I can't speak for anyone else, but those who enjoy city sims aren't all accountants, Ross. I'm a comic artist(cough) and aspiring writer, although I will admit that I have taken some stabs at game programming for fun.
I will agree that disasters are probably not great in these types of games, at least for me. I prefer to play it as a zen garden where I have to earn each stroke of my sand-rake.
As for games which are like Hinterland, I think Factorio is pretty similar, and it's high-rated on Steam. Granted the combat takes a backseat to the building in that you don't gain many resources by hunting down the baddies, but they do like to gang up on your base now and then and you can go out and perform some pest control to keep things stable.
I did have an idea for a game in this vein but was more on an adventurous side of things. The idea was to head out into the wild and into dungeons to collect materials for a factory you'd build yourself which would in turn produce the weapons and such that would make you more capable to go out on these excursions. Heck, there might not even be a leveling system, everything you need would be produced by your machines. Anyone who's played the Tekkit mod for Minecraft would probably know roughly what I have in mind.