I know many of us started posting here around the release of Gal Civ 2, which was a magnificent game, the best computer strategy game I had played up until recently. I think it is important to be aware of the different reasons we play strategy games though. This is the crux of my argument, which really has nothing to with xp split per se.
I personally play them casually, usually for the stimulation to the imagination with just the added bonus of it being a strategy problem to solve. I play chess as well though, and it is my outlet for a serious strategy in game form. Some people here use this game for their pure strategy diversion, and I respect that. Your arguments are good, sincere, and well thought-out.
Chess is a pure strategy game, there are no graphics, rpg elements, or neat fictional settings. The thing is it is nowhere as complex strategically as computer strategy games, it just is complex enough that it is beyond human limits as we know it to be perfect at it. I wrote a post here https://forums.elementalgame.com/438446/page/1/#3300617 analyzing how hard FE is from a strategic perspective, in the context of designing an optimal AI solution for it.
Now I concede my argument is not superior to yours as far whether exp split or anything I have mentioned is a better idea than what is currently implemented or the ideas expressed in your views. I only make the case that given the rpg aspects of this genre, if they go for perfect strategy game at the expense of highlighting these aspects it will be a sub-optimal experience for fantasy strategy fans as I understand them. Just as preemptive defense, I don't think playing to these aspects entails that the pure strategy experience of the game must suffer. I just think if you want to please a wide audience who likes this genre, it would be wise to err in that direction, instead of the one they have been going for a very long time.
I posted this analysis a while back, and I want to repost it here. I know some fans of these games may find it contentious, but here is how I view FE and LH:
I just want to justify saying LH is the best strategy game I have played by comparing it to the other big names in the fantasy TBS genre. I think what people liked the most about these games is something that LH could focus on a bit more and steal everyone's hearts, especially people who get annoyed at rough edges.
I think what is making LH work so well now is that it has more game elements than any other strategy game I have played, and they are accessible and user-friendly. Deep tech, spells, heroes, quests, goodies, resources, wildlands, events, diplomacy, designable and upgradeable units, as well as upgrades to all player resources. (Edit, so much stuff I didn't remember it all) Not to mention the world as a hostile actor, that just isn't in any other TBS I have played (at least to a remarkable level). This game is hands down a far better strategy game than any other fantasy TBS.
Dominions 3: Other games use far less and are less user-friendly, Dom3 comes to mind. Dom3 is hardcore though, I got in to it for a while, but it is just too complex (not in the good way, it was plumbing through hundreds of pages of manual to figure out how something works) and so abstract you really need to use your imagination way too much. The whole god candidate thing was an amazing part of the attraction, a lot of the other stuff was just a lot of work. Take that ego attraction out of the game and I wonder how many people would want to play it.
Master of Magic: MoM gets adulation for being awesome years before any other big fantasy TBS was available, but it is fairly empty and slow compared to LH. I think nostalgia is involved with its place. But it did really make the wizarding element personal and immersive, and that made up for a whole lot of stuff that wasn't as much fun. The spells and how they made a big deal of it with cut-scenes is pure immersion. The game played like a stripped down early Civ though. That's why I think sovereign leveling and a little ego love there would steal the thunder of that game. A little more sparkle and dazzle around the sovereign would hit at people's egos, and that kind of fun is deep and spreads over turn after turn, immersed in the idea of a wizard gaining power to rule the world.
Age of Wonders: AoW series really did the wizarding element well too, and had very neat tactical battle graphics. Not balanced at all, and tech and upgrades were there but not that involved, but the game was carried by the ego fun of the wizard you were using. It had a cool story, cut scenes, and champions that basically rocked the world. Units were there but blah. People get attached to individuals, so I really loved overpowered champions that ripped the map up. It was shallow though, because heroes were so overpowered they were one man wrecking crews with all the empowerments you could give them.
So LH is the most complex and accessible of all of these, it plays way better than any of these. How in the world you got so much to work together so well is a feat I am floored by. I think the only weak part that makes people notice the rough edges so much (and every one of the above games had huge rough edges, except AoW 2 and Shadow Magic were pretty polished) is that leveling and power acquisition for the sovereign and heroes isn't rpg immersive enough to get that long-lasting ego immersion fun. Who cares if some small part has a bug when you are having such a blast? Some bells and whistles around magic, having every level something to look forward to, and making something more explicitly unique about the sovereign would increase the fun factor way out of proportion to its implementation cost.