I've just returned to elemental after playing Wom for a couple of weeks then uninstalling it. I've been curious about the direction FE has taken so I decided to try out the beta to see how I liked it. I started with beta three and have played a bit with .913. I've only had time to play a couple of quick games with .913 so far but here is my feedback for what it's worth.
1) Monsters felt about right to me. There were weak ones in the immediate vicinity of my starting area and then stronger ones farther out. Perhaps more of a "medium" layer would be perfect but all in all I thought the monster distribution was good. The easy monsters were easy to clear and the hard ones tended to stop progress/expansion until I was strong enough to clear em.
2) AI players were only a threat in the sense that they came after me from multiple directions once they declared war. Thier armies weren't that difficult to kill but I had to pay attention to them destroying all my resources and cities.
3) Played on hard difficulty
4) Played 2 games so far in .913. First game was Gilden, summoner (just cause I wanted to try it out) large map, random map type moderate everything. Took water and earth level two so I could get the summon elemental spells from both spell lines. Can't remember the other settings. In the second game I played with the following settings:
Custom faction (Spartans), adepts, enchaters, flesh bound tome, no ranged weapons, Tarth race
Custom Soveriegn - earth disciple, water disciple, summoner, attunement and brilliant, weakness=cruel
Map - large, random map type
Options - Hard difficulty, normal pacing, moderate everything, 9 opponents
5) In my first game as Gilden I benefitted from a good starting location in the top corner which only allowed enemy AI's to come at me from one direction so I didn't have to worry much about defending my cities/resources from multiple directions. As a result, it was pretty easy to clear my territory with my summoned units and defeat enemy threats once they did declare war. I could then comfortably progress up the research tree to make some stronger units and them take my enemies cities. The terrain must have been mountainous which made the game easier since enemies could only approach from certain directions. I stopped playing after awhile because I seemed to have a pretty big lead in the power rankings over the next most powerful kingdom (Pariden) and I wanted to try another combination
In the second game I planned on being a summoner again so that I could get the shadow warg spell which would effectively give me two troops per battle if necassary early on without me having to train any troops in my cities. I took earth and water for the elemental summon spells as I leveled up to add to my summoned army. Took adepts so that I could immediately start harvesting shards to add to my mana supply, took enchaters so that I could capture resources using the arcane monolith spell so that I wouldn't have to use production lines to produce pioneers, and took flesh bound tome specifically for the Cull the Weak spell which I planned to use to build up my mona supply and heal myself during battle by sacrificing my summoned units. I also took cruel to give myself an extra point for picking traits and because I planned on not hiring any other hero's (ay least at the beginnig) and going at it with just my soverign and summoned unit stack.
In this game I found that my experience with monsters was pretty much the same as the first game. The easy monsters were easy to handle and clear and then as I got further out I encountered the odd "medium" monster and then the strong ones which stopped my progress until I was strong enough to take em on (basically whenever I got to level four earth and gained the summon earth elemental spell). On thing that almost screwed me was the cull the weak spell. In the description it says that it gives you 40 mana and life but the description is either wrong or the spell is bugged because whenever i tried it, i got the mana but not the health which almost killed me during a battle or two before I realised that. What was great about this spell as a summoner and what may make it overpowered is that it is a great way to get mana built up very quickly. Summoning a shadow warg during battle only costs you 22 mana but sacrificeing it gives you 40 so you end up with a net gain of 18 mana. Once I got the summon ice elemental spell, it only cost me 15 mana to summon it during tactical battles and you get 40 for sacrificeing it, a net gain of 25 mana. By summoning creatures and then sacrificing them before the end of tactical battles, my mana pool was always bigger after battles then before and grew very quickly.
With the AI I found the same kind of thing as with my first game. The armies that were thrown at me weren't that hard to defeat but they came at me from many directions. As the map in the second game was much more open than the first game, I found that my initial rapid expansion with arcane monoliths were getting destroyed and my one stack wasn't enough to defend everything. So armies not hard to defeat but they threatened my cities/resources which prevented expansion without dedicating resources to train garrisons. The solution I found may be a bit of an exploit using the cull the weak spell. I ended up training alot of pioneers (the unit that took the least time to train), and sending them into battle with my soverign and elemental. Once in battle I would immidiately use cull the weak on all pioneers to build up a huge mana supply quickly and then after the battle I would use my level 3 earth - raise mountains spell to erect a wall of mountains around my territory so that enemies could only come at me from one direction. This has allowed me to eliminate threats to my cities and resources from multidirectional enemy attack and still only use one (or two at the most), stack of units to defeat enemies and expand my empire. The game is on season 189 and I'm third in the power rankings and quite sure that I can now comfortably win now that I don't have to worry about attack from multiple directions.
6) Unfortunately I don't know how to do that
Have a good day and keep up the good work