From: Marietta, GA
Just to touch on AI for a moment since it has gotten a good deal of attention, an experienced player can beat the detailed battle AI far more often than he will be beaten by it. The game just has too many levels of complexity for the AI to be able to evaluate the situation as broadly as a human can. It does reasonably well, but it is McClellan to the experienced player's Lee as should be expected. That's not to say it isn't fun - it is. That isn't to say it is a cakewalk - it isn't. But the bottom line is the AI is not and cannot be as good as a player on a level playing field.
Complexity is the enemy of an AI. AI can play tic-tac-toe pretty well. There are very few options or alternatives and no surprises. Raise the bar up to playing chess and the programming is far more difficult, but AI has gotten pretty darn good at that game - though it took literally tens of millions of dollars in investment to accomplish that task. Wargames in general are complex and it is difficult to build an effective AI for any wargame. FoF is complex even in wargame terms. Anyone who saw the screenshot of all the different brigade and attachment types understands the complexity in just the tactical game. Beyond that there are different terrain types, different weapon types for each unit, different generals, supply, morale and a whole host of other factors that makes this particular game seriously complex and especially difficult for the AI to manage. And yet, it actually does a decent job.
The tactical AI is better than it was in CoG and it has actually been a ongoing discussion point and a point of emphasis during the development and testing of this game. During the beta, there has been considerable discussion about the AI and whether or not it should be allowed to cheat in order to give it some extra capability. The testers have come out generally against cheats and strongly against anything that players might be able to see or detect. Without cheats or unless one is willing to reduce the complexity (and therefore the richness) of the gaming experience, the AI is at a disadvantage.
So, what does that mean to the playing experience? First, without cheats, as you raise the difficulty level of the game it applies more to the strategic game than to the tactical game. But if you have far fewer resources to buy troops, research technology, upgrade weapons, promote generals, and conduct diplomacy, you will eventually lose on the battlefield simply because you don't have the firepower to compete. That won't show itself in the early portion of the game but it tends to provide a bit of a snowball effect down the road. So the first few battles might be fairly easy, but they will become progressively more difficult. Remember Hard Sarge actually has better weapons in the battle above and can fire unmolested from long range. On more difficult settings, that won't be true for very long.
So, when talking about the AI, I would caution that you have to consider the whole game and not just the tactical AI in isolation. For those who still can't handle the fact that AI can't compete with a human in massively complex simulations, you can always turn off tactical battle entirely. With Quick Combat, things are FAR less complex and the AI competes on an even par with a player. As I have said before, the strategic game is entirely fun and playable by itself. And, of course, you can always PBEM against another player. But don't neglect to consider what happens on the battlefield as the war wears on if one side has a considerable resource advantage over the other. In fact, isn't that a pretty accurate description of what happened historically?