> We think high game to game variation is very important for TFT given adaptability is one of the most important skills TFT tests
> We don't think solutions like exact same number of items per player every game are the way to go
You absolutely should give the same number of items to each player.
Sure you can say "if we give people all the same items, they won't have to adapt", but that's just not true. They still need to adapt to *which* items they're given and how they mesh with the composition they've built.
It's great to want game-to-game variation.
It's not great if that variation is just "you get no items this round, but this other guy gets a Deathcap+Yuumi on his Kennen after Krugs". There's no strategy you can build around that, you're just being locked out of the match by no fault of your own.
The solution here is pretty easy: Keep the RNG there, but have **everybody roll on items together**.
* At the start of every neutral round, randomly choose which units will drop items.
* These units will drop one random item **for every player who successfully kills it**
You'll still have games where there's jack shit for items, but when it happens it's not your bare-bones squad going against an RFC+BT Draven, and in the very rare situation where that ends up happening **it's your own damn fault for losing to neutrals**.
Hell, you'll even retain just a *little bit* of potential for luck giving an advantage, since even in this system you'll occasionally get a situation where one guy gets the perfect items for his kit and you're stuck with six Tears on Gunslingers.