I'll try to keep this concise, sort of a what's been done, and what's left to do. Many glaring long time "exploits" have been adressed, time will tell with how much sucess, but I'm pleased to no end.
And since the dev's have their hands full with crashes and memory leaks, I'm certanly going to spam less. Oh, and I'm going back to work, so I won't be able to play as much.
Without further ado, my impressions of the latest update:
MONKS - I love the direction they took, as they gave the players reasons to at least consider other classes for beating new dungeons for the first time. Monk finally has something to worry about, and with the bandit change Monk is now "high above the curve" instead of a "god mode cheat". 50% Physical resists and 2X regeneration is still really strong, as most stuff apart from bosses uses physical damage, but a lot of their "easy xp" fodder has been denied to them, and making them "curve out" now takes considerably more effort - which it should.
THIEVES - Also a welcome nerf. Might need fine tuning.
BLOODMAGE - well, casters DID need buffs, but I believe this was in big part because Monk, Thief and Paladin were driving the power curve way to high. As long as fire heart is in the game, and with 2 major balance offenders raigned in to a degree, i'm sure the recent caster buffs will need some fine tuning of their own.
I agree that the "low hanging plantation of conversion points" needed weeding out, but I really whish there were 1 or 2 cheap "temporary benefit with high conversion points (75)" items in the game. I would love to see some as quest unlocks, as they would let us retain a conversion heavy strategy that could allow, say, elves to go high mana without relying on Gods.
CONVERSION STONE - I'm loving the nerf. It makes preparing it a meaningfull decision instead of a no-brainer.
TROLL HEART - I like the buff, but i'm not sure it justifies the nerf. I'm still using it - getting around 10 HP on a regen fighter and then freeing up an inventory slot is great, but the price might be too high. It's effects make it scream "conversion heavy strat", and such items rely on not being costly.
CRYSTAL BALL - Right now, I'm in the sweet "exploit the hell of it" phase of testing with this item, and its very, very powerfull. Some sort of limitation might be in order, either a cap, or making it only register if you cast different glyphs. It helps too many strategies as is, and since one of them is HALMEH regen fighting, it still leaves the last major balance offender (Paladin), stand out even more. Also, the way it is now, it's a bit of a "must have" item, for too many strats (even Berserker would love it).
GG - the recent fixing of the poison/HALPMEH exploit was more of a bugfix. I haven't used him since, but I'd also love if worshiping him was made into a decision of going after Absolution or Enlightment.
TT - Removing redundant poisoning from giving you piety (you only get piety for poisoning non-poisoned monsters) is another good "bugfix". Plenty more tweaking and fiddling with him might be in order, but this is a good start.
MA - Still testing and have to decide. Unwanted / unconsidered synergy with some classes might cause problems, and some general fine tuning is probably in order, but I'm on the fence so far. Interactions with HALPMEH might lead to a "nerf the damned HALPMEH" harangue, but most of the other stuff that's been buffed by this change doesn't even theoreticaly compare in power level to resistance fighting, so I don't think it will create a problem as big as Monk used to be.
The victory screen / economy bonuses for badges and victories - Yay! This was finally implemented! I'm sure it was MENT to be implemented a long time ago, but it's the kind of thing that draws humans to comuputer games like flies to sugar. It rewards completionism and allows for situations where people come with interesting situations and strategies.
And it eases the grind, which is welcome. I'm sure at least some people will find out stuff none of us were aware of while chasing victories with unusual class/dungeon/medal choices, and it deffinitely adds one more way to detect "no brainer god mode cheat" strats that work everywhere with too many classes.
A lot bigger than it looks, IMO, and I'm loving it.
GENERAL - The added functionality of some glyphs has made them important for dealing with some hitherto unanswerable situations, but has, at the same time made them less reliable as early conversion fodder. Coupled with the "conversion fodder" price/CP nerf, this hurts the "conversion heavy" strat quite a lot from too many sides at once. It's still strong, but...
Glyphs are the best source of conversion, and i've been playing Conversion SCROLL orcs with dragonshield for a while, using the scroll on glyphs. I LIKED finding "needless" or "only good early" glyphs to use them as conversion fodder, which I then "enhaced" or "padded" with cheap convertible items. Without quality convertible items, and with more functionality on glyphs, the strat might have been hit too hard. I'm actually having problems with getting my piety worth out of Mysterias "glyph conversion" boon unless I fing WONNAFYT, which I also can't convert early, if I want to get mileage out of the boon. And since the monster buffs, and class nerfs made sure more different glyhp use is necessary, it reduces the consistency of getting at least a couple of conversions off unwanted glyphs when you really need them.
In other words, the devs made Monk actually NEED the fireball, which is great, but they also made him lose 100 guaranteed CP which might not have been their intention. Not saying the strat didn't need nerfing, it was really strong, but if the nerfs to resistances and the conversion stone turn out to be efficent enough, conversion might need buffs. This deserves it's own thread, in appropriate time.
BYCEPS - I adore it. Too strong with wizard, as q3 had allready pointed out, but it's making me consider letting goo blobs into my game. One major issue though - with resistance fighting getting the shaft (and it might need some more shafting), putting in enough attacks with only 5% reduction on the Tower of Goo doesn't really help all that much. Sure a Monk could get the Goo down to sensible levels, but for the purposes of fighting the Goo, the monk is his old 50% starting resists self. If anything the 5% is probably too low.
FURTHER FOCUS !!!!!
All of the stuff that has been "fixed" or is started to get serious work on, has been long overdue, and was in some form or fashion common knowledge. My whining and spamming just brought plenty of it into focus, and I think we're all better off for it in the long run, and i'm incredibly happy to see all the nerfs finaly arrive thought the last 3 udates (including the silent one). Go dev team!
POTIONS - if my recent "minimalist" run brought light to anything that WASN'T obvious before, it's that the Withch I and II quests were a huge deterrment from enjoying the game, testing out content and gauging the power level of everything else. We were all playing with gimped shops, and we weren't aware of it. This is the only really big issue left right now, and in my eyes it's a bigger issue than even the runaway resistances were.
The sucess of my run (and It was absurdly sucessful) relied more on not unlocking the potions than all other things combined, I'd wager, and not polluting my shops was the true reason I came up with the "conversion heavy" strat in the first place.
Fixing this issue should be a priority, as anyone who's played end game without doing witches quests can tell you.
It also leads to the realization, that Whoopaz migh be unnecessary - I've beaten everything without it just by having access to my shops, and with the class power curve smoothing out, the nerfs to vicious content are needed anyway, which would further reduce the need for having Whoopaz in the game.
There. Big thanks to the devs for coming up with interesting solutions, cleaning up some of the fundamental flaws, and to the entire comunity for a perspective shift that lead us there.