I would like to offer some feedback based on my first game:
-I picked the druid lady and customized her a bit.
-Sov-wise, I went down the path to increased army sizes, and later went for snipers.
-I found the beginning battles to be challenging, since the various bandit archers, especially on higher levels, could do considerable damage to my own mages/archers etc. Esepcially enchanters and clerics (got one randomly) fell very quickly.
-Getting some sentinels was a considerable change, as was going down the archer improvement path for the archer hero and getting snipers.
-My capital had like 8 essence slots, my second city had around 12. While I didnt find an equivalent to heart of fire, come midgame they, with the +defence, +initiative+ 3 levels and +health city enchantment produced some pretty "good" troops. The second cities snipers startet with 89 hps.
-I annoyed the Sorceror King a bit earlier then planed because my outposts etc. kept firing at his stuff, including eventually wiping out a garrison. This made him pop 2 garrisons next to my cap, that were eventually also wiped out. Dude got a bit pissed after this.
-Most quest battles do not seem to scale, meaning that quest level opponents were often at a very low level, and easily crushed.
-Offensive outposts are a pretty great trolling device. Especially if you have some skill in the "cast X at start automatically" department.
-My favorite summon is the ice elemental. Not because it is powerfull, but because summoning it freezes the entire enemy army for a turn. In your territory, this effectively give 2 free turns to murder enemies with extreme prejudice.
-Since I was effectively at war with the SK anyway, I could as well rapid expand in order to keep my logistics going, I dont think that there is much the SK can do to hurt me right now.