Even in ideal scenarios, multiplayer can be a real pain
We played Rise of Nations this evening here on the LAN. Even with ideal conditions, multiplayer strategy games are almost more effort than they're worth. I think age is a major factor here. When I was in my 20s, I burned thousands of hours mucking around trying to get Total Annihilation or Warcraft 2 or C&C or whatever games going.
But now at 32, I seem to have a lot less time or at least patience to throw away 20%+ of the "game day" due to various problems in multiplayer. Whether that be a given game crashing in a team game or it losing sync (and this is on a LAN) or mismatched teams or some other glitch or general game issue. It's not Rise of Nations' fault, this could be Warcraft III or Age of Mythology or whatever, it would have been the same thing.
I think first person shooters work out well for multiplayer because you can join games in progress. So not everyone is dependent on one person. But in strategy games, it only takes one person to ruin it (accidentally due to a crash or whatever) or through maliiciousness (not a problem when you're playing with friends but definitely a problem when you're playing on-line).