Wow, that takes up a good part of the game right there.
I'd offer that it's needed more early on than later - heck, even my L30 mage has 300+ hp by now. I can hack and cleave through most critters, whereas early on when everyone could be taken out by a few dragonflies, well, that's when a nice fireball would hae come in handy!
OTOH, I can appreciate that you actually have to pay attention to what you do, and have a real strategy. You just can't blunder along and bash everything.
Same goes for money. Usually in MM you're as rich as Croesus by the time you hit L15! This time around I actually had to work to raise money to pay for the next round of training!
Now that I have GM merchant it's not a big problem, but that didn't happen overnight.
All in all, I wish they'd have used quite a number of the elements of MM9 in the earlier games.