I can respect what you say about dungeons here derek. I do think you should give modders a way of linking tactical battle maps together so they can make their own "dungeons" however, even if you yourselves are not going to use the feature.
Seeing as how you have been kind enough to share an insight into how you view looking at the design process, can I be so bold as to display how my thought process would track with the above example of dungeons? Ok here i go (btw i am starting with your reasoning for perhaps not including them, for the record totally want dungeons).
"hmmm I have decided on balance that elemental shouldn't have dungeons because as I feel lengthy periods away from the stategic map would perhaps alienate certain players and also I have great plans for making the strategic map its self more alive and interesting."
"So with that decided what can I still add at a tactical level that would allow for some creative story telling and get the most out of the single screen tactical battles we currently have?"
"Well I could add the ability for units to join battles after the start. This would allows for "bosses" to be introduced to the combat once lesser mobs have been defeated or based on other conditions"
"I could allow speach bubbles during tactical combat along side tags which allow modders and us as developers to decide under what conditions these speach bubbles would cue. This would allow us to continue telling storys within tactical battles and also help bring them alive abit"
"hmm what else, well if we only are giving one screen for tactical battles we could create a larger variety of battle maps and not only that we could create alot more interesting terrain features on those maps which can be used to liven up battles by offering various bonuses etc"
"well there are three ideas that both are easier to impliment than dungeons and also support and strengthen my choice to keep tactical battles to one screen and add more content to the world map"
I am not sure what i was trying to convey with the above example of dungeons in relation to design. I think the gist of it is as follows. Not putting dungeons in because you have a much cooler idea for how you want elemental to work is great and will be respected by the community as long as you clearly show us the thought process behind it and it makes sense. Not giving us dungeons and then not giving us something that makes up for in some logical and related way I feel would be a huge mistake and may not be taken well by the community.
Now I get the sense that you want to take alot of the cool ideas and themes you would have placed in "dungeons" and redesign the game so these things appear straight on the strategic maps. This, if done well is cool by me as although I won't get dungeons I can see you are still giving me all that content that wouldn't be inside them just on my world map so to speak. This allows for alot more interest at the macro strategy level as we arn't getting taken away from the strategic maps as much as if we were dungeon delveing.
I just hope you are always considering the other side of the coin. If you decide most of your interesting things will occur on the world map this may have the effect of making the world of elemental feel small. The nice thing about extensive tactical battle maps or dungeons are that by going from the macro strategic map to a micro tactical one the player is reminded that actually every square of the strategy map is a large interesting expanse filled with adventure that your hero is travelling accross.