I don't think it will work the way you say, NTJedi. A powerful channeler hoarding his essence may indeed be very powerful personally.. but that's essence which isn't used for expansion. It didn't make lands habitable, it didn't provide your nation with special resources, it isn't inside buildings which are creating magical equipment, it isn't in the hands of a spellcaster working to expand your nation. There is no reason to think that it would be best to not spend your essence to pursue early expansion.
WRONG... a powerful channeller is used for expansion because he can conquer cities from independents as well as other players during early stages. No need to essence the land when you can steal from your neighbors. The powerful channeller is also able to conquer any building structures such as a moderately guarded gold mine or mana node which would otherwise take many turns in building an army and/or magic research required.
Also, it is wrong to assume that a powerful channeler must be powerful in the same way.
I simply meant powerful in the fact that all essence was poured into the channeller himself for supercombatant reasons. Don't fly off in different directions.
I don't know what possibilities elemental will have, but it isn't like in Dominions, where lands exist for you to conquer. The assumption that you need to keep your channeler strong to expand early is almost certainly incorrect.
As for the matter at hand, I don't see why the game must continue if your avatar is killed. It's perfectly reasonable to have the game end upon your death. Providing a saftey net is up to the player, not the game.
I don't expect Elemental to be like Dominions or MoM or any previous fantasy TBS game. I would hope the most fun aspects of previous fantasy games are being considered for Elemental.
I agree the safety net for channeller death should be a game option.
I have played both Dominions and MoM. I've seen a guy use a magicless supercombatant awake god where death merely limited his dominion spread and wasted a few priest-turns. I've also seen more than a few rainbow mages where death would be a severe penalty. Both those games handle that unit dying in a certain way.. Elemental is not either of them, and I see no reason why character death is unacceptable in this game.
Myself and others are merely suggesting what we've seen work for other games. There's no reason why the channellers death can not be included as a game option.