The golden age of pc rts games. I grew up on Dune II, the game used to drive my parents crazy, ready, reporting, on my way. ...
AoE II is the last great one I played as well. I like base building and the RTS genre has been moving away from that ever since.
To the op: Have you tried Settlers, can't get more relaxing then that. (Well they did add more fighting in the later ones :/)
Nowadays I stick to games like Tropico for that building itch. Simply destroying stuff isn't fun anymore.
I loved the stupid harvesters in Westwood's Dune II and Command & Conquer.
Westwood Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Ensemble Studios. The 90s RTS triumvirate. And then Bullfrog invented tower defense with Dungeon Keeper (at least retrospectively and in my opinion).
BTW: I played Settlers I to VI and loved the first 4 games (Settlers II was the best), but in Germany - where all the Settlers games were created - neither the media nor the gamers really considered them as RTS games. They are economic/city building sims to us (which is visible on wikipedia even today: Settlers games are called RTS in the English entries and "Wirtschaftssimulation" in the German entries). Same goes for the other successful German (originally German-Austrian) economic/city building sim franchise which is labeled RTS in English speaking countries: Anno.
Settlers 2 was great, I also lost interest after 4. It might be better to call them real time planning games, real time simulation works too :) It's a bit of a hybrid anyway with the combat elements, the tycoon games are pure economic sims. They're still adictive to me however Cities in motion 2 still can't get near that epic transport tycoon feeling. The map editor is amazing though, I had more fun building this then playing the actual game.
Those harvesters were great, don't drive on that spice bomb, watch the worm, dammit. The enemy soldiers were even worse. You shooting at me? Let me just park my harvester on top of you, problem solved.
The more units rts games were putting on screen, the less I started to become involved. I miss the days of cheering on that small squad, sneaking in behind enemy lines trying to take out a factory or other important building on a suicide run.
Micromanagement has always been a bad word for RTS games, yet without it I don't feel like I'm in control and the game is mostly playing itself.