I think the actual worth of your army has to play a role in combat somehow. 300 Strength can be made up of an army worth close to nothing or of an army worth half a million gold.
As of now this is not taken into consideration at all. Thus if you pay out the game doesnt care if you have to give up 2 lvl 5 units worth nothing or 2 lvl 20 units worth 50k gold.
The game doesnt reward more crowns for the greater risk either if lvl 20 armies clash. It's for the fun of it, but not for the reward, while there is huge amounts of gold at stake.
I want to fight more maxed out Elite armies. Fighting those battles gives you the best _ideal_ PvP experience, while most battles are just no fun at all if someone tries to attack you with newly recruited units because they dont want to lose much. But after fighting a similar army and winning, the defeated player loses a huge amount of gold, sometimes they are offline after because It could take hours of gameplay to get that amount of gold back. Last days I killed of many lvl 50-60 royal dragons and those players went offline straight after and I understand it. Those were worth 120 crowns and 200-300k gold and they just disappeared in 1 battle taking maybe 5 minutes without any compensation for that huge risk.
At one point I lost great parts of my army too, which left me with like -400k gold and it took rly long to get that fixed up again. Time in which I didn't want to play at all, went on a long time protection and just waited for things to be back up.
Something has to be done to fix those things. Some Ideas were allready consideres. Also decreasing the cost of unit training by a huge amount could be nice. ( like 1/4 of the costs they take now). Or really really good rewards that are a mirror to the great risk. First thing could be to increase the looting values, so people start to actually loot corpses after pvp battles again. They all loot like they were lvl 1 units, while they are worth like x50 the gold. If defeated lvl 20 units would loot 100 gold instead of 2 gold per body it would be worthwhile. Was laughing when i defeated a lvl 60 Highknight and his body showed me 500 gold loot
Dead royal dragons give back 30 crowns of the 120. Defeated armies should give back at least 1/4 of their worth too. For this to be not exploitable, your squadleader idea comes in handy here. If the whole squad dies, the last one who drops, the squadleader, has the gold the troop was worth, i.e lvl 20 swordsman 20k gold, last guy drops has 5000 gold in it. Maybe disable the orc looter trait on that one :P. On another thought this wouldn't compensate at all if the winner takes that loot. So maybe something else has to be done. Auto loot for both would be nice. Swordsman was worth 20k, winner gets 5 loser gets 5, loser got compensated a bit. Winner got rewarded for the risk of this fight. The game still lost 10k gold. All are happy. Or loser gets 10k winner 5k and only 5k are lost. With 1/4 it's still hard work to get that army back together. Well theres lotsa room for thoughts on this one.
I think that many people quit this game after a major defeat, that shouldn't be. Kinda reminds me of MMORPGs with Full Loot Systems in place in which you get completly cleaned of all items after a defeat and only the elite survive in the end and continue playing.
Little Edit on next day: And It's actually worse then those MMORPGs. In those I have the chance to give the items back to the defeated player to show him that it was a good fight etc., here all the gold is lost. I've allready trashed armies worth millions of gold and like 1% of it's value was retained. I can't even compensate players myself for their huge loses, because my city doesn't generate that much. In this game you just make people quit by doing PvP. That's why im doing less and less of it, too. Guess if this continues on for a while I might even quit too, because making people quit by just wanting to fight isn't nice either. In my honest opinion something has to be done to save this game, and fast.