Yes, it totally make sense to have a cropper as first village and settle it next to a WW or next to 150% oases.and with the upcoming update your king can easily move you to the perfect spot. and that just ruins the game. what happened to the good old days when you had to destroy a enemy cropper's residence to conquer it?!!
The new relocation on test will not let you relocate a 15c to replace a non-cropper tile unless that tile is a 15c.
And no, the cropper is not your first village, it is your second. You destroy your first village in the strategy you have mentioned.
Stop chucking a hissy fit because you've returned to the game and it is not 100% what you remember. I'm from pre-legends too and I didn't come to a whole new game expecting it to be 2006 still.
There are ways to not suicide your first village and settle a cropper close to you even quicker than is in the guide.