While I don't doubt the riskier build orders help, I feel the bigger degree of variance comes from getting lucky with CS's and huts. If you get Goddess of the Harvest, you're just going to be better.... at everything period by a large margin. When you hear people talking about "meeting 2 culture CS's" or "getting harvest", you know it's just the keep rolling and resetting kind. But OTOH either way; risky start or not, you can still get a ,much bigger empire with higher score with a riskier/luckier opener too. These things go hand and hand.