I just voted for "I love it." For me, the whole package is inspiring enough to keep coming back, despite its flaws. It's one of the first new strategy games I've really gotten excited about. As for the state of the game at release, well, I can't say I was thrilled, but even then I liked it enough to spend days fixed to my PC playing away. And even if follow-up support doesn't excuse a buggy release, it does lessen the pain somewhat, and so far support has been great. Most of all, I think Elemental is tons of fun now and has huge potential. Some specific notes:
- love the customization, especially the unit, map, and faction editors. Hope to see more in the future. Kinda wish that there were true random maps, though...
- love the feel of Civ + fantasy strategy. City development is engaging and the tech tree is just great - most techs give you something fun to play with right away.
- the game seems to have a decent amount of flair. I don't recall playing MoM, so I can't say how original it is. I'm happy with the story and the world it's told in.
- combat is fun, but could be better. Other, better posts have already addressed this, but I would second the posters on these issues:
- one-hit kills are all the rage, and it's too easy to develop your entire military strategy around them
- AI doesn't seem to use offensive magic enough
- the defense stat is wonky
- tactical AI is too predictable, and lets itself be suckered into moving within range of YOUR attack, then having to wait a turn while
you one-hit-kill it
- ah, maces and warhammers. Is there any motivation to use anything else? Even economically, they seem to be the only kind
of weapon that makes sense, and the speed penalties don't seem to curve their death dealing very much
- great graphical style. Anime-esque, but not TOO anime-esque
- there are still CTD's and other stability issues, and the maps get sluggish as they fill up late game
- the AI, at least on lower diff. levels, tends to send a lot of lone units on suicide missions. I have noticed that it sends decent-sized armies
from time to time, though, and I never felt like it was unplayably broken
- on the whole, the game is just a lot of fun