To sum this wall of text up in one sentence:
If you have 30 ways to fail at progressing you should have 60 ways to get back at that point and try again, ingame, without spending euros.
I've read the whole thread. I am a returning player, been playing on and off. Decided to get back to the game recently and it saddens me to see that the game has become so much p2w. It wasn't like this before. In my opinion spending euros should not be the main way of progressing. I personally wouldn't mind buying something now and then, but I don't like the notion that the shop is the only way to rely on in terms of good progress.
Most of the players are not "whales" and IMO this should be seriously understood by game's publishers. Those individuals who spend thousands of euros in the shop need a community and a player base, they need an environment in which to dwell, after all. If the "small fish" is happy and is growing (and this is done through providing reliable INGAME means of progress, no matter how long and grindy, but still rewarding) then large fish will also be happy.
Just my two cents.