Could there be a way to focus entirely on magical power and spell research and stay competitive in the game?
Minimal expansion, minimal armies but superior magical power and knowledge to secure and seal some shards for yourself...
A number of us have been asking this. No sign of if/how it'd be done.
Only ways I can think of include:
- Using essence. All cities have some essence cost, even captured ones (to hold back the devastation or something like that?). This'd give few-city empires more essence available for magic/etc, than empires that spend a lot of essence on many cities.
- Using tech. Civics techs would be required to get an increasing number of cities, so empires that skip those techs can instead focus on the magic line. The smaller empires would need to be able to match the larger empires teching rate else the larger could research both civics and magic as fast as the smaller researches magic only.
There's still 3 ways to win (diplomatic, master spell, and master quest) for smaller empires but it'd be fun to have a viable small-but-puissant vs. large-but-less-advanced military struggle.
There's always modding!