The cataclysm occurred without warning. Was it caused by the Gods fighting among themselves? Or did the buildup of magic trigger it? No one knows or has the ability to care. Survival is more important now.
The destruction so much, caused much knowledge to be lost. The fall from civilization was rapid. From living in the great cities and empires to fighting for survival caused millions to die. Over the course of these lost years, Knowledge became myth, and myth was distorted into a reality that never existed.
Leaders arose during this time to help. They gathered like minded people to expand their reach. However, suspicion and mistrust was the rule of the day. If you were not with us, you were against us.
As the years went past, the great cities dissolved into dust, their valuables lost or hidden by the sands of time. Other creatures arose to fill in the void left by the fall. Yet still people continued their struggle to live. They had to keep moving to avoid, not just the forces of nature and the magic that has run amok, but other groups as well. The division of the world into competing factions was complete.
These factions were willing to avoid each other given the other common dangers they faced in the world. Plus as these groups were constantly moving, finding each other was difficult to impossible. So the world was once again in balance.
The records do not reflect which faction was the first one to found a permanent settlement. It is also unclear as to how the other factions gained this knowledge. Some say, the balance was broken by this event, so to keep the balance all the other leaders were given a vision. Others say it was just time and all felt it at once. Regardless of how this occurred, within a very short period of time, all the factions had made a challenge to, not just the other factions, but to the world at large ‘ Here I am!’. The race to rebuild civilization was on.
The above is my vision of how the game gets to where it starts. Given this, founding any cities past the first one should be HARD. And I mean very very hard . As each turn is a quarter of a year, it should take ages to collect enough population/supplies to create a second city. Much less the trained people needed to support it, i.e. militia, artisans, etc. So I basically would like the ability of city spamming by both the AI and humans, to be much reduced. It should be a struggle to locate another faction's borders, much less establish a trade route.
To me the game should reflect this struggle to rebuild a civilization from nothing. To me, the game does not do this at all. Within two years or so after founding your first city, you can have a Pioneer build and another city shortly. Of course if it is felt that the bulk of the player population just wants to blast out cities, then that is fine. I just did not think that was what this game was trying to accomplish.
Several suggestions to make this feel like the struggle it should be (to me anyway) are
-Increase the cost of Pioneer dramticaly
-Pioneers are not built by the player or AI, but are automaticly granted either on a fixed schedule or they could be granted by certain triggers or events that the player/AI accomplishes. For example by exploring X% of the map. This could relect looking for other smaller groups that are still wandering in the wilds. Every additional Y% could grant another one.
-Have netural cities alrady established that join the first person to find them or provide quests that after completing, the city will join your faction.
-Have a special faction ability, say a National Focus that provides several options on what is the most important direction for the entire faction would be. Once of these choices would be 'Expansion' where after X number of consective turns with the focus on Expansion a Pioneer unit is granted. Or even better, a city is automaticly built in a good location nearby.
Of course, having the AI function properly in any other suggestion other than the first one may be problimatic