This is so close to being an amazing game that it causes me physical pain. It's that close, but there are a few crippling flaws that just ruin it. First, there's the combat. There are different ranks of creatures, one through four, one being weakest and four being most powerful. The problem with this is, after a certain point, anything below rank three will die in the first turn of battle because the enemy AI consists entirely of 'KILL WEAKEST CHARACTER'. The combat maps are tiny so forget any sort of strategy, mid and end game opponents can hit you anywhere you stand. Oh, and those opponents are almost always all one to nine monsters, plus nine to twelve wizards. There are three wizard types, and you will see up to a dozen in every single combat.
There are dragons in the game, and you can find them as random encounters. That isn't a problem. A single low level dragon can be beaten, but it's fairly tough unless you come loaded for end game critter hunting with high end, high level units. It's cool. You get an achievement. What isn't cool is that the dragons can spawn in groups of up to six, and all of them in the level 15 range. There might be worse groups out there, but this is literally what invaded one of my provinces in my current game. This isn't something you can fight. I also mean that Literally. You can not defeat these multiple dragon encounters. It isn't possible. You can build an arena in your home province and send heroes to battle in it to gain experience. Why am I mentioning this? because as soon as a hero reaches level ten, the enemy heroes you battle in the arena can also spawn with dragons as minions. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
On the plus side, your units can level up and improve their abilities, but it really doesn't matter, because a lvl 30 tier one unit will still be instagibbed by a lvl 1 tier four. And the upgrade system is utterly worthless as well. Why yes random number generator, I did want to improve my crossbowmans hand to hand skills for the fourth time in a row. No, he doesn't need better ranged attacks, he needs to be able to swing that butterknife he has like a man!
There are hundreds of items you can find, which is nice, but there's almost no storage space for them. You get a tiny little vault that can't be upgraded. It wouldn't be so bad but on the same screen you have access to the merchant window to sell stuff, and hey, if you guessed that had a scroll bar and infinite space in it, go get a cookie or something. You can build an artifact shop so you can buy artifacts, but unfortunately it doesn't cycle through different ones. You get the opportunity to buy three randomly chosen ones and it never changes for the rest of the game. Those three items are pretty much going to be terrible and I really want to chalk it up to being a bug that it doesn't refresh every so often, but it's been like that since release so probably it isn't.
There are four types of hero you can recruit, but you shouldn't bother getting anything but a warrior. The warrior is so much better than the other three it defies belief. Scouts can be useful for the rare encounters designed exclusively to kill warriors, but that's about it. Oh, and yeah, there are encounters designed from the ground up to murder warriors. packs of medusa will petrify you and then poison you, giant spiders will web you down and poison you, giant slugs will poison you if you hit them or vomit poison on you from a distance if you don't.
Edit: Okay, so I finally managed to grind a mage high enough to use a specific spell named 'white magic', and basically, it lets you break the game over your knee like a rotten twig. Two casts will clear virtually any combat encounter of critters, barring the two (the latest update may have added more) creatures who are magic immune. Once you get one cast per combat, better beleive that mage is going straight to lvl 30 since he can now effectively obliterate entire armies. Unconquerable foes turn instantly into big, meaty sacks of free XP. Just load up every unit slot with lvl 1 swordsmen, the enemy creatures/mages/whatever will go and kill them while your mage, free and unharmed, fires magic nukes that hit EVERYTHING ON THE MAP FOR MASSIVE DAMAGE. This is a well balanced, well implimented ability that reduces multiplayer combat to 'whoever goes first wins'. Casting it does a small amount of damage to the mage, but a couple of healers can fix it easily before any monsters that made it to turn two kill them for being a weaker, easier target than the wizard FIRING MAGICAL NUKES AT THEM.
Oh, and I hope you like really, really really loud TING! sounds, because the game plays one over and over at random for no reason I can discern.
Edit: I also hope you don't like loading saved games, because doing that while the game is running will cause the entire thing to crash. Not always, but often enough that I had to mention it.