I think I understand your dislike, but i'm not sure you've understood me right.
I mean to differentiate between channeler power and what I'll now rebrand as "mana reserver". With Channeler Power I mean to express the maximum amount of magical power you may expand in one turn / time slot /whatever. Say the "bandwidth" of your ability to channel. With power hording in my previous post i meant the build-up of raw magical hoardes that (still) needs to be channeled to become effective.
Ah, yeah I did misunderstand you. I'll have to reserve judgement regarding your idea until we no more (or rather, anything at all ) about the magic system. But now that I actually understand what you meant it's definitely intriguing.
Although I like your idea of the 5-point-star (a bit like magic-the-gathering?) bacause of a certain "beauty" within the system I think for large-scale multiplayer it would not necessarily work (because the numebrs arent large enough to have balancing on that account I think). I think most of the recent posters don't like being forces into one direction. With your idea if at the start a serious disbalance in elements occurs how will you fix it? I would extremely dislike to be forced to play either an inherently disbalanced game or forced to completely rework my channeler /start a new channeler. (or if they try balancing before gamestart -not to be allowed to play a certain kind of channelers because others clicked a bit faster and the max crystal channelers for this map has been reached). This would be especially irksome because there is very little one player can do in that case to mend the situation when it occurs.
Yeah the problem posed by actually having magic be balanced is probably the biggest flaw with my idea. One partial solution is to give players the ability to meaningfully evolve our channelers throughout the course of the game, including being able to tailor their skills in the different elemental schools within the game, rather than defining our channeler via pre-game options. That would only partially solve the problem though. Another partial solution is the one I mentioned before: having magic naturally balance itself out by causing either local or global effects. So if for some reason certain elements are completely dominating and no one wants to or can do anything about it, it'll balance itself out anyway; the result would be a game with more and somewhat predictable game events than normal. This whole feature would obviously have to be optional - it would piss off anyone who doesn't like random events.
(to elaborate: what happens to me if I chose to play a "Red" channeler in the very beginning but from the start or over the course of the game "Red" got overdeveloped mostly at the cost of "Green". This is so bad you get balancing "bursts" of "green" effects, potentially hitting my lands over and over simply because I am red. Since I am completely unable (I go from the point its a rather large-scale-many player environment) to fix this I'm shafted for that game. Geing shafted is only fun if you can -in the end- can come up with something to counter it.
Well I never proposed that the effects would mostly affect the players that are mostly responsible for the unbalance. That could work, and would thus encourage people to use multiple schools of magic or to take a temporary break from major magic use until things are more under control. And in your example, if you're a red channeler but are a relatively small player, you might still be spared many of the effects because there are stronger 'red' channelers that are much larger offenders than you.
But that's just one option; another is that the effects could be totally random in who they affect, and in severe enough situations they could be global. Either way it would have to be balanced so that balancing out magic doesn't become the dominating factor in games; it should be a secondary factor that adds flavor and a way for the cumulation of all players' actions to affect the actual world. If every player decides to focus on a single element, that game should still be playable without the world or individual players being wracked by massive magic balancing events every other turn.
Other ways that individuals could try to bring magic back into balance could be through quests. It could even be a global quest that everybody gets if the magic balance gets bad enough. It can provide a way for channelers to help bring magic back into balance without having to cast magic of the opposing elements, even (maybe you could 'pay' raw mana or something), although explicitly using magic to rebalance magic could still be more effective. If players manage to rebalance the elements, each player could receive some sort of reward proportional to their efforts.
Again: I really dislike armageddon counter type things (like global warming in CIV) because unless you are a strongly sominating player already there is really nothing you can do about it.
Well the problem there is that there's nothing an average player can do about it, not the feature itself. One reason why global warming sucks in Civ is because there isn't really anything you can do to directly reduce global warming, all you can do is limit how much of it you cause. As a result all you can do as an individual is somewhat slow it down, but you can't ever actually reverse it alone.