep spawning close so that the scout can just catch both on its way.
The distance between first TC to first gold, tree line, stone, and berries equal every single time.
The first gold and berries should always be in the back of the base or, if not, blockaded through an obstacle.
The first tree should always be in range of the TC, but gold should always be outside the range (to keep dark age first gold harass viable)
The first stone should always to be to the side of the TC, that is to say neither forward nor back. We should be able to punish greedy multiple TC plays.
IF you get forward gold early game and the opponent does not, the game is already not fair. Dark age rushers have like 10 to 20 seconds more to attack the gold in the back. Civs like HRE does not get to fully utilize a landmark if you can’t catch tree and gold at the same time. And if your first tree or gold is in the front of the base, you are incentivized to throw it down in the front of the base, consequently setting your farms up later in game to be positioned in front as well. HRE is inconsistent due to randomized relic spawns to begin with. It’s a civ that feels OP at times, not really due to units, but due to sheer luck. You need to remove randomized elements in the early game.
In analyzing my games, when my first gold spawns in front of the base, I lose more often. When my opponent has forward gold and I don’t, I win a lot more often. The matches were simply not fair to begin with. On maps with short rush distance/time due to lack of obstacles like Dry Arabia or Prairie, it is simply unfair to have one player have forward gold while the other has gold in the back of the base that could amount to 20 seconds of additional time spent detouring around the TC to harass the gold.
To sum it up, lessen randomization for starting resource spawns. This is good for consistent player experience and consistency makes it easier for devs to balance civs.