-Love the animations, art direction, the general aesthetics.
-The new pause button is a godsend, since losing men because you couldn't micromanage fast enough was irritating.
-Enemies are neat, fun to kill and generally die in droves even when you lose. Very satisfying.
-Dialogue was funny and thankfully usually only showed up at the beginning or end of every level, so as to not break the flow of gameplay. The story was good too, if not spectacular. I think some more banter between marcus/taggart/aldric/other officers would have been nice.
-Gameplay is engaging and offers quite a few options and tactics.
-Some levels have fast/ranged enemies move in from odd angles without warning, or have powerful enemies teleport in. When a bunch of ghosts plow out of left field into a caster/archer pile, it's pretty much completely over. Same goes for vampires constantly summoned out of nowhere. While it is possible to deal with it with proper strategy, I feel cheated when the only way I can defend against a surprise attack is replaying a level, after my otherwise solid strategy was destroyed by a random surprise. Either the player needs to be given some sort of warning beforehand to actually react to an ambush before it slaughters all mages and priests, or or you make “ambush”-type waves less powerful. I should add that Seekers are slow-moving and not very strong, so they're fine- my beef is mostly with vampires, and ghosts that do this.
-It feels like there is a lack of enemy diversity. Armored skeletons die almost as fast as normal skeletons, plague zombies died just as fast as regular zombies, etc. It felt like 80% of enemies fell into four categories- annoying ranged jerks (all archers and casters), cannon fodder melee (all zombies, skeletons, hounds, darth slayers), tough melee (vampires, trolls, ogres, darth warriors, undead lords), and oh-god-don't-let-that-get-near-me (bombers, ghosts).
-I really hate levels where enemies hit your casters with arrow volleys, since it was basically down to luck whether a random priest or mage bites the dust and there's not much you can do about it. I think they should fire on your warriors instead or be unable to outright kill casters at full health.
-Mobs of cannon fodder zombies/skeletons/hounds alone are very straightforward to take out, and it actually doesn't really change things if shamans and skeleton archers show up too, since they also die very fast. Tying this back to the enemy diversity issue, in a sequel, I'd like more enemy types, with special abilities that require special tactics to deal with.
-Swordsmasters are not worth using. See below.
I'd give this game a 9/10, but you're responding to individual feedback and patching extensively, which is a huge gamer-turn-on for me. 10/10 for that alone.
The balance is a bit rough around the edges, yes, but Royal Warfare has heart and brains. And it also looks good. With massive magic explosions that kill tons of annoying enemy archers. Ohyes. I spent lord knows how long on this game and I'll gladly spend more.
Note- I'm writing this with consideration to later levels. For earlier levels, you'll just have to use what you have or field a decent balance of all classes.
Swordsman- Decent fighter in early waves. Maybe hire some at the start, but don't buy any in later waves, as they're not powerful enough to deal with later waves. Upgrade to knight ASAP.
Swordmaster- I don't like swordmasters. Thanks to their pitiful armor, they die very fast compared to knights and sometimes even compared to swordsmen. The ability to distract enemies without dying is the only thing that really matters with warriors. True, swordmasters are better than knights in everything than durability, but when ogres, trolls, vampires, ghosts, i.e. actual melee threats show up, they go splat way too fast to make themselves useful.
Knight- Best warrior, hands down. Can survive most melee threats pretty much forever if you have at least one healer per two knights, and you don't need many knights either (3-4 at the very most). Taunt is an absolute lifesaver if ambushes reach your casters/archers and mass stun is good for increasing survivability. However, knights deal very low damage for their cost and are slow as hell, so you have to keep a very tight leash on their position so that enemies don't get past.
Archer- Archers are considerably weaker than their upgrades, but their one key feature is Slow. It buys you a lot of time for mages and other archers to soften up enemies. So it's worth having at least one even on later waves.
Sniper- Snipers are good for quickly removing weaker ranged/caster/bomber enemies, thanks to their superior movement, rate of fire (therefore reaction time) and range than crossbowmen.
Crossbowman- However, I prefer crossbowmen. They just seem to hit harder overall, especially against armored enemies, and are much more durable, so in a pinch you can use them as a second line to defend against ambushes.
Blue Mage- Flash and Ice are both very powerful abilities, but have long cool down times, so they are more conveniences than something to base strategy on. Upgrade ASAP.
Red Mage- The splash damage is not very strong, but you'll definitely notice the difference against large mobs. It's best you only have one red mage on the team or really space them out, since groups of red mages have a nasty tendency to simultaneously use Meteor on the same target,which wastes the second one as the first has already killed everything it hit. But Meteor can be a real lifesaver once your warriors have enemies clumped up.
