I play both ways. Played AI only until the last two years, now i usually have one or two pbem games going on. When i first started playing pbem i kind of went overboard i enjoyed it so much and had sometimes 4-6 games going on at once....always a turn waiting. It was a bit much keeping up with the sense of obligation to keep pushing out the turns. I've since scaled back and have no more than 3 going on at once, and it depends on the game, some game turns take longer than others. Thing is there are some games that i only have an interest in if my pbem partner will play, no interest in playing AI in some game types. I encourage everyone to just give it a try....here's the secret....you need to find a like minded player about the same ability. Getting wiped is no fun for anyone, this usually happens when someone has a lot of experience in a certain game. For me, i'm an average player, I lose to the AI more than i'd like to admit. I play a lot of different games, different scales, complexity, different types. I don't min/max or look to push limits of the game system, i just play for fun/relaxation, so i found a like minded player and have had pbem games ongoing for over two years. I find we like the simple, quick turn games. I'm not a huge ancients fan but love FOG2 pbem, i play it like ancient chess. Battle Academy 1/2 are also great fun pbem, i have no interest playing these games in single player mode but really enjoy them pbem. Some of are favorites are FOG2, BA games, Strategic Command Games, Combat Mission games. We've played a bunch of different games from WITE to AOW3 to Concealed Intent. Another important thing is we are both AI players also, so if life gets in the way for one of us, we don't sweat the delay, we just play single player until the pbem games continue.
Give it a try, you can always play single player also.
Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Be Yourself; Everyone else is already taken" ~Oscar Wilde
*I'm in the Wargamer middle ground*
I don't buy all the wargames I want, I just buy more than I need.