I agree that the basic game mechanics are the most important thing when starting.
However, I did think you would be able to order your troops around on the battlefield, not just clicking "attack" on the cloth map. And this seems rather basic for the game experience.
I must also say that already games like Dom 3 and AoWSM are quite good (although far from perfect) if you forget about some bad graphics and movement problems. So, let's hope Elemental will be a step forward from that, also for the eye.
The problem with such a basic cloth map beta is not that it wouldnt be useful, its just that it wont give you the kind of kick you are waiting for after having paid the full retail price already some months ago (and we are still far from June indeed ...)
Reading through most posts above I must say that this forum is starting more and more to lack any real exchanges of views. But why post and post and post if it's just to second anything and every detail proposed because SD is your preferred company? Although SD IS my preferred company I wont be that easy - you grow not only by praise but also (and often even more) by challenges...!
But as long as the final version looks great I wont complain.