With the recent additional of the temple, it looked like Lilith was adding some long term content to add some more customization to the game. Now... most of us realized that this was going to be a whale cash grab, but we had a few hopeful days of what appeared to be equal means to gain rune stones. Regardless, we now face the imminent reality that whales will have all army stats boosted by 50 to 100% while we are still trying to get our first +3...
This game really does a fantastic job at making the typical patron / occasional spender believe that they will be able to close the gap and catch up to the whales, but reality routinely suggests otherwise. Lilith consistently adds content to keep any semblance of equality out of reach. Now... I don't have an issue with spenders being more powerful than other players, but Lilith has positioned them to be virtually unstoppable. The entire 17-33 merge realm revolves around the whim of a few spenders, in spite of a vast majority of the players being heavily researched level 40s. Stat gaps, chest whoring, research rush, and now runestones make the whales unstoppable even in the face of a full wall of rank 13 golds.
Bottom line - Lilith doesn't give a shit about game balance or retaining low spenders. Their in game content routinely plays out as a cash grab targeted directly at the whales. This is clear because the spend required to see any significant results is completely insane. Like if you drop a few thousand USD on chests, you will get a huge rune stone advantage. 20 or 30 USD, what a normal person would probably feel like shit to spend, but might do it, basically gets you nowhere. The average player is here to entertain the big spenders until this game dies. And it will die. Lilith has taken the "milk it till its dead" route with this game, which is a shame since it had potential to thrive as a balanced lower spend game (small gap between F2P and Lord Creditcardicus).
Anyway, as it is, we will continue to see stale game play that is completely dominated by the whims of a few players. Rune stones really put the nail in the coffin with allowing spenders to achieve a massive, insurmountable advantage... but don't worry, nothing spoils a game quite like having no challenge at all. The spenders will get bored and quit, but not before a vast majority of the player base already has left as well.