Im currently several hours into the Silverstag mod. It features a lot of stuff that makes your playthrough easier such as the ability to give your companions roles. Among those roles are for instance the quartermaster who can pick up the after battle loot and automatically sell it when you visit a town, or the gaoler who does the same thing for prisoners. There are a lot of other options such as easier and better recruiting etc. I recommend it!
for me it's 1257, pause then Geko, Dickplomacy (this isn't typo, it's pretty nice native+ mod). Even ACOK might be some fun. VC or WFAS don't look bad, but I can't have reliable opinion after just few h playing each.
There is no such mod. It all depends on your personal preferences. If you wanted some some mod recommendations there these are some good ones.
Prophesy of Pendor (Very polished, tons and tons of new features, lots of cool weapons and troops, difficult, my fav mod)
Brytenwalda (set in Dark ages period, my second fav after PoP, tough to play as well)
Light and Darkness (mod with a main storyline)
Nova Aetas (Greatly improved building systems/village, town, and kingdom management, farming, mining, woodcutting, rising up in class through a prestige system, renting out estates, establishing colonies, faction technological advancements over time, etc.)
The Last Days (LOTR mod, one of the best total conversion mods out there)
Perisno (Very similar to PoP)
Gekukojo (if u want to play in Japanese setting)
Rigale (has native map but tons of new features, things like cafting,gathering)
Warsword Conquest (great mod set in warhammer fantasy world)
A clash of Kings (GoT mod)
1257 AD (a huge mod set in 13th century europe, over 40+ factions)
Prophesy of Pendor, Perisno and I would try some of the mods with a magic system for fits & giggles
I can only remember Phantasy atm but, there was one mod I played with all sorts of weird creatures, Giants, Dragons, Minotaurs. The graphics where not as polished as some mods but it was fun as a break from more "serious" playthroughs
I believe that Warsword Conquest (the Warhammer mod) is about to get a new edition/update and that will be awesome
I recommend a 'finished' mod. I remember playing Perisno only to see it coming out with more and more features. 0.81 is pretty good, wish I could get back into it. Usually not save compatible when theres an update. Currenly playing Gekokujo 3.1 with suguroku mod. I know theres a Daimyo edition but without horseback muskets I can't get into that.
I think Brytenwalda is finished at v1.41? Its hard, I find it to be an infantry brawling game with little use for missiles, but it does have its own style and so many custom village maps, quite impressive work. Heard a lot of good things about Pendor but if you're as useless as I am in combat you're going to find progress real slow.
It's all based on your preference. If you wish to go for native with mods, go for the Floris Mod Pack which add new features and all.
Fantasy has always been a staple in the modding community, want something new and challenging? I'd suggest you play Prophesy of Pendor and Perisno (I haven't tried the latter but heard it's quite as tough as PoP. My game crashed before at the time I've downloaded Perisno). Just want all the fun and shizzles? Go ahead and download Phantasy Calradia (now updated to Phantasy 2018, I believe).
There's also quite a lot of historical based mods like 1257, Sands of Faith and Fires of War (the last one is a Greco-Persian Wars mod). Don't ever forget Gekokujo (haven't downloaded the latest version yet)
Personally, I like playing mods with lore like Prophesy of Pendor and Tohlobaria. Warsword Conquest and A Clash of Kings are both good considering they are based on existing franchises.
A world of Ice and Fire - A game of thrones mod thats not completely finished so there are some unfinishable minor quests, but it looks amazing and it has tons of cool features that I haven't seen in other mods. Warsword Conquest - Some kind of fantasy mod with a big map, I like it because it adds a lot of new troops and races so you really never run out of things to explore. Persino - Another fantasy mod that adds more races and it has a lot of lore and storylines. Native Redux - A mod that doesn't change the gameplay but changes the textures and adds troops and items that looks pretty good. Paradigm - Theres no way to explain this mod other than weird and random and I think its impossible to explore all the weird **** in this mod.
If none of these work for you then just explore the mod list on ModDB and you are bound to find something good.