spellbook picks that I like
fire: earliest good summon for kingdom (Fire Giant), but requires 16 mana to cast
water: lord of ice. Has around 70 attack and decent hp. Quite useful for fighting creeps if you can research it fast enough (level 5)
I don't bother with int in the beginning. I find I can do just as much damage with str and a simple weapon without having to worry about mana regen. Just let them walk into range, then 1-hit kill them. And the majority of spells I cast are summons which int is useless for. Int only matters for my children, because they make great casters with the ability to regen mana in-combat.
As everyone mentioned, organized is an awesome talent.
I usually take insane and inefficient as well since they rarely affect me.
Some professions I choose for my sov.
Royalty: +1 prestige to all your cities
Thief: 20% extra gold from fights. I find that late game, a big chunk of my income can come from battles, so having an extra 20% is nice.
Right now I'm playing around with the intimidating and natural leader traits. It's fun being able to panic an entire army, giving you free attacks on them without worrying about any retaliation