Just about everything in this post misses the mark.
First up, if you want a healthy player base, lamenting the loss of the “good old days” is a bad way to go about it. Online games inevitably have player churn. Getting a healthy communities needs you to encourage and grow new players. Trolling, calling people “fluke” winners, and shouting people down because they haven’t played as long a you are great ways to create a toxic environment that puts people off. You want a good player base maybe stop doing those things.
Yeah, there’s a bunch of us that have started in the last few months. I’ve been playing since March, and have finished in the top 3 in half of my 32p games. I can think of several other people in the same boat. All of the winners in the games I’ve played have allied early, played well and stuck with it. All of those games have had at least a handful of “vets” in them. Face it, there are at least a dozen strong players in the new faces that are probably sticking around for the foreseeable future.
One of the great things about this game is that it’s relatively simple and so the learning curve is pretty shallow, so new players can get good pretty quickly. I can’t speak for others, but I was running optimisation models for games like this 20 years ago, and I’ve done it here too: this is not a hard game to figure out. If the game is growing, it will inevitably attract people that will perform well at it.
So really I would check your attitude when it comes to newer players who are consistently winning. Seems like it’s something you’d want to encourage rather than whine about.
As to your specific proposal…
The problem with the game is that 1) random starting neighbours gives you a huge advantage and 2) advantages grow exponentially. Ergo, some games are lost by the first toss of the dice.
You can’t really deal with 2 in this game, and 1 will always be there with player quality. The real problem is AFKs giving people an easy run. Adding more players just increases the chances that more than 1 person got lucky.
You could mitigate this either by decreasing how many people go AFK (e.g. more open premium only games maybe) or making it less damaging when someone does (e.g. greater variety and difficulty of bots). Larger games sound fun, but they don’t touch on that problem at all.