I played this beta for about a week now. In this time i started about 6 games. For different reasons, i didn't played any of those for too long, before starting a new one. So i can't really evaluate the late game phases yet. The early one i think i can, tho.
I want to write down a couple of things i noticed. I'm guessing some of that stuff is already written here somewhere, in one way or the other, so i will try to keep it short.
In 0.913 the wages where cut down quite a bit, the productioncosts did rise. A good step in the right direction, i think.
It is still very expensive to keep troops in the early phases of the game, tho. So expensive, that it isn't really an option to keep some for just defensive purposes, or even send out more than one fighting stack. The few affordable are needed in the one stack of the sovereign. (Which also partly leads to future stacks of doom.)
Result of that is, for example, that till the midgamephase hired heros can't have own troops acompany them, and because of the split ep (a good mechanic otherweise, i think), are better left sitting in some town, doing nothing. Just hiring them later in the game instead, would mean to risk loosing them to other fractions.
It also results in a rather slow pacing at the beginning, because there just isn't much one can do with so few troops.
And last but not least, it results in either unguarded extracitys or none, for quite some time. (And often the second option isn't one.)
I do like those citymilitias. I do not like to have nothing else defending my citys, tho. Like mentioned above, at least in the beginning till midphase, building/keeping defensive troops isn't in the budget. It would cripple research and production to much.
But just taking it slow with the citybuilding isn't much of an option either. The AI's won't. They will build them fast. And they should! It works, even if every of those citys is a gamble. Maybe it will survive long enough unprotected until it can defend itself, or maybe it gets conquered/razed by a roaming monster or player before... Doesn't matter much, there will be enough lucky ones to make that strategy worthwhile.
And if i don't use this stragtegy too, soon i don't have a place left to build a well guarded city of my own. Conquering those little AI-Citys is easy, but would leave me with just the shadow of a potential good city, because of the permanent unrest. (And again, the unrest itself is a good mechanic otherwise, i think.) Razing them to make space won't work either, because the land is renderd useless afterwards.
- Unitwages are depending on the recruitmentcosts. If the availability of troops shifts later in the game, it could work to lower the basecosts of troops and/or the costs of early equipment, to make sure just the wages of early/weak units are lower, without their buildingtimes getting out of hand. Elitetroops would stay expensive, as they should, thanks to better gear and traits.
- Raising the costs of pioneers dramaticly could help too, at least in the early phases of the game. It would enforce tough dessicions on players. How the AI might handle that is another question, tho.
- If the spam with unguarded citys remains the only way to go, negative consequences for raising/capturing citys are good, i think, but they should be smaller and not permanent.
All in all
Maybe the things i mentioned, the few troops and the city-spam, might not bother other people as much as myself. I can't tell. Maybe it's just because i'm a rather defensive player, in those kind of games, and here, that just doens't work. So, i would appreciate other opinions on the matter.
Also, initially i wanted to write something about magic too... Buuut, this turned out to be more text than i hoped, and thanks to my (at best) medicore englishcapabilities, it also took far longer than expected. Maybe i torture you another time with that.