let's start with latest posts first:
Time, I just sent the message. I'll comment more on your work below, as I think many people will be interested.
On the summoning spells. I've already replaced the Dire Penguin and Magic Servant spells with a Life and Death summons. You'll get to see what they are shortly, but I think Mitch will very much like one of 'em . I've also added a single high level summons as a reward for each spirit. The two dragons have been kept for this purpose, but two more units have been added. They were original units from AoW:SM that needed a home after the new races were added...for Nature and Magic spirits, respectively.
On Mastery and terrain changing spells. A PBEM patch could easily be released after the mod comes out. I would need specific feedback from PBEM players, or one of them could do the necessary tinkering. But for the purposes of single and multiplayer, I really like having most of the terrain changers. And, with the new races, especially the Lizards, a spell like Wetlands is going to be much more useful. Build a war shrine, get units with water concealment, cast wetlands, and let the fun begin In regards to Mastery, I'm a bit more torn. I like the idea of having 5 spells for each level for each sphere. Removing Mastery could accomplish that. However, I also like a bit of randomness in the spell book. Also, I think making Master a touch more expensive to cast as per someone's (was it Air?) idea might do the trick. I'll have to think more about this, as both sides are making good points. Unfortunately, as Zyl suggests, we can't make any prerequistes for researching these spells.
For the potential writers here: as the beta approaches, a batch of new heroes will require their deeds and histories to be published to the credulous world! Hence, I'll be posting 'em above on monday or so.
On Timelord's work: some things you will probably see in the new version: A leperchaun hurling magic bolts that confuse and amaze his foes; an abomination with really sticky spit; a Yeti that can cause an opposing army to truly chill out; upgrades to many abilities at silver and gold levels (trap, entangle, control animal, turn undead, seduce, dominate, strangle), some Dwarvish fire that makes enemies very hot under the collar, flaming arrows (not those posted by certain flamers on the forum ), and perhaps some other surprises. All this will be documented, which, by the way, I am working on finishing.