Feel free to add. This is my list of game breaking mechanics that are currently dragging AOC down into the gutter. Conceptually this is a great game, and the combat / pvp is fun, however, the following simply circumvent the intended play style of the game (i hope...). For some context, I am currently playing a castle 37 lich on the 17-33 merge server, and am very well researched with all key heros maxed on the key abilities (35-40).
1. Hero stats boosts are disgustingly overpowered and have way too much influence on the outcome of the duel. Other than unit level, whoever wins the stat game will almost always decides the entire fight, and this mechanic is a total wild card that you can't predict before going into a duel. This is so much so, that it is most effective to run more heros and less troops just for extra stats. 30% attack speed +30% damage in conjunction are just a totally stupid increase to overall DPS, and obviously 30% HP is pretty dang good. Point is... 30% is just way overtuned and is really just a win more mechanic that makes it virtually impossible to beat whales paying for stat cards. This bonus should max out at 5 or 10% per slot and nothing more.
2. Minimum power requirement for duels and sieges needs to be increased to the point that pure bronze + hero deploys are not an option after the very early castle levels. Bronze deploys plus Jaques being way overtuned allows players to take down walls, or cause heavy casualties in duels at not risk. This is not a remotely fun mechanic, and I'm a bit baffled as to why Jaques has not been touched despite all of the crying on the forums. Anyway, if you want to money grab with your mandatory Jaques sales, can you at least nerf the bronze deploys and force players to take some risk when they engage in pvp?
3. Playing off number 2, a minimum deploy power needs to be added for the player being dueled as well. At the very least, this should be the case if they are being attacked in enemy territory. The current game state allows players to do whatever they want in enemy territory and bronze + Jaques the locals that are defending their cities.
4. Retreating from duels in enemy territory needs to have a 5-10 minute no pvp debuff. It is insane that players can simply run at your cities and through pure attrition will eventually get their scout or attack off. Energy is not a mechanic in this game, as it is not scarce at all. Most players are increasing in potions over time, even while deploying most of their heros for PVE. The minus 1 energy to all heros for retreating means exactly nothing. A non-pvp debuff is needed to make duel retreats actually mean something during a battle for territory, or general defense of the kingdom.
5. Why can you pay money to remove the white flag for losing a duel? This just allows players to further circumvent game mechanics for a tiny cash grab. Get rid of dumb mechanics like this and allow your game to make money because its a good game.
6. This is my lich QQ, but why is purge the lands even a thing? Like who in their right mind thought that it would be a good idea to ad an ability that takes 10% off a wall, completely circumvents defense, and you can't even see who did it or have a revenge hit activated.
All in all, in my opinion, points 1-4 are effecting the overall game strategy in such a way that boils down to this... optimal play is extremely cheesy. This is a game where you simply run away 99% of the time, and employ zero risk strategies so that your only losses are worthless bronze units that only eat up resources that are virtually infinite in the late game.