I can understand your concerns gents, but really the game even if not AJE and not as much grognard as the AGEOD games have many things to offer to strategy players.
There are several features that are not in AJE. For example there is the whole cycle (you can break it with good management) of progress and decadence, with nations collapsing and others re-surging. Your nation is governed by a ruler with abilities (or a political party), this gives some real nice personality to your empire.
The economic development is much deeper than anything AJE had to offer also. You get dozens of buildings, some themed to nations and ethnicity. You have a whole fun gameplay on how to get the best synergy from different buildings.
You can also form provinces, and they add additional bonus to gameplay, while optionally (and we won't force you here) to reduce micro management.
Armies should be historically themed. You'll see the expected legions, phalanx, horse archers, elephants. Indeed, we use the very common way of showing armies, with 'giants'. This is an abstraction, and even if you are not too fond of it, don't throw of the baby with the water bath just because of that. See the gameplay of the game, before all. We are not making Risk or Axis and Allies in Ancient Time, that would be a very unfair statement. This is still Ageod. You'll get units abilities, frontage, supply, leadership, harbor blockade, siege, and siege breach, WEGO, etc. Is that casual, really?
And an added plus, the AI is as competent as Athena, while being super fast, like (on my admittedly powerful computer) 15 seconds to run a turn. Is that not great compared to the 3 mn of AJE?
We are doing our best here, this is a new engine, a new game. But still, this is a very deep strategy game. Keep your mind open, accept there are changes to AGEOD gameplay, but with interesting and novel twists.