The cheat load, again, has nothing to do with sovereign and the AI. Those who cheat load will do it anyways for ANY reason. "So that war I started turned bad so I'll load a save game of before the war 20 turns ago.". How can the AI cope with that? The same way as with sovereign death: no way. So as I said, cheat load worries are silly. Worries about a proper balanced and fun mechanic about sovereign (life&death) that we and the AI can properly use (cheat loads ignored) is a different beast tough.
Firstly, the term cheat-load is not good one, IMO. The "cheating" invlolved is trying not to lose the hours put into the game. Also, this is especially true of TBS games, which tend to be very long. I very very rarely reloaded an AOK game, but have reloaded AoW2 games several times, especially during campaigns. It also has something to do with the RPG element, perhaps. Losing a level 30 hero decimating enemies by the dozens is simply too much for many people, including me.
The only reason I mentioned reloading was that in the 'lose your Sovereign, lose the game" scenario, there's no other choice. The game has ended! As to your general observation about not considering reloading for game-balance, I agree. I have to, don't I? You can't design the game balance for a human reloading 20-30 turns back.
So, this is my wish-list:
-I want the Sovereign to be a unit in the game. A powerful unit.
-If the Sovereign is defeated in combat, the game should NOT end. There should be fail-safes for that.
-The penalty for having the Sovereign defeated in combat should be heavy, but not too heavy.
-The benefit of not using your sovereign for exploring and killing should be significant, but still less than using him for exploring etc, as it is risk free. Like massive benefits to the city he is in, as mentioned in the first reply to this post.
That's all I can think of right now. BTW, I am not in favour of his children being replaced by him. It somehow just doesn't fit into my mind with the story that his game has.