The second big one is (definitely) their decision to stick with the idea of dice with image facings, akin to FFG's Genesys-family games or the dice that come with the Descent board game. To be clear, I think that using these oddball dice could open up some great design space, but... There was quite a bit of conversation about the idea on their Discord before it got clamped down as a subject, essentially. I actually felt the need to largely disconnect from participating in discussions around the project at all because of the reactions from Matt and the mod team that came from it. There were quite a few (what I thought were pretty valid) concerns being raised by people who didn't like the idea of these "funky dice," and the response from the team was to, essentially, insult people who didn't like it as "making the subject their entire personality."
Yeah, this is what is extremely off-putting to me.
acknowledged that there were a bunch of valid concerns re: funky dice, even listed some. Then they offered some solutions - they were all pretty silly off-the-cuff stuff that didn't address the core issues with funky dice, just workarounds that might make sense for playtesting, but not for long-term play. The core issues, as I see it, are:
1) They're a significant extra cost - and are usually wildly
overcharged for, relatively to the actual quality of the dice being provided.
2) They're usually extremely low-quality, like absolute bottom-of-the-barrel quality. I can't, off-hand, think of any exceptions except for when the "funky dice" have been made of wood. All the plastic ones I've ever seen, whether for TTRPGs or wargames or boardgames have been trash-tier if they're made of plastic. Over the years, pretty much everyone in my main group(s) has got nicer and nicer dice, and better-balanced ones too. That's all out the window with funky dice.
3) They require extra coordination to ensure everyone has them, and potentially an entire extra dicebox/dicebag to drag around/lose/forget. Maybe this isn't an issue for everyone, but it is for me - I've been using the same dicebox for 20+ years, and I don't want to ditch 1/5th the dice (or more - and it sounds like it would be more, based on how heavy they want to go with different die types!) just to make sure I can potentially give 4 players and me all their funky dice. And players will have difficulty finding/buying them themselves, in my experience. God and I'd have to separate them somehow too so they didn't get mixed in.
4) They cause most
players to completely lose the ability to estimate odds unless they're d6s - particularly as they rarely actually learn how many of each symbol are on each die - and god help us if you have same-size dice with different symbols.
And that makes the entire "tactical" or "decision-making" aspect of rolling funky dice go totally out the window!
Only a very specific kind of math-absorbent player retains the ability to understand the odds and make decisions relating to the dice on that basis - which is like, at best, 1 in 3 players (and I think that's being extremely generous - being realistic I'd say it's more like 1 in 5). This is a big one that MCDM has never acknowledged AFAIK and clearly from the playtest, didn't even understand (you could see it was happening on their Patreon article about the playtest - and it was confusing everyone - but they didn't see why - I should probably have posted something but the responses were so sycophantic/fan-ish/hype-y that I felt like it wasn't worth it).
And yeah as you say, because there were serious concerns with this, and MCDM didn't have any real answers, this turned into one of those negative feedback loops, where someone who doesn't have good answers re: an issue with their project, just gets increasingly defensive about it as it keeps being brought up, and then finally directs their anger at the people raising it, and starts attacking them. Which is super-gross and cringe.
I've seen it for decades - the first time I really identified it was with World of Warcraft. The first PvP honor system was described in detail, and immediately, people pointed out pretty much all the faults it would have, all the problems it would have, with truly remarkable accuracy. It was actually quite impressive. People were even rather polite about it, because Blizzard presented it as "subject to change" and that they were seeking feedback. Only apparently they weren't ready for these specific critiques, because they didn't have any answers for them, they just started saying "It'll be fine!" and "Don't worry about it!" and "You haven't played it, shut up!" and then eventually "You're all morons who suck and I will prove you wrong!" (this from the main designer). The critics were 100% correct. Everything they predicted would go wrong, did go wrong, and 2 years later the system was completely overhauled and changed on a fundamental level.
The sad thing is I think the "funky dice" issue could be handled okay even if they're determined to stick with it, but they've chosen as path of denial and rudeness, so they probably won't. The two big fixes I could see would be:
A) Sell high-quality funky dice, and make sure you do so at the absolute cheapest price you can manage - a zero-profit price. Do not sell, even as an option, low-quality versions of the dice. You can have some fancy-looking ones you do make a profit on too, of course, but you need to sell stuff that works and as cheaply as you can.
B) Provide a well-designed dice-rolling app for the game, with no ads, no bollocks, which preferably shows the percentage odds of each face-type for each die. I think they are planning a die-rolling app (though that may have just been something they said and then later forgot), but I am unconvinced it'll be focused correctly, and it only helps rather than solving the problem. Also, I know of a specific example with a game that never got released (but still might one day) that a friend-of-a-friend was working on, where showing the percentages basically created a "Oz curtain pull" situation about how the game worked, which was part of why it never got released. So I worry if they'd actually do that.