I wanted to focus on one aspect of the AI that people don't seem to be talking about: Diplomacy. Note that find that AI diplomacy in 4X games to generally be atrocious. This may be due to my play style which is to generally focus on tech and economic development.
All of these issues are with the AI being set to "Normal."
1. I appreciate the fact that the diplomacy screen shows the +/- for diplomatic modifiers.
2. The AI seems to base its diplomacy on only two visible factors (pre-marriage): strength of military and faction. This seems to be rather limiting and arbitrary since it does not place any value on other aspects of the game. As an example, a player that has researched high level spells (8+) has access to many spells that can greatly hurt a kingdom (shutting down cities, for example). It seems odd that a game that focuses on magic does not include magic level (and threat of using these high levels spells) as part of its calculation. In other words, the system is shallow. It does not take into account the real strength of a kingdom.
3. After the Day0 patch, the AI will routinely "suggest" to players trade requests. It is great that the AI initiates a conversation but it never actually suggests anything in my experience. As it currently stands, it is up to the player to create a trade agreement after the AI basically says "Hey, let's make a trade agreement!" Or "let's talk about arranged marriages."
4. I have noticed that the AI will routinely turn down fair trade requests after it has just requested a trade treaty. This includes situations where the value of the agreement is in the AI's favor.
5. The AI will "suggest" an arranged marriage even when there are no possible combination to have a marriage with that AI.
6. The AI will "suggest" an arranged marriage even when it does not intend to form one. As an example, I had Magnar suggest an arranged marriage and, after I created the proposal, the Magnar sovereign flat out said "I will never marry one of my children to you" or something close to that.
7.I do like the notion of diplomatic capital. This is a good addition to 4X diplomacy systems.
8. The AI never seems to accept treaties even when it is in their favor. When I say favor I mean at least a 10% increased perceived value on their side. I find that if I need something, I need to make a disproportionate trade request. As an example, I attempted to form a trade treaty with someone. The treaty ended up being something like 2.15 gilder versus 1.98 gilder per turn. In order to complete the trade, I had to add something like 200 gold which, in the end, meant that I would actually take a loss. Yes, I understand that diplomacy is based upon perceived values but these are not really explained at all. And yes, I understand that I can spend "diplomatic capital" for the same effect. But all the effort seems useless for, in the end, 2 gilder a turn.
9. The AI does ask for tribute here and there. I find this to be utterly predictable. Refusing tribute equals war. Paying tribute equals war (only delayed by a few turns). Yes, I understand that this is basically "buying" peace for several turns -- so you can prepare for war eventual. But, to me, it just feeds into the nonsensical nature of diplomacy. It violates one of Sun Tzu's basic principles of war: Never give your enemy time to prepare for your attack. This is especially true in a game where stacks can teleport around the map pretty easily.
Despite these problems, I do appreciate trying to make a more robust diplomacy system. I just feel that the system, as it stands now, is not worth the effort. As a player, I have no interest in investing time into the diplomacy tree and, as a developer, I understand why the addition of recruiting spiders, bugs and dragons was including in the tree: it is a weak tree compared to the others.
Keep up the great work!