I started a new game with the visibility cheat on to see how the AI was doing. By turn 61, one faction had suicided itself another had somehow lost both of its cities. The third wasn't doing too badly with 3 cities, but it was extremely far behind in pretty much everything. I still had fun - the 60-odd turns were great as I put together some small armies, leveled my heroes and sovereign, started my little kingdom in a secluded valley, and even banded my heroes together to meet a threat greater than any one of them could have faced alone.
Quick list of problems:
City placement is non-optimal. When they can see a 5/3 2 tiles away, they pick a 4/3?
AI armies had no idea what their limits were and frequently killed themselves off on absurd fights (level 1 sovereign vs Hoarder Spider Army, 3 times). One of the AI heroes had 5 wounds on her by turn 60 after killing herself at least twice to the same rock spider. [edit: it's been pointed out that this may be because of incorrect labeling of monster difficulty, or possibly a result of charting a course into the fog of war, not deliberate suicide on the part of the AI]
Outpost placement is non-optimal. They'll place an outpost for a resource they can't harvest yet, and miss harvest-able resources nearby that could have been claimed with the same outpost if it was placed better
Initial build queue selection could use improvement, it wastes a lot of turns early on. Later, when rushing, might have been losing turns by not putting anything in the queue, but I can't tell that for sure
Don't intelligently manage unrest. Yes, the unrest mechanic is still in its infancy, but as far as I can tell they ignore taxes and leave them at normal.
Doesn't build improvements sometimes - Verga created an outpost specifically to get a fire shard but didn't build a shrine on it for 31 turns. All of the AI's started with a gold deposit near their capitol, but, by turn 61, not a single one had built a mine on it. I had mining by the mid-20's, so they should have by then.
Here's the full story:
3 opponents (2 empire, 1 kingdom, I was kingdom)
Moderate Monster Frequency (I figured this would be easier on the AI)
Fast Tech Pacing
Only reloaded once when the graphics went haywire until turn 61, when I reloaded trying to see what had happened to Magnar and Gilden
Lord Markin - started on a 4/3, 2 tiles from a 5/3. Founds a city on the 4/3 and it becomes a 5/3.
Warlord Verga - started on a 4/2, 1 tile from a 4/3. Founds city on the 4/2 and it becomes a 5/2.
Magnar - started on a 4/3. Founds a city on the 4/3 and it becomes a 5/3.
On challenging they get a bonus grain? Totally ok with them cheating, but I was surprised
Not a single sovereign moved from their city, all had remaining move.
I have a start in the woods by a grain, with a 5/3 2 tiles away. Great start.
Lord Markin: Recruited a hero, not building anything, just moved one space from his Capitol
Warlord Verga: Also moved just one space from his capitol, building a scout
Magnar: Moved just one space from his capitol, building a scout
Lord Markin: Has cast Tireless March (challenging AI?), hero was immobilized by a rock spider (I'd lol but it's Lisbeth, she's weak)
Warlord Verga: Ignored the hero near his start, but gained level 2
Magnar: Recruited a hero
By this time, I have my sovereign and a hero at level 2 and close to level 3, and am 2 turns from producing a pioneer. I think they're all 7-8 turns from getting the Scout. They're operating at normal taxes (38% unrest) and, judging from how much gildar that's making me, they're exchanging almost 30% of their research and production for 1 gildar a turn. That's a dumb decision.
Lord Markin: Killed some bandits, is nearing level 2
Warlord Verga: Exploring
Magnar: Has somehow moved his hero into the same square as a bandit unit without a fight occurring, but otherwise has done nothing
My pioneer is done and moving towards a 4/3 that I spotted. They're 6, 6, and 9 turns from having a scout
Lord Markin: Still level 1, close to 2. Exploring very slowly
Warlord Verga: Exploring
Magnar: Hero got killed by the bandit army it was on top of, but Magnar avenged them (Still level 1, close to 2)
Lord Markin: Started a fight with and lost to a Hoarder Spider's Army!!!! At level 1, alone?? He did 20 damage though. But really? Attacking an army with 141 attack at level 1?
