AE is quite playable and provides all the relevant information required by a player, straight out of the box. There is absolutely no need to install any third party software, as none of them provide any additional information which is not provided ingame already. The better third party software merely presents the game information in a different visual setup which may, or may not be, more easily spotted by individual players.
The correct way of looking at these third party software is to consider them to be the equivalent of an auto transmission in an automobile compared to AE which uses a manual (or stick for our American cousins). For example, IntelMonkey automatically processes the saved intel to produce it's reports. A player without it can generate the same report by manually comparing the saved intel and then with the use of pen and paper (or if more technically advanced using something like the Windows system "Notepad"), recording the differences.
Tracker reads the complete saved files to provide the same information as does AE in its various information screens. The only real difference is that because it obtains its data directly from the saved files, there is no Fog of War ("FOW") present in Tracker and therefore it's information is 100% accurate. If a player sets up AE to play with FOW turned off, then he too would receive 100% accurate information. It is remarkable how almost every player chooses to play AE with FOW turned on but then sees no inconsistency with using a third party program which completely negates the point of selecting FOW on in the first place.
Then there is the difficulty which many people have in both installing and then running correctly these third party programs. Not everyone, and that includes very experienced players and computer users, successfully install these programs. Even if properly installed, it is not uncommon to find Microsoft releasing a new update which mucks up the installation and the process of trouble shooting begins all ove4r again. All for no real extra functional ability (other than the subjective visual aspect) which is not already present in the base AE setup.
For new players who are trying to learn the game mechanics, these third party programs do not make the game mechanics any easier to understand. How does the new player reconcile the screenshot found in the manual with what appears on his monitor after installing a mod. A recent thread on the main AE forum has dealt with navigable rivers. Page 37 of the manual has a screenshot of all the terrain types (also found on map, top right hand corner), including how a navigable river is depicted. Are all the map mods using the same visual identifier, and then how easy is it for a new player to associate the page 37 depiction with whatever is present in that particular map mod.
Driven correctly, both an auto transmission vehicle and a manual transmission vehicle will get one from "A" to "B". But my life experience is that manual transmission drivers tend to understand their vehicle better and wring out better performance (whether it be fuel economy or Formula 1 standard) than do auto transmission drivers. I have never met an individual who learnt to drive and pass their manual drivers licence test who was incapable of driving an auto transmission car. Whereas I have met many who only learnt on an auto transmission car and possess only an auto transmission drivers licence who have no idea how to drive a manual transmission car. Some of these auto drivers can't even do a kangaroo hop at the traffic lights.
All new players should just get on top of the standard game mechanics first before even contemplating any additional complexity. Learn the various relationships first manually before using any third party software which by being automated, tends to obscure the relationships.