Alright, so after reviewing this here are my thoughts
To reply to Dvang's post:
I believe the roll on the Backstab is the roll made for the attack roll. It sounds like it's a contested check though, however those are resolved. Observation is a skill I believe so that's why I'm assuming its a roll. I don't know how base Characteristic (which use characteristics) + a skill (which uses skill dice) would easily transfer to a flat difficulty number (since the dice aren't the same, it would be a bit confusing on how many of x die types become challenge dice of what type, make sense?
(As a side note on that, I wish they would have told us how contested checks are made and I wish they would level with us what symbols are on what dice. How many axes are on the standard dice for instance? Is a fortune die/misfortune die better than skill dice, challenge dice, characteristic dice, etc.. It would really help us how these two factors (the dice and the mechanics of skill checks actually play out.)
The three black boxes are how many misfortune dice are added to the check when making the roll. For each additional ally engaged with the opponent, you remove one misfortune die from the attack, meaning you normally roll 1 challenge die and three misfortune die as the difficulty for the check. Lets say you've got two allies fighting the same opponent. Well, you'd only roll 1 challenge die and one misfortune die. I actually like that mechanic alot. It's clean and easy to use and pushes the notion of teamwork in the system.
As for the stance thing, remember in 101 it states you can move a stance 1 step in either direction. You can go more, but it takes fatigue and stress. While it is important, it is savable. I don't know how I feel about the stance meter. It's something I need to see in action before I can clearly say one way or another. Right now, my opinion is it's alright, but I don't know why it's completely necessary and may simply slow down the speed and simplicity/elegance of the system. Again, I have to wait and see.
I agree that the Critical system is vague right now and I truly hope they're not simply attached to cards. That will make it annoying and obviously, since Criticals are so good (at least they were before) I can see all Critical Causing abilities chosen first since they wound effects on major NPC's and the severity is a bunch of bonus wounds against antagonists. God I hope its on the roll.
I also hope the effects listed on the card aren't the only effects allowed, more of guidelines for the action itself. You're right, what happens if three or four successes are rolled. Are the rest ignored? What happens if you roll two banes or 3 banes, do you only get one +2 damage. I fear though, since they mention basic action cards and advanced action cards, the effects may be limited only to those expressed on the action cards. If that's the case, I feel it goes a little against the spirit of the game (at least as advertised) since we as players and GM's are supposed to be able to interpret a roll how we wish. Sure, as a GM or as players we can, but will we really be able to? For example, using Backstab as a basic action, you deliver +1 Damage for two successes on a Backstab attack. Then lets say the advanced backstab offers a +2 damage on 3 successes and a +3 damage on 4 successes. Well, since the advanced backstab will obviously cost advancement points, can you really push the value of the damage how you wish it without breaking the integrity of the system itself? Furthermore, if other players bought the advanced versions of their action cards, can you rule a basic action card as an advanced action card and still be fair to those other players. I don't know, I just see issues coming.
My number one concern was and still is, the recharge system. I know MMORPG'S are huge right now, but it works in a video game universe or with things that aren't natural, but people can backstab until the cows come home. You can say it's an awareness factor of the opponent, but fact is, his awareness contests the ability to pull off the backstab, so it's really not a good explination. It makes absolutely no sense you can't parry every turn, none what so ever because people are always parrying attacks coming at them. It also won't make sense with Super Smash powers where you can swing your sword as hard as you want time and time again, but it'll just tire you out probably a bit quicker than always super smashing. Also, saying the opportunity doesn't present itself is a roleplay call, not an arbitrary gaming mechanism that has the illusion of "balancing powers" where it really doesn't. I'm sure advanced versions will probably allows these cards to recharge faster. For instance a Parry you can use every turn instead of every other turn. Other cards may allow you to recharge your cards faster, but that is ALOT of book keeping and deals way to heavily with the minusha of the system rather than focusing on the narrative elements (which this game supposedly focuses on more than most games).
There is just a million other ways to handle these mechanics without having to go the MMO route. For instance when playing DnD you should be able to Whirlwind (attack all foes engaged with you once) until the cows come home. The only limitation is, if you're going that fast, your attacks would be overall less accurate and it would wear you out faster. So logic would state doing it over and over again, in a system sense, would give you fatigue. It would be easy to say you gain fatigue everytime you use it (after the first time) or you gain fatigue everytime you use it until the card refreshes. I don't know, but its better than you can never use it again until x amount of turns pass. What if you are about to die fighting a dragon. You bet your a** you're going to power attack as many times as you can just to stay alive. So why on earth would you be like, ope, I did that last round and I can't do that again until I recharge. Just makes no sense.
All I'm saying is video games don't have to be concerned with simulationist elements because they are in no way an attempt to simulate reality (except a few, but those are normally called simulations). Roleplaying is stuck between a sim game and a game game. A good mechanic, visualizes and finds way to get access to that midground. Recharging isn't even close, it's a game thing designed to keep "balance" or limit the super-awesome-smash powers. That limitation, to me, is easy. Just don't print them so the entire system isn't forced into an arbitrary recharge mechanic. Because, afterall, why does parry take less time to recharge than Backstab? Really, they are about as equally difficult. Oh, his back is open: Stab. Oh, a sword is coming at my face: Parry. You see? No sense.
I just don't like it. There will be changes at my house when it comes to recharge. Of course I'll try it a few times first, but I'm almost 90% positive, I'm taking the recharge rule out back and I'm going to put it down like a lame horse.