Not going to say much about the individual spells and how they should or should not be balanced because, quite frankly, that topic can't be discussed to any great success until the topic of availability of essence is resolved.
Over all the threads I've read and opinions for difference people online here, I'm a little surprised to see a divide on the topic, considering that all have given fantastic ideas over the past several monthes.
- Individuals like Kongdej and Heavenfall are calling for essence to become even rarer than it currently is.
- Individuals like DGB246 and Supreme Shogun are calling for essence to become more readily available than it currently is.
- seanw3 seems to be advocating for better balance, not caring whether essence is available or not, so long as the coorisponding spells are adjusted accordingly.
I find myself falling in crowd #2. Essence should become more available, however not more potent. I'll explain why (or at least try to).
In FE's current game balance, enchantments can make the difference between a surviving and thriving society or a dwindling, extinction of a race. I really find myself liking that aspect of the game. This is a game focused around the concept of magic and a planet that has just underwent a major cataclysmal event. The raw elements of shards, wildlands, and magic have been unleashed upon the world by the acts of the Titans. Hense, if your faction doesn't have sufficient access to these, it's going to die.
If the enchantments become less potent, it reduces the need for essence, which in turn reduces the need for the mechanic altogether. Logistically, I don't see Stardock doing this after spending so many man-hours incorporating it's function into the game. It's going to stay as is, or become more even popular. I also don't think Stardock plans on removing the 'scaling' factor that enchantments have with essence. It seems quite core to the mechanic that they are implementing.
If the enchantments become more potent, the need for essence increases such that if you don't have it, you're finished. As seanw3 nicely put it, the game becomes "Elemental: Random Essence Simulator 2000." That said, I really can't see the spells becoming significantly more potent than what they currently are.
In the end, with the exception of a possible tweak hear or there, I find the enchantments available to be adequate in strength...so long as you have the essence to back it up.
As such, I find wanting to availability of essence to increase. However, they've got a really good system going by naturally providing essence. I like that my capitial gets to be special with 2 essence and that most other sites generally provide 0-1 essence. Currently I see too many 0's and not enough 1's, but we also don't want every city becoming a conclave just because it's the 'best' option.
That's why I've previously proposed, and will do so again (mostly for critical comment towards the idea) of having an artifcial way of providing, at most, 1 essence to each city:
- Have scrying pools be made available to all factions when the 'Arcane Mastery' tech is obtained. The scrying pool provides +1 essence to the city it is built in.
- Procipenee still receives scrying pools, granting +1 essence, at the beginning of the game. However, when she researches the 'Arcane Mastery' tech, her bonus is receiving an additional +1 (for a total of +2 essence) for her scrying pools.
I can see this having several benefits:
- Unless you choose to rush towards 'arcane mastery', you're not going to be getting that tech till at least season 300, so a fair amount of the game has transpired where you have to 'live without' (or at least live with less).
- Each of the faction's 'uniqueness' will still exist, but those uniquenesses won't be crushed out of the way midgame.
- This gives the factions the ability to throughly explore and enjoy the enchantments mechanic of the game.
- Procipenee doesn't actually suffer, nor is watered down. Quite the contrary, she'll mostlikely become even a little more powerful. Perhaps restrictions to heavy weapons or armor to help rebalance, aka have her faction depend on magic??
- My idea backfires and all factions become essence-dependant.
- Procipenee is actually weakened by other factions gaining essence mid-game (which actually isn't a bad thing since she's currently too powerful)
Anyways, that's the way I feel on the issue of essence. Comments and questions always appriciated.