What was supposed to make Elemental special? Why were we supposed to buy it instead of dusting off the old MoM and AoW and Civ games?
Does the release version of Elemental deliver on the promises that were made regarding Elemental being special?
Elemental will be overhauled pretty much from the ground up. I think it's important to step back and try to remember the original vision for Elemental -- and what was supposed to make it special.
The overhaul shouldn't diminish the specialness. If specialness has been lost the overhaul needs to restore it.
Fast is slow, slow is fast. A rush to overhaul can result in a working game but lose sight of the 'vision thing'.
Everyone has their own idea of what was supposed to make Elemental special to them, and how well that was met in release. No one view is right or wrong, they're just different.
What made Elemental special to me is a few basic concepts:
-Essence. Essence isn't mana, it's more. Mana powers spells, Essence powers channeling and the restoration of the land. In beta there were a lot of great suggestions for Essence -- creating special items, not otherwise creatable (more than normal magically enchanted items). Items like special creatures or land features. Things that were otherwise undo-able.
In release I'll argue that essence is merely mana.
-Shards. Shards were supposed to be arguably the most important feature -- it's where magic was confined, it's what channelers learned to control to become channelers and to then overthrow the Titans and first destroy then restore the lands (or however the lore goes...). Originally in beta shards were needed to even cast most spells (no fire shard? No can cast fire spells). Then shards became useless, and a game could be played without ever claiming one.
In release, shards are merely spell damage multipliers. Now that's nothing to sneeze at, but it's a far cry from their original importance.
-Dynasties. Dynasties is a cool idea, but they never intended it to allow succession upon a Sov's death. Many argued for this option, but it was emphatically rejected. So, this wasn't promised (and the non-promise was successfully delivered in release), but it could be a feature that offers a promise of how Elemental separates itself from many other games.
-Small but puissant Kingdoms being viable. This wasn't promised, but the concept of city-spamming not being the no-brainer strategy was given some support by several of the devs (their posts to this effect are searchable and still around). Some will argue that this isn't a feature that would make Elemental special, but I don't think arguing it is is unreasonable.
So, what was supposed to make Elemental special to you, and how did it turn out at release? And if something needs 'fixing', how to do it?