Thanks everybody for the feedback.
This started as a simple feature request. By "simple" I'm talking about adding a checkbox and 3-5 lines of code. I'd be surprised if it takes SI more than 10 minutes. I did not expect SI to attend to it immediately and place it above their current priorities. It's something that would be nice for me and other like-minded Dominion fans. I posted it here so they could add it to their list. Isotropic had it.I. It's unanimously agreed that in certain circumstances Different Starting Hands gives one player a significant advantage over the other
The first turns are often the most important ones and largely set the pace of the game
and the effect of opening moves is exponential on what happens later
Often the player with $5 is better off, but as DonaldX and Funhaver pointed out, having $5 can also put you at a disadvantage. According to the Isotropic stats, some opening combinations in pre-Dark-Ages-Dominion had the effect of making you perform 8 levels higher than normal.II. It's a matter of opinion whether or not Identical Starting Hands is more fun
Randomness, Variety, and Inequality exist on a continuum. The game of Dominion could have less Randomness/Variety/Inequality with Identical Starting Hands or Stack-Your-Deck-On-Each-Shuffle or Ban-Swindler. The game could also have more R/V/I with a house rule that, say, randomly dishes out a couple Silvers/Golds into some players' starting decks.
It doesn't sound like the whole community sits in the same place on the R/V/I continuum.
For me, Dominion more than satisfies my need for variety in the random nature of the kingdoms. That's a form of variety that doesn't put any one player at a large advantage over the others. I've been playing Identical Starting Hands for years and never once thought "Gee, this game would have been way more fun if one of us had a $5/$2 and the other didn't." And, obviously, we started playing that way, because there were many post-game whines about how it was "impossible to catch" the guy who started with the advantage. Analogies to playing a game of chess starting a "rook down" were made... or running a footrace with cement blocks for shoes. That all resonates with me.
I understand that AdamH likes the David-defeating-Goliath dynamic, and I can relate to a certain extent. But, the position I really don't like is when I'm "Goliath"... because it feels like a no-win. Either (a) I get a tainted win (and my opponent usually reminds me of it), or (b) I lose and feel like I totally suck.
But again, R/V/I is a continuum, so we can pull this in the opposite direction. How would the community feel about the feature request: "let's have one random player add 2 curses to their starting deck"? That adds more variety, right? If you have the curses and win, man, that's like David besting ten Goliaths!
Point being that for me, going from Identical Starting Hands to Different Starting Hands feels like randomly giving someone a starting curse. Yeah, that game can still be enjoyed. (I mean, with the right crowd Cootie and Uno can be enjoyed... and obviously, in the "big picture" those games outsell Dominion by some ridiculous margin. Casinos testify that plenty of people enjoy the thrill of sheer luck.) But you can't wash away the stigma of a lopsided match when there are starting inequalities. Every single poster in this thread acknowledges that that stigma is there.III. "People who had no special interest in [Identical Starting Hands] would nevertheless end up playing with it."
This objection is totally work-aroundable.
(a) Identical Starting Hands is not an option in auto-match
(b) Identical Starting Hands is only available as an option when you create your own (private? or password-protected?) table
(c) Identical Starting Hands is only available when you are playing with someone on your friends list
Those of us who desire Identical Starting Hands, can play it all day with one another without affecting anyone else. I have no idea how many people here prefer this. I just know that all my real-life playgroup does. Maybe it will only be used by me and my friends... but it doesn't cost anything or hurt anyone if implemented this way.