2: Well I understand why the cost was raised, I think it was slightly too much.
The cost should have been HALVED. What possible justification could there have been to raising it?
If you are referring to the "units take as long as a building":
1. So what.
2. Then slash unit training times too (except settlers).
3: I don't mind this, If there was no minimum sometimes you would see a 0gold rush cost, or a -1 due to the game being unable to count. I think the limit should be a little lower for my 2 material cities though. - That said I think we need production to overflow so I don't feel the need to min-max my build queue by rushing the last turn.
Negative and zero can only possibly occur if you have a min build time of more then 1 turn. Reducing min build time to 1 made it impossible to have a cost of 0 to rush. It does mean that a building that costs 30 to rush and takes 30 turns on build could end up with very low rush costs after some time but that is fine for such a crummy city.
4: Why is that bad?
Makes cities even less viable...
The #1 balance issue is that from the days of the first WoM beta to the current FE beta and ALL builds in between, there was never a point where building armies was not far less effective then using heroes. Cities, tech, and armies simply cannot catch up.
Nerfing essence nerfs cities which further opens the gap. As I pointed out, in my 0.98 playthrough my sov was level 15, conquered single handedly 2 empires, and half of the second most powerful empire (I am the first most "powerful" empire) and the best I could field were leather clad stick wielding (basic staff/club) on a horse... With an amulet or two.
In beta4 at this point in time my sov was still single handedly winning, but my cities were much more advanced, my civic tech was two whole tiers higher, and I had been able to afford researching more military tech.
Those huge massive nerfs to cities make the city building slower and even more behind the super heroes who actually matter in combat.
and how big do you feel the nerf is?
Most essence spells were changed from "+X per essence" to "+X" or sometimes a "+Y" which is about equivalent to X. For example, magic hammers was +5 production per essence and is now +1 materials regardless of essence. The +grain spell from the tech tree was +25% grain per essence and became a +1 grain only.
Essence was reduced from exponential growth to linear growth. 5 essence used to mean 5 spells at 5x power each. Now it means 5 spells at 1x power each.
Well, although SOME spells like the +research and +mana remained on a "per essence basis"...
This is overall a GOOD CHANGE in a vacuum... it is well thought out... the problem is that i was made in a vacuum without consideration for the fact that CITIES ARE WORTHLESS and nerfing them further is not going to solve this issue. You don't come up to the weakest (in terms of power and usefulness in winning) aspect of the game and then rebalance it in a brilliant scheme that works beutifully and is well thought out but ends up making it even weaker.
You go to the most overpowered and broken aspect of the game and that to it. This essence change should have been done only when/if cities and armies have been buffed so much that they become stronger then heroes. Only then city essence bonuses should have been re-balanced in such a manner.
Although before the nerf the heck out of heroes... I think the problem isn't that heroes are overpowered but that cities are underpowered. In several hours of gameplay my hero is exactly where he should be. My 20 cities sole contribution to the game has been to equip him with a hose and a troll charm.
A city with 2 essence and 4 materials and access to lumber yard and a river and settled within 5 minutes of game start AND who had a lot of gold from other cities poured into it to rush production and has boosting spells on it should be fully built and churning out armies at this point... not struggling to complete construction of tier 2 infrastructure (yet to research tier 3 in this game because cities are so much weaker now) and unable to field any worthwhile unit.