First, one thing: I don't care about modding, never modded anything, never applied a mod, don't want to fiddle into a game's files. The most I do is patching, and downloading a scenario from someone. I'm a computer nut, Ok, and I buy games to play them, no to redesign them. I don't care about modding, I don't care about multiplayer and I play on computer because it can take something complex and let me play without it be complicated.
The casual players will buy Elemental.
Don't understimate that: I don't have a clue of the objectives they have set for Elemental, but probably selling is one of them. I don't think hardcore gamers can produce enough sales for a game like this.
The casual players. What do they think?
The casual players will know this game will be some 4X fantasy game so "the casual players" are "the casual 4X players", which is much less than the casual players of WoW, RTS, RPGs, ...
Then, if they want to buy Elemental, they probably knew/played the other games of fantasy.
Now, WHAT will they think, those casual 4X fantasy players?
- "YEAH, I want to play Dark Elves, they are so cool! I want to crush those Dwarfs in their fortresses, and the Hobbits!" Then they get told: sorry, no fantasy races to play with; you have to mod them or wait until someone do.
- "YEAH, I like going into those strange alternate underground/underwater/astral planes as in MoM or AoW. I want to create a mighty Kingdom of Moria or Kazad-Dum or Menzoberanzan, and then go conquer the surface world!" Then they get told: sorry, no alternate plans.
- "YEAH, tactical combat with magic, I love it: heroes with protective armors and artifacts, troops with special abilities and resistances against fire/cold/lightning/poison/physical damages like in AoW and Dominions, that makes for strategic and epic battles." then they get told: sorry, all magic spells/weapons do the same kind of damage.
After that, what will be the reaction of your casual player? "Gneuh, that's lame, they told us it would be like MoM2 and we end with Medieval Civ and a few good-looking spells." So I wouldn't read too much into what they say on other forums. If they wanted to be heard, they would come here to tell it.