Personally I like Achaea and I've been playing it for about 10+ years (if you can't tell from my other posts). I started playing at an early age so I guess MUDs kind of spoiled the MMO experience for me. I've tried other MUDs, there was one I really liked before I started playing Achaea but they wanted $10 a month to play and I was just a kid at the time so I had to keep creating free trial characters.
I've spent about $600 or more on about 3 characters over the years and I'm decent at PvP. There are people who spend thousands of dollars in the cash shop and can steamroll you in like 15 seconds but lately the game has been gearing itself more towards team-based PvP where having cash shop items helps your team but not dramatically because both sides will have players with cash shop items.
I would say that getting into one-versus-one PvP and duelling people is very hard for a new person, but getting into team-based PvP like city versus city raids is pretty easy. And they've been doing a lot of promotions lately that give away free credits.
Combat systems are a little bit of a problem right now because they're becoming so dang smart. Back in the day a combat system was just a basic set of triggers that helped you cure a little bit better but there are public combat systems that block illusions from specific people, get your pipes out of your pack if you're forced to put them away, etc. I think we always knew that more and more advanced systems were going to be a problem as more advanced clients like Mudlet are released. But I also think the producers are starting to notice. There was a big thread on the Achaea forums about it.
I don't know who any of you play (or played) in Achaea but I hope you try a character in Shallam! Tis fun lately.