I played the demo the other night and here are my thoughts and impressions:
Although it's fun and I'm certainly buying it, MoM-like it ain't. It's been simplified too much to bear much resemblance to other 4x games of this ilk like AoW or MoM (or FE for that matter).
The missing tactical combat doesn't really bother me. It uses bacically the same combat as Ino-Co's previous Fantasy Wars and Elven legacy games, which I liked. What puzzles me is why they did not include the ranged defensive support fire that's in those games. That was also a big part of Fantasy General and Panzer General. It allows for the use of combined arms and provides more tactical depth. They obviously felt the need to dumb it down there for some reason. Very dissapointing and I think it was a mistake.
The spell reseach is a greatly simplified and scaled back version of the random MoM research choices. You can't choose starting spellbooks as in MoM and basically you just get a much smaller selection of random spells to research. I'm okay with this I think. I'll have to play the full game to see.
There are no heroes at all in the game which is really the biggest departure from other similar games and the biggest letdown for me. Even their Fantasy Wars games had heroes. A lot of the fun of these types of games for me is recruiting, leveling up and equipping your heroes. Hero skill choices can be almost a mini-game in and of themselves.
No heroes means no equipment either. Major bummer. There's no swords of firey wrath or shields of +3 movement in this game to be had via monster lairs or quests.
Although there are a goodly number of victory conditions that appear in the setup at the start of a game, you can't pick and choose the ones you want to be in your game. Instead, all of them are always in play. I've seen some complaints about this from beta testers who don't want their game to suddenly end because one of the AIs got a diplomatic victory or cast the master spell or whatever. Frustrating for the conqueror types.
Related to that, when you are playing, there's no screen to track victory conditions and how each race, including your own is doing in the game. No stats, no nothing. It's quite frustrating.
Again related, when an AI victory condition is met, you do not have the option of continuing to play, the game just ends.
Finally, as far as I can tell, there is no score given afterwards or any post mortem stats page.
All of these odd omissions leads me to strongly suspect that the developer was operating under the constraints of a lack of time, funding, or both. maybe Paradox pushed them to get a no frills game out quickly and cheaply, telling them that if it does well, they can add the other stuff later in an expansion or DLC. That's the most likely reason, in my opinion.
The gameplay as it stands seems pretty tight, simple and appealing to me. But for how long, I wonder? The game seems wide to me but not very deep strategically. I do wonder if it will hold my attention after I play a few games.