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"Cascading replication looks interesting - does it support the topology that I mention where the master has a subset of the [tables??] from the slaves and the slaves can be written to?"

No. Cascading replication basically means that you can replicate from slaves to other slaves, rather than always replicating from the master. That allows you to form hierarchies, which is I thought what you meant by "tiered".

The current built-in replication is a form of phsyical replication, meaning that data pages are (more or less) identical on the master and slave. What you want is logical replication, which is being actively worked on now as a part of core postgres.

In the meantime, there are external logical replication systems like Slony, Bucardo, and Londiste. Slony is deserving of a reputation for being complex, but it's being actively developed and can be used for everything you mention (based on the very high level descriptions that you gave). I understand that "not in core, and hard to use" are pretty damning for a lot of cases, but it really does get the job done. And hopefully there will be in-core solutions in later versions of postgres.

"I don't mean this to be MySQL vs PostgreSQL, but MySQL has had these features for over 10 years and the kinks are already worked out."

I'm glad to hear that it's working for you.

"My X,Y, and Z list has been unchanging for 5 years"

For future reference, all of these features will fall under the heading "logical replication". When you see that, if it doesn't have all of the features you need, then they are probably going to arrive soon.

Postgres has had external logical replication (e.g. Slony) this whole time, which I think has somewhat reduced the demand to invest huge amounts of work in core. It looks like it fell short for your use case, unfortunately; and hopefully the current logical replication in core project will not.

Thank you for the clarification about the PostgreSQL terminology. That will help me keep track of the progress. I am very pleased that the PostgreSQL community has finally started implementing native logical replication, which is really one of the biggest obstacles to widespread adoption.

Slony, in a word, is awful. It's probably as good as it can be given the limitations of working within a trigger-based world, but in the 3 years I spent maintaining Slony clusters, I lost count of the number of times that I had to take a site offline (sometimes for hours) in order to rebuild from scratch because of a failed schema change. Many times, I was able to recover by careful manipulation of the sl_events table, but far too frequently, the error was unrecoverable. Slony is slow, unreliable, not tolerant of high latency connections, and fragile. It was always one of my greatest frustrations that the PostgreSQL community saw it as a solution given how completely unreliable it is. Perhaps things have changed in the 2 years since I last touched it, but I am skeptical.

Please try to understand that my few objections to PostgreSQL come from actual real world experience with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, not from reading blog posts. Both products have great features as well as unpolished turds...it's just a matter of deciding which color of poop you are willing to clean out of the diaper. :)

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