Armor is a known issue and will be changing in the future.
Wait, what ? The gross overpowerness of later armor (even with 1.09p) has been a common complaint, but I had the feeling that this part was "working as intended". Did we convince Toby and you in the end ?
If we did, please consider a rebalancing of weapons as well: some 2-handed weapons could create some issues because the basic number of attacks is 3/turn (meaning the opponent will never get the chance to survive the turn), and in general, 2-handed weapon might be too powerful compared to 1-handed, although this might actually be less dramatic with a substantial armor nerf (making shields useful !). I wonder if the AI skips using shields entirely because of that, or if it's just something Frogboy still has to work on.
Anyway, I'm really, really glad you've said that.
(Subliminal message: please make sure resources spawn inside the territory, systematically . I don't like the spawning mechanism, but if it's there, we shouldn't have techs that give our opponents an advantage. And that holds for recruitable units resources.)
Balance is thrown out the door when you include customization. IF you wanted balance you would be using the default sovs. You can NEVER provide a large amount of customization options while maintaining balance.
Well, that's true. Perfect balance, or even good balance, is out of the question. You can actually make it better by making the mechanisms less obvious (for Elemental, nothing more is needed: it's complex enough) and trying to reassess grossly imbalanced choices. Combining the two, you'd end up with some choices that work generally better than others, but situationally won't; and lessening of the obviousness of these choices.
2) Heroes require only gold. This allows a player to totally ignore resource requirements.
That's their purpose. I think it should stay that way, but gold production needs a overhaul, because the problem is there.
The idea, in theory is that heroes can bypass material costs for equipment, but at a cost: a huge amount of gold, and so a lack of cost efficiency. They give claws to players who are lacking some resources to be able to wage war for those resources if they're smart in the way they do it. It's a quality approach, as opposed to a quantity approach. The heroes are strong, resilient and more importantly evolutive units.
Now, in practice, this doesn't work well because of the large number of issues that plague the game:
-First and foremost, the balance is really bad and largely favoring quality over quantity. That's mentioned, in other terms, in your post.
-Gold production is exploitable, as you've mentioned.
-Heroes are too straightforward, unless they're imbued. They should rely on abilities to survive, not just straight power. In terms of stats only, they should be cost inefficient for quite a few levels (and make up for it in abilities), to distinguish them further from high-level units or recruitables.