You see, since Wizzel has come up with a truly wondrous invention of a MMORTS, and since that idea is so good, I would just knock him off Sopranos style, and take his idea to the development team. Naturally I would make a few adjustments to "my" idea...
- Starting Cities are unconquerable. This eliminates the 'end' of your avatar in the world, which would alienate many subscribers. Players who have lost all significant territory and developments to invaders would be cornered and have the option to join the Clan of the invader, or continue to try to expand out and reclaim land. There would be game mechanics in place to make conquest drastically harder as you approach a base city, and development, harvesting and civilization maintenance on a war front will always be the most costly in the game, making holding those lands difficult, but not impossible.
- Online vs. Offline. The basic macro management concept laid out by Wizzel, makes this an easy hurdle to overcome. 90% of the behaviors and movement of the civilization AI is automated based on the UI selection and previous actions, thus the civilization would continue to persist while the Leader was logged off. The disclaimer to this is basically, this game is not for the lighthearted... log out for a week and you might not like what you find when you get back.
- Clans: This game would require one of the most extensive guild management engines to date, due to the extensive nature of the management process. This system would also alleviate the Offline issue to some extent. Within your Clan, you can grant varying degrees of control over the mechanics of your sub-civilizations. Just like in a current MMO guild, Leader has all powers, Officers have some limited powers, and so on, the various members would have varying degrees of control over each others lands. Clans are the staple of the game, and as Wizzel has stated, a long civilization can not sustain itself without outside resources, thus trade and partnership are vital to survival, and conquest and protection from conquest are side benefits.
I will continue to flesh out this concept and add to it. Bravo Wizzel!