Instead of tackling E:WOM directly now, take the best parts of E:WOM that are missing from the franchise as a whole, and get those working awesomely. Navies, Dynasties, and maybe Minor Empires. Each of these by themselves would make for great DLC packs, and aren't E:WOM specific ideas. THEN, IF these DLC packs are well received and working well, AT THAT POINT revisit E:WOM, but not until. E:WOM will be better served by this approach.
I have to disagree. While the lack of integration and polished was a large part of what dragged WoM down, and while this suggestion addresses these points, other important shortcoming was a lack of focus.
Compare reserach in Civ and MoM to Elemental: Civ is about civilization building - tech research, better options from tech and a feedback cycle leading to even more research are a large part of the game. MoM abandons the tech progression in favor of spell research, which does not have that virtuous cycle and also has much less internal coherence. Elemental has experimented with having both without reaching a state where either is considered good. I consider this situation not a failing by Stardock, but a fundamental problem of trying to do two similar, but totally disconnected things at once - what I've called lack of focus above.
The dynasty system would add another system of long term effects, with the additional problem of those effects being subtle and hard to predict. Major effort will be needed to turn it into a viable and fun system on its own, to say nothing of integrating it with the existing systems: From which other systems would you suggest to take away the player's attention, and with a lot of systems vying for attention, how should the player have enough fir any of the to make real decisions instead of sying "whatever"?
I think this might be a corollary of Derek's "Go big or go home" - there's only so many big systems you can have before they turn out to be the seven little dwarves.
A Navies DLC pack could be a sensible addition to LH - adding the seas as terrain instead of its current role of pure barrier doesn't detract from the expansion mechanisms that are already an important part of the game.
On the other hand, Dynasties should IMO be a large part of a much more diplomacy-focused game, and Minor Empires would be a natural fit for that. I hope it would be making diplomacy as effective for the expansion of power as military conquest. The feeling of such a game world could be anything from middle-ages Germany (1) to A Game of Thrones (2), all of them with enough factions that the player is weaker than a majority coalition of the others.
Such a game will need an excellent diplomatic AI, and while Brad and his crew might be the best to write it, it may be even beyond them.
The original WoM concept seems to go in this direction. I don't think it goes as far as I have outlined here, but that may well be what makes it doable without heroic effort in the AI department.
(1) Cliche: relatively peaceful. An attacker suffers large diplomatic penalties up to having war declared on him by all others. Use diplomacy to get others to attack you, then you are right to conquer them.
(2) Cliche: War is (almost) open, only diplomatic meetings are (mostly) exempt. Use diplomacy to gang up on somebody else but you. Don't be afraid to do a real instead of a diplomatic backstab.