I've been playing Warlock since few days.
I've started it as a more shallow version of FE, dumber, prettier.
It's VERY similar to civ v, with hexes, upt, selfdefending cities. Their research part is mystic - I can't find a clue to it. The UI is just more clunky younger brother of civ it has a feeling of unfinishness to it ...
and yet it is fun ... I don't see this game become MOM, or even fantasy Civ V I'll play few more games and that's it, but they are genuinely fun games. The heroes are meaningful, but not overpowered, the artifacts are special and you can have only three of them and not all of them fit (in FE I have dozens of things that stack +1 or +2 or something meaningless else)
The units cannot be designed, but they are interesting - you really want to have those ghosts for their melee, missle immunity (why don't we have immunitites in FE), you really want those trolls for their regen or flying ships for the bombardment of cities ...
The city building is rewarding - stack those pigs with great granary and build cheese cav on that mana node and cast a spell on the city (why do we limit enchantments with essence if the mana cost would and should be sufficient for that)
The quests drive the game forward, attack this city, kill that beasts, and give substantial rewards...
I usually play only one game of FE after each beta release. Maybe I shouldn't be part of it, I get so dispirited when I read those dozens of bug reports everytime, most of them the same as after previous beta (yes, I know it is the point of beta). and I don't feel the urge to start another game, after finishing single playtest, that confirm my old issues (clunky UI, map difficult to read, exploitable AI in tacticals, poorly developed AI sovereigns, dramaticaly slow performance, freeze after locking the laptop).
had I measure the depth, effort range of options, the FE wins by a small margin, the wider choices being technology tree on top of spell choice (though, we don't research spells anymore which is pity) and tactical combats, but if I add the fun factor to the equation, I see Warlock a superior game, which means that in my opinion the score of the FE will be above WOM's 52 and less then Warlock's 70.
What we need to focus on during this final development period is on finding the fun without introducing features but with bugfixes, tweaks and content.
What is the most fun and least fun things in FE? how to enhance the prior, and reduce the latter? five three things?
For me it's:
1. Heroes - I enjoy them being Sauron like, dropping troops like flies, facing dragons and beasts alike, I'd love to see them even more spectacular in tactical combat (throwing three squads of nine mites several tiles away in all direction with a single blow)
2. special troops like juggernaught - I lvoe how they squash low level troops like bugs, with their maul and splash damage
3. loot - I love finding things, having my hero enhanced with each found item
all of those need to stay, they are satisfying, fun, plain awesome, but they need also to be put in persepctive, if they can crush the troops like bugs, I want those bugs to be cheap, affordable, and posign a challenge if presented in large enough number. The main problem is lack of counters, heroes should fall to plurals, just like juggernaught to archers
1. magic - I hate how unspectacular it is, how AI can't use it, how predictable it is .... I want more spells, more choice and I want research it or at least be given a choice to take
2. armies - I hate how micromanaged must they be, how difficult is to get them, upgrade them, how expensive and useless they are, and how AI waste his resources on them
3. UI - I hate it passionately, all those clunkiness, small x, missing information (which resource was destroyed), windows covering vital map view (city level up), armies management, queue management, inventory management....