How is combat handled and how many units will you be fighting with? Will you have different armies?
Combat takes place on a tactical map made of hexes. Some important notes to make: your hero fights in battles directly, alongside his troops; and units do not stack - every unit in your army is a single creature. In total, the largest army you may field is 16 units - that’s two complete rows.
You can have any army you like. There are about 70 units you can hire. They are divided into four ranks by their basic stats, in every rank there are ‘good’ and ‘evil’ units (their karma), ranged and melee ones, those who rely on magic, flying units, etc. A hero can only lead a limited number of units of each rank, so the puny 1st rank levies never really go out of fashion - a couple of mighty minotaurs cannot replace half a dozen of pikemen, only compliment them.
Could you explain the different kinds of heroes that lead your armies? Will they level up during the game? Can you equip them?
There are four basic hero classes. A Warrior is pretty straight-forward class, he specializes in brute force approach and has the most hit points and best melee stats. A Commander can lead a much bigger army than any other hero of comparable level, his attributes mainly focus on improving the units under his command. A Scout focuses on ranged combat and utility skills; he can explore provinces quickly and gather resources efficiently. Finally, a Wizard is all magic, unable to use any kind of armor and shields, so you have to be very careful with him in the first stages of your game.
Naturally, your heroes gain levels as they earn experience, and can equip a plenty of items, from basic swords and chainmails to bracers, necklaces and war banners. As the heroes grow in levels, they get better at fighting, leading troops and spellcasting, and you are given a choice which of their special abilities to develop. Once they reach level 10, they are eligible for one of 4 (per each basic class) prestige classes, allowing them to hone their native abilities to perfection or to gain access to the abilities of another basic class - and a host of unique benefits as well.
Do the other units in your armies gather experience and levels? What other stats affect them? Will you be able to customize your units?
Yes, the rank and file units level up too. Often, a veteran trooper of a lower rank can easily surpass a rookie unit of a higher rank, so normally you don’t want to use them as expendable cannon-fodder (or devil-fodder, so to speak...). When the unit gets a new level, you can upgrade one of his characteristics or pick some new skill or ability.
If you’ll appoint a Commander as a general for your army, his abilities will contribute to the stats of your units. The army morale is also affected by the units’ alignment – a company of all-good or all-evil troops will receive a morale bonus, while a mismatched band of units who hate one another suffers from a penalty.
Sometimes, you get to award your units for outstanding combat performance. This improves their attributes, but their upkeep cost increases as well.