We have collected data on 72 4-player games this year including league games (28 games) June Tourney (25 games), and November Tourney (19 games).
Results are very interesting with the following insights:
Going 3rd is a considerable disadvantage:
This makes sense to me because going 3rd is very difficult the first 2 players will often get 2 superior spots or potentially get be the first to get decent production if a key resource like Ore or Brick is rare, it also doesn’t have the advantage of being able to plan both your moves like going 4th would be able to, where 4 can pick his starting resources. Knowing this, I think the only way to mitigate this disadvantage is to take big risks going 3rd probably by building your first settlement on a really good port if there is one out there and trying to predict where player 4 will go. That way you will get 3 cards to start.
Going 1st and 2nd is better than 4th:
This one was a bit surprising for me but obviously depends on the board.