Another big factor that was turning away people from playing, and especially new-comers, was blatant "farming". The "farming" in this context is constant attacking of a smaller player by a big player to loot resources of this player and possibly gain some experience by killing whatever defenders the smaller player can gather between attacks of the bigger player.
If this situation happens, the game for a smaller player is pretty much over. You can of course try negotiating a truce with the attacking player or try joining a clan, tribe, or alliance, but usually when you marked as a "Farm", nobody wants to help you or even deal with you and all you can do is to start all over again or just quit playing.
To solve this problem, I decided to separate novice players from experienced ones. The first step was to place players in locations on the Map according to their score, meaning that if it's a new player and his or her score is 0, there won't be any strong players with high scores around, or at least in immediate neighbourhood. The same technique is used when players are transferred to a new level. The next step was to introduce multiple levels. If your neighbour developing much faster than you and keep harassing you, sooner or later he or she will collect necessary number of Soul Gems and will have to move to another level, leaving you along. Moreover, if you are a weaker, but still an active player, it's possible to create a considerable resistance using Mercenaries and advanced military tactics (i.e. Counter-Attacking and Intercepting) to show your stronger neighbour that farming you is not a good or at least a profitable idea.
All these means did not eliminate the risk of being farmed completely, but reduced chances of it happening quite significantly, giving every player a chance to play and enjoy the game.