The thing I'm seeing here is a lot of people seem to have a different idea of what Tier 1 should represent. Should Tier 1 represent
a) a potentially crippling flaw in the character
b) a noticeable but manageable shortcoming or
c) not really be a problem at all
Each of these has merits.
a) Has the benefit of forcing characters to rely on eachother to cover their own weaknesses and allows for the greatest diversity of character concepts. On the other hand, someone might not fully realize the impact of taking Tier 1 and turn out not to enjoy their "broken" character. If the penalties are harsh enough (ie larger than the Tier 5 bonus), veteran players who understand the system might actually (shock horror) choose to play characters with arrays like 2/3/3/3/4 instead of 1/1/3/5/5.
b) Is kind of the balance of a) and c).
c) Results in the most "averagey" characters. This will lead to less lop sided characters and people are less likely to wind up with a character they don't like. Unfortunately, it kind of lets everyone do everything, resulting in a lot of characters that feel the same. Strangely enough though, since the penalties for Tier 1 are so low, veteran optimizers will always take builds like 1/1/3/5/5
Considering that we have Traits like 3d One Armed or 3d Dwarf to emulate seriously crippling character flaws, a good case could be made that the priorities shouldn't also have their own crippling flaws baked in. TROS was notorious for having really punishing Tier 1s, going so far as to give only 9 skill points at lowest rank or giving you a magic vulnerability for taking lowest rank in magic. That said, any of these would be a viable ways to make the game, depending on the intended feel. The problem is when you start mixing them together in the same game... Then things are open to min maxing and it gives a incoherent message.
Looking at the 0.1.3 Tier list, if I had to rate how I think each Priority sits at Tier 1 right now I would say that:
Social Class is in a). Assuming the GM will actually treat the player like the station demands and another player doesn't give them money. Combined with the Patron Trait to get equipment and a bit of social power, this could be a b)
Attributes is in b). You can make an attribute spread of 3/3/3/3/4, but that means you can't get 4 on any derived attributes. If you try to do something like get Grit 4, Perception 4 for combat you have to take an array like 2/2/4/4/4 and have 2 really terrible stats. You can play around those shortcomings though. It will hurt you on a few rolls, but won't really derail things like being a slave or noncombatant would.
Skills is in c) for sure. 25 is such a huge amount of skills that you can comfortably fill out an entire archetypes of the list at a good level. You can be a diplomat with 5 in Coercion, Manipulation, Command, Orate, Negotiation or you can be solid Soldier with 5 in Horsemanship, Warfare, Survival, Seamanship, Stewardship or even a full blown thief with 5 in each of Larceny, Legerdemain, Manipulation, Streetwise, Stealth. 5 in a skill at TN3 is 80% success against Req3, and that's before even considering help, drives, tapping, cascading and anything else. Plus, if you just want to be a specialist you can get up to rank 8 on Tier 1 and still have 17 left over to take 4 skills at rank 4.
Proficiency is in a). You have to seriously consider just running the hell away from a random street thug, or giving him what he wants. This can be mitigated down to a b) if you make yourself too important to hurt (Social class T5) or take a strong Retainer Trait to act as a permanent bodyguard.
Traits is in c) for sure. There is really no shortcoming from taking Tier 1 traits, you just don't get to have an army. You already get 2 traits for free and the 3 pts you get on top of that are enough to give you a significant Status or power. I don't know why a Tier 1 Trait should be able to afford things like a claim to ruler-ship to the kingdom, a captaincy of a local guard, or a national reputation. Just about the only thing it can't afford is a faction, but then you can split that cost between the party anyway. If you don't want 1 big trait, you can instead get 3 relationships or other small ones if you like.
In a strange way, this is coming back to a comment Agamemnon made about the Retainer Trait which I thought was funny.
Agamemnon wrote:A 9 point retainer would be be near-useless. That's like 2/2/2/2/1.
And I was thinking, near useless? really?.... there's not much difference between 9 point retainer and a fully fledged 15 point player character because Tier 1 sets such a high base compared to what each addition adds on top (for some priorities). Looking at the current system, I can get a 10pt retainer for 1 Trait (with an enemy) and build a bodyguard type character using the array 1/3/1/4/1
He's your slave, which works out as a good thing really. You have to pay for his stuff as a patron anyway so you might as well get the legal authority over them too.
Attributes I'll take Agility 6, Brawn 7, Cunning 2, Perception 3, Will 2
So i get BTV2, GTV1, Speed 6, Reflex 4 and perception 3 to help a bit
Skills, I'll just take 5 in each of Coercion, Horsemanship, Medicine, Teamster, Warfare because why not.
Proficiency take 9 in each of Polearm and Brawling, for total CP of 13 in each with GTV1 and BTV2
Traits take whatever relationship for 1pt and a 2d reputation that will help his coercion.
Sure, hes got weak perception and no ranged weapon specialization but he seems like he would give a lot of PCs a run for their money, and all that cost only 1 trait point. Mostly because it doesn't hurt at all to take Tier 1 in social class, skills and traits so you can focus on getting BTV2, GTV1 and a high proficiency.
That's a pretty minmaxed Retainer though, I'll admit. Trying to build a noble blooded squire for a knight would cost a lot more at almost no benefit.
EDIT: TYPO p65. Last sentence first paragraph missing capital at start of "Claims, factions..."