1. General feedback on if you felt the monsters were a threat (were they to strong, to weak, or about right).
2. General feedback on if you felt the AI players were a threat (were they to strong, to weak, or about right).
3. What difficulty did you play on?
4. What faction/sovereign did you play (if you made a custom sovereigns, what traits did you pick)?
5. If you think the AI was to 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)?
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. If you get to a point where yo don't feel a threat from the AI anymore thats a good point to get a save.
I've only managed to get in a few hours on 0.913, so consider this a preliminary report.
I played as Pariden, default Procipinee sovereign for the test (even though I don't particularly like her picks). Large map, dense monsters, dense resource, dense magic, all other factions on challenging.
I started in a corner, had a good tile (5/3), but was blocked by a swamp, Magnar and Yithril. Since I had no room to expand, force was the only option. I picked Yithril because my army was nearer, and pretty much just ran him over with my sovereign, hero and summon, using the summons as fodder. I took both his cities and killed him quite early despite him having a good amount of troops and heroes (3 heroes and several warrior troops). He had built his cities on some really good tiles (5/3 and 5/4). But one of them was built right next to a hoarder spider lair. The spider didn't do anything to him (it seems AI ZOC doesn't break lairs?), but of course, immediately turned on me the turn after I took the city. The battle was, quite frankly, completely impossible if fought fairly, but the city was really good (the 5/4 one), so I resorted to some cheesiness and had my sovereign poison him and ran around for about 100 turns until he died of poison. It was quite hilarious...
Magnar then decides that me attacking Yithril was no good, and declared war on me, despite having a much smaller might value (not sure why - maybe he was bribed?). So I sent my sovereign back to take his city (5/2 capitol and a few others I never saw). While I was over there fighting Magnar, a drake army marched on that same 5/4 city (I think it's cursed). I saw them coming from some 20 tiles away (I had litterred the map with arcane outposts) but couldn't get my sovereign back in time. It beelined right for the city despite all my attempts to distract it. In the end, I had to spend ton of gold to rush some troops and threw just about every enchantment I had in my arsenal on them while draining my mana reserve tossing fire pillars on it. It was quite an epic fight, but I managed to win somehow...
I eventually took Magnar's capitol and demanded his surrender, he complied. But while I was busy with Yithril, the Spider, Magnar, and the Drake, Gilden had managed to grow quite strong, so I'm only in 2nd place at the moment. Not quite at the point of winning yet, but I'm starting to getting there. My infrastructure is almost complete, and if I rush Kraxis and Altar, then it would definitely be over. Unfortunately I don't have the time to finish the game atm, so here's the save.
Also, to answer your feedback points...
1. The monsters seems to be a much bigger threat than the AI factions atm. While I'm not going to claim that the monsters don't attack AI cities (I personally saw Altar's city get razed twice by rock elemental armies), there does seem to be some bugs in the behavior of monsters. Building cities next to monster lairs shouldn't be possible, but the AI does it quite often, and gets away with it too much (then again, I wonder how many AI cities do get wasted because they try this). Last game (on 0.912) I actually saw Altar build his city next to a Drake lair, encorporate the drake lair into his city, and recruited a drake from it... all while the Drake guardians are still sitting there, on top of his city. I take the city... and the Drake attacks right afterward, as it should. My experience with the Spider in this game leads me to believe that it hasn't changed. I'm also wondering why that Drake beelined for my city when it was so far away, it's one thing to roam and be territorial, it's another to seek the player out for that. While it was pretty fun, I suspect that you guys will get a lot of complaints about it if it does this too often.
Altar City w/ Drake Lair: http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m297/KStar099/Fallen%20Enchantress/FallenEnchantress_1335992830.jpg
2. The AI was doing okay building, some seems a bit better than others (might be due to starting location), but they just aren't a match for player units and strategy yet, so when they go to war with me is usually when they die. They do build troops, well armed and armored, but they lack a strategy that compliments those troops. For example, using summons as fodder while your heavy hitters destroy them... or using poison and then running around in a circle... or buffing your troops to kingdom come and defeat a Drake with some spearmens. When you're faced with that kind of player strategy, they just aren't going to win. Then again, as long as they put up a good fight, that's all that matters. That's why I generally play on hard to give them a bit of an edge.