I noticed that there was a bit of frayed nerves regarding the genre so here's a topic about what's been done right:
First, I hopped on early to AI War compared to some of the other players. I did NOT buy Tidalis (I'm not a puzzle gamer) but did attempt (successfully) to persuade others to buy AI War when I heard about how poorly Tidalis was doing. Valley Without Wind immediately caught my attention and I've been following it since it was a zombie game (and I hate zombie games). The primary reason why I've been following it is the sandbox feel; AI War has an incredible amount of freedom in it compared to other strategy games and my favorite titles recently have all been along those lines.
AVWW is the only Arcen game that I preordered; it's also the ONLY game that I've preordered, ever. Part of this decision was to help out the developers but most importantly I like the overall direction the game was going and wanted to be part of it. I'm definitely enjoying the game in terms of its exploration and goal resetting (meaning new island, almost a new game).
There are still some changes I'd like to see post 1.0 but I think the game is fairly well defined.