I’m also against game difficulty due to Buy Blade And Soul Gold interface/mechanics. (Which is what I think you’re calling arbitrary difficulty), however I’m not sure it applies in this case.
Less buttons = easier. I’m sorry, Only having to worry about ~10 keys is far easier than the veritable dozens some other games require. So, again, have to disagree.
Admittedly, I’m not all that familiar with the whole stance concept. I haven’t gotten terribly far into the game. For as far as I’ve gotten, only my Force Master and Blade master really have what I’d call “stances”. (and at least so far, my blade masters “stance” only lasts for a short time, and only has 1 or maybe 2 skills she can use while in it, though I suspect that changes?). My Kung Fu Master, Assassin, and Destroyer don’t really have what I would call “stances” that you toggle between, at least not yet. The Kung fu can just grapple (for a bit), The assassin (like most rogues) can stealth (for a bit), and the destroyer can grab (for a bit) For the most part they’re more like just moves in a combo chain. Many fighting games actually have things like that.
The only character I have that has an absolute definite “stance” (so far) is the force master. Entering either the ice stance or the fire stance, pretty much at will. Each with a full and completely independent set of abilities. And I have to admit, to me the force master seems like a fairly lame afterthought, that doesn’t really work that well with the games mechanics.
Note: The one thing I will agree with is the cooldowns. I’d be inclined to argue that the skills should be designed such that any skill available in a subposition should always be off cooldown whenever you enter the subposition. Whether the act of entering the subposition clears it, or the cooldown for the “enter” skill is shorter than the cooldown for the “in subposition” skill.
Also, skills that have a “proactive” condition requirement (such as Destroyers grab) that can be self triggered in multiple ways, should have some UI treatment that lets you Cheap Blade And Soul Gold know what their cooldown is