You frankly aren't grasping the strategic consequences that yes exist in 1.3 as well. It doesn't matter that you can only teleport to your territory because you can just attack normally with all your troops in one huge bunch and if one of your cities gets under attack you just teleport back. Teleport means you never have to split your army. That's a huge advantage over other players who can't move troops around instantly and thus have to station troops everywhere. Thus teleport allows some players to build "blobs of death" and roll over other players. So much strategy and planning is removed once you get teleport. A few fireballs won't help you if your enemy outnumbers you 4 to 1 because he can safely empty all his cities and just roll over you consequence free. There are tons of other cheap strategies as well. Think about real life, what would generals rather have: better guns, or the ability to move troops around instantly?
Agree completely. Teleport as it is currently ruins the game as a strategically interesting game. There is just no questioning the value of strategic maneuverability for large chunks of your army. Most of the nerfs here wont really work either.
Limiting to Champions: Whats the point when, as Stardock has said and I personally want, champions are a viable alternative to a standing army. Even if you can only teleport your champions around you're still teleporting army killing stacks, or already positioned army buffing stacks.
Limiting distance to Int: Same problem as above, now you just limiting the spell to your already powerful casters, and if you were smart you'll have a lot of these. If other magic is even remotely powerful these will also create teleporting stacks that can take out anything.
Mana cost: HUGELY increased mana cost or place it as an extreme upper level spell. This is the only thing that really solves the problem, but this basically amounts to the same thing as removing it from the game or just making it very rare. I am okay with this.
Now if stardock wanted to include this type of spell slightly early they'd have to change a number of things to properly balance. Dominions 3 is great example. You actually have access to cross map mage teleportation rather early, and army teleportation is available later in the game. How do they balance this?
Several ways. Forced pathing on magic. Nations have what they have in terms of magic access, you can diversify but its hard. Thus they can weaken the nations and mages that can do this ways that cant be made up for the teleportation. Have a nation of air mages who can fly around the map like hummingbirds, then no or limited access to astral magic and its extremely powerful spells, or crappy normal units that cant hold their own in a fight and NEED you mages just to be equal to other conventional forces.
Extreme faction differentiation: similar to above but extending to all areas. Those that have access get limited in many other ways. Those that don't have access or limited access get buffs.
Assassination spells: A bunch of enemy mages just teleported, most nations have access to spells that can be used to insta kill those same mages without them having a chance to run away. Teleporting also usually means that you just hoped away from any defensive cover you did have. Sure you can teleport, but I can fry your brain from the safety of a lab.
A bunch of others. I'm a straight up newby and I'm sure there are other ways. The bottom line is that it might be possible to balance, but you'd have to make some VERY drastic changes to the way elemental operates in order to do it. I'm not sure I'd want any of these things in elemental. I kind of like being able to choose which magic you use, and think the assassination spells are kinda cheesy. Only one I'd want would be extreme faction diff but that's another post.
So long as Elemental remains so customizable(and I want it to remain like this), having an ubber spell like teleportation in the game basically forces you to choose that path. Especially if choosing that path doesn't limit or change the other options you have in any meaningful way. Its just too powerful.