Just got in a good 550+ season game playing as Tarth, I could have won it handily by season 200-300 but I decided to build up while observing the AI to make the report instead of just mowing them all over. I currently have 10x the might value of the next player... so I could just declare war and demand surrender if I wanted to win.
Game settings: Large Map, Temperate World (seems to give the fairest starting locations - might just be my imagination), All other AI at Challenging (a bit easy for me, but I wanted to observe the base AI, not a challenge), Dense Monsters
The game didn't actually crash at all for me, although I did have to restart it several times due to tactical battle slowdowns in the early game (probably a mem leak issue). Not so bad later on when I'm not fighting tons of mobs.
First of all, let's hit the big points for this particular update:
1) The decision to make Pioneers free of maintenance is a terrible one. There are so many implications to this that it's pretty silly. My idle cities are pumping out an endless stream of pioneers, claiming absolutely everything, and don't even get me started on using them as fodder. I could probably make a wall of people rivaling the Great Wall to blockade my territory if I want, the population hit isn't even a factor when your cities are capped. I'm not sure if the reason is due to the increased monster hostility, but this is a pretty terrible adjustment, and should be reversed. If anything there needs to be more cost associated with pioneers, not less. Maybe put it on the building side (like a cost to actually build the outpost or city) to keep spamming them down, but the pioneers ABSOLUTELY needs a maintenance, otherwise I could just build tons of them to keep as "reserve" population (disband near a city to grow it quickly) without any fear of cost.
2) The AI is having a lot of trouble with the monster's increased aggressiveness, this is particular clear on Dense monster setting. IMO, they just seem to lack "spacial awareness", the ability to gauge if an area is safe to build in before actually going to build. They just aren't clearing out an area well enough, so they would build a bunch of outposts only to see them destroyed by some random wolf. It's pretty pointless to build something only to get it destroyed a couple of seasons later. Cities have militia, so those only get destroyed by something much bigger, but when it happens early on, the AI becomes pretty crippled.
3) The occupation penalty is making the AI hang on to a bunch of essentially useless cities when they fight one another (too scared of me). IMO, they need to manage their unrest values better (not that the occupation penalty is the problem - it just doesn't help). Because honestly, what's the point of having a bunch of 98% unrest cities?
Yithril colonized absolutely everything in sight, build armies everywhere (at one time, was almost 60% of my might value - but then I got serious)... then comes to a crawling halt... because his cities have .5 growth from prestige, and he's taxing them at 9% without the infrastructure to do so. It's one thing to do it when you have a couple of Almshouses and Prisons (both of which might need a bit of a nerf - maybe higher maint?), it's another to just cripple yourself silly.
Some miscellaneous bugs:
1) Perhaps related to cities being destroyed, I've seen the AI build some cities on 0, 0 tiles (0 grain, 0 material), which is only good to drain their faction prestige (kinda makes sense, you should get a penalty for doing something that stupid). The only thing that I can think of that would cause this is if the AI is somehow rebuilding a city where one was just previously razed (making the tile uninhabitable). Maybe, due to threading issues, it's not getting the notice that you can't (and shouldn't) build there anymore, and still does so anyway. I noticed 2 distinct occurrences of this, one was with Altar, building a city right next to the Imperium Wild Lands (so it might have been razed by Imperium mobs and rebuilt). I had to declare war and ask for their surrender (to which they gladly complied without a shot fired due to my overwhelming might) to get rid of them and colonize the Imperium. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to make a separate save for that. So when I ran across another city in the same situation, I did so:
(The city is Ryss, next to my 2nd army "Edmynn's Army")
2) City Enchantment with associated shard power gets really buggy as the game goes on. I believe this to be the result of loading adding shard values instead of resetting them (as it should), but regardless, the result is rather absurd values on unit stats (most of these spells affect units that are produced at the enchanted cities). I've seen cities with ridiculous bonuses to troop defenses (Aura of Might), insane initiative (Aura of Grace) and insane HP (Aura of Vitality). Just load up the save above, and check my 2nd city (New Hallas), +28 initiative, and +40 HP for troops built there... a little op? It should only be 7 initiative and 10 HP, which probably means I loaded 3 times before that save (sounds about right - due to tactical battle slowdown in the early game). To see absurd def bonuses, see Magnar's Imperium and it's +23 def bonuses and he only has 1 earth shard (was fighting everyone and getting all his stuff razed) so it should only be +2 def.
Imperium Screen: http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m297/KStar099/Fallen%20Enchantress/FallenEnchantress_1335667941.jpg
3) Abeix's tactical battle is bugged if you fight him manually. It seems he spawns in an unreachable tile on the map, so when his turn to move comes, the battle just stops and wait for him... forever. You can hit auto resolve and it'll resolve.
Just walk my sovereign over and see. I've also noticed while testing this that you don't always get his heart when you fight him, is this suppose to be the case? Also, after killing him, and everything else, the Wild Land doesn't disperse, but that's nothing new.
4) Kingdom cities who build Hedge Walls at level 3, gets them automatically upgraded to Fort at level 4 (which is bad enough because one has a maintenance and the other don't), but you can then build another Fort in that level 4 city, doubling the defensive bonuses. As a result, cities that do that becomes rather impossible to attack when defended properly. I don't think that's how it was intended.
1) I think 2 grain tiles should be removed from the list of colonizable tile. Yithril did this a lot in particular, and it crippled him as a result. I would never even consider building a city on a 2 grain tile unless it had some food resource nearby and a TON of mats or if there is absolutely nowhere else to settle. The pop cap is just way too low with 2 grains for it to become a good city, and the AI doesn't even develop it fully.
2) Perhaps it's time to reconsider razing cities also destroying the base tile resource. It's bad enough that when an empire is destroyed, the best tiles are gone, but now with monster attacks capable of doing so (if rare), it's looking rather bleak out there.
Why are you guys trying to get rid of this...?
Hopefully I didn't miss anything, will add if something else comes to mind.