In a previous game Bente and Willie stopped progressing their islands at Artisan. As soon as made some New World islands with sugar fertility available, they both rushed them and their progression resumed.
In my current game I am playing with much more challenging settings and harder AI (Beryl and Hunt) so as an experiment, I decided to test the sugar theory. I rushed Artisan, got to the New World first and immediately claimed every island with sugar fertility.
Now at 11 hours, I am approaching investor and both are still on artisan. Look.
Both have built rum distilleries but have nothing to put in them.
Normally Hunt and Beryl would be well into engineers by now, mb even investor, but both are stuck. Both want me to sell them sugar in the New World. I suspect that them moment they have even one sugar that this barrier will be lifted. I suspect that sugar is some hard coded progression requirement for the AI. I will test this later in the game when my little merchant empire has evolved past the brink of financial disaster and report, whether selling them one sugar is enough to get them moving again or if they require an island with sugar.
In the meantime, this is 2 games now where sugar has been a thing blocking AI progression. Something for you strategists and exploiters to consider.
(BlueByte, go away. Stop reading my posts and stealth nerfing stuff. I saw what you did to the sell price of Polyglot Scholar Rahim. I was relying on that in my current game. I managed, regardless, but – just … idk.)