Hey there. So I played my first game of patch 0.95 and I noticed that 2 of the 4 AI opponents did not ever build a city. In order to track down this bug I decided to play a game with the map revealed and see if it happened again.
The settings I used for both games are:
Basically a standard game all around.
Before I get into the storytelling, let me summarize the conclusions I found right here:
1) The AI needs to scout around for a few turns before placing a city if they see lots of places they can settle. At the very least they need to consider all the places they can move in one turn.
2) The first Champion needs to be in plain sight of the sovereign. The AI spent several turns going the wrong direction because the champion was a little farther away than usual.
3) You need to make your map generation force each Sovereign to start within eyesight of a spot to settle. First of all it seems to break the AI and cause them to wander aimlessly for the rest of the game. Secondly, it gives a large disadvantage if you have to explore for your first settlement area and then clear out monsters that are nearby.
4) The AI always builds a pioneer first thing for their city... I am not sure this is the best or the most fun way to play, maybe have a random chance for some other opening strategy?
5) Resources seem to appear out of nowhere on turn 2 next to AI cities. Is this the AI cheating on the "Challenging" difficulty?
6) The AI wastes lots of turns early on ending their turn without moving. The AI had a champion and their sovereign collecting goodie huts and only one would move each turn until finally they were put into the same stack.
7) The first turn that the AI can build something, they don't.
8) The AI sometimes leaves their first champion in their city for a few turns, then has them leave, sometimes putting them back. Early on they should scout with their champion since the chance of getting attacked at your city is minimal. Do proceed cautiously so you don't get them killed though.
Here are the start positions of the various AI.
Karavox got a really good start with the option of a 3/3/2 or a 4/2/2 or a 2/4/1, plus easy access to forests for a lumber camp. I would have taken the 3/3/2 personally, since you would be able to get +2 or +3 grain from the extra essence later in the game when food is important.
He didn't even move one space when he placed his city, when there is a much better spot right next to him in plain sight.
I also want you to look at the distance between the first Champion for Karavox and his city. For some reason Karavox doesn't see the champion and starts exploring the other direction. Finally he doubles back 10 turns later but wastes valuable time doing so.
Oh well... lets look at the next AI who got a great start, Tarth!
Tarth also had a chance for a really great city at a 3/3/2 or a 4/2/2 , both next to forest and a river. She ended up with a 4/2/1, right where she started as well. Something funny happened though. Next turn suddenly a goldmine and an apiary popped up adjacent to her city, giving her a huge gold advantage early on.
Okay lets look at Relias. He spawned in a peninsula that has little fertility. He does end up with the same starting resources as the other players but thats because they ignored the better options. Overall this isn't too bad but he is much farther from expansion points than the other players. Also, no trees or river so that will weaken him a little bit.
Sure enough thats where he puts his city. Lets go check out how Verga is doing.
Verga gets a decent start, again no trees or river but a 4/2/1 is not bad at all. You can see that is also isolated on a peninsula, more so than Altar. He does have a few places he can settle cities nearby but he will be stuck down here for most of the game I bet.
As you can see, Verga also decided to give himself a gold mine and decides a lost library is more worthwhile than an Apiary. Maybe hes just not as greedy as tarth.
Now lets go see what happened to me!
This, as you can imagine is a terrible start location. There is no place to settle in sight! Because I am cheating and revealing the map, you can see that there is a great 5/2/2 next to those Air Shrills. It even has a forest nearby and some horses which would allow me to buy warhorses later on.
The problem is that I have no way of knowing which way to go and it will slow me down several turns looking for it. Its not the end of the world for a human, but I have a feeling this is why those AI sovereigns never built any cities in my previous game, they probably gave up after the first turn because they couldn't settle right away.
You can see down below is another place I can build a city but its pretty far away due to the mountains. I am trapped in a desolate area with only 2 spots to build cities, with verga taking all the stuff below and Karavox getting the stuff above. I would probably have to fight Karavox early and raze his cities to create my own. I might also be able to go west and steal some land from Tarth but theres lots of monsters I have to get by that Tarth can ignore.
I decided not to play at all in this match because of the terrible start. I made a save at turn 1 which will allow me to come back and tweak things and see what difference it makes. I will also double check to see if those resources were there before, and what the AI would do if it spawned in my situation.
I teleported my guys over to this island to keep Irwan company and stay out of the AI's way.
This is another problem, a valuable resource spawned on an Island that nobody will ever see I am guessing. I guess if you managed to see the island you could use raise land to build a bridge but its kind of silly if you ask me. Maybe you should make islands have fertile ground so they are valuable city spots, but stranded heroes doesn't add anything to the game. He better not ask for a hiring fee after I save his ass.
And here is the cloth map zoomed out so you can see how bad some of the starting positions are compared to eachother. I am not saying that everyone should have exactly the same start, I like the randomness. It will be curious to see if the starting positions determine who wins, maybe Verga's goldmine will matter more than Kraravox having more land to work with.
I'll come back here and post updates as I learn more about these issues.