I really love the core of the kit: just the bass drum, snare, and hi-hats. Sometimes when I'm setting my drums up in the practice space after a gig, I stop after setting up the core and play for a while. It really forces you to be creative and to experiment with different kick/snare placements within any given time signature.
i think the toms are where its at. the snare, bass and cymbals keep most of the backbeat, but its the toms that really set drummers apart. from hearing bonhams triplets, to neil pearts crazy african rythems, to terry bozzios crazy chromatically tuned drums, the toms are really what make us differnt from each other.
I play with two bass drums so I get the most fun out of mixing it up with my floor toms and both bass drums, and of course my Aux. Hats. I must say that I have the best time crashin my 18" chinese when I'm in a double bass fill.