From: Santa Rosa, CA
Red, I know that you would prefer that we label the play level at which the AI can push a human player as "Normal", while we believe that the "balanced" settings for 2-player be called "Normal". I understand where you are coming from, but this isn't going to change. So, since a human player that has some experience with the game system (and some experience with hex wargames) will always easily defeat an AI that does not "cheat", you have to increase the difficulty to get the "challenging" game that you want. We are talking semantics here as far as I can tell. If I sent you a version where Normal secretly gave the AI 20% boosts in all the help levels, would you really feel better playing against it than playing against the current Challenging level? Am I misunderstanding you and you are actually saying that you expect the AI to be able to play better without advantages? If so, you will be waiting a very long time, and I believe you are not being realistic about what an AI in a commercial wargame can be expected to do in the year 2012 (or I suspect 2030 or later). In my opinion, a major reason are games are well received is that Gary's AIs are very good compared to similar games.
BTW, if what you are saying is that the AI should be more aggressive at normal level (where it gets no advantages), my answer is that it would quickly do much worse by being aggressive as a decent player would take advantage of the openings that this aggressiveness would provide. You'd cut up the computer that much faster, and wouldn't get a better game, IMHO. So it really needs some advantages to be able to execute more aggresive moves without putting itself in compromising positions. This makes for the better game you are seeking.
All understanding comes after the fact.
-- Soren Kierkegaard