@werekin... We started playing with Swords of the Empire immediately after it was released. My group thoroughly enjoyed the rules and it definitely encouraged us to take Hired Swords in the hope of getting blood pacts. It is a trade-off since there is no guarantee when a blood pact will be achieved and the upkeep for a Hired Swords can come at the expense of hiring warriors and purchasing equipment. It is too long ago to remember if we had any specific feedback. (I suspect that I would have mentioned it here if we had any though.)
I also enjoyed the narrative opportunities that that the rules provided. One of the highlights was my Gunnery School of Nuln warband from our Border Town Burning campaign that went to Cathay in search of riches (The Lure of Fortune objective) but got caught up in the wider struggle. The failure to acquire Cathayan Silk together with the warband members kicking out a hero due to mutation (Corrupted Characters rules - Post Battle Report
) was leading the warband losing confidence in my Leader. I was waiting for my Leader to die (likely not to be missed by anyone in the warband) and for my Dwarf Treasure Hunter with a blood pact to become the Leader. Alas, we never finished our Border Town Burning campaign due to three people in our gaming group moving away and I never got to see the full story unfold for my unfortunate warband.