I got the new combat yesterday. There are good and bad things, IMO. Summary: I think it's a step forward, and I'm happy because it looks like it's going in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go.
I'll start with my biggest concern: Tanking. All kinds of events are connected to PvP wins . I'm afraid the league system does not give enough incentives to climb to a high league if this gives you trouble finishing events. As an example, a couple of wins could lower the price of a monster on an island by 50 diamonds. Why would I want to climb to a higher league, to get 5 extra diamonds at the end of a season (I don't know how long it will be, I'd assume maybe a week or so), if I have to pay 50 more diamonds on the island (or the price becomes simply unachievable)? So I guess most players would do what they do already, lose battles intentionally to get a low rating and easy opponents.
As this is only indirectly connected to the new PvP system, I'll make my other points about the league system next, and come back to the tanking later.
Good: League system in general. For most players the ability to earn diamonds is more interesting than to earn food and gold. This should provide a strong incentive to climb in leagues. Under the old system there was no incentive to rise in ranks at all, so a level 110 player could stay at 1000 points if he wanted to.
Good: Price increase in selecting opponents. I always thought that a league system should work basically that you have to fight an opponent that is randomly matched, and thought the searching for an easy/fitting opponent was way too easy. In fact, I would fully support not being able to change opponents at all - you'll get matched to opponents, and either you can beat them or not.
Good: Ability to set up defense and offense. Previously I often found myself changing my team after I was out of stamina.
Good: It gives hope for further improvements. I would assume that this is just the first step in a series of planned developments.
Good: Fact that the runes are hidden.
Undecided: I don't know how the system works exactly. I think it would be a good idea to give out league rewards only to players who have fought a certain minimum of battles. Otherwise a player that has reached a high league could just sit there and neglect PvP combat.
Bad: This may be a transitional problem, but I'm a pretty new player and my top monsters are at level 66 currently. After 2 battles I was almost matched only to players with level 100. This is a big problem if I have to collect wins to get say Baltasar, or in a team race. The system will only work if players are somehow on an even level.
You could argue that this clashes with my previous comments about opponent changing - but I'd assume the system will even out after time, and at some point the leagues will consist of players of roughly equal level.
Now, the problem is that the points are assigned in a way to push you over 1000 points, as it was before. If I already meet only opponents that are way too strong, I have no way to go back to a league where I can beat somebody.
Bad: It makes no sense that monsters used for offense or defense are not available in dungeons or on the islands. I could understand a cooldown, say a monster is unavailable for 2 hours after a battle in any context. To make that clear: I don't favor this. I would prefer to have all monsters available at all times. But I would understand the concept behind a cooldown. But the way it is now, all you have to do is to switch to PvP, assign other monsters, and go back. So it is only an inconvenience. Please get rid of this.
Bad: Prices are not good enough for lower leagues. At my level (58) I would win 10k food and 250k gold with a decent win. OK, I already harvest 25 million gold a day so I don't really care about that. But just a few weeks ago those goodies were very welcome.
OK, back to tanking now.
My main goal here is to remove the incentive for tanking. If you gain nothing by tanking, then players will try to get to the highest league possible to get the rewards, and then the league system will work. (For the record, a very similar league system was introduced in another game I played and I talked about in another thread. It took players about 2 days to realize that tanking was the way to go, and one of the reason why this game is currently crashing hard is that matchmaking is completely broken, in the lowest leagues you'll face a huge amount of top level players while cheaters occupy all of the top spots. So please take this problem seriously.)
So, this is my proposal to solve this:
Do not tie any events to PvP wins anymore. They were too easy anyway, because the majority of the players is already tanking. (I have 100 FB friends playing ML, and only 3 are over 2000 rating points. Yet about half of them have a higher level than me.) So this is broken anyway, and the PvP part is easily achievable for all events anyway. If events are no longer tied to PvP wins, then there is no reason at all to stay in a low league.
Instead, the idea is to generate opponents that look and feel just like PvP opponents, but adjust the levels and rune levels of those opponents. From game mechanics, use battles like the ones we already get on occasions, like the "Fight" (non-PvP) paths in the progressive islands. 2h cooldown between battles, and if you can't beat the opponent then you'll have to try again (2h later or with diamonds to reduce the cooldown). However, these battles are mostly pushovers right now, so they are much too easy. So I'll propose something such that battles will look and feel almost like PvP battles, and here is how:
This could be done like this: Generate opponents individually for each players by choosing existing PvP lineups as opponents from the players league, but adjust monster levels as follows:
(1) Use a comparable monster level
(2) Use runes close to the level of highest runes the player has.
More precisely: If the task is to win X battles, the first battle could have a monster level 10% below the max monster level of the player, while the last battle has a level 10% higher. For runes, the first opponent has half the level of the best player runes, and the last has the same level. (IMO it would seriously hurt balance if you would use higher level runes.)
For monsters and runes, do not define them yourself, but simply pick an arbitrary PvP team from the league of the player, and adjust the monster and rune levels. As in PvP, hide the runes. A nice tweak would be to make a battle a bit easier after a failed attempt, say reduce monster and rune levels a bit. This way a player wouldn't be stuck at a matchup he can't win. (Especially at low levels, a f2p player with only epic monsters will have trouble facing a team of Hackster, VoltaiK and Gregorz.)
EXAMPLE: My highest monster is level 66 currently, and my best runes are level 5.
If I have an island where I need to win 10 battles, the first battle would feature level 60 monsters with level 3 runes. The last battle would feature level 72 monsters with level 5 runes.
As you can see, those matchups would be exactly like PvP battles, but they would be much fairer in difficulty level. The assumption would be that the first battles are fairly easy, while the last ones are challenging and most players will fail a few times in getting those wins. There might be some tweaks needed, say make battles a bit easier for low level players who will have few or no legendary monsters. Maybe make battles at the end a bit harder.
I hope you can see the benefits of this - and it should be easy to implement as well, just take the existing GUI from the progressive islands with non-PvP fights, all you need to implement is the choosing&adjusting of the enemy teams, and probably a way to store player-specific opponents for each path (I'd assume opponents are currently the same for all players, with only levels varying).
@Fox @Carlos I'd very much appreciate if you could pass this to the developers. Obviously only a tiny fraction of user suggestions can be implemented, but it's always nice to know that somebody has thought about the stuff that just took me an hour to write :)