EDIT: This list has now been updated and is current as of 24/09/14.
I've seen a lot of misconceptions here and elsewhere about what advantages the AI gets over the player (besides the ones rolled into 'Bonuses' and 'Lucky Nations', which are explained through tooltips in the game options menu), so I thought I'd make a post and clear up in which exact ways the AI 'cheats'. Some of these cheats are crutches that it is my goal to eliminate, while others are more or less necessary for gameplay or performance reasons (for instance the +1 diplomat is necessary because the AI only handles diplomacy about once a month and therefore can't do the cancel diplomat, use diplomat, resend diplomat thing players do).
First, let me dispel some common misconceptions:
- The AI does not cheat with dice rolls, not even Lucky Nations. If you believe this to be the case, you are experiencing confirmation bias (ie you notice the times it rolls well a lot more than you notice the times you yourself do).
- The AI does not cheat with land attrition. No, really. Not even a little bit.
- The AI does not get extra manpower or free units.
- The AI does not cheat with sieges.
Now, a list of how it actually cheats:
- AI does not get naval attrition. It does avoid going too far out of range with most of its naval operations though, to somewhat simulate it.
- AI can see through fog of war, but pretends it can't in most cases.
- AI gets +1 diplomat that it reserves for non-maintained actions because the diplomatic AI 'ticks' means that it can't do the recall-send strategy that players do with maintained diplomats.
- AI gets +1 free leader pool because it's not nearly as good as a human at planning out when it will need leaders and needs to keep them on hand always.
- AI gets less native uprisings, because it is less than optimal at keeping its colonies garrisoned.
- AI does not pay diplomatic points for military access relations, as the slowness of ai diplo ticks makes it unable to request/cancel access the way a human does.
- AI gets +25% colonial range to make it better at competing in the colonization game.
Finally, for the sake of fairness, here is how the human cheats:
- Humans cannot get inherited by other countries, in a PU or elsewise. They can still end up in a personal union under another country.
- Humans can save and reload when things go badly (unless you're playing ironman).
- Humans have a human brain.
On balance, AI isn't that big a cheater is it?