Some comments after finishing the game (spoiler)

I have beaten the game on normal difficulty in turn based mode without any mods.
This does not sound much, but for me it is a huge progress.
I finished the game only once so far (shortly after wildcards came out) and there I had to switch to story mode after some time because it was too frustrating.
Now it was very easy most of the time and some fights I remembered as very hard became very easy now.
Turn based mode helped me a lot to learn the rules because things happen one after the other, not all at once.
I used a sylvan sorcerer (musetouched aasimar) with a leopard, with a focus on buffs, conjuration and evocation spells. I mostly learned buffs an a few summons, but for all levels I had hightened grease, stinking cloud, scirocco and hellfire ray.

some things I have learned:

  • Alchemist can learn spells from scrolls. The loading screen advice mentions only wizard, eldritch scoundrel and magus so I did not know this.
  • When you make a full attack and your target dies after the first attack you make the remaining attacks against other targets in range. This makes cleave (plus upgrades) much less interesting, especially when you get pounce ( I want to make a primalist bloodrager in WotR)
  • When a sorcerer uses a spell with meta magic it is a full round action. It took some time until I understood why I could not cast a spell at a target, even though it was described as standart action and I had enough movement.
  • You cannot remove deaths door on animal companions except for resting in the capital. You cannot use revieve spells/items on them.
  • The final boss fight was very easy even though I made my life much harder than needed. I tried to kill all adds before the boss so I do not have to fight the old plus the new adds in the next phase. But I killed the boss by accident and learned that the old adds disappear when the next phase start. Just focussing on the boss would have made that each phase lasts only one round. Pre buffing took much longer than the fight itself.
  • Almost all boss fights were very easy while the most difficult thing were fights against large groups of strong normal enemies (e.g. house with fights against a group of greater golems plus wild hunt.
    OK, I used my full buffing power against bosses while I only used my long lasting standart buffs most of the time. In case of this house fight I reloaded when it dragged on forever, gave myself some more buffs and then steamrolled them.
  • I tried to rest as little as possible, that was one reason why I did not use all buffs all the time. I think I rested once in Vordakais tomb and twice in the house, I don´t think I rested in other dungeons at all. I did the 4 levels of the depths in a row (I had to come back later for the next levels) and then rested once before the spawn.
    In the end I had 146days to the end of ancient curse 7 when I upgraded all kingdom stats to 10, upgraded all regions and did all side quests. I also researched all curses and got all kingdom buffs (+x to something or immunety to something while in your kingdom.)

problems I have faced:

  • One of the hardest fights (also in my first playthrough) was the tech league encounter.
    The mage who casts fear can ruin everything and the fighters can finish my lv2 chars with a lucky crit.
    And you cannot pre buff there.
    I won 2nd or 3rd try when my sorc could act before the enemy and cast grease on the group.
    It worked and the rest was a cakewalk.
  • There is one point that almost prevented me from finishing the game. In Vordakais tomb you have to fight the soul eaters. I avoided to mention names and when I could not avoid it I named my best warriors. Reg finished his soul eater with 2 hits but you cannot avoid that the raven learns your name (the dafaced sister mentiones it in the barbarien camp encounter). Your pet cannot help you and AoE effects do not work. A sorc is pathetic in hitteng things with a weapon. Fortuanatly I had burning arc as single target damage spell and the monster went down before me. I did not have hellfire ray yet and almost no damage spells in general and most of the time I did not need it.
  • A big problem was the mage in the depth (lowest level, you fight him plus his fiend). The fiend was easy and killing the mage was also not hard but he managed to cast mass ice prison. Even if my chars win the save and can act they take cold damage every round for the next 20 minutes even after the mage is dead which is a death sentence. It took countless tries until I could finish him before he could cast any spell. He always uses this spell first when the party is in range. The victory came through the right distance to the enemy. The enemy used his move+standart action to move to the party and when he finished his turn he was in my attack range and it was easy to finish him with a focused attack of all chars.
    The spawn itself was easy but pre buffing took twice as long as fighting the spawn+dragon.
  • Is there any way Amiri can beat Armag in the duel in a fair way? I gave her all the buff potions I had but she had no chance. A raging barbarian has no good AC and Armag has much more HP and attacks per round than her. This was the only fight were I lowered the difficulty because I wanted the best result for all quests.
  • Valerie won her duel, but only because I cast grease on the combat area before the fight. Watching two fighter missing each other (and healing themselves if they hit) is so boring.
  • What do the defaced sisters do? They damage my stats and neither death ward nor blind fight helped against it (I forgot the name but it sounds like a gaze attack). In the barbarien camp fight they were even damaging the stats of barbarians who were fighting together with her against me.
  • The ghost mages in the house were annoying. Is there any way to protect yourself against plague storm? High saves are good but sometimes I failed. I had to retry these fights a lot. The only solution I found was to one shot them with hellfire ray before they could act.

Sensei can give mass disease immunity, Paladins are naturally Immune.

The girls aren’t supposed to win their duels but yeah you can win both. Blind fight should prevent stat damage from Gaze, I think scream does Shaken? Win the Persuasion check and let the Barbs eat it for you.

One more thing: It looks like they changed the exp distribution at some point.
When I finished the game ages ago at lv 16 or 17.
Now I hit lv20 when I defeated former enemies again to get rid of the curse at the end of the game.
In both cases I used shared exp, a full party and everyone gets exp from skill using.
I had Wildcards too in my first playthrough, Varholds lot is just a mini dungeon in the main game ( I did this before the main game) so the only big addition are the depth. Except the bosses the enemies there did not give that much exp so I do not think this dungeon alone gave enough exp to get from lv 17 to 20.