Setting: Normal difficulty/monsters/magic, Medium "Desert" map (there's something wrong - Desert gives me temperate, Temperate gives me swamp), Kraxis with custom Sov (death fire earth 1pt, brilliant, attuned, clumsy, warlock, prociphene's(?) crown).
Game was won having taken path of the mage and hit fire mastery.
- 1. General feedback on if you felt the monsters were a threat (were they too strong, too weak, or about right).
Strength is great, minus the bogus exception with AI being able to put outposts down near camped monsters and release them. I dealt rather early with a swarm of assassin demons (who seem a bit TOO strong for the 'weak' category with their full heal) from three different demon lord spawns, and drakes from a drake lair. Fortunately, until late game, the AI didn't trip those and send them my way. In other games I gave up early when I found an earth elemental's army at my doorstep at turn 30 with me having never seen the guy's starting point.
Overall feedback: Love the design and the concept. Similar to Civ5's bandits BUT SO MUCH COOLER - monster bases spawn out unlimited lowbies until overrun (which almost always seem to go for me over AI, which sucks). I can take mites, bandits, baby cave bears, weak trolls early game and feel justified with a "hmm, do I spend the effort to kill that mite army/bandit archer army now, or tolerate these attacks while i keep exploring and solidify?" and then later "oh crap, gotta prepare for drakes, shrikes, assassin demons!". I think there's tuning to do, but the general concept is pretty sweet.
- 2. General feedback on if you felt the AI players were a threat (were they too strong, too weak, or about right).
Generally speaking, playing on Normal, the AI players biggest threat has been their ability to build outposts near monster lairs and release them. I frankly would rather see that get fixed before I try hard!
Resoln in this game, when I decided to attack her unprovoked, made the foolish move of throwing six or so stacks of very weak militia/spearmen/casters at my level 10 super-caster-sov and level 8 bodyguard (inside a level 2 city) --- we went from on par (~350 each) to me having a decisive leads (~350 to ~200) in the span of maybe 2 turns from Resoln throwing the same troops at me entrenched over and over and over. Still waiting for first real AI fight (looks like it will be against Relias as he's conquered the other half of the world) but Resoln surprised me. It didn't help that their sov spent half the game stuck in a level 1 city right next to a dragon - apparently she repeatedly attacked at got dispatched by the dragon. She still managed to make it to level 7 before submitting to me (neat! but how come I keep her and not her cities?)
- 5. If you think the AI was too easy, what did you do to lead to your success (did you outfit your soveriegn in leather armor, find a good sword and then single handidly kill everyone, did you start producing an endless stream of spearmen and destroy with your armies, did you learn fireball and use it to destroy the world)?
(Normal Mode AI)
Upd: So, I steamrolled Relias with my sov + bodyguard + summoned fire elementalx1. Fireball spell ruled the day (and with benefit of whatever, I could cast it on my bodyguard so she could also cast fireball). One of the key points: I almost never ran into a situation where I could be counterspelled.
The good: Relias was on the offensive early, and jumped a decent sized army into my territory, with what looked like two larger armies on the way before I derailed them by taking his cities. That army wouldn't have threatened any of my military-spawning towns, but could have wreaked havoc on my countryside. He had well balanced armies (spearmen + archers + armored types) and had catapults built, on par with my military - in short, unlike Resolyn, he was ready for war!
The bad 1: Fireball spell won the day handily, and was only counter-spelled in one fight. I want to note, I think it worked exactly as intended and it didn't feel overpowered - the one fight where there was another champion, he counterspelled three spells in a row ("oh crap!") but fortunately was rather weak from dying repeatedly - the fire elemental got to him and managed to kill him in two shots before dying under a hail of arrows. I sat there going "wow, I should avoid direct confrontation with Relias, or my 2 man 1 elemental army is not gunna win!"
To kill Relias, I was fortunate to capture a city with a large ownership radius to find him leading a large army on the very outskirts of my new territory. Several strategic spells later, that army was eradicated. [Freeze, Pillar of Flame, Firestorm, Pillar of Flame, gone]. Had I gone toe to toe in tactical battle it would have been much hairier, because Relias wouldn't have gone down in two swings like the seven-injury-joke.
The bad 2: Tactical fights, the AI completely ignored my sov typically, opting to shoot at the fire elemental and/or the bodyguard who got closer for melee. My sov had the highest defense and a half dozen enchantments, but except for the lone npc who instantly counterspelled everything she threw out, they typically shot at the closest thing - the fire elemental. So for me (having ~1500 mana with ~40 per turn) it became a game of "summon elemental, attack, throw elemental up front to take first few volleys, fireball everyone 2x, clean up". The only kink in this plan was counterspelling. Relias didn't have enough NPC's to have counterspell available. I allied with Yithril (who'd been beaten down to one town) and beat him down to one town, then accepted his surrender.
On NPC's: Despite being the worlds largest or second largest power most of the game, Relias only had one follower that I saw. I think I had my sov, 3 npcs, 1 quest npc (elaine) and the sov of Resolyn. I passed on two NPC's simply due to the outrageous cost of the level 7 and 9's.
- 6. Attach a save game at the point where you believe you have the game beat so we can check it out. A save at the tipping point, where you believe you have the game won and have to play it out is more useful than one where the opponents are all crushed because it allows us to see exactly what is going on when the AI loses.
Kept a few, will upload.