The problem with catering to the hardcore fans is that, like with any culture, it will be so warped by their desires that it will no longer resemble what made it appealing enough to be worth a following in the first place.
Trebuches do add atmosphere for the people who are begging for more flavor in a map they already love, but to beginning players are a cruel trap. Even if the falling rocks had a shadow players knew to avoid, if you make them frequent enough that new players recognize the shadows, the trebuches have become overly intrusive, if they are infrequent enough to be discrete, then not even shadows will save them from appearing to be unwelcome fiends that ruin the day of any unsuspecting player. There just isn't a way to win here.
Having everything bubbled down to control is lackluster. It's a short step to having heroes deal X damage on every hit...every creep doing the same thing...every hero pulling the same stunts.
Decisions? Affecting the outcome of a game based on the correctness in prediction and their execution? Say it isn't so! The bit about adding control being a gateway to the heroes losing uniqueness is laughably specious.
As versions progressed I noticed that the rich got richer and the poor got owned.
Isn't that the point? If a player has gained enough items to make a significant impact on the gameplay, then this advantage will lead to their probable victory and allow the winner to deliver the finishing blow. This mindset applies to any dimension of the game. The team with more towers has the advantage and the team with razed buildings get owned; The lane with more hired mobs snowballs into a siege and the undefended base gets owned.
It just discourages the few of us that try to enjoy the map at a laid back pace...but I suppose we should only play to win...nothing more.
Really, if you don't want to get resource X and win because of it, what exactly do you plan to do in a DoE game? Move about at the upper-left corner as if you were at a ballroom dance? Count the trees? I'm sorry that I don't know how to make this less of a mockery, but the pleading of that sentence does not align with reality.
What DoE truly needs is hype. Look at the box art of a pokemon game. It does not say "Elegant mechanics! Intuitive system of checks and balances! Provides hours of RPG fun without forcing players to grind!" it tells a story about catching cute whatchamacallits and a fantasy world where sentient animals engage in colorful antics for their child owners. When a person buys pokemon and plays it, they may not realize the effective design of the game, but they still enjoy it intuitively.
DoE simply doesn't have a box-feature. It's probably one of the most efficient uses of the game engine to deliver a unique and fulfilling experience, but people will have no idea what that is, much less that it's extremely enjoyable. Fortunately, they don't have to understand exactly why the gameplay works so well, or even that its gameplay is good at all. People are intuitive creatures that can have a lot of fun without knowing why. The unfortunate side of this is that a person cannot truly say what they want from a game, and need to experience something to understand it on a very basic level.
In summary, DoE could be redesigned in two ways to attract a wider audience
* Remove anything that distracts a beginning player from enjoying the best parts of the map. The easiest way to make a player stumble upon the juicy center of a game is to make it the first thing they can get their hands on. First-time players are very easily impressed, be this a good or bad thing for a map.
* box-feature. Features that wouldn't be out of place advertised on Saturday mornings. Something that will make the players think
they are having fun long enough to make the transition to real
fun as transparent as possible.