I wanted to do a comprehensive review of every ideology trait, but I'll have to wait and see how the game develops.
I want to start off by saying that, on the whole, I am very happy with the ideology system. It promises to make for a lot of interesting and varied games.
There are, however, a couple of problems that I think should be addressed.
The first is that some of the ideology traits have an uncertain value because they aren't described well enough.
Here are some examples:
Amiable (Transparency Tier 1): It just says that it improves trade values. This leaves me with two questions. What exactly does that mean? And how much difference in the trade values will this make? Without the answers to these questions, I can't make an intelligent decision about whether to take this trait.
Reliable (Transparency Tier 5): Other races will trade with us more favorably. If I had to guess, I would say that this is what "improves trade values" means. So we have two traits that affect the same thing and no indication as to what relative degree they affect that thing. You have a similar problem with Popular (Compassion) and Unique Voice (Harmony).
Prepared (Harmony Tier 4, I think): Ships Heal Faster. How much faster?
These are just a few examples.
The other problem is that there are some traits that ridiculously underpowered, bordering on completely useless.
Negotiators (Tier 2 Transparency): 1 Diplomatic Capital per turn
This trait is absolutely awful. Even if this were a Tier 1 trait, I still don't think I would take this unless I absolutely needed it for the extra Transparency awareness. Diplomatic Capital is worth so little, that I usually don't bother even trading it in amounts smaller than 50. So basically this trait does nothing for 50 turns, and then all I get is a slightly more beneficial trade. In theory, of course, you can just trade diplomatic capital for gold as part of your trade deals, but you can only trade with each civ every so often, and in the early game you haven't met many civs, so it's possible you'll be waiting a long time to get a good deal.
The one thing that can be said in defense of this trait is that it is part of the Transparency tree, which offers ways to get better trade deals, making the Diplomatic Capital more valuable. This, however, requires you to invest at least 2-3 points in the transparency tree, foregoing other sexier ideology traits. I just don't see how that can be worth it. Even if I'm taking the better trade values, I don't see how the diplomatic capital is a fair exchange for a culture point.
This trait would be much better if it gave a lump sum of diplomatic capital, or credits per turn instead of diplomatic capital.
Devotion (Tradition Tier 5): 1 Control per turn
This trait itself isn't a problem, but its position in the ideology tree is. Tier 5 should be full of capstones, big game changers that you want to build towards. Devotion looks more like it belongs to Tier 1 or 2. In fact it is very similar to another Tier 1 trait, Iron Fist in the Authority tree, which gives an immediate +50 Control. Between the two, Iron Fist is actually superior for the first 50 turns after assigning the culture point. What is more, Iron Fist comes early, letting you use that 50 control when in matters most, allowing you to scout with the telescope and send out more colonists or acquire necessary funds. By contrast, you're probably not taking Devotion any earlier than turn 50, by which time the pace of the game has mostly settled down, and you still won't be at +50 control from Devotion until turn 100.
Representation (Equality Tier 2): 8% colony approval
I mention this one because it is useless in the game right now, but I get the feeling that colony approval is going to become more relevant in a future update.
I forgot to write down the name of the trait, because I wasn't going to mention it here because it's really more of a bug, but the one that gives an approval bonus when you hire a leader doesn't appear to be working right now.
Consensus (Compassion Tier 5): Basically, if any civ invades your home planet, everyone declares war on them.
The principal reason you would want this trait is if you are trying to win by peaceful means and have a weak military and/or small empire. But notice that if your home world is actually being invaded, this does absolutely nothing to save you. All it does is force everyone into a state of war, but it doesn't automatically make them come to your rescue. So this trait is primarily useful as a disincentive. It keeps your enemies from invading your home world because they don't want to face the negative consequences off all-out war.
There are two problems, however. First, it can only work as a disincentive if your opponent knows that you have this trait. Since the human player has no way to tell what traits the AI has chosen, I'm going to assume that the AI has no knowledge of what traits the human player has taken either. Even if the AI did know that, would really it be able to weigh the consequences of its action? That seems doubtful. Second, assuming the disincentive does in fact work, it only applies to the home world. You can watch your entire empire be dismantled without your enemies ever stepping foot on your home planet. This is true even if you're playing some one-hit-wonder strategy with the Baratak because your home world still needs its colonies to "feed" it, and the penalty only gets triggered if your starting planet is invaded.
On top of all that, it is unclear from the wording whether this penalty gets triggered during or after an invasion. It's possible that that it only takes effect once you've actually lost your home planet. In which case, you're still probably going to lose the game.
The one thing I can think of that might make this trait worthwhile is the fact that the AI tends to become much more amenable to peace negotiations when they are at war with other civs. If the declarations of war get triggered after a successful invasion, this is hardly helpful because you can't negotiate peace when you need to retake your home planet (or you will, more than likely, lose the game). If, on the other, the declaration of war come out at the start of the invasion, then this could allow you to negotiate peace and save your home planet. Even in this case, I still don't think this trait is good because it relies on a sort of "glitch" in the AI to want to come to terms, when what it should do (obviously) is finish you off while you're at their mercy before turning to deal with the other civs. That seems to me to be just poor game design. One aspect of the game (Consensus) shouldn't only be good because another aspect of the game (AI decision making) is bad.