I'm gonna make a stand on Glutton being good against low-level units. It's the only unit (well, besides Incarnate) who can kill most of lv1-3 units in 1 hit, therefore saving priceless retaliation strikes. Nasty non-brute-force units people love to mass due to their mobility and abilities (Pegasuses, Flyers, Shades, Spectres, etc.) usually don't have a chance against Gluttons, and to compensate that we think it's perfectly fine for Glutton to be weak against another lv4s. After all, Orcs have Warlords to counter lv4: they are not that far from lv4 stats, and due to being lv3 they can be produced in bigger quantities than lv4.
Speaking about HP restoration rate, we probably wouldn't nerf it, if it wasn't for the Blood totem. Swallow whole + Life stealing is a huge problem, and with old HP restoration rate and improved consume chance this combination was making Gluttons nearly unbeatable, and even now it's still a very dangerous combo.
And finally, one resources set is not enough to cover both TC duels and FC FFAs - I think I already mentioned that a few pages earlier =) Saints, seducers, leveling up and structure guards are obviously need to be balanced differently depending on whether or not TC against indies is allowed. And difference in map size means differences in game and distances lengths, dictating different usage of units and spells of different levels.
Goblins and Merchant.
You sound like Merchant doesn't work on cities =) It just doesn't discriminate anymore: whether you have cities or mines as your primary income source, the skill will do the job. And another interesting thing is it increases the racial bonus too: for example, I played some games with Tigrans + Merchant (-Pacifist) during testing and it was a pretty comfortable set-up.
Can't say anything adequate about goblins and their bonus: haven't played them for very long time due to RMG screwing up UG starts =)
Magic. How do I see the balance... Ok, here comes a lot of IMHOs =)
Life has incredibly powerful unicorn rush, potential Doom wolves from Call of forest, over-annoying healing and Angels that become very difficult to kill after they reach some critical mass and start to heal themselves very effectively. But no good global spells, a support unit as lv2 and no lv3 summon. My personal verdict: a boring sphere to play for and a very annoying sphere to play against. Something must be done with Life domain.
Death is the most damaging and TC-oriented sphere out there: Dark gift, Bone dragon + Animate dead, Corpus furia, Damnation. Weaken is a killer feature against your precious stoneskinned tough guys =) Infect for killing immune to death guys. A lot of nasty combos here. Black spiders are very tactical: they can conquer structures better than any other lv1 summons and win most of scout duels easily and repeatedly. Domain of darkness is incredible pain in the ass if you can justify building Wizard tower. On the other hand, no lv2 summon either and lv1 is a very bad scout (apart from winning the mini-duels thing). But still a very powerful sphere IMO, where almost every spell is really useful (City plague being the only exception).
Also, Death and Life have Willpower enchantments, which is very useful in many circumstances.
Fire is... just powerful. Probably the most versatile sphere in the game: strong summons on all levels with a rare weakness, good choice of battle spells of all possible types (single-target, area-target, full-battlefield-target, unique Combustion, Swarm and Mass confusion), cheap Willpower enchantment. Global spells are stupid though: Anarchy is a joke, Fire domain is weak and Forge blast is very very difficult to use (though the effect is very cool). It's the sphere that's worth a place in international bureau of weights and measures.
Water is decent and specific. It has unique interesting features, but has a lot of drawbacks in the same time. First of all, if the opponent picks Fire, you're screwed =) Lurker, elementals and Liquid form become good for nothing, Water dancer sucks - that leaves only Wyrm. Which is not easy thing to learn =) Wetland doesn't work on RMG maps, at least not as it's supposed to work. Enchantments cost a lot and/or are very specific, no simple furies and blesses are available. Mist cloak is stupid, Healing showers are weak and Vengeful vapor rarely works against lv3-4. On the other hand, good lv1 scout and Static shield.
Earth is overpowered in combination with War mage =) Which is why we are currently working on weakening this combination. Other than that, it has a lot of useless things and very few useful ones, so it is often used as a part of Cosmos mix, for Stone skin and probably some battle spells =) But as a pure sphere it's not that good. Summons are not impressive, especially the slow elemental, global spells are crap, except for the Golden age and Earth awareness, but they both are very expensive and lv4, therefore rare.
And I really, really hate Air. I want to get Tornado uninvented, it's a cheat =) Other than that, it's just like Water, with a lot of very specific spells, but with less weaknesses.
Author of the post is not responsible for any side effects of reading it, including mental trauma, blown up brains, hurt feelings, law violation, sudden death or understanding what the hell author meant.
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[This message has been edited by HellBrick (edited 09-05-2011 @ 01:47 PM).]