Angelspawns, you don't hear about the frustration of playing vs. Dion control because it requires a Bulegrid which nobody has access to short of shelling out hundreds of dollars for one SS, the fact that the Dion control file is an exercise in masochism when it comes to enjoyment, and that the file depends on a bunch of individually extremely weak cards. Furthermore, this is a unit based game, especially as evidenced by all of the nerfs to the removal SSs over time (petrification nerfed, RFA -1 SP next turn, debate on nerfing Miandela/Astaforse return agi 3 disengage because of Oeste despite that still missing agi 1 and 5 units), and as for Gaiessoul splash, just play a level 3 rush. Buncles absolutely beats the crap out of any gaiessoul splash file. In fact buncles beats the crap out of anything these days aside from SKs and any Falkow-mechanics-out-the-wazoo file.
Now as for set 12 design, it's about time Duchies became a legitimate tribe. However, beyond that, I really don't see much of anything. I suppose Ibert is an attempt at pushing Mid-falkow. Ariete is absolutely catastrophically bad in design. If she's supposed to help grimcount files, why does she lock grims for five turns? Is a guaranteed 2->3 for Falkow really that strong? The only time she's really better than Catherina is against Lawtia, but considering how much the usual shade+gafc shenanigans can wreck Falkow, was Ariete created just to give a sadistic choice?
As for Gowen, the merc nation sniper had 5 range in the JP version. What is it with the testing team and the refusal to allow Gowen to have anything good ranged attacker? It used to have Jack. Then he lost his ability to pick off high agi units and hit supports while hiding behind BKR. Heierrat sniper was supposed to be this amazing hit-anything-from-anywhere unit. Not so much anymore. JP's Yuni had Mureria's stats prior to rankup, with a close that could save her life in a critical situation. Oops, not anymore. Benny Mac seems to be the only good thing Gowen got going for it in this new set, but even with him, the entire sphere plays the same exact way it's played for the past 11 sets, and while Lawtia, Falkow, and especially Refess have been getting tech options out the wazoo from set 6 onwards (death's embrace, bitter destiny, deathmaker, new Emana, exmerm, withdrawal strategy, new verlaat, fairy blessing, Catira, etc...), Gowen is still the sphere of "hit you even harder!", which Lawtia's Crest tribe now has firmly in hand. The little wandering samurai used to be able to cem any engaged unit. He was supposed to be Gowen's tech. Oops. Not anymore.
Where is the tech that Gowen was supposed to be getting for the past however many sets? Why isn't it here yet? The new grims are trash. Roar of anger: oh look, in order to do anything with this grim, I need to sacrifice half my field. Dragon fire: might as well be a Refess grim because that's the only sphere that has a remote chance in hell of fielding more than one dragon at a time. Beltorat was supposed to be the tribe of summoning dragons. When's the last time you saw a good Belt file actually summon a dragon? And this new one? Epitome of mediocrity. If you have it used against you, at some point, it will do exactly the worst thing and cost you the game. If you use it, more often than not, it'll do something you don't need it to.
As for Refess, has One True God/Unknown been tested if successfully summoned in Eternal Morning?
In any case, I feel that this is now a three-sphere game, with Gowen being a case of "why should I play a sphere that's like all the others but without the tech?".