Another important thing to consider when talking about duels is, are they balanced? Can they be balanced? From the information we have now, one of the most major decisions a player will make throughout the game is to maintain a powerful channeler or to spread out that power throughout your empire. Now, obviously a player who chooses to maintain a powerful channeler is going to have a significant advantage over a player who spreads out in a duel. So basically it boils down to this: can duels be implemented in such away that they just become yet another way for the player to achieve certain goals, yet not necessarily better or more necessary than any other way to achieve those same goals? If the answer is no, then duels should not be in the game unless there is some opposing feature that people who choose to spread out their channeler's power can take advantage of. If the answer is yes, then duels would be an interesting and engaging feature that I think I'd enjoy.
I guess one reason I'm liking the duel notion more and more is that I *really* hope this game can have some 'honor mechanics' that both help to futz up any blunt military-maximizing strategies and, more importantly, add to the immersion factor.
Honor mechanics would be nice, but I'm skeptical about applying it to duels. For example if a battle begins in which you have a significant advantage, and the opposing channeler (who is just as powerful as your own) challenges you to a dual to determine the fate of the armies, there should be no loss of honor in declining. My reticence is basically due to the fact that honor is often construed as stupidity - the need to accept any challenge posed to you. I really like the idea of an honor system, I'm just skeptical about applying it to duels specifically.
On the other hand I like landisaurus's idea of how honor could be used:
If there is a honor mechanic, I'd want other wizards to treat you accordingly. If you have high honor, the wizards that don't nessicarily want to hulk smash everything in sight (the aggresive personalities are allowed to pick fights with others for no real reason) would notice who is the honorable wizard, and maybe be less anxious about when an army walks buy. Because he knows the other wizard is honorable and things like breaking a wizard pack without warning would lower that honor so the guy won't do it.
This would be very neat. It would reward you for not being a complete opportunist. I'm sure there will already be a diplomacy mechanic that would make other nations wary of your agreements if you make a habit of betraying your allies and such, but I'd like to see that incorporated into a more comprehensive honor system. One of the many potential benefits of being honorable is the example landisaurus gave in the above quote. Being dishonorable has its advantages, too - it allows you to be a complete opportunist at every turn, always doing what is best for you at any given time.
Going even farther, honor could be another type of alignment - resulting in 2 to 3 alignments, depending on whether Human vs. Fallen is the same as Good vs. Evil, which I hope isn't the case (so Good vs. Evil, Human vs. Fallen, Honorable vs. Dishonorable). Humans (Fallen) would be more likely to deal with other Humans (Fallen), Good (Evil) factions would be more likely to deal with other Good (Evil) factions, and Honorable (Dishonorable) factions would be more likely to deal with Honorable (Dishonorable) factions. Or, Dishonorable factions might even prefer dealing with Honorable ones (less likely to be stabbed in the back). Betraying or stabbing a dishonorable faction in the back should also not result in as high a loss of honor, though.
These could result in some pretty interesting alliances. The most cohesive ones would obviously be when all members match in all 3 categories, but it might not be so rare to see Evil and Honorable Humans and Fallen teaming up, or Good Humans teaming up despite their different attitudes toward honor. Likewise it would probably result in several significant groups instead of the usual 2 powerful alliances plus a handful of loners.
(This reminds me how much there had better be a 'you get off my land or I'll attack you' command that can be given to AI opponents)
Oh yes. That was probably my single biggest gripe about GalCiv2. Those damn AI constructors building space stations near my planets . Frankly I'd like to see even more than just "get off my land or else." For one, you can propose something, you should also be able to propose its opposite - essentially allowing you to threaten other players more creatively. I'd also like to see a "Demilitarize our border or else," "Cancel your alliance with Player X, or our alliance is over," and even options for temporary or specific right of passage through territory.
For example, pretend there are 3 players, A, B and C in a row (so B is in the middle). Players A and B are at war. Player C wants to declare war on Player A. Player C asks Player B to allow army X to enter Player C's territory in order to attack Player A without having to go all the way around. Player B would be much more willing to risk allowing a foreign military into its territory if the agreement is only for certain specific, identified armies. Heck even the route could be specified in the agreement! And if Player C deviates from the route, Player B will open a diplomatic channel and ask what the heck is going on. If Player C doesn't move its army back to the agreed upon route, the agreement will be broken and Player C will lose honor.