I think I was one of the first pre-orders and just now sat down to play elemental. I could never get the beta to run on my old laptop, got the new one replaced, and heard all the bad stuff about Elemental so wasn't excited to dive in. In fact, I was pretty bitter for a while that I "wasted" my money but have gotten over it.
By way of background, I love deep and flavorful strategy games - my favorite is probably Dominions 3, but like lighter stuff, like HOMM or WBC. Warlords Battlecry 3 is light on strategy but rich on theme, humor and flavor. I really like the art style and attempt to meld various concepts together in Elemental, like unit design, magic research, adventure, etc. The problem I have with it is it feels quite generic under the hood, kind of like a spreadsheet. An example is the manual I got: Urxen: Another Fallen race, they are smaller than Trogs and are less effective in battle, but more productive" - that does nothing to fire up the imagination.
Here is what a couple minutes of thought could create: "Urxen are skittish and frenetic chittering humanoids that worship the fiery monkey demon Bloodfinger (husband of the moon goddess). They dwell in large temple complexes where the braziers unrelenting flames consume the sacrificial victims of outlying villages throughout the dry season until the torrential rains fall." In other words, the world of Elemental feels kind of flavorless and lonely to me. WHen I play the game, I have no sense for what my nation is like, what they believe in, and what am I doing. It feels like I am solving a math problem - do I get food or materials first?
I think there is a lot of potential there, and I don't mean to be a dick, I just would like to see some imagination go into the world so you can feel like there is something different about the kingdoms other than one has a technology bonus and one has a research bonus.