First, I haven't yet tried the patch but reading the list of changes I would like to propose something concerning Estates.
Other than reducing player income late game because we need to give away estates to keep loyalty in check, the current solution doesn't make much sense (logically wise: I mean, the other guy would be paying taxes on that land no? Why am I the one paying it?). It might work as a band aid for the moment, but I don't feel like it will be any sort of enjoyable solution.
I would propose the following:
- Estates held by the King or Heir pay upkeep/maintenance;
- Estates held by other nobles give money to the King (nobles still need to pay their taxes).
Then create different type of Estates with specific bonuses and different upkeep/tax return value.
1) Farms: generate food and small amounts of gold from food sales and give access to levy units.
If the farm is held by the King or Heir, the resources and income are collected in full generating faction wide bonus to replenishment, but they pay upkeep. Increases influence and loyalty by a small amount.
If held by a noble, only a part of the resources are given to the King in form of Taxes. The rest of the food is used to feed either the garrison of the city they govern or the army they sustain. Increases influence and loyalty by a small amount.
2) Villas: generate happiness, higher upkeep and more impact on influence and loyalty than farms. Give access to retinue units. When held by nobles, generate more money in form of taxes, held by the king pays more upkeep.
3) Other type of estates with different pros and cons maybe?
I think that a system like this would encourage the player to think and engage better with the lands he controls and how they are distributed. If he needs the gold he might feel tempted to give the Villas away but in return he would risk that those nobles would be more influencial than him.
Then, if you were to tie the Estates that a general/character owns to what he can do:
A general that owns farms gets access to its own pool of levies, that are fed by the lands he owns. These units would get to full force faster since they would be mustered from his lands.
Owning Villas, give access to a pool of retinues, owning stables access to horses...
The level of those estates would dictate the quantity of units available on their private pool (upgrading should be the responsability of the owner maybe?). Lacking food, the rest of the units could be supplied from the King's Pool.
The King's Pool would in turn be fuelled by the number and size of the cities and estates he owns with food coming from the various sources that already exist.
Governors would already receive influence and loyalty bonus from the post they occupy. Owning estates could maybe allow the governor to supply more garrison or patrols to its province?