Powerful, in-combat champions fit this world.
Don't take champions out of combat. They are a big part of what gives the game its flavor - for me personally, I devote most of my game time to dealing with my sovereign and champions - they're how I engage the world of Elemental. While I'm in favour of making regular units more meaningful, it shouldn't be by eviscerating the role of the champions - rather, it's just an issue of balance. The developers are working on balance, and we can help them achieve it.
I like the champions as powerful agents of change. I think, end-game, they should become unbalancing - organically evolved Giant Death Robots. Super Hero champions are fun. They just have to come into play at the right time - not so early as to make the rest of the game irrelevant. There could be a great game underneath the super hero combat game, but you don't need to know much about it now. I do like the idea of champions making regular troops stronger, and depending on the implementation that could work well.
Currently champions just become super heroes too fast - at least with dense monsters, which I find most fun. Ideally, and I know this would be hard to achieve, the tipping point for this wrecking ball status should be around the time, in game turns, that all techs but the top tier or two should be known. Hopefully the AI's would have similar champions with world-boss killing power at this time (note: world bosses need to do a bit more than melee passively - they are too easy to 'cheat'). There would have to be multiple changes to make this occur - I don't know what they are, would probably include things like looking at game settings, tech times, loot drops, xp gains, champion talents, and how it all intersects with player behaviour.
I believe the developers are working on the pacing of the game, and I think we can give some good information to them to help figure out all the variables. We can provide them with a lot of info on player behaviour. So this thread is about champions - what turn do you find your sovereign/champions reach that tipping point state of being god-like, and on what game settings? i.e. At what point do you feel you've got the game 'won', and the rest is just mop-up? What is your empire and tech status at this time? I guess any question about champions ties into most other aspects of the game, they are a pretty integral part.
The developers are going to make the call on the vision of the game. If we want the developers to get the pacing right, with whatever vision they choose, we should contribute what hard data we can.
(So, simple question so I can find out for my own gameplay - where do you find the turn counter?)