I only played Elemental: War of Magic around a week after it was released so I'm not going to comment on how patches have or haven't improved the game, but the release of Fallen Enchantress, the standalone sequel/apology is certainly something that interests me. A great deal actually. Along with Warlock: Master of the Arcane, there are now two delightful fantastical beauties vying for my strategic attentions, their turn-based ruminations inspiring powerful ponderlust. If you bought War of Magic in 2010 you can download the beta of Fallen Enchantress now and will receive the final release for free. Waited 'til 2011 to buy War of Magic? You may still be eligible for a discount. Check here and if you've forgotten your login details, the email address you registered with should retrieve what's needed.
With the assistance of the brains behind Civ IV supermod Fall From Heaven II, Stardock have sought to address complaints, expand everything that's capable of expanding and deliver the successor to Master of Magic that I've been waiting for since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
The beta is available to anyone preordering, whether you were involved in the war on the War of Magic or not, and initial reports suggest that, as is expected in a prerelease release, there are issues to be ironed out. However, I also hear large portions of the internet giggling in an excited fashion and hope to join them in doing so. Regular updates are being rolled out and I believe the third is due on the 12th. Maybe that'll be the cue for me to bury myself in the game for a day or two and return here with thoughts.
Factions have more individuality now and that variety carries through to magic, weapons and monsters as well. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of the game appears to be the sheer amount of stuff thrown into the world and while that may lead to difficulties in accessibility and/or balance, it should boost the sense of discovery that can be such a powerful driving force. Scroll down to page 111 of the Master of Magic manual to see the appendices, then marvel at the quantity of everything that the game contained. Also marvel at the fact that 100+ page manuals used to be a thing that existed. I read that one on the way home from buying the game, a bus journey that seemed to take hours, every page I turned filled with fuel for my burning anticipation.