Thanks Peter for that long posting.
I have already found out myself that the tribes's advantages and disadvantages are extremely hard to compare against each other.
That's why I said its a gut feeling - no more.
Most of the facts you mention I had discovered, but I too find it very hard to compare the many differences that are spread in different fields.
I had tried to group those things into categories like
etc... but it remains hard to compare all the same.
One thing you haven't mentioned explicitedly, is that it also depends on the map you are playing.
Ever since the autogrowing trees came the Barbarians with their effective woodcutters have gained some momentum.
Most Greenland plaines will be wood when you arrive there. That of course gets increasingly more important the larger the map is - or the more land you have to conquer in order to have a chance to win.
So - that example alone shows that it is probably not possible to say: This tribe is better off than the other.
It depends on too many factors.
I fully agree that the skills of the player are a lot more important than the tribe you are playing.
And that skill comes from knowledge and experience. So --- small wonder you're hard to beat, huh ?
You know Peter, I think that sort of consideration about pros and cons of the tribes should finally find its way into a sort of Widelands "Strategy and Tactics guide" that could accompany a manual some day.
Until now, there are probably very few that could give an overview like you just did. Even less that could outline the details.
Maybe a table alone is not really that helpful. There is more to explain than a table can. But we should collect these clues somewhere, dont you think? But I am still not sure in what form this is done best.
Finally - I admit I am not (yet) fully understanding the concept of the Atlantean culture. I will have to read the background more thoroughly and see if I can find some more.
In my mind I often put them near the Elves (Tolkien's Elves), but - although they are meant to be a magical tribe, they lack all hints to magic in the gameplay - except, maybe the gems' use. Also, I'm not sure how to define a "high culture". Certainly not by technical progress in the case of Atlanteans.
Let them use their gems to create lenses and smelt with sunlight instead of primitev coal!
Oops -- more balancing issues
Well - it gets off topic a bit. Again more stuff to discuss elsewhere
Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).