I'm back to the game after almost eight years. Took some friends with me. I was very actively playing Conflict of Nations for good few years (I think I started to do so some time after atwar, resigned mostly bc game was becoming more and more pay to win. Friends were trying to bring me back for long time, but I don't have time for it and fricking around with gold players). Finally idea came to my mind: try atwar again, there were no such a issues with p2w and it's turn based, so my times issues will not be a problem. Those are main reasons why I came back (and that I wanted to reconnect with my game buddies).
Main reason why I left was that I felt it's taking too much time for me to gain strategies I need to compete with higher level players (probably I was wrong about reasons of my issues, but it doesn't change my perception from that time). It seems I was playing for about 100 days.
For getting more players I can suggest going Steam. I'm surprised actually that this game ain't there already. Though you're correct that current state of atwar as you described it, could be counterproductive. Also, I would suggest pointing out in ads unique features of this game which are (for me :P): it's not pay to win (most of similar games are imho) + easy to play for busy people (turns). Basing on my CoN experience and looking at atwar, I would say improving graphical quality of this game would help too. It's a bit antic
I know it's not most important, but it's important to have fun, and fun is coming also from things like interface and pretty view
Your post Dave is fantastic. I really hope this game will not only survive but flourish as I intend to stay here for a long time.