In our gaming group I think that we´re a bit too careful to start close to each other which could give the Ruhr-starting player an advantage.
How is the starting positions distributed for 3-player and 4-player games with experienced players? What are the considerations being made?
When I'm first to place (which is VERY rare), I typically put it in some city with a ton of outlets that has access to as many regions as possible. This way, it's very hard to get boxed in. Everything else being equal, I'll go for the cheaper connection area but I rarely get to make this type of decision. There's generally a city that has a ton of connections coming from it and is thus ideal for a safe starting spot.
Once someone has put a city connection down and I'm no longer first to put a city down, I now look at how best to screw the players that have placed their pieces. I try to find a bottleneck that will block them from expanding out of that area unless they pay additional connection fees to 'bust thru' my cities.
This is the strategy I employ on every single map.