City-States are Not Impressive...
Honestly wasn't this feature supposed to be one of the biggest innovations to this civ iteration? All I see is an money-hungry, whiny and annoying city blocking my way to some key resource.
You can't just ignore them because the bonuses they provide are so overpowered and vital to your economy you find yourself relying on them.
The AI doesn't seem to care about them half of the time (allies on one turn, blowing them up the next) and still calls you bloodthirsty if you so much as blow too roughly in their direction.
I'm starting to believe there are only 2 actual advantages to this game over Civ IV, graphics and combat (and unfortunately the AI doesn't even grasp the latter).
I hate it how some worthless city state on the other side of the map is constantly wasting my time every other turn telling me about their grudges with other city states I don't give a ☺☺☺☺ about.
The AI doesn't care about city states either, I don't think I've ever seen a game where the AI didn't try to conquere the nearest city state just for the hell of it.
I though an integral aspect of the game was for us to worry about what city states we mess with because they could be allied with other players? Whenever the AI does ally with a city state they just try to kill them for no reason 25 turns later. It makes no sense.
I find City states to be a really cool addition personally. The other Civs handling of them is very poor (along with the rest of the AI) but I do find that the City states in my games do tend to drive a lot of the action between the larger Civs and I like that.
The city states are great, it's just that the AI needs to be better at them, at least on higher settings. On higher settings, AI's should be more competitive about "outbidding" you on city states so they steal your ally standing. That way you can't play every game with like 10+ city states as your ally.
My impression is that diplomacy isn't working well enough, and many players just don't take it seriously. It's very opaque and, in some cases, plain weird. City states are a great addition to diplomacy in theory, but that doesn't work if diplomacy doesn't exist. Them being mere game mechanics (as they have been described by Firaxis) also doesn't help because it leads to situations like an AI complaining about you getting friendly with a city state where in reality, it would probably appreciate it. (Oddly enough, there is no direct feedback whatsoever when you go straight to ally and the city state boots out the AI as its previous ally.)
i've found a slight (ie major) glitch involving city states:
i had just declared war on a state and ghandi called to tell me to immediately stop and withdraw my troops. i wanted to be friendly with him so i complied, made peace with the state and moved my troops out of its territory.
next turn however, ghandi called to tell me that i was a liar and that "my word was meaningless" because of the way i'd brutally conquered the greek nation. problem was - i was greece.
so now ghandi hates me and he calls me the bloodthirsty one because i dunno maybe i'd accidentaly cut my own finger with my sword or something.
I don't think city states are bad. Though currently the only ones worth even talking to are the maritime states. With their cumulative food bonuses it makes your empire grow a lot faster. Culture states are ok if you're going for the cultural victory. Military states aren't worth the money since the gifting is random and usually not a unit you ever need. You're better off just making your own units and upgrading them.
City-states are great. There's no need to conquer them when you can simply ally them and get their resources anyway. All three types provide useful bonuses to your civ. Should you choose, the Patronage policy gives even greater bonuses.
The area Civ5 needs improvement is in fleshing out how we interact with city-states diplomatically and as true patrons. If that system gained some depth I think they'd be even better.