I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it in an hour, so I'm dumping my commentary here.
Who cares about the number of cities? Everyone basically exists in a circle supergroup anyway. Starting the year off with RP-clad deletion and another mini-game seems more like a waste of resources than jumping right into fixing the PvP systems that are going unused or used without PvP interaction.
While hitting quests and areas, continued iteration on making PvE more complex and interactive would be great. The mob-effecting affs help, but they're mostly 'use them the minute the target CD is up' than interactive gameplay. I also like the thought of adding in more 'boss' fights. Heck, I'd be for removing/devaluing every grinding mob and replacing them with bosses
I like the plan for hitting a conflict mechanic every 2 months. Beyond that, I'll hold off on commenting on the mentioned PvP systems in the hopes that you'll call for opinions before each one's turn.
And now for a ranty bit!
You seriously need to consider how you're rewarding players for their behavior and the impact it has on the game. Once you hit Aspect, player progression is limited to endless bashing for gold or making a sizable (relative to most f2p games) cash purchase, both of which are traps for established players and a turn-off for all but the most determined of new players.
Playing the economic or PvE games means incredible investments of time to get a positive return. I can't even give away shops in the city, and the one newb who took me up on the offer realized how useless shopkeeping is for making gold in a day or two. PvE is the only real viable option for advancement, and god help the nub trying to go down that path with no artifacts and 1-2 trans skills. Then you get into the aspect bonuses, and the gold values represent hundreds of more hours of grinding. Achievement farming just loads you with XP bonuses aside from the few exceptions like extermination and annihilation.
PvP is mostly a drain on advancement. Here, the typical player is going to be out 3k gold in just herbs and inks for a single real fight. Push that out to 20m for a raid or an hour for an obelisk, and they've got a good hour or three of bashing to do to catch back up from the participation fee. PvP does provide some benefit to bashing (shard hunting skills, the glorious emerald cluster, obelisks), but when I have to choose between fighting for 30+ minutes over a few blues and reds or just grinding out mobs, the latter handily wins out in terms of my character's betterment.
Roleplaying provides a different kind of advancement entirely with no direct mechanical advantages. Still, if I had to credit one thing with keeping this game alive, it would be this. Not personally, since my RP soul has been pretty dead, but for others who I never see hunting or questing. I guess you could put trade miniskills here, but I consider them more economic since they cost $70 for each one you want to grab.
The whole 'hurr durr consequences' thread that appeared earlier comes from there being nearly zero progression beyond huge cash dumps for long-term players, so the only 'reward' they want/can imagine getting is a negative impact on another player. Negative impacts are certainly okay, but there is jack squat for positivity beyond those of us willing to hit 'bash horde' ad infinitum or entertain ourselves with personal roleplay that could be done in a Skype window if it came down to it.
If you want to make this game stand out from the other IRE clones, then playing it needs to feel like you're going somewhere or else you get established players retiring en masse to go to a game with an active population or logging out with no intention of returning.
TL;DR Give me a game I can shell out to my friends without feeling like I'm turning into Ponzi or Madoff.
I do agree that losing a raid and/or pvp should feel a bit more painful. I will have to think about that a bit more.
From a character perspective:
PvP is an activity where you're spending more gold than you're earning. Engaging in PvP, even more so open PK, barely advances your character in the sense of actual power barring rare circumstances like the ToC. Do you expect thwacking people with a stick when there's no carrot to be effective? Make PvP generate gold, not burn it, and then you can really start talking about adding risk into a currently rewardless endeavor. Otherwise, people will continue to PvP only if they really want to fight. With regards to raiding, personal objective scores that payout a salary every so often (7-12 days?) would be a way to reward participants and open up the ability to harshly punish people who selectively participate in raids (while not really impacting people who won't be PvPing anyway) with a % objective point loss.
From the city perspective:
Obelisks are stealable buffs, so losing a fight for one would have built-in downsides.
You can maybe pull a variation of the objective point salary on a city scale. Once the raid is over, add My Side Points - Enemy Side Points to the city OP pool. The payout would need to be stuck inside a non-withdrawable account to prevent it from funneling out to players, but it could be used to pay for city expenditures.
You can also thwack lightly here to encourage participation by reducing OP gain as the force equalization use is strained past expectations, e.g. 4 possible defenders are on, but only 2 show up which triggers force equalization and an OP loss.
Then just tweak the reward for non-obelisk objectives to things like:
Generator - Raiders burn through generator energy and shard power (reducing frequency of target city's raiding). Stealing instead of destroying could be an option, but it would have to be low enough that the strong cities don't just cycle through other cities and pilfer the generator for a constant OP gain.
Vanity Item - Tougher fight, but doubles the final OP exchange.
Guard Barracks - Reduces effective force equalization in future raids by X or Y% rounded up for a duration of Z. So, 5 raiders, 3 defenders join in, equalization acts like it's 4 defenders. Z should be lengthy enough that it stacks a couple times.
Shield/Gates - Reduces raid initiation cost versus city (for all other cities) for a time.
Housing District - Increases fear throughout the city's holding, with aforementioned bits on comm production woes kept in mind. It'd be nifty if the objective was completed by slaughtering through waves of poor NPC civilians.
Library - Steal sekrit book of knowledge with 7 month decay, adding a buff to the next raid on that city based on objective type. It takes a library (two) months to fully decipher the text, so a counter-raid on the library can potentially steal the knowledge before then. Raiders could choose between a book belonging to their own city or a random book in storage. Once the book was deciphered, it could be exchanged or held onto until the book is activated for the buff.
Weapons Locker - Increased city raid mob attack damage for raider city, decreased for defenders.
------ With these changes, raids would give an option to do damage to both enemy players and factions while improving your own faction, and it improves the rewards of PvP enough on the character level to get more people motivated to participate and learn how to be successful.
Oh gee, reading. Why didn't I think of that? Yeah, you may have mentioned some consequences. That doesn't mean continuing to go on about safe spaces and consequences being better in the good ol days isn't off-topic. And again, you even concluded with "CONSEQUENCES!"