Well, I'm not a veteran, having only started playing CoC when the LCG came out, but I played a couple of games with the CCG cards (and also own a few hundred), so here's my take:
1) The LCG had its share of complex cards and at least some of the increase in card text can probably be attributed to trying to achieve better clarity (even if that sounds somewhat paradoxical). What is definitely true is that there are not as many cards with little or no card text. I actually like that, though, considering that the few 'plain' cards that came out are simply never used, e.g. who got excited about 'Bird Demon'? With over 1000 cards the card base is sufficiently large that we don't need more 'plain' cards.
Also, part of the reason for many 'plain' cards in the CCG was the different rarities of cards. In an LCG there's simply no reason for them, since all cards are equally rare.
2) This is somewhat related to 1) because in order for new cards to be different rather than simply more powerful, the designers basically have to add more card text, resulting in cards that are only situationally better. There is a notable increase in power if you look at the deck level but not necessarily on the card level. E.g. even before the Khopesh you could build decks around destruction, but it required adding pretty much all the cards to your deck that focused on destruction. Now, due to a larger card pool we have both more cards to choose from and require fewer of them at the same time (since the Khopesh is shuffled back into your deck). So, overall, yes, the power level has increased. It's quite possible that the power level is already where it once was (over even higher), but that would require a real veteran to judge.
3) Actually I think the faction's themes have been better preserved than in the CCG. In the CCG we often had cards that every faction received with little changes to them, e.g. every faction had the equivalent of the Itinerant Scholar or Legacy of Ramses. In the LCG there are fewer of these 'card sets', although there are some particularly in the last cycle, e.g. the new Necronomicons, Relic Hunters, and Prophesy cards. Seekers has been the first expansion where I had the feeling that a faction's theme has expanded considerably. I feel it's too early to tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'll reserve judgement until I've seen the cards in the next Deluxe expansion.
1) I like your example of Bird Demon, however, you could say that that card is probably underused and undervalued. "Commons" in the LCG could be creatively utilized by expanding the cardpool with greater synergies, i.e. cards that build off of traits. I like that about cards like Rope and Anchor Tavern and 607 Walter Street, but the cardpool isn't rich enough yet to really utilize those cards well (I wrote this as an implicit - well, now explicit - challenge for COCLCG. lol). I do like your point about the random booster model as a factor in "plain" cards, and didn't really consider it a huge factor because of how plain cards could be utilized in the pool. Think about serpents - outside of a tribal or theme build, these characters are certainly plain. Degenerate Serpent Cultist is a good 2-skill character, but becomes a lot better with all the support. Likewise Innsmouth Troublemaker is pretty plain until you put a Khopesh on him (but I guess you could say that of a lot of characters….haha).
2) I agree that the power level has probably surpassed the CCG era. I think support destruction is way too easy and prevalent, so cards like Fetch Stick (3-cost neutral attachment that gave a ton of icons and skill) which were all the rage just aren't as good in the current environment.
3) I'm torn as well. On the one hand, I don't think it would be good for all factions to get the ubiquitous "reduce the next X by 1" location and character, but I also think that it can't just stay in Shub as a faction theme imo, especially at the rate at which its ability to do so is increasing. We see it a little with tribal reducers in other factions.
I agree with most of what jhaelen said there. More text doesn't always mean more complex, in part this is because of the demand for greater exactness in card language and the need to differentiate new cards from old.
Also, it seems normal to me that a unique character (Jenica) might have more text than a regular character. That's pretty much true in any CCG/LCG I know of - unique characters are always more special or interesting with the drawback that you can only have one of them. And Bird Demon has 4 icons for cost 3. Not mind-bending, but decent basic efficiency.
Anyway, I didn't play back in the CCG days - I've always had an aversion to that sales model and refused to get into any such games. But, it seems to me that one of the reasons the CCG decks were strong was because there were so many discounts available allowing them to play a lot more high cost cards or characters. But, it's just not possible to have a good impression of comparitive power without having CCG-era experience.
The new boxed expansions are really by far the best way to introduce entirely new faction themes simply due to the number of cards you can put out at a time. The Asylum packs were hard going as it could take the better part of a year to get a new theme to the point where things started coming together plus you had the problem of not wanting EVERY card for a cycle to all be in the same theme.
I think once all the faction boxes are out (a long time I know) the game will be much enriched by it.
I agree that unique characters can often fill a niche in terms of a situational effect, but consider too a card like Pheobe Kotas, who is very simple and imo elegant in design. It just feels to me that cards like Capra, or any of the "Tome" characters are just more complex and situational just to force you to play Tomes. To me, forced synergy (having one option of interaction) is different than card effects that open up options to interact with other cards.
I played a few games with a guy who only had CCG cards, and like you said, they seemed to focus on getting in big dudes and powerful effects. Which is where I think the LCG is heading. I like the way the deluxe expansions are heading, but I hope the design team doesn't neglect existing themes. An example might be a card like Attack Dogs. I think there are 5 creatures in the card pool right now? And so Attack Dogs is pretty much worthless right now, but could be more utilized with the introduction of more creatures.
Now with SoK, there are at least 3 new themes that will have to be developed, when there arguably isn't a really viable student or faculty build right now. At least there was some support in the box, but I felt there could be more. I don't want to come off as overly critical - SoK is great! But I am a little worried about the power creep in the new Explorers, as well as the Ancient Ones.