My game balance is as follows:
I reduce points to simple offensive/defensive points (instead of a slew of attributes - STR, INT, DEX, etc... that only cause game devs headaches trying to balance throughout the game experience -- not everything has to be D&D peeps!) and add a Proficiency Modifier that increases proficiency (per character level) of the offensive "weapon" / defensive "shield" that the player chooses to mostly use based on the personality of the character they wish to play (keeping ROLE-PLAYING king, keeping game balance intact).
This means that no matter what weapons/armor a PC wishes to use at the start of their new level, they ALL have the same effect, averaging out damage per turn (therefore the choice is simply a role-playing aesthetic), until you actually use one more often than the other.
However, the more damage done by a certain weapon choice, or the more defense done by a certain defensive, will receive behind the scenes Proficiency Points that increase their favorite weapon/defense's proficiency during that character level.
At each level, the character can choose to abandon their particular off/def strategy, or keep it in tact. This is, again, a role-playing choice, with NO advantage/disadvantage upon arriving at the new level until the player decides to use one tactic (OFF vs. DEF) over another, at which point they will accumulate (behind the scenes) Proficiency Points for using their favorite weapon/defense.
The caveat here is that once you level up, your now under-levelled weapons and defense still hit as hard/protect as much as your level demands, but they also become less effective (until they don't work at all -- weapons/shields break, magic loses it's off/def oomph), on an exponentially descending scale, forcing the player to reevaluate it's use of under-levelled weapons/defense tactics, over upgrading their favs to the current level (for a price, of course), or finding weapons they would rather have that's copacetic with their current level.
This allows for players to upgrade their favorite weapons/defensive measures (for a price) to their current level or journey (quest or explore) to find better weapons that suit their current level (once again, keeping the game balance intact).
The overriding point is, Role-Playing should not be forced into classes, My toga wearing, staff-wielding monk should be able to do as much damage per level as a steel-armoring wearing, sword-slashing tank. (this whole idea, btw is relegated to a single player CRPG so that comparisons between what IS and what COULD BE is eliminated). You simply play AS YOU WISH TO PLAY, and no harm is done by choosing a "class" over another "class" based on a bevy of stats.
It all falls apart, I think, when playing pen-and-paper. :)