As I was playing around with the alpha, I started wondering if it would be within the game's limits to implement a leveling system for generals. In strategy games, players are rewarded for their good decisions with a gain in power, and that's why I think such RPG elements work so well for these games, because they follow the same principle, only adding another layer of depth to this reward system. As a result, they also tend to make the experience more engaging and unique.
So I was thinking about a system where they gain experience like regular units, based on the feats of the unit they're assigned to, and when they level, you could choose between a couple of traits/bonuses for them to get.
I haven't given this a whole lot of thought yet, so I don't have any details worked out, just presenting this as a raw idea here. Details like what the traits should give, how many traits there should be, etc. are open for suggestions.
To give a really plain and unoriginal example off the top of my head, they could give a small bonus to melee damage or ranged damage or siege defense or speed or any stat in the game. And maybe that small bonus could eventually become a bigger bonus as they gain more experience and level further, if someone chooses to specialize down that trait for instance.
Optionally, you could base the traits they get off the unit they were leading, getting bonuses which only apply to that unit type (e.g. the general becomes good at leading hoplites, but not cavalry - might require tracking of too many variables though).
Bottom line is, I feel something like this could be a powerful tool for rewarding players, creating more depth and enhancing the feeling of progression. It could even add more realism, as the generals probably did learn new things over the course of a war, developing new tactics/formations (= bonuses) as they fought. This would also give them a somewhat more interesting and important role.
Not 'too' important of course, I'm not suggesting they should give overpowered bonuses that'd turn units into invincible killing machines. The bonuses would need balancing so they're noticable, but not overpowering. And of course, it should be a slow process so you can't max out a general in all traits and for all unit types over the course of an average game.
What do you think?