Im sorry, but wasn't the question "greatest/favourite empire building game"?
Doesn't really make sense to mention a game whereas the empire building makes up for less then 25% of the game, i mean im note mentioning "dynasty warriors empires" here, because in the end of the day, the thing you do most in the game is run around with a unrealisticly large weapon and cut&slash 100s of foes.
Oh it's a bit more than 25% in M&B. Dynasty Warriors is a Hack n' Slash with very small managing features, M&B can't really be played by ignoring the managing side of things. You need to feed your army, earn the money to pay for their salaries; to do this you get involved in trade,property, labor, slavery, politics, and war.
It's all very organic too, like older PC strategy series. It plays like a fleshed out Total War game for me, especially with good mods like Brytenwalda.
Im not saying theres no trade, but the complexity of the trade, and management is so low that its hardly any different from DWE, even when i played the game for the first time udnerstanding the management was not something to drop time into at all.