Sorry about the long post, I got carried away. BTW - Good job with the update! I like the feel way more.
Caviat: I've been playing mostly on challenging, tiny map (improves my performance), selecting all opponents
1) The AI doesn't expand quickly. I typically have 3-5 lvl3 settlements by the time the AI makes the 2nd settlement for them. I also can expand without defending my settlements since no-one-as-yet will attack a non-defended settlement except brigands.
2) The faction AI doesn't adventure but non-aligned characters will. Usually other faction's territories are littered with not done adventures. I mostly sign non-agression pacts just to go adventuring when my territory's adventures run out. It'd be neet to see Joe-the-dragon-killer lvl-bazillion NPC running around who's been adventuring on his own since turn1/lvl1.
3) The AI doesn't seem concerned with diplomacy. I pay attention to the peace/war info, and I've never seen allied AI factions. I've also never seen factions make treaties together to combat me when I'm more powerful than either, but together they'd give me a run for my money. I've never been offered cash/goods/bribes for treaties. It'd e neet to not attack the wimpy faction next door because it'd spike a WW1 response because of interlocking treaties/alliances.
The global mana pool. I really, really like this.
The population pool. This works out nice in that you have to figure out to build improvements or units. But, I'd increase the costs in population of certain improvements. My big cities can have hundreds of people doing nothing, because my faction as a whole's economy can't support another improvement.
The new spell divisions. I like that you can't start with elemental spells. This forces you to fight hand-to-hand more than I used to. It also defeats the strategy of just grouping all your characters into one army while your sovereign blasts enemies with spells to increase everyones experience quickly. It's almost like there's a point to make one or more of your characters a Conan/thug/brute now. Good job!
Things I've noticed:
The brigands are nasty! I like them. Their coding seems to make them more intelligent/plotting/agressive. I am more concerned with individual brigands and brigand armies than I am with the AI faction units. They are just that much more effective in my games. Monsters, not brigands, just seem to sit in place and I've noticed that I can walk pioneers next to a monster with a better-than-average chance of not being attacked. Not with brigands though...heck...they seem to be telepathic where my pioneers are concerned.
I haven't seen independant faction cities since I upgraded to version 1.09. Even when I play a huge map, there's no independants there and I make sure I select them. Before 1.09, they added a little spice...I like the idea of independant city-states that may sell you cool loot thats unique to them.
When your territory expands over another faction's unit(s), without a treaty, they won't leave your territory. However, if it happens to your units, you get the leave-or-invade screen.
Factions choose to make lots, and lots of pioneers...even after all territory has been developed. After a non-agression pact I'll have that factions pioneers all over my territory wandering around. I'm not sure what they're doing, but they wander...and wander...and wander. It irritates me simply because it affects my video performance.
When a faction makes a city, they seem to choose poor initial placement. For example, say they are 1 hex from a field, 2 hexes from a mine and a gold mine, they will place right next to the field where if they moved one hex they could be adjacent to all three.
Capitar seems to be the most consistantly agressive AI faction. I can depend on them to always build a large army and militarily take everyone else over or die trying. Gildar seems middle of the road. Tarth is peacefully expansive...they don't seem to build up armies until they are invaded.
If you find a golem token early on, before turn 20 or so, the game is pretty much over against the AI. You can just wander around taking over opponent AI cities since your, and the golems, experience just keep going up and up. It's almost like it gives you a blitzkreig (?sp) advantage. And when you can add your familiar to this, it only gets worse.
Mine/Timber special tiles don't seem as important. Later in the game, around turn 200-300, it's nothing to have a couple thousand materials sitting around. Nothing you spend it on is really going to make a dent in it. It'd be nice to see improvements to cities that made a turn-by-turn material cost requirement just like population and money.
Mounts just don't seem worth the cost/wait. I'm more than willing just to pay for the +1 move boots for 10gp each than to wait for a horse or wolf to be available. Maybe make the boots available later in the game or require a resource to produce them would eliminate this?
The new caravans make roads all over the place. It's not as asthetically pleasing.
The raise terrain spell is too powerful. You can raise a new continent early in the game now, but you can't kill someone with your spell selection. I'd say take it back to one tile only, not the grouping of tiles where it is now.
Random maps. I really enjoy the game, but sometimes I can identify where I am in relation to the continent on start-up. It'd be neat to start up a game, even if I had to wait for a bit while the computer generated a map, just to have something "unknown".
The ability to change your faction's color and name. Maybe even your faction's benefits/disadvantages. I seem to play the Altar a lot, but am getting tired of red.
The ability to build roads without a caravan. There are sometimes I'd just like to make a road that isn't between my cities for various reasons.
An earlier long ranged weapon like a sling. I almost never bother with bows because by the time I get to them magic makes them pointless. If I can imbue more than one character who can blast people with spells early on, why bother with bows?
Terrain addition: Rivers, streams and lakes. Maybe a water fall. Just for asthetics. No other reason.
Figure out a way to make it worth your while to use the city-improving spells more. They are really neat, but it seems like the only time I use them is when I can't, not un-willing-to but can't expand any more. That seems to be the only time I use them. Sometimes, when I've got my cities balanced later in the game, I bluntly forget about them as an option. For instance, if you made farming occur later in the game like mining, you'd have to stick around your home city to magic up food before you could expand your territory. That's keep your sovereign around home, instead of adventuring everywhere as you most powerful character. It'd also force more infrastructure and lessen the horde tactics.