I hope no-one minds a newb returning to a thread months old, after going through several pages this seemed to be the thread that raised the most poignant newb points for me. I played the free alpha a year or so back, and a recent bored afternoon of clicking through some old bookmarks I found the game had advanced quite a bit - yay! So I grabbed the beta and have sunk a couple of long days into it. I wasn't very good at the alpha, the "10 minute games" were often 30 minute games for me trying to count up all the variables and in the end I only unlocked a handful of characters - but I loved the game, and it took me to my generally fruitless days of monochrome ascii nethack.
I think the beta is great, having some story, quests and structure gives me so much more reason to come back and play again. But for a newb, even one with some alpha-experience, it's a tough game and can be very unforgiving (not as unforgiving as the alpha, at least now I get the option to just walk away from a dungeon if I just don't have the power for those last few guys).
I haven't played a "hard" dungeon yet, I started of feeling all smart and powerful but now the normal dungeons which were completely stomping me are now generally taking 5 ish goes - often depending on the class, luck/randomness. Loosing resources by dying makes the progress seem defeating at times, but when I've pushed through it's worked out.
But even some of the tutorials (or puzzles?) totally stump me, I can't for the life of me get the final hit on the level 3 snake in the 2nd Halfling puzzle - I must have tried 20+ times. I still struggle to see the usefulness in many glyphs and convert most of them (some of the less obvious ones I don't is because of a good tutorial, such as the petrification/experience one - it's a major part of my strategy now).
The game really rewards knowledge of things that are either learnt by mistakes that often end up killing you. For example, my Sorcerer cleared the dungeon and then there was a sub-dungeon with a dragon in it, it's immune to physical damage so I threw a fireball at it and died. It took me another 3 or 4 goes to clear that dungeon again, I've learnt to avoid the dragon but have absolutely no idea what it does. With some of the glyphs, I've tried using them but couldn't tell what any of the secondary elements of it was doing (I think it's the swap-spots one, seems to have other benefits such as no retaliation but it didn't seem to do that for me).
What I would love to see (and this is just me dreaming out loud), and it's not an easy/hard version of the game - I think that would defeat the purpose, but a semi-cut down version of the game (could be optional for the advanced player) which is easier or a long faux-introduction but without all the bells and whistles of the full game. Perhaps make between 1 to 3 of the "hard" rounds be the conquering of that realm before your prestige gets you invited to a new kingdom that is essentially the current full game (minus some of the very basic intro bits there now).
Sorry for the long post, I'm loving the game - but it is definitely a big challenge for a newb and the learning curve is steep and harsh.