I've been reading the posts of a few people, who seem to be saying that the AI isn't strong enough and is easy to break down early in the game.
I was playing a Epic, Large Map, Challenging AI & Challenging world. I didn't expand very aggresively but around turn 200, I realized that the major factions had grown to gigantic proportions, their power level was probably 2 to 5 times mine. (depending on the faction).
Also, A lot of the people posting that they break the game down even with Ridiculous settings set to both world & AI and picking the max # of factions didn't help make their games harder.
I am curious if the following points could NEGATIVELY affect AI difficulty:
A ) Putting MAX # of opponents;
Could that inadvertently have an impact major faction expansions, by limiting the available real estate without the need of major conflicts? Should this be true, then maybe having large maps with less amount of opponents might lead to harder games. Since the Faction will be able to annex smaller factions around them and expand more aggressively. (that's the "theory"...)
B ) WORLD difficulty > or = AI difficulty;
Could that also impact how successful an AI is at expanding? Wouldn't higher world levels make the monsters around AI towns harder? As well, as given them less resources (as it does to us). I'm curious how much does this impact the AI's expansion?
C ) Playing on Medium and smaller map sizes;
From what I heard the AI seems to be a bit "slow" on expanding and defending himself properly, leaving him open to early rushes. I'm guessing that playing on larger maps will help give the AI some room to grow and get stronger. This would limit the possibility of rush attacks.
My only good suggestions for a "challenging" game:
#1) Custom made Oponents;
Given the fact that some of the traits don't work or have no value, and that some of the premade factions make poor use of teh available pool points for creating a faction. I decided to put myself against custom factions, each of which I tried to give them as many traits as to increase their viable bonuses.
#2) Avoid exploits;
I'd suggest staying away from any of the major exploits, like rushing or stacking rings and magical items to reach super high attribute levels.
So sadly I have more open queries than actual tips, but I wanted to know if anybody else shared these thougths or if someone had better suggestions to make the game more challenging. To be fair, in my first "real game" like I said before, I reached turn 300 to realize that I was about a quarter of the size of the biggest "faction". Ouch.
Hope this is an interesting read or helpful!