"I always felt like Elemental had potential, but hadn't quite realized it yet." is exactly what I think, too.
The question always was "will it realize it/finish it at all?"
The main difference between Elemental and FE are for me the noticeable presence of opponents in FE.
Elemental was a little bit like playing alone sometimes.
It is more concentrated right now, where Elemental wanted everything but nothing really was finished.
For me some things of these "Elemental everythings" can return one day as expansions, when the main game is ready.
You can say I voted a "fair+". It is true that it is close to good, seen technical, but I am not sure how to see it as a long-time-motivating strategy game for ambitious players and if the AI ( or the illusion of AI) will arrive a level at difficulty "challenging" or "hard" that makes dealing with the opponents an interesting challenging fun.
I do not know how close is 0912 to the final game.
Sounds close to me, but on the other hand you can count endless, even when you count patches as well, so the steps can be 091 to 1.2 but it could also be 0912001 to 1.20001.