So I've been banging on balance and polish for a while. Very interested to see what you guys think. This is based on the latest Steam build, which I'm told you all have as of this evening.
Wrote this originally for folks who don't have hours and hours in the game, so forgive the explanatory bits.
I can't tell you how much better the last few weeks have made the game. A game like SK benefits so much from getting all its moving parts in sync with one another. I have played some stupid amount of SK over the last 3 weeks, and I'm sucked right back into my current playthrough:
Started with a bear and a spider along side my hero, because I'm playing the Guardian-who-is-definitely-not-a-druid-archetype. Other allies have come and gone -- failed mercenaries, filthy cooks recruited out of a decrepit inn, a "body generator" who I offered a better* job to than his current gig for a warlock of questionable morality -- but Ben the Bear and Bill the Spider are still rolling strong.
Can't nuke or heal anything to save my life, but my long-cooldown summon spells are amazing tide-turners in the early game here. Which is just as well, because even with them and the aforementioned dinguses as cannon fodder, I'm still taking a fair amount of attrition clearing lairs and quests as I try to uncover some new city sites for settling.
Finally unlocked my second hero just in time for capturing my fourth shard, and the RNG giveth -- it's Keplin, who sucks until you capture oh, say, four shards or so. He has passive boosts (initiative and dodge, the most important stats for heroes!) that grow with every shard controlled, so he's now a decent all-rounder even though his hero spells are a bit expensive for the early game here. Mana is at a premium, because I need it to:
Enchant my equipment! Regen, damage, dodge, defense, attack! My dudes are so much better now.
Enchant my cities! Bonus food, bonus production, bonus logistics, bonuses to trained units. But city enchantments are 20+ mana per, not to mention limited by available essence (determined by terrain/resources).
Summon bears! Luckily, most of the time the bear eats the other guy. My scholars are making some noise about fire elementals and healing wisps and some such, but that's all weeks in the future. Right now, bears. Bears bears bears.
...Except the SK is no longer buying my protestations of peaceful securing of the countryside against bandits, and plopped a huge-ass garrison of nasty monsters right next to my capital. And he's stepping up his campaign against the shards. And the monster/bandit lairs are starting to evolve and put worse parties of bad guys out in the field, raiding my cities (HOPE YOU APPRECIATE THE 100 MANA I DROPPED ON SAVING YOU, DENARA, YOU UNGRATEFUL $#@$%^) and generally getting in the way.
I've been head down on this game for a month, and I'm still amused. Hopefully other players feel the same.
* I mean, I got him straight killed, but I like to think he had some pride in his work beforehand.