I was chatting with my younger son this morning, and he said his favorite type of game is RTS. (Not that he has a lot of experience with these; pretty much just LEGO Battles and SimAnt.) I've greatly enjoyed RTS games too (favorite: Warcraft III, though Starcraft was a close second). So it got me thinking: what is the minimal "core fun" of an RTS game? I don't mean the core mechanic; I think that's pretty clear: select units and give them orders, including gather-resources and build-buildings select buildings and give them orders, including produce-units This unit-building-unit cycle is the key mechanic, but not inherently fun, though the inherent joy of development is certainly part of it. There's also an economic-tension factor: you want to invest in future production capability (i.e. more workers, more resource-processing buildings, etc.), but you have to also spend on current defense, since you may be attacked at any time. But if that's the key fun bit, you may as well make a TD game, since that genre does this much better. (Indeed, what keeps me coming back to Bloons TD is that I have to constantly live on the edge of having just barely-enough defenses, in order to invest in money generation so that I can afford the really big towers later when I'm going to need it.) Then I guess there's the fun of exploration; RTS usually implies a fog of war and hidden goodies around the map. Finding those is fun. What I don't see as a core fun of RTS games is actual real-time strategy (or tactics). You'd think you would be forming your troops into well-oiled formations and executing pincer movements in the midst of battle, but in my experience at least, that's rarely the case. Directing a battle usually amounts to little more than telling all units to gang up on whatever Big Bad is the greatest threat, and then pointing out the places where mop-up work is needed afterwards. But it's possible I've just been playing the wrong games (or playing them the wrong way). So... stripping away fancy graphics, sounds, story, and all such frills, as well as any design elements that aren't truly essential... what would you see as the core of an RTS game, the minimal combination of elements that would still be fun to play?