I didn't want to make a journal entry on this but would rather talk directly to you guys on what we have in mind.
We don't like that players have to use so much essence to build up cities right now.
Instead, the plan is to require essence to still revive land but the land will spread out more quickly (it'll become more apparent why in the full 3D engine). So while you will still need to spend essence if you want to spread across large swaths of the map, you won't need to use it to build a city 8 tiles away. Instead, cities will cost 100 materials to build -- a big sacrifice at the start of the game but not a big deal later.
We don't want to gimp essence too much because you'll need that essence to imbue your heroes and start casting some cool spells.