Wow. Just... wow. I'm not sure I've ever supported a game that actually turned around and made my word of mouth of questionable honesty before. Word of mouth advertising works specifically because there's no incentive for the customer. The customer likes it enough to spread the word without ulterior motive. Cause the listener to assume we're doing it for kickbacks, and the word of mouth is useless. What Stardock will get, if the "army" concept sees heavy adoption, is not word of mouth, but inescapable white noise advertising.
That's not even considering the pitfalls of, "Waah, Stardock didn't give me the maximum points for my totally awesome post buried in a 50 page thread on GameFAQs!" (God forbid someone get a submission rejected altogether.) Inevitably, someone will get butthurt, and start complaining loudly on public forums about how the whole promotion is a sham, and Stardock is a pack of liars. (Please note, I am not leveling that accusation, but it WILL happen sooner or later when someone doesn't get their way.)
Consider also, the risks of "whisper down the alley." That's a natural part of any communication that goes person to person, but with Elemental still in a state of total flux, changing day by day, and new concepts being proposed with fanfare only to be rejected a week or two later, how much of what the army gets out there is going to be accurate for long? I'm not proposing that we shouldn't discuss Elemental at all until it's gold, but pushing for people to talk about what they love best en masse while that beloved feature might yet be dropped seems like a good way to get random people to rush, pre-order, and call shenanigans. Imagine if the army program had been announced not so long ago, and someone had posted somewhere that tactical combat would be real time. Is it really a great idea to spread the word super aggressively before we even know for certain what the word is?
Finally, while those of us who have pre-ordered have in fact seen some of Elemental, how much praise can we lump on a game that's not out yet without coming off as witless fanboys? Where attracting attention to a pre-release title is concerned, I'm much more interested in facts about a final product (which remain quite limited) than the energy of the community. If all it took to make a great game was an energetic, enthused pre-release fanbase, Age of Conan would be raking in the money right now. Instead, there's been a lot of "I joined it because my friends did, but man, did it suck!" and "LOL, fanboys." I'm not suggesting that an MMO and a 4x are comparable games at all, but overenthused fanbases promoting unfinished product ARE comparable.
The whole program is pre-mature, and extremely ill-advised. Let's not be "those guys."
Edit: Apologies to Gorstagg--I was writing this over a fairly long period of time, and your post wasn't in place when I started. Your tone and post are quite rational, and you are absolutely not the "butthurt" fan I warned would come to pass in my post!