Warlord Verga: Hit level 3, 5 turns from producing the Scout
Magnar: Still 2 turns from producing a scout, still level 1. Hero just finished immobilized, but hasn't moved yet
I've founded my second city and recruited a second, level 3 hero. My first hero and sovereign are both level 3 as well, though my sovereign has lost both bandit units he started with
Lord Markin: Finished the scout, and Markin came off immobilized. Lisbeth has been sitting next to the rock spider that killed her for a turn or two now, at 14/19 hp
Warlord Verga: Finished the scout also. Must have rushed production or something. Scout is sitting in the capitol city though.
Magnar: Has finished the scout and reached level 2, Hero just came off immobilized
My second pioneer is done and headed to claim an iron ore and 2 shards nearby, as the second city site near me is guarded by some Knights of Asok that I'm not ready to face
Lord Markin: Lisbeth lost to the rock spider again. Producing a tower of domination. Markin staying in the city, healing.
Warlord Verga: Scout was off exploring, must have rushed a pioneer
Magnar: Scout and other hero sent off exploring
One of my heroes was immobilized by a sand golem, the other reached level 4 killing it
Lord Markin: Rushed the tower, rushed a pioneer, but Markin (11/32), hero (5/19), and pioneer are all sitting in the city, probably healing
Warlord Verga: Finally recruited the hero near his start location, has sent the pioneer off in a direction I don't think he's scouted yet
Magnar: Magnar is blocked by an army of 3 fire shrills and a level 5 empire hero. I keep waiting for him to suicide against the shrills. His starting location has 2 ways out, one is blocked, the other is being explored by the hero / scout (in separate armies). It was a crappy start location to be honest.
Lord Markin: Pioneer moved out of the city solo, but just one space, and to a location right next to a mite army. Managed not to get killed
Warlord Verga: Used the pioneer to grab a nearby fire shard, and recruited a level 3 hero. But, 2 turns later, he still hasn't started a shrine on the fire shard that I can see
Magnar: Did suicide against the fire shrills, but managed to take 2 and a half of the 3 with him. Why did he send his pioneer that way?
His hero also walked right by a lost library (later went back for it, losing a turn)
All 3 now appear to be rushing pioneers. It looks like I can tell when they rush by the "no construction" I see in their cities. Does that mean that, after they rush, they don't start something immediately though? If not they might be losing a turn of construction. I can't tell though.
At turn 20, I have 2 cities and 2 outposts, a level 4 sovereign, a level 4 and a level 3 hero. Both my cities are halfway through workshops
In contrast, my strongest opponent has 1 city, 1 outpost, a level 3 sovereign, a level 3 hero, and a level 1 hero. And a scout.
Gilden chose a poor location for its first outpost. Moving it 2 tiles would have brought more resources under his control
Magnar has just spend the last 2-3 turns not producing anything and, as far as I can tell, not rushing anything. His hero did turn back and get the lost library though, but wasted at least a turn doing it
Lord Markin: Put up a second outpost, again in a non-optimal position.
Warlord Verga: Either hasn't built that fire shrine or had it destroyed by the widow spider. Close to founding a second city, the best available is a 3/4 or a 4/3
Magnar: After heroically slaying the last fire shrike, decided a Hoarder Spider Army would be easy pickings and is recuperating in his capitol.
Every single one of them started with a gold deposit next to their capitol. By turn 35 with fast research, none had built a mine on it
Warlord Verga: Founded his second city, it has 3/4. Not sure if it was on a 3/4 or a 2/4 and got a +1 grain
I was about to found my 4th city in the last of the fertile land near my start position, having brought together all 3 of my heroes to kill those damned knights. I control 4 shards, while Magnar has 1 but Verga hasn't even bothered to build a shrine on the one he used an outpost to take over. Markin placed his outposts such that he just missed the shards, apparently he didn't want them.
Magnar got his second city at turn 44
On turn 45 Lisbethe and a pioneer attached the same Hoarder Spider Army that killed Markin a while ago with predictable results (although she was level 2).
On turn 47 Rahelle the Scorpion (Verga) and a Black Widow shared the same tile
On turn 51 Verga finally started construction on that fire shrine (31 turns later) and got his 3rd city, on a 3/3
By turn 61 Magnar had somehow lost both of it's cities (no idea how, as Magnar was immobilized at the site of his former capitol)
And Gilden had been destroyed! Lord Markin tried attacking a group far too powerful for him (again) and died, somehow his capitol was gone as well. I didn't see it fall and couldn't go back far enough to see why it did