I took several patches/weeks off from Elemental after release and only this weekend decided to dive into it again. I am happy to say I was able to play a medium size map with 6 opponents from beginning to end! I'm not going to say everything went flawlessly, because it certainly didn't, but thanks to the recent patches I was able to play and actually have fun with the game for the first time. Stardock has made a lot of changes since 1.0, and the game certainly plays quite a bit differently (in a good way, in my opinion).
- When Mounted troops attack, or counter attack, there is a long pause. When I attack with one of my mounted mace troops the initial swing occurs immediately, but there is then a long delay before I can move that unit or attack again. If I am attacked by an enemy troop, there is a long delay which occurs prior to my mounted troop counter attacking. None of my foot troops experience any delay when attacking or counter attacking, so it seems to be narrowed down to the mount or mounted attack animation.
- My familar was blown off the tactical battlefield entirely by my opponents minor air elemental's ability. It is supposed to move him to a random space, but I don't think it is supposed to remove him entirely from the battle. When my turn came up it was still prompting for me to do something with him but he wasn't on the map anywhere to move.
- The "Next Idle Unit" button is including my Caravans, which are already on assigned trade routes, in the rotation. I'm not sure if this is a bug or working as intended, but it is annoying that I have to cycle through all my caravans each turn if I want to make sure I've moved all my actual troops. If they could be excluded, OR a button could be pressed to make them be skipped, it would be a much better experience. Overall I like the next idle unit and next idle city buttons though.
- The Elementium Karrazon sword, obtained by researching Arcane Weapons in the Magic tree, is listed with a cost of 12,000g. The sword looks nice, but uhh.... 12,000 seems a bit steep. I can't foresee this price being intended.
- On the same token, I obtained the "Mace" weapon in one of the earliest Warfare research technologies. I noticed that when I later researched more advanced weapons, such as Blunt Weapons to get a warhammer, I ended up with some new choices... which were inferior to the standard Mace. Some sample stats: Mace costs 8g, 2 material, 4 metal and has 6 attack. The Warhammer, which requires Blunt Weapon research, costs 8g, 3 material, and 4 metal and has 5 attack. I'm not quite seeing why I'd want to spend my time researching Blunt Weapons, or why I'd want to spend an extra metal for an inferior weapon.
- Some of the higher spell levels include 1 spell. I researched Spell Level 9 and received ONE new spell after waiting many turns. I believe the spell was Fire Shield, which while somewhat handy, was very underwhelming for its level. I got the impression that advancing that high in the spellbook is not worth the time investment currently.
- I am still experiencing issues with both my elemental and my opponent's elemental having their spells miss every time. I did apply thelatest hotfix (tonight's) in the middle of my save game, so perhaps it will fix it in the next game I play.
- I noticed that it can be difficult with older cities to find special tiles that you have not built on. This is because the red ! only show up for so long before disappearing. There are times, especially early on when the economy is tight, when is smart to leave mines and similar tiles undeveloped until you have the spare gildar. The problem is, it can be easy to forget where these are. You can use the cloth map, but sometimes that is cluttered as well. Overall I'd like to see a button or toggle be added so I can instantly see ALL undeveloped special tiles that are withing my area of influence with red ! again. It should stay on until the tiles are developed or until I toggle it off.
- Summons are very powerful units and should carry an upkeep cost. I hope you plan to do this when the global mana pool is put in place as it makes the decision to keep them active a much harder one. Right now they are a must have from beginning to end of the game.
- It would be nice to receive more warnings regarding enemies entering your area of influence or approaching one of your cities. I was surprised last game when an enemy force made it to one of my cities and I had not received a warning. When your kingdom gets large, it can be difficult to keep an eye everywhere each turn.
- Taking enemy AI cities leads to a major food shortage in your kingdom. I noticed when I started taking out my first enemy that my food was very quickly in the negative numbers. This led to my cities reaching their population max because I could no longer build huts due to lack of food. I researched some food upgrades, but my major food producing cities were too low level to be able to build them. I would like to see the food improvement buildings have their required city tier lowered or eliminated. Being stuck without enough food, and with cities which are too small to build the required buildings to make more food, is not a fun situation or gameplay mechanic.
- Perhaps Sovereigns should be immune to AoE spells or highly resistant to spells in general. I was able to eliminate not only my enemy sovereigns, but also most of their troops with a single infernal or blizzard cast (I had one fire shard and two water shards). It is pretty anticlimactic to kill them in the first turn with one spell before they even get to react (and this was true throughout the game, even after several hundred turns).
Overall the game is a lot more fun and a lot more interesting then it was in the first week or two. The early game was a lot different, as I found myself running into negative gildar situations early on. I eventually got my influence over to two gold mines though and not long after that I never had to worry about gildar again. There are still occasional CTD's, Out of Memory errors, and late game slowdown on my system, but it has gotten a bit better. I wanted to play this weekend to gauge whether Elemental could ever be the game I've wanted it to be. I believe it can, and I believe it is currently headed in the right direction.