My 2 cents to this discussion. Firstly, I think any game suffers to some extent from people annoyed with arena settings. This ranges from player count (can we please appreciate that at least TM arena is still 4p) to very specific settings. This gets exponentially worse when the number of potential settings increases, as it becomes less and less likely that there is actually a majority concensus on the overall settings.
Moreover, I think since the guru system this annoyance has increased, since the guru system gives a sence of "community influence and agreeance" on game settings, despite all the known flaws / issues / quirks with how gurus work. One thing that used to happen for Terra Mystica (a rotating set of settings) would seem like a good solution to me (we could alternate between various popular settings) but that's actually much harder to achieve within the guru system constraints.
As for my personal preferences, I think this season is too early for Fan Factions, primarily because they are still undergoing active changes to them. I don't think many (if any at all) factions are currently TOO strong or TOO weak to not be able to solved by auction. However, this is an actual issue for turnbased games, since any changes made to the factions also apply to ongoing turnbased games, and so suddenly the rules of the factions might get changed mid-game, which is an obvious issue. For future seasons though, I wouldn't be opposed to adding them provided they are in their final form.
I haven't had a ton of experience with F&I factions, but I do think they make the game too chaotic for my liking: the new factions create an asymmetry and imbalance not seen with base factions / fan factions with respect to the colorwheel. Firstly, F&I factions can dig any hex into their special terrain, but special terrains can't be dug into any other terrain. Secondly, one of the best aspects of TM in my opinion is the color wheel and the fact that some hexes are easier to reach for you and others are harder, and this gives a good sense of which hexes are accessible for which faction and vice versa (Giants are the only exception here). However, for fire & ice faction this entire distinction disappears and they usually only care about "is this someone's home terrain or not". These two make expansion a lot more unpredictable (and targeting also somewhat easier), and I guess it's personal preference on whether to include this. I personally wouldn't like it in arena, but wouldn't be opposed to alternating season between F&I factions included and excluded as I think there's a decent playerbase interested in F&I factions.
Lastly, I don't want to speak for others, but let me give some potential / my personal answers to some of your questions
So just to clarify do you think fan factions go against the spirit of TM and if yes how so?
I don't think fan factions go against the spirit of TM, although the F&I fan factions arguably do. I think the main reasons for this have been mentioned above.
If the base game is complex enough for tens of thousands of games shouldn't the fan factions make it complex enough for even more games? This doesn't go against why fan factions shouldn't be included.
I think the argument here is that including fan factions might make it *too complex*. People who want to enter arena now need to learn doubly as many factions (and know how to play them). Think of an extreme case where multiple extra sets of factions come out, and now there are 10 options per color, so 70 total factions. Including all of them would lead to lower quality games, since people suddenly need to master all these factions, and mastering a single faction in a game as deep and long as TM already is quite a feat.
Why is someone as talented as you be opposed to mastering the fan factions? Most the players who have been playing for years have at least 1000 games under their belt. Why not take on a bigger challenge? Also me personally if i am a new player I might start off with the base factions. But then I am going to want to take off the training wheels. I don't see how a player who has access to all of the new factions would turn them down.
This comes down to personal preference I would say. For me even after a couple hundred games playing with "just" base factions doesn't feel like I'm playing with training wheels by any means. I still feel like I'm improving my gameplay in certain situations, for certain factions, and play gameplans and lines I haven't really played before. And I also still get absolutely smashed at times and learn new things about these factions. Let's say that players with 600+ ELO and 1000+ games are at a point where they 85% understand the base factions. They can either be satisfied with that and now move on to new factions, or they can continue playing until they feel like they understand the base factions 95%, 99%, 99.9%, ..... I think whichever option is preferred is highly personal, but as long as people still enjoy the game in the settings they're playing, there's nothing wrong with that.
You must be the life of the party (haha). But seriously this is not shaking things up. Taking away some of these options makes the game more bland and it is what turned me away from arena initially.
I think he's saying that we can also add those options back in. We can alternate between various permutations, and yeah, maybe now some of those might have been taken away, but we can add them back in to still create some more diversity. It's definitely much lower impact than doubling the number of factions available, but still has an impact. Personally I'd throw back in landscapes in a heartbeat since I think they make the weaker factions more viable more often!