It can lead to situations where I'm getting screwed over two or three games in a row and it feels a lot worse knowing that I'm doomed to go second in every game so I'll have this to overcome. So overall a less fun experience.
I can believe that some people would have that experience, though I personally have not. I have never minded going last, knowing that I was the favorite to win. Cutpurse doesn't change that for me.
But I'd be OK if the higher-rated player went second in the first of a series of games, but if these two people have played each other in the last, say, 24 hours, then you can go do the rule of the winner goes second in the next game. I feel like that captures the spirit of wanting to even things out while preserving fun for everyone involved.
If none of the players have played today, highest ranked player goes last. If any have played, pick a random non-bot player who has played today, and if they won their last game they go last, otherwise first.
For two player games this works out as:
- if neither have played it's by rank, hooray, the most interesting game
- if just one has played, we go by their last game from today - they have the experience of going first if they lost or last if they won (and the other player can't have that experience, since they haven't played yet today)
- if both have played and they both won or both lost, it's random
- if both have played and one won and the other lost, the player who lost goes first and the player who won goes second, regardless of who we randomly picked. Both players feel like they are getting their deserved slot.
You could do that and it will give you the most interesting games.
But the rating system would have to reflect that and take the starting player into account. My guess is that the advantage is 3-4 levels. If you don't account for that, it will mess up the ratings.
I of course personally favor interesting games over leaderboard accuracy.
It's true that using ranking to determine start player would have an effect on ranking. I don't know how much it would be.
I imagine what you could do is, you have two more leaderboards, one for games going first and one for games going second (while using the existing combined one for deciding who goes first). Then after a bit you realize that the leaderboards aren't much different and why do we need three of them and you get rid of the two new ones.