1) If you're playing, say, with 4 other people online, you don't have to watch 2 other people having a tactical battle afaik. The tactical fighting itself is a lot more simplistic when compared relative to AoW:SM, however that isn't to say it is too simple or not fun. EWOM tactical fights seem a lot more like MoM tactical battles than AoW:SM highly-complex ones. THe plus size is that battles in Elemental should go a lot faster, even when fought turn by turn tactically. The only thing I miss in Elemental that AoW:SM had is walls in the city fights. Instead (to the best of my knowledge, I could be wrong) of a physical wall, you get a defensive bonus depending on how powerful the wall is.
2) Not that i know of yet. However, you create a 'ruling wizard' much like you did in AoW:SM and you can equip him/her with numerous items and weapons. And the creation process for making your soveriegn is far far more advanced than AoW:SM.
3) There's not a super dragon unit you could 'create' like you could if you were playing the lizardmen/draconians in AoW series.
4) There is just one level to the world.
5) Elemental has simultaneous turns as well.
As another huge AoW:SM fan, here's a couple more thoughts:
-unlike AoW, Elemental has multiple paths to victory (research ultimate spell, adventure to create ultimate forge, not just conquest) so that in and of itself will give this game a far greater richness.
-unlike AoW, the ai should be able to cast all the spells you can
-unlike AoW:SM, the ai will be able to found settlements (the fact that the AoW:SM ai could not effectively create and manage pioneers was imo it's single greatest shortcoming)
-while I really like the graphics and art of Elemental, it might seem a little sparse compared to the lush and dense environments of AoW:SM
-Elemental has a lot more resources to manage than AoW:SM, which, if I recall, mainly had mana and gold