Semi-automatic distribution mode
( Initially suggested in:
Semi-automatic distribution would maintain some attributes of auto-distribution, like creating more varied games and forcing players to adapt to sub-optimal starts, but at the same time allow them to have some control over their starts and give the ability to avoid truly terrible combinations, to some extent.
1) for every player, the game randomly offers N candidate picks (configured in settings)
2) out of these N picks, the player selects M actual starts; if the player doesn't select enough, the game has to randomly pick the missing amount (same as insufficient picks in manual distribution), but still only out of the candidate picks
3) game begins, each player starting with their M picks
1) N >= M (if N = M, this basically becomes auto-distribution where the players can just preview their starts - doesn't make too much sense), this inequality should be enforced by the settings
2) I would suggest candidate picks shouldn't overlap between players, everyone gets a disjoint set of N candidate picks - would prevent problems with determining priorities and be generally cleaner in my opinion
3) the selection of candidate picks could also be inherited from existing distribution modes, e.g. "Give me 4 candidates out of 'Random warlords/Random cities/Full distribution'" (whatever the map supports). In most use-cases however, just selecting candidates out of all possible (full distribution) should be good enough I'd say.