Before I begin, a foreword. In order to keep this thread on topic and with reasonable discussion, posts should be marked at the beginning with a bolded main point, and potential italicized lesser points. Bold points should be the main thing being addressed, rather than spending an entire page on arguing a miniscule point or example, like it usually happens.
That said, let's begin.
In my opinion, there are currently a few generalized main problems with combat.
A) Combat has no middle ground. You have basic attacks, and then you're largely ineffective until you've entered the top tier.
When you're attempting to learn combat, you either manage to outpace their healing, or you don't. This is especially true in the case of affliction professions. A hunter or a sabreknight who is trying to afflict their opponent to death will either outpace their healing with proper tracking and afflicts, or they won't, putting them at a very near all or nothing sort of thing. This can be true of damage professions as well, since a certain damage output is required to outpace healing-- It can be argued higher tier damage professions are more difficult, as trying to outdamage an artifact healer can usually only be done by buying more artifacts.
The most frustrating part of learning combat is the lack of progress.
It's very difficult to see progression in combat. Once you get your basic little system set up, you can easily destroy anyone who doesn't really have anything/are low level. Suddenly excited, you go out and try fighting more experienced players...
Just to get completely and utterly crushed. You work and you work and you work, but you either get to that scripting and combat level where you can outpace Garrynbot afflictions or health sipping, or you sort of flounder around at the level where you can kinda kill people who don't know what they're doing(applying mostly to damage professions) and you can't do anything to any reasonably higher tier people. The artifact buy-in gap over the years has caused this to become even more difficult. You say fast, diadem, and surcoat is what we should balance around? That's great for you, who has all that. Unfortunately, the smaller players who want to grow can't afford all that, especially with the credit market where it is.
All this discourages new players from entering combat, as the standards being set are being set by people who likely have half a decade or more of experience and thousands of dollars worth in artifacts. Trying to fight in a middle ground where you have tri-trans but nothing else is near impossible and highly discouraging.
The learning buy-in of the game is extraordinarily high.
Suppose I'm a new player who's come to the game. I have no experience with MUDs, though I may have some experience with RPGs. Not only do I now have to learn how to play Imperian and the game's unique world, I have to learn how to play and navigate through an MUD, I probably have to go learn a new scripting language just to fight!
Having a new player need to learn Lua or Zscript just to do basic combat makes the game much more difficult to access.
The game is a ton better and easier to play than when I first started(thanks to the awesome admins working at making newbie material more friendly!), but the need to script to do anything more than ATTACK is scary and discouraging.
C) Team combat put affliction professions below their optimal effectiveness.
In team combat, there's one objective: Outdamage the enemy team. There's no sense in out-afflicting the enemy at all; this is because all damage professions are going for the same kill method. If there are quite a few different professions, but their main method of killing is all damage, then they may as well be the same effective profession. In other words:
Damage professions use 0 health to kill, with their trasncendent abilities supplmenting, rather than being the reason for the kill.
Affliction professions use unique, specific conditions to create a special instant kill. Most attacks by another profession does not contribute to the kill, or otherwise require extremely good coordination.
This is one of the reasons why demonic has it so hard in team combat. Most of their professions go for different things-- Giving your opponents attunement isn't going to help bring vivisect around any faster. Affliction professions are arguably the most powerful sort in 1v1, but that doesn't happen much besides in the arena. As such, zergling rushes become more or less the only way to win team fights. A good afflicter isn't going to manage much if it takes a minute to set up her or his unique kill if the enemy team can focus fire to bring someone down in mere seconds. It's easy to use "attack" or a simple pre-defined attack macro, but a lot harder to coordinate afflictions for the special kills.
Plain and simple.
The more people, the more damage/affliction output.
It's often not "Who do we have that's good?" but rather, "How many people do we have, and can we mass more zerglings than them?"
E) I can count the number of people who talk about combat(or really, anything) regularly on my fingers.
The forums are a terrible place to get input about the game in any way, shape, or form. Sure, there are experienced players talking on the forums, but it's only a small handful that don't in any way represent the game's playerbase. The forum's enviornment and reputation has made it a place where many people have tried to talk and input ideas but have been laughed at and jeered and shooed away without any new ideas taking root. We have the opinions and ideas from the elitist forum community, but what about the rest of the game? There are valid points and new ideas that can come from a significantly larger pool of people than the ones that frequent the forums.