That's a big problem in Age of Wonders but if FC (Fast Combat) gives as good results as TC then I wonder what advantage playing out the battles will give. Makes me fear that TC will be too simplified ala Disciples 2 to make FC as powerful as TC.
Well Jonny covered this pretty well. There are two problems - the first problem is that the AI's strategy stinks in many games, meaning TC almost always is more favorable to the player. Honestly, like you said that will almost always be the case unless combat is so simple that it would be boring for a player. That said, hopefully Brad can work some magic with the AI and make it much better than we're used to. The other problem, though, is that Auto-Resolve often makes certain units much better or worse than it should be. I get the impression that Stardock's tactical combat will actually involve the conflict playing out, which should actually do away with that problem! (Most auto-combat, I think, is done as a calculation).
And as to the single most important advantage of playing out the battles - fun! Many people love playing out tactical combat, at least occasionally, even if it provides little or no actual gameplay advantage.
This is not a way to force a certain game play. It's realism, being that just because you are a Lord does not mean you can lead an army. A leader must have experience not a title. Mr Frogboy I think your leadership ability idea is a very good one for the reason I have posted.
But it is a way to force gameplay - because we have the choice of auto-resolving or taking control of the combat. If having a general with leadership just means that in auto-combat your forces are controlled by a more competent AI, but doesn't do anything for you if you actually take control of the combat, then the player who doesn't waste upgrade points or whatever on leadership and always takes control of tactical combat will have the advantage.
Basically, if your forces are only controlled by a competent AI in auto-combat if your army is lead by a general with high leadership, then it will be a dissuasion to use auto-resolve unless you have such a general in charge. No one wants to go into combat knowing that an intentionally stupid AI will be in control of their forces, especially when they know they could do a much better job of the combat themselves. If we weren't given the option to take control of combat ourselves then this wouldn't be an issue, but it is.
I think that Frogboy's idea for leadership with the auto resolve battles is fine but for player run battles perhaps leadership allows a certain number of units to be controlled by the player with a minimum of one or two units for armies without leaders. The rest of the units would be controlled by the AI after setup.
But this wouldn't work. Well, it would work, but it would be so frustrating. It's effect would be to have two separate armies, with two separate strategies. The AI will do its own thing with its share of your forces, while you do your own thing with yours. It would be terrible. It also means that in progressively larger conflicts, leadership becomes progressively less useful. Being able to control 5 out of 7 units would be very useful, but being able to control 5 out of 20 is much less useful.