I can't help but recall that there was some original idea that the Tactical Battles were originally designed to be real time not turn based. If that is the case then a design philosophy limiting special abilities as awkward to deploy in real time might have been carried over to here. One could imagine a system like Sins of a solar empire where abilities could be set to automatic use but with the level of comodity that mana is here that would still be problematic.
I think we all agree that the Tactical battle system is overly simplistic but when I think of things that would make I would want to make it more exciting and fun and epic in scope for me I can't help but cringe at the difficulty in finding balance inside the game.
Flying units: Can these be modded in or does it require 3d grid maps. Can these be balanced into the game rules or does the first guy to research flying arches march over all enemies who don't research archers or flyers but focused on armoured cavalry or stacks of zulu spearmen.
Magical boosts to troops: As an example a preasent troop given a magic wand each that works like had they been trained/equipped as archers, only they have a small mana pool from the wand or can charge off allied unit mana to fire. Mechanically it is not differenet to archers but one would have to balancce its relative research value to the similar archers weapon, and consider the damage based off the shard totals.
Illusions and Invisibility: A key part of warfare that seems to be neglected is the ability to mislead enemies about your unit strength or hide key units from being attacked. It seems right now an army of archers is the ultimate trump to destroying soverigns on sight.
In all the very premise of the combat system bothers me with the attack counter attack system, I think I would have prefered something more akin to unit A attacks unit B, A compares its total of attack + weapon + fatigue + morale, against enemy B's total of defence + armor + fatigue + morale. If it is greater it does damage with a modifier based on home much stronger. If defender is greater the defender causes a fraction of its damage at the attacker, based on the ratio as well. But the current system of working out how to attack first and if you win take no return damage if you fail take a full attack, just isn't working for me.
Out of interest to those who are looking at modding, what do you feel is the missing foundations the tactical combat needs so you can build mods that feel the way you envision?