It's much easier to play if the visual size reflects the importance, a la egyptian heroic art.
Dude, you just officially became one of my favourite people on the Stardock fora. Any reference tying together Egyptian heroic art and asthetic game design fills me with such bubbling glee I can hardly contain myself. Egyptian, Aztec, and Byzantine art were all about portraying epic figures surrounded by less important characters with appropriate iconography, not necessarily with any reduction in detail but certainly the depiction conveyed the relative importance with a glance. That is one of the things I think Demigod can and already has, to some degree, adopt and run with.
(When/if there's an Aztec-inspired Demigod announced, I fear I'll be pushed by my innate desires to focus on mastering it, even if it's an Assassin. Such is my vulnerability.)
I don't need to zoom in to see the filligree details on a minotaur's armor to know what it is and what it's role is.
Though I'd dearly like the option to, which just reinforces my ongoing desire for a replay system with free-roaming camera available for studying games after-the-fact. (The fact Demigod'll make some stunning machinima is purely secondary. Really.)
Half the damn game is based off choice between about five build orders and damned if that isn't popular competitively. Sure, there's a bit of creativity, but a lot of that game is decided by scouting and build orders. If you're arguing what I think you're arguing, then the real 'skill' in that game is to be able to queue up five marines in five barracks even though it isn't handled properly automatically. By your argument, managing your playing time so you can make all the key orders and keep production high isn't the biggest skill, but a few fancy mouse tricks are because they can be 'practiced'.
And here we see the divide between what I think of the latest-born of the "Real-Time Tactics" games and the old-guard who are actually familliar what "Real-Time Strategy" games are largely about. Starcraft is, bless its little heart, a RTT game with a relatively limited but calculable Strategic side. Observe the replays of SC games and you'll see, as you've noted, a fairly tight spread of strategic choices at any given point with a heavy focus on tactical execution of the products of those build orders. It's absolutely necessary that you be aware of what strategies are viable at your production levels and how to manage that production, but the game is really fought in the micromanagement of tactical operations between forces. (If I hear one more time how to be competitive in SC you have to have 350 click-ops a minute or better, I may go absolutely bugnuts. That my girlfriend actually is a competitive-class SC player doesn't help assauge my ego when it comes to such matters.) Compare to Supreme Commander which, despite some flaws, is an RTS with Tactical elements which are amenable to some micromanagement but is, in a wider sense, about managing the strategic considerations of build time versus builders available versus the need for attention time given over to directing strategic operations of motion and assault. The level of micromanagement necessary to succeed in SupCom is considerably less than in SC, and replays generally show that. Out at the far end of that spectrum is the rare game like Majesty, which by giving you no direct control over the actual combat elements but, instead, putting you in the position of only managing resources and influences, made it an almost entirely Strategic-level game.
(And, yes, I know I've just pointed out SC is considerably more tactical than you meant to say, but bear with me a bit.)
Now let us turn our attention to DotA. Despite the implications that others might want to convey, just because I'm not now nor have I ever been a DotA player doesn't mean I've never played it. Part of the reason that I never cared for it after my initial exposure and thus never transitioned from "having played it" to "being a player" is that it's almost entirely tactical in decision-making and player-effect. Strategic consideration is generally only in what lanes you want to push and coordinating tactical operations with other players. The rest of it is focused, to an even greater extent than SC, on immediate tactical-decisions, going so far as to consider who gets the last hit on the creeps, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the DotA hardcore rival the SC hardcore for actions-per-minute, possibly even exceeding them.
That may be great fun for the DotA hardcore, but I'm thinking it's not the best design for a competing game in the same space. It's surely not the best design plan for a large portion of the RTS community who really do care about the strategic options. Those players, including myself, tend to get uppity when we're told our prefered scope of play isn't strategic or competitive, where deciding what to commit to battle when and managing the resources to do so, isn't competitive. Hell, 80+ years of wargame design and development in general, pre-dating the first implimentation in computerized form, laughs right in the ignorant face of such a contention. I don't think there's a Logistian in the military who's not smirking at that kind of armchairing.
Incidently, by the same argument, Poker isn't a compeditive game. Dismissing that contention is left as an exercise for the reader.
So, in closing, just let me say:
I was feeling naked without a bullet-point.