From: Santa Rosa, CA
As Jon said, experienced players that want a challenge should not play on Normal level. Jon has been playing this game for over 2 years now and has probably made these first Barbarossa turns 100+ times now. The game has changed, rules have changed, and the AI has changed, but Jon's changed with them and basically he's light years ahead of the AI. We provide 5 play levels. At the normal level (which is what PBEM players should play), the AI is given only a very few intrinsic advantages that we felt were justified (to make up for basic things it just can't do like a human player) in order to keep it at a good level to entertain new players. We think Challenging level, which gives the computer some morale, supply, transportation, administrative and construction advantages is for the player that's learned the basics and wants more of a challenge. Any of the 5 different kinds of help for the AI can be individually set. The Hard level is expected to be a challenge for experienced players like Jon. The Impossible level is intended to make it very difficult for even the best player to win. The other play level is Easy, which gives the player advantages and is only intended for a player just starting out that wants to win while they are learning the rules. In the old SSI days we generally had 4 play levels (Easy, Normal, Challenging and Hard), and I don't know of any game where an AI could provide any kind of challenge to an experienced player unless set to Challenging or Hard.
As Gary likes to say, we provide a range of options so everyone can find what they are looking for. From beginner to experienced player we have something that will challenge you. If you want to crush the AI, you have that choice.
All understanding comes after the fact.
-- Soren Kierkegaard