With the 1.1 patch the game has improved dramatically in stability and gameplay.
The magic is now a global resource and the interface has been improved dramatically. Cities can now be setup for specialization and the AI has also improved dramatically. If you were disappointed with the first with the game when it came out, I would recommend that you try it again. When I played the game recently it did not crash at all. On the stardock forums the updated game has had generally very good reviews and people seemed amazed at how much it had improved. The developers of the game have been listening to the player community and have been following up on the suggestions. Give Elemental a second chance.