To be honest I've expected more from Elemental. Even with 1.1 patch I've played only two games. Not so challenging, not so engaging, I've completed master quest exploiting AI's tactical dumbness - felt like cheating. Other games were buggy too, but... So, list of strategies:
God Tier - Victoria 2 & Europa Universalis 3: Divine Wind
They were buggy and disbalanced but they've eaten and chewed me. Very very good.
Nice tier - Company of Heroes (I'm slow, I know), Starcraft 2.
I've tried both and didn't complete the campaign. Partly because I thought too high of myself and played highes difficulty, partly due too old configuration and lagginess.
Not so nice tier - Distant Worlds, Elemental, Civilization.
Distant Worlds and Elemental look similar to me. Very ambitious. Big scale. But both fail to deliver the awesomeness. Both are disbalanced, leave me nothing to do, have passive AI and uncomplete diplomacy... Elemental is at least beautiful. And in Elemental I still feel like I'm governing - Distant Worlds doesn't need me at all.
Civilization 5 looked cool but was much easier and not so complex as Civ IV. It has awesome parts (graphics, combat, city state system, culture...) but lefts out too much. Waiting for addons.