After reading about the latest update, I was very excited to see the revamp about Factions. However, after playing a few games, it feels like nothing has changed. Sure, now we're competing against the factions for Influence points, and who wins at the end of the cycle gains some Food/Machinery/Artifacts, but a few extra meta resources are not that significant late game (if you already completed the tech tree). I would have liked a slightly deeper interaction system, for example being able to ally with a Faction for a cycle. You could be able to build up relationship points with the Faction by trading with them, or by completing special quests for them (they may be embedded in the Queen's Order interface, or they may be a different system). You lose points by settling too close to them (stealing their tiles), or when you attack a trader. Building the relation high enough you could obtain bonuses thoughout the cycle.
I hope to see this system improved, because it has great potential.
I'd like to add to this, because I would also like to see the faction system a bit more fleshed out.
I understand that you don't want to add a ton of new features in order to avoid feature creep, which is good thing to do, but I think you can put together a good system with the features you have, particularly the world map and standing system.
For example, each faction can be tied to one aspect of gameplay, productivity, the forest and the smoldering city and each can have a rival faction.
Standing with them persists across the cycle and is raised by trade, completing timed orders (It would make sense for timed orders to be from the factions, unlike the Smoldering city they can't wait for you too take your time.) and best of all, denying their rival influence by building over top of them.
As your standing increases past certain thresholds they give bonuses specific to their faction.
Productivity gives you increasingly good line deliveries.
The forest can reduce hostility and even give additional positive modifiers at high enough levels.
And the smoldering city reduces trader times, queens impatience growth and increase the number of settlers per year.
You can also anger them by failing timed missions, or by actively denying them land, and they eventually start sabotaging you.
Productivity can increase production time and lower the number of charges in nodes.
The forest increases hostility and even adds negative modifiers.
And the Smoldering City can increase impatience growth, trader time and reduce the number of settlers.
The only way to get the best faction rewards would be to actively harm their rival, so it would give players another thing to plan out as they expand during a cycle, who do they anger and who do they help.
I completely understand if this would be impractical too put into the game, I just really want to see the faction system expanded.