As I'm writing this I think the solution is that I need to play all these factions and create various levels of unit designs for them - they could be limited by not having a lot of designed units. Will need to check and see if I can find a good way to do it quickly.
Anyway, on to the experiment.
- More starting gold (1500 per player, 15000 for AI)
- Bigger Sov - 12 customization points and free equipment
- More movement - All factions have 'Master Scout' and an additional 2 movement
I think its really weird this big powerful "Sovereign" comes into being with barely any skills, a rusty shortsword and at least now a couple of buddies. Way back in EWOM days the idea was that there were these mini-gods come to restore a broken world - pretty much badasses, that could spend essence to restore, build or destroy. Now, starting a game with a level 1 fledgling that may or may not have some magic - may or may not have a weapon, doesn't really sit right.
So I made it so that there are 12 sovereign creation points, and I added a bunch of equipment and mounts to the sov creation screen. Its a complete cheat, but I usually give the sov mount, around 20 attack and 15 or so defense, 2 levels in 2 magic trees and a bunch of the traits.
The sov is kind of tough at that point, can't take out huge mobs but can confidently explore with his two starting units.
So, my custom sovereign for my custom faction is pretty damn good - but is completely cheating when compared to the default civs. So I went to each faction and created a parallel custom faction and parallel custom Sov (Lord Relias_2 for example). Using the same themes for the factions and same base themes for the Sovs, just beefing them up a bit - equipment, more magic, more traits, etc.
I always play with master scouts - which trivializes terrain, but is much less frustrating. Again, not a good comparison with almost every other AI faction that has to slog through swamp a tile a turn. I wanted to see what the AI could do, so when making all the parallel AI factions I gave them Master scouts and the Mancer additional movement - All factions got +2, Mancer gets +4.
So far, Huge map - 9 enemies - all the _v2 of the base factions.
I'm liking the changes, I chose Mancer so with the additional movement on all troops mean that my base units can move 6 moves and even panca archers can move 4. My Sov is beefy, and can handle most low to mid groups with his helpers. I make good progress, clear out the area and found a couple rare settlements.
Mancer road ability makes it even more impressive - I threw out 3 or 4 pioneers and with 6 moves - that's a lot of road. So when they did find something it was easy for my heroes to come pick it up.
Oddly, I don't meet the AI for quite some time. When I do he is very weak. I grab a NAP to start as I don't want to be bothered yet and I'm still trying to find some fertile ground.
I meet another AI, he is even weaker (Krax and Magnar) in terms of faction power.
Both have a pretty solid stack, but only 1 or 2 settlements.
I eventually get to the turning point - mounted boar spears with initiative (should probably change that up at some point) and I roll over both and get both to surrender (ha). That's essentially the entire bottom third of a huge map - so I still need to find the rest. I've found Umber and he seems to be at least slightly better.
Seems the AI on ridiculous should be quite advanced - more movement, no terrain issues, lots of gold - ideally should be able to clear lairs and rush everything. Unsure why they haven't seemingly improved beyond what they normally would. At this point I'd say the changes definitely help the player more, which is kind of a bummer - I was looking to cheat/change - but to do so equally.
Will see how the rest of the map turns out. Fun for me though...