First of all I need to say I am experienced MoW player with 1300 hours played (since beta, for almost two years). Keep in mind you will spend a LOT of time passively (alt-tab) - waiting for someone to join PvP queue for 30 mins, waiting for AFK players or playing against slow opponent. I have 6 lvl 30 + characters and played 400-700 games each (mostly pvp with 82-83 winloss ratio). I must add I am doing long breaks (for 3-4 months at least) and return to see if anything changed.
Game is (and always was) in so bad shape in so many aspects that whole issue is really close to what is called false advertisement on Steam. However, not much people playing game (it’s not even close to the end of top 100 most played Steam games) so whole situation is unknown to Steam community. User reviews are for a long time mixed and it’s pretty obvious warning sign for anybody who wants to invest time in MoW.
I will address balance, quality of development (including bugs), community and support issues.
1). Balance problems. Well described issue, you will feel it right after few games starting second. On absolute majority of maps (after 2 years in development!) player who starts first have great advantage. On small assault maps player who starts first will not only capture nodes on his side of map but contest nodes on your side. So on second turn it will be already 3-4 nodes (which allow to field more troops) of player who starts first against 2 or even 1 node of player who started second without any chances of comeback for him.
Few bigger maps are more balanced in this way but first turn is still major advantage because even with equal numbers of nodes starter will always have more troops at the start of each new 2 turns cycle (unless he is completely bad and tend to sacrifice everything). In addition, on bigger maps faction balance became an issue. For instance, it is much easier to control flanks with long-range sieges of EA or cannon walkers of SU compared to other nations.
Blitz pvp mode looks more balanced but first turn player can attack your deployment zone or use powerful AOE damage command card before you can even move. Sometimes you can manage this, sometimes no.
There is no matchmarking system in game – too few people playing; you already can wait for pvp match for 20-30 minutes. So expect meet lvl 30’s if you are level 1.
There are few units that needed to be nerfed long ago (spies, cossacks, assault bus to name a few) or buffed but compared to first turn advantage and bad map design this is non-issue really.
If you are good you will quickly end in situation where 1st turn win gives you no satisfaction and 2nd turn predetermined loss leads only to further frustration.
AI in PvE is non-existent. To make it harder, devs made PC cheat like there is no tomorrow – it spawns hordes of units regardless of any nodes controlled which just move at your side of map without any tactics involved. In siege mode waves of AI units march into your command structure not firing at your troops unless you block their path.
2). Quality of development and bugs.
First of all, developers are amateurs, they have only some mods, one browser tactical game and primitive 3d shooter-tower defense in their resume (oh well, and that unfinished Hearthstone clone now). March of War started as browser game too so don’t expect good graphics, powerful engine or any extraordinary features. At least several of developers are ungraduated students (Damion_Fury to name one). This fact defines their life experience and level of professionalism.
Development of this rather small game is incredibly slow. Every major patch brings game breaking bugs (new ones or restores some old). MoW was released almost one year ago. Since then THREE new units were added, some maps where changed and we have witnessed also few minor unit balance patches. Yesterday they released so called expansion in the form of DLC. Right now it contains ONE PvE map with 2 more coming in distant future.
On a few occasions fellow players wrote a code for free (!) to cover specific bugs for developers because they couldn’t do it themselves. Every iteration of MoW had major gamebreaking bugs. Right now, after two years of beta start, we can list bugs such this (not fixed for months already):
A). Instant captures of contested nodes on around 5 maps (at least). Most likely on all maps starting nodes can be instantly capped/contested (but match usually ends before you can see it).
B). Return of good old turn skipping bug. On some maps with NPC animals game skips turn of player who starts first (it looks like animals turn stuck and then jump to a second player turn).
C). Visual bugs. If your unit is killed sometimes you can see it survived on low health only to find on next turn that it was destroyed indeed (and node captured because instant capture bug exist). If you field troops in last seconds of your turn, your opponent will see them.
D). Command cards doesn’t work in last 10-30 seconds of match (but game still consumes them). Even one 4-5 command points card can cost you a game, not even talking about tactical nuke (12 points).
E) Some units are bugged. For example, EA engineer give free AoE heal for friendly armor (2 years old bug, extremelly annoying), LJ dozer tank secondary attack never disable vehicles etc.
F). Game is very unstable, it usually crashes.
All of this bugs confirmed by Adj (some sort of unpaid moderator) but not listed in known issues. False advert again?
So game doesn’t really progress, both in quality and quantity. Only diesel-punk setting and art can be described as good but art is pretty much 2 years old and new “art” from DLC is extremely bad and amateurish.
3). How good is support?
Well, I still remember that comical situation around 10 months ago when it was possible to reach and destroy enemy command unit by chain medics and bazookas if UR player started first (in blitz) before his opponent can do something. I did dozen of reports with screenshots (I had 10 games at least like this) and finally got answer from one of the developers (Damion) that he DIDN'T find any mentioned games in my history. Well, maybe he searched only in his room?
Support is very poor. Some developers just don’t understand reported bugs or imbalances, some of them just don’t listen at all, being extremely arrogant or lazy. All of them barely doing something regardless of understanding. In last months devs pretty much stopped to answer individual tickets.
Like in most so called amateurish free MMO games their only concern is amount of real life currency spent on premium ingame currency (gems). WITHOUT GEMS YOU WILL SPEND HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME BUILDING YOUR ARMY (hundreds of hours per char).
4). Quality of community. Well, there are two main tendencies here. First – quickly dwindling numbers of casuals who are main source for real money for devs in MoW. Second – small but stubborn group of veteran players, most of whom are fanatical followers of developers and their creation. Dare not to cross them with some balance suggestions or bug reports – they will troll you extensively, citing how long they are playing and how many battles they have (even if they have pathetic 40-50 % winloss ratio). Some of them are pure megalomaniacs believing they are ruling real states.
Amount of racial and political slur you get here is immense. Game promotes racial and national hatred because every faction represents some sort of totalitarian real history state (fascist Europe, communist Russia, militaristic Japan etc). Every Russian player I meet on my UR African-american guy starts to insult me.
Moderators are very tolerant on other hand.
I will finish this with words of another reviewer dedicated to previous project of same team of developers.
“Yet another promising game becomes a shipwreck due to incompetent, greedy developers”http://steamcommunity.com/id/gremmerz/recommended/31740