So perhaps ...
roll some of the techs into Tier 1 (or even starting tech/no tech needed) -> Such as a basic version of each weapon type? Possibly?
----> Don't need metal weapons in this category I think ... unless something like a Crude Axe, Dull Sword, and Bronze Hammer. Something that costs 2 metal each but is half as effective as the tier 2 version of the weapon that costs only 1 metal.
(then tier 3 can cost 2 metal but actually be worth it)
more early choices is probably a good thing.
I know in Civ you have warriors, but if you start with the Mining Tech, you are only 1 tech away from having Axes. And Slavery.
And then you get to choose whether you want Granaries (for more axes whipped), or Archery (sucks to have no bronze), or Ironworking (those darn enemy chariots), or hunting (those darn enemy chariots, and look I have copper!), or Sailing (fishing start boo ... but ooh look at the fish! and maybe some islands). Many choices. Maybe you just want to rush archery, and go with a creative leader (Creative+Imperialistic?) to have fast and aggressive culture bomb plants. And then maybe, since you aren't going on the offensive, go ahead and tech Writing and get some Science going in food heavy and/or hammer heavy cities. And then? Do you want to go back the way of the Slaver Monarch (aggressive), or do you want to go up to Aesthetics/Literature for the Statue of Zues and Great Library? (builder's gambit).
There are a lot of choices to make, units move pretty slow across the board, and the options start piling up pretty fast.
How could this relate to elemental? More economic choices with impact. And flavored, not as a creation of society from the ground up ... but as a recreation of society from the Peasant level to the King level (or even emperor).
Basically, should probably go something like Peasant Tech -> Artisan Tech -> Knight Tech -> Baron Tech -> Duke Tech -> King Tech
Stongholds II 'kingmaker' did this well in that you had various levels of 'tech' (well prestige rankings) and Each upgrade in prestige (tech) would give you access to more buildings and better buildings.
Basically you start out with a decent amount of building choices which occupy the entire early game ... and as your cities get larger the 'unrest' increases exponentially. (or at least it seems that way. Exponential in relation to time perhaps, but probably linearly in relation to food available)
So as your tech increases, so does your unrest. But your unrest tends to increase at a slightly faster rate, and higher tech allows for ways to combat that unrest, as well as offer better and more improved ways to do almost everything else.
Do I think actual unrest in FE should increase with City Population or Tech Level? Hardly. I think this would introduce more problems than it fixes.
However, do I think there is something to learn from Strongholds II kingmaker? Yes I do.
In Civ, you go through the various ages in time. But I don't think that is what FE should be about. FE should be about living in one era of time ... only (most) everyone starts out as poor peasants. vagabonds even. Most people know FRAGMENTS of medieval culture and society, but no one has had the culture, the power, or the acumen to expand their influence beyond very small landholdings (such as the mercenary compound or the noble estates).
And even the noble estates, they are rotting and Byzantine ... the only real influence these 'nobles' have is based upon their dwindling supply of gold and household possessions.
Perhaps some have adapted, and organized a small village of barbaric hierarchy, but no one has come close to emulating the past.
So instead of starting us in the stone age*, how about starting us in Crude, Poor, and Disorganized medieval society ... but medieval nonetheless.
This means our starting weapons will be more expensive and weaker ... but of all basic types. Then as we progress along the tech tree, our armies become more organized AND our armaments become much more efficient.
-------> I still feel that spears should always be the cheapest and the weakest however ... other than 'stone age' tech anyways.
Need Tech for Roads (I'm fine with that)
Im still fine with starting ranged weapon being the Slingshot, although I think "Crude Bow" would also be appropriate (as long as its weak enough).
I feel like the "Alliance" option comes a bit late in the tech tree ... I feel if it came a bit earlier we would have more time to enjoy the benefits of an alliance, and require less time to leverage what little acumen we have to survive before alliances.
Forming an Alliance with Faction X should raise disposition with all who liked X, and (extremely) lower disposition of all who disliked X. And those with a neutral opinion of X, only a very slight lowering of disposition.
Allies are not? affected (in terms of disposition) by new alliances that you form.
However! If two allies hate each other, one is bound to declare war on the other, and the one that declares war will have their alliance broken. (however, there should be a pop up to actually let you CHOOSE which side you want to take. You don't have to join in the war, just decide who you want to break alliance with. As you cannot have allies that are at war with each other).
The first tier of tech "Crude or Dull X" should not only be weaker than tier 2/tier 3 techs ... but also be more expensive to produce than tier 2. I restate this because I feel it is very important for any implementation approaching (all weapons available from turn 1).
Also, the Devs need to make another pass at the balance between building maintenance and taxes. (I'm sure this is something they are working on already, or at least have made some improvements on since 0.86)
As far as 'realism' goes ... I'm pretty sure actual medieval tax rates went somewhere between 20 - 75% ... and they didn't cause unrest anywhere near as high as 80%. (although the semantics of unrest et al in medieval setting has already been argued extensively in another thread).
So I will never argue for 75% taxes ... but 4% taxes giving 40%+ unrest DOES seem a bit silly in my opinion.
Improvements(Buildings) are already being discussed in another thread, so I think instead I should look at unit maintenance for my last paragraph.
I think there should be some way (either base, or with early tech, or early building) that gives a number of 'free units.' I've been playing with the idea in my head for some time, and both the "+X free most expensive units" and the "+X free least expensive units" seem promising. The latter is probably a bit counter intuitive, but it forces the player into a decision. Do they use weak units at all? Because using weak units will COST THEM MONEY due to this bonus. Therefore if all of their units are expensive, then the least expensive X units will be a huge savings in Unit Maintenance. On the other hand, they would lose out on the opportunity cost of weak fill-in units.
After playing some closer games with the AI, once your mana runs out (or while you are waiting for it to fill up) it seems that most of the battles become Archer vs Archer. Maybe that doesn't happen to everyone, but it happend when I was facing my own Magnar IV.
I was doing (relatively) fine with holding back the Cannon Fodder horde, but once he started using the Stock Dross Archers, I had to start using archers or else I was pretty much done for.
And this is more about the "Glass Cannon" principle ... but first strike always equals victory, because all Archer vs Archer battles are one-hit-kills.
I've seen an archer take two turns to kill a melee unit, but always one turn when attacking another archery unit.
In any case, I think if we started with crude versions of all weapons (and all armors?) then we would more clearly see the dynamic of actual conflict, once it has a close approximation in both Weapons and Armor.
Then we will see Archer vs Archer battles, true "Arms Races", and other interesting things
----> One such example would be for melee to try and keep improving their armor so that archers/first strikes will have less of an effect on them.
And if initiative advantage can no longer be guaranteed (aka everyone using the +5 initiative archers with Fast and Charge) ... you start to see an arms race in ARMOR for archer units (or you might. who knows?)
That's about it. Thank you for reading!