So. Mazda's got one of the worst start positions in the game.
The geography is a hot mess that's hard to traverse, with the cities somewhat oddly placed in relation to each other.
The two provinces immediately south suffer a similar problem. They are low density oddly placed cities with movement-eating terrain and roads that were laid out by a drunk person.
IMMEDIATELY north of his jungle and savannah province, we have --- tundra. What? Why? Southern Naggaroth isn't frozen... it's mostly savanna/mountains/badlands/desert. Or should be. It's the northern half that's frozen.
All of this, combined with an initially weak economy and diplomatic penalties, makes Hexoatl ME a frustrating and slow start.
It's less of an issue in Vortex because the map is expanded and there's more things closer that are easier to unify and defend.
Basically this is one more instance of the ME Lustria (and Southlands) maps being very poorly done.