...isn't it a chord monster, rivaled only by a piano? In my experience it totally is, as any theoretically known chord can be easily played.
I don't think anyone who has tried the English has said it's not good for playing chords. What is considered between difficult and impossible is to play a constant chordal background simultaneously with a melody moving at a lively pace.
As for the piano being the only rival for chording, I would add to that at least the lute, guitar, and various other stringed instruments.
Second, is a question: the entire layout is genius, however, I am simply curious as to what would happen if the layout of accidentals was a logical half step say, either up or down from main rows, and not as it currently is distributed according to a more frequent use of those sharps and flats?
That I can tell you. The basis of the Wheatstone ("English") layout is, like most Western music, the diatonic scale.
The center two columns in each hand form the diatonic C scale. The pattern of playing along the (diatonic) scale alternates between the hands, and in each hand, successive notes are on opposite sides of the center line. The arrangement of the accidentals ensures that the same pattern of alternations, with only slight adjustments between inner and outer columns, holds true for the "most common" 8 of the 12 standard keys. They "feel" essentially the same.
What you would get in a layout with all the notes of the outer columns being a half step away from their adjacent inner-column notes is simply two parallel diatonic scales half a step apart, one inboard of the other. If, e.g., the outer buttons were all a half step higher, then the doubly-alternating pattern would still work for keys with sharps (and in fact, for more of them than with the current system), but it would break down for keys with flats and would depart further and further from the simple alternations with each added flat.
What's more, with the current system, that same doubly-alternating pattern -- which easily transfers from a conscious pattern to a muscular habit -- also fits various klezmer and other "non-Western" scales/modes. Just select a different set of accidentals for your scale -- e.g., a G-to-G scale with Ab, Eb, and F# -- and you'll find that the music is hardly "Viennese", but that same doubly-alternating pattern is still there... both in the "logic" and in the muscles.
And it's not just scales. It's often noted that standard triad chords -- major and minor -- can be formed as triangles entirely on one end or the other. That's another pattern that would break down for many common keys if the half-step shifts of the outer columns were all in the same direction.