Black Mage-They destroy pretty much whatever they hit. Curse is a worthy substitute for splash damage (the damage dealth is great but temporary, alas). Mind control unfortunately seems more of a cute trick than a game-changer, though.
Rogue- Rogues will be slaughtered instantly by anything that can fight decently, and both of their abilities are fairly useless. I'd say skip rogues if they aren't given to you. Assassins are far better.
Assassin- A general purpose fighter. He can back up front-liners via Backstab, can raid/distract ranged enemies (provided he has backup) and can lead melee enemies on hilarious wild goose chases.
Spies- Dubious value. They are certainly not strong enough to fight off tougher ranged waves, and Diversion sometimes catches only some enemies out of a group. And although spies move fast, sometimes it's simply not fast enough, because enemy casters on the other side of the map don't need long to mess you up. Your archers are a much more permanent and fast-reacting solution to enemy caster problems. I'd only use spies in maps where your enemies only come from a few directions, so spies don't have to go cross-country.
Priest- Nothing special. They are cheap and still heal well, so you can keep them alongside clerics and monks.
Cleric- Two regular priests can heal faster than his regular heal, for the same or lower price. However, Mass heal makes the cleric superior in missions where you are given or end up with a large number (4+) of front line troops. Resurrection will come in handy for saving your ass last-minute, but it's best not to rely on it.
Monk-Still very good healers and have very handy buffs. Their abilities are short-ranged. This means your frontliners have to be close to your monks, which is not always possible, but at least your support ranged troops will always benefit from the buffs. Use monks over clerics if you only have a few frontline troops.
Tl;dr- Swordsmen in early waves are okay, but you'll want knights eventually. Skip swordmasters. For archers, I'd prefer crossbowmen with a single archer for support, but snipers are great too. Red mages, black mages and multiple blue mages are about the same in usefulness. Same goes for priests/clerics/monks. Rogues stink, spies are situational, assassins are general purpose.
How to kill bad guys- I usually like to put more of my budget towards priests and knights, and less on archers, thieves and mages. I keep my knights VERY CLOSE to the archer/mage pile. Use Hold Ground liberally. Not only does this force ranged attackers to come to me to shoot at my warriors, so that my own ranged attackers can intercept them, but it also lets priests and monks use their buffs more efficiently. And also, if ambushers or seekers spill into my caster/archer pile, I can have the knights use Taunt to pull them off right away.
Assassins and rogues should never be the first to charge into enemy lines, as they can't handle being surrounded anywhere as well as warrior classes can. Have them move in after the warriors have distracted the bulk of a wave. If you insist on using spies, have them sit not too far from the edges or from the center of the map, for maximum flexibility.
Typically, your biggest problem is always going to be dealing with groups of powerful enemies, so abilities that debuff or defend against only a single opponent are not very useful. Also, having too many tier 1 units on the battlefield is a very bad idea, since most healing can only be done on an individual basis (meaning you can only have so much total healing going on) and it leaves you much less time to react if one unit is under attack and rapidly losing health.
Ranged enemies- simple, have your archers/mages dogpile them. If you're worried about your mages being shot (I rarely found this a problem), send crossbowmen and snipers. Spies work too, but only if the enemies are coming from only a few directions- on maps where enemies come from all borders of the map, your spies are probably not going to get there by the time the ranged enemies have done their damage. My track record with rogues/assassins is that either assassins end up running into a ton of melee enemies and have to run away, or they get their asses kicked by ranged enemies who are tougher than they are- again, just shoot the bastards already.
Tough melee enemies- It is possible to micromanage assassins to run around and force slow melee enemies to chase them. You can use rogues too, but rogues will die almost immediately if you make a mistake.
Summoners- For best results, have all your ranged guys hit them at once. If there are multiple summoners, have your warriors and thieves distract one or two while your ranged guys quickly kill another. Although they hit decently hard in melee, it at least keeps them from summoning skeletons at you.
My opinion of an ideal army would be 4 knights (tanking), 2 crossbowmen (killing ranged enemies), 1 archer (for his Slow ability), 1 red mage, 2 black mages, 2 monks, 1 cleric (because of Resurrection), and 1 assassin (for playing wild goose chase with slower enemies).
The most important upgrades to get first are all defense upgrades for warriors and thieves, magic upgrades for mages and priests, and unlocking all abilities rather than upgrading a few.
There aren't too many level-specific strategies I can think of. Just keep your melee close to your casters, use archers instead of thieves to kill ranged enemies, and .You may sometimes have to split your melee group in two, but still, don't keep them too far from your support troops.