As fan of Bannerlod/Warband and mainly Mods I have not noticed decay of modding. Actually opposite due to Major mods like Eagle Rising and so on.There's no point in even fighting the AI currently as they can muster a fresh new 1200 man army in a matter of in-game days, it makes it pointless tbh, luckily there are mods that make the AI recruit the same way you do, which makes the game more interesting.
Cheating AI is not difficulty, it's corner cutting.
I hope next time Talewords don't do early access, so far it has been a disaster, the modding community is drying out quickly because of the continous updates, it may be picked up again after release or it may not, it's better to just make a kickstarter or funding project where your game is released every 8-10 years, instead of gimping your game with early access.
Without total conversion mods this game will not last long.
Ai is capable of gaining those man fairly quickly, but My companions do so as well. And don't get me wrong but If u re not running late game with 300-400 elite troops of your own, you must be doing something wrong. At that point I don't even need no army, just tactical awareness which leads to more challenging late game and more fun imo.
Disclaimer: I can't speak for vanilla game, XOXO <3 (but I am mostly running just diplomacy,EA and RBM AI)