Which is largely irrelevant. The point was getting a Champion is cheap and easy. Sure you have to spend the game equipping and training them and all that good stuff, but the point is you can have MANY of them.
I am getting a little tired of explaining this. That I can recruit many champions is IRRELEVANT to this discussion if I DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY to turn more than A VERY SMALL NUMBER OF THEM into VERY POWERFUL heroes. If I have 20 champions, and by diverting my resources and attention and efforts I can get two of them to be strong enough to stand toe-to-toe with some lesser fantastical creatures, then the fact that I have 18 other champions is completely besides the point if 5 so-so swordsmen can overcome them.
Do you understand what Imbuing means in terms of game mechanics? It means "Give your Champion 1 essence", which means your champion can now have mana and eventually as he gets more essence through levelups or whatever can actually cast a little bit. There's a huge difference between a Sovereign with 15 essence and a Champion with 1. The mere act of imbuing does not automagically (yes, that's on purpose) make a Champion amazingly powerful.
As BlackHatHedgehog said, I think it's possible to imbue champions repeatedly (correct me if I'm wrong - or, I'm about to play another game so I'll double check myself anyway), thus transferring more than 1 essence. And yes there is a huge difference between a sovereign with 15 essence and a champion with 1 essence. But is there much of a difference between a sovereign with 10 essence and a champion with 10 essence? Imbuing a champion with essence does not make a Champion amazingly powerful, but it does give them the potential. It brings them from a somewhat special mundane unit to a fledgling channeler with the ability, with time, experience and money, to grow into some amazing power. In addition, I specifically said that a power-hoarding sovereign should be able to reach heights beyond that of a champion (not a whole order of magnitude, but higher nonetheless).
Also, I must say, I do wish essence had a larger role than merely being the mana cap. It's importance and interestingness has been largely robbed from it; I understand many of the changes and I support some and don't much like others, but I wish they'd find a way to bring back its import. I'd suggest having essence boost other stats, but now that would strangely tie the mana cap into combat strength and everything else and would just be weird.
The logic is simply that while you only have ONE sovereign and you lose the game if he dies, you can have MANY champions as quickly and easily as a few gold in the beginning of the game. It's pretty simple. When you have one of something, it can be powerful because it is unique. When you have lots of something it is no longer unique and should not be as powerful.
And here you yet again utterly and completely miss the point. I'll restate it just for emphasis. You will NOT have MANY very powerful champions, and you DEFINITELY will NOT have ANY of them "quickly and easily." You might have many plain old champions, and they may be easy and cheap, but you would NOT be able to have many very powerful ones.
When you have lots of something, and it takes substantial effort and is essentially impossible to get more than a small number of those somethings to really become powerful, then they can have the potential to be very powerful because a POWERFUL one of those somethings will also, effectively, be unique. Stop with the straw men.
You compared them, you put them in your own mouth.
I absolutely did not. Here is what I wrote:
"Yes, I will grant you that. If we are going to have some silly hard cap on the number of units we can have in our armies, and if champions and other special units count towards that limit, then they shouldn't be stronger than the most powerful mundane units. But, then Elemental ceases to be the game it was meant to be. So a Dragon now can no longer be the match of ~20 top-of-the-line mundane soldiers? What about my sovereign? What about all the other fantastical creatures?"
I was simply pointing out that your argument, as you continue to formulate it, applies equally well to everything else in the game including sovereigns and dragons and all fantastical creatures. Why are you only trying to apply it to champions? I nowhere ever said that champions should have potential comparable to that of a dragon. If champions must be limited by the strength of the largest grouping of troops for the sake of balance, then why doesn't that need to hold for everything else? "Because they're fantastical!!!!!!" is a piece of shit of an argument. A magic-wielding hero is pretty fantastical, not to mention "fantastical" is a label and "balance" does not stop for fantastical game elements.
You don't have to try hard at all to lose your Sovereign, and certainly not against an actual big army. Also, your assumption that you will only be able to have a few super champions is not reflected in game mechanics. Spreading out resources is irrelevant, they are infinite. Experience doesn't even get split, everyone fighting gets the same amount. Spreading out essence is also largely irrelevant since most of it will come from the Champions leveling up and other modifiers, not the Sovereign.
I have lost very few, if any, games by losing my sovereign. In fact, I'm not sure if that's happened even once since beta 1. Even if my sov loses in combat, he pretty much always appears back in town and a few turns later is good as new. Spreading out resources is absolutely not irrelevent, and while they are infinite you do not have an infinite income of them. Games do not last forever, and so the amount of resources gathered in a given game is very finite, and the player must choose where and how to allocate them. If they were infinite then every city would be a metropolis, every soldier would have the best equipment and training, every technology would be researched, every spell would be known. The finite income of resources is what forces choices, the infinite availability just means you don't need to rush for your share of them (and yes, it does slightly diminish the importance of some choices, as you can always get more with enough time).
Experience not splitting is something I don't like, and is going to be hugely abused. It greatly favors always fighting everything with as many troops, champions, creatures, etc as you possibly can to get the most experience. Where in reality 200 knights, 50 longbowman and a dragon killing a spider shouldn't really get anyone involved a noticeable amount of xp.
That essence is no longer very important is the tragic result of all its uses being stripped away one by one until nothing is left. Right now it is a fancy monicker being used instead of "Maximum Mana." It used to be the all-important finite resource that would force meaningful decisions upon people and enable us to develope our kingdoms and use our sovereigns in a huge variety of ways, and now it is some throw away stat that is in many ways less important than some of the others.
Losing Essence on your Sovereign only makes him cast fewer spells due to less mana. It does not directly make him "weaker". Even so, if you use up all your essence on Champions, any army will still have to go through your super champions to get to him.
A good strategy would entail finding away to get to his sovereign without having to confront those champions. If your opponent has several powerful champions (and therefore, each less powerful than such a champion would've been if there were only one), then you'd probably be able to manage getting around at least some of them. If you manage to push him back until his sovereign and all his powerful champions and armies are holed up inside his capital, then clearly you have the upper hand in the conflict. If he's hiding in his capital, then his champions were clearly unable to turn the tide against you and he'll fall anyway.