In my opinion, portals are a core element of Arkheim, and very important to avoid spending 50% of a round just walking to your borders (or wherever you place it). Internally in my realm we have discussed portals, and I have seen some discussion about them here on the forums and on discord. In my opinion portals are very strong, so I have some suggestions based on discussions that I think will make portals more balanced.
1. Change instant travel to speed modifier
I think that the most broken thing about portals are, that they allow instant travel. Within seconds (depending on server lag ) you can cross your realm.
This makes them extremely easy to defend, and defend against split attacks in both ends on your realm. Positioning of your troops is not very important, if you have placed the portals in sensible locations.
The instant travel also makes it very viable to setup camp in the other end of the map, and fight enemies you "shouldn't have been able to fight" with your ascension spot, ex. what we saw happen to Murx. So in my opinion instant travel makes big coalitions very viable, as they do not need to consider travel time limitations, if only they can manage to get a portal online.
So, to the suggestion. Change portal to give a speed boost when travelling to them, ex 100% or 500%, instead of instant travel. You can still get around pretty fast then, but you're not able to cross the realm (or island) in a matter of seconds.
This will make them harder to defend, and to defend against split attacks. It doesn't ban island spanning coalitions, but makes them less viable (at least to gang up on 1 realms), and makes it more of a strategic choice with pros and cons.
2. Make portals upgradeable
Extending the first suggestion, then portals could be upgradeable, ex. with a soul energy cost. Then a portal would maybe start with a 100% speed boost, and could be upgraded to 500% or even 1000%. This allows for more strategic considerations. Do we upgrade our portal to get to the frontline asap, but then have weaker WLs (because we can't afford as many of those damn expensive runes), or do we focus all on making beasty WLs and then accept movement will be a bit slower. If a realm can upgrade their portals it can make fighting in far away lands a bit easier, but that comes with a price.
3. No refill in portals
Okay, this might be a bit controversial. Remove the possibility of refilling WLs in the portal. As the system is now, it makes sense that you can do it, but if there's actual travel time involved this should be removed. This makes upgrading the portals much more important, and after fighting you still have to move troops to the area of fighting again, which gives small defence advantage the closer you're fighting to your ark compared to the enemy. And also
So, these changes don't all need to be implemented, but I think #1 would really do some good to how the portals work in the game. This is a pretty big nerf to portals, but I also think they need it. I would love to hear everyone's opinions on this matter