I can't answer about contests.
However, regarding AI, they showed me where the tactical battle stuff is. It's looking more and more likely that I'll be taking over all aspects of the AI going forward.
In War of Magic, I got about 2 weeks to do the AI prior to release and got another 2 weeks since release (which for me is a lot of time). For 1.3 I'll probably get 2 days budgeted for the tactical battles and another 2 days for the general game.
Stardock has some pretty big things about to get completed this Spring and I've given Derek the okay to expand the development time on Fallen Enchantress so that it's tremendously good.
Anyone who bought War of Magic before December 31 is in for a real treat as it's looking like it'll be as different from War of Magic as say Age of Wonders is different from HOMM. We'll see.