Strategy is a cast word; every game has strategy, and even “strategy” as a genre can mean a lot of different things. They range from turn-based to real-time, “grand” strategy to simple tactics. However, a great strategy game isn’t one about good graphics, or a wide unit variety, or even the type of strategy that is applied, but it is a game with excellent core mechanics, and most importantly, makes you think.So without further delay, here is the list of the top 10 strategy games:
#10 Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Sins of a Solar Empire, seems to focus more on the action then most empire-building games do. There are planets you can colonise, industry and trade you can develop, but it’s the groups of ships throwing bullets, lasers and missiles each other in the never ending struggle for dominance that really takes the cake.
It’s challenging, even against the AI. There are three races, each with their own identity, ships and technology. But the playing field offers more with neutral forces that make early expansion slow, and even a ‘Pirate’ faction that you can bribe to attack your neighbour or will attack you if they are better bribed. The element of diplomacy extends beyond mere trade agreements and non-aggression pacts. Other factions can give you missions or you can give them some, like giving or receiving resources or attacking another player. The game is never stagnant, with your scouts zipping from planet to planet in the search for new worlds to exploit or your trade fleets will be moving goods from place to place, keeping the wheels of economy turning. And even your mighty battle fleets will hardly get a rest between one crisis to the next.
#9 Tropico 4
Essentially a city builder, what makes Tropico great is its charm. You play as the dictator of Caribbean-themed Banana Republic, and your task is take your island from humble beginnings into greatness. And the way you do so is all up to you. You can exploit the natural resources of your island and turn it into an industrial powerhouse, or you can use the island’s natural beauty and try and make it the holiday destination for ignorant tourists. Or make it a bit of both. You’ll attract immigrants to the island, and they’ll all need housing and jobs, and you’ll need to build up your economy and services. Throughout everything, your actions are wonderfully narrated by the talk show host of Tropico’s only radio station, who makes even the most jerk-like of moves seem like greatest thing that happened. After all, you’re a dictator
As your island grows, global politics come into play as America, Russia, even China and Europe all try to exert influence. They’ll offer you money and riches, for letting them maybe build a military base there, or letting them export their waste to you. If you don’t make the right decisions, you might end up with a revolt on your hands, or an invasion. Neither are good news.
#8 WarGame: AirLand Battle
As the title goes, this is a war game. No more empire building or worry about resources, it takes all those elements out and lets you solely focus on the battle and on victory. You command your own customisable battle group made of tanks, infantry, artillery, even helicopter gunships and jets, and you’ll be fighting in highly detailed slices of European countryside that can reach up to 150Km in length.
The games attention to detail is what sets it apart as your tanks can storm up highways or trample across fields of farm crops, your infantry can creep through forests or hold a vital crossroads. One thing to keep in mind through is to be keep your troops supplied with fuel and ammunition through the crucial (but simple) logistics system. Another thing that the game offers is a high amount of atmosphere. You can zoom right down to the ground level where the camera will actually shake as artillery rounds slam into the ground and forests burn around you.
The dynamic single-player campaign is brilliant and there’s a great online community as well. WarGame’s multiplayer has plenty of maps, and you can even fight in 10 vs 10 matches which are, to use a word, epic.
#7 Age of Empires II
Almost everyone has played this strategy game and it is a testament to it, that people are still hooked on to the game. A classic that’s easy to learn, charming, yet still quite the challenge. You’d choose a civilization, build up your city and your army, then fight with the other civilizations on the map as you advance through various ‘ages’ or technology levels for better troops and buildings. Like Warcraft or Starcraft, it’s half about resource management and half tactical combat.
You always start with your Town Centre and a few civilians, but by the end of a match you could have a massive metropolis, with huge walls, fire-shooting towers, with a large army to represent it. Age of Empires is of a time before the internet-fuelled multiplayer era, so the main attractions of this game are the single-player campaigns and AI skirmishes. These campaigns were often a series of specifically crafted maps with customised objectives that players had to complete. These missions usually covered either a famous person or group of people from history. And even if not historically accurate, they still engage you in the history and each one presents unique scenarios to overcome.
#6 Company of Heroes
This WWII strategy game throws you into the middle of the action, during the invasion of Northern France by Allied forces. Starting at D-Day, you have to fight your way across several maps divided into tactical zones. Through the game, you’ve got to build a base of operations, secure resources, and fight the good fight. It’s quite challenging as you’ve got to make sure that all angles are covered, and that your frontline is secure, because if there are gaps enemies can go right by you and cause havoc in your rear.
The variety of personnel, that you can use, helps you through your troubles. Your Infantry can build defences or garrison buildings, while Engineers can set traps or lay down obstacles. The raw muscle of your force is provided by Tanks and other vehicles, but the vehicles are expensive for mass production. You also have off-map support abilities to give you that extra edge.
This game is the highest-rated strategy game of all time and it’s easy to see why. It has a single-player campaign that is very engaging and challenging making it more than just training for online gaming, and the online community itself is highly competitive. The factions are properly balanced so that it’s more about guile, outmanoeuvring and simply outfighting your opponent, as opposed to building ultra-units or anything like that. In the nine or so years since release, a thriving community has also developed, which means you can get even more value for money by trying out everyone’s creations.
#5 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM was a surprise name of this list but then again, it was a surprise hit. It’s a turn-based strategy game where you fend off an alien invasion in a dynamic single-player campaign. It’s a remake of the classic X-Com games, and quite a commendable remake at that.
In the game, you can send teams of up to six Special Forces soldiers into battle against enemies that range from little grey aliens, to robots, to the occasional larger scuttling insect like alien. It’s a tactically intense set of battles set aboard alien ships, in fields and towns, and more than just skirmishes you have to research on new technology, perform autopsies, and ask for funding from a shadowy government agency.
It’s the customisation that really grips people though. You can give your troops names and faces, but as you play through the campaign they get back-stories and fake accents. The game is all about tactical combat, and XCOM also has online squad vs. squad multiplayer, if you ever feel like trying your skills as a commander against real people.
#4 Starcraft II
Starcraft II is sci-fi strategy game about armoured cowboys fighting xenomorphic aliens and space elves. It’s a classic base-building RTS where you gather resources, build armies, and kill your enemy before they kill you with quick decisions and even quicker mouse clicks. The single player mode is a class apart as they have brought together frantic action with an RPG like backdrop as you follow the exploits of Terran Mercenary Jim Raynor.
You can fight through a series of missions, many of which will have unique objectives such as trying to harvest resources on a map that periodically fills up with lava, defending against waves upon waves of Zerg for a certain period of time. In between missions you can walk around in an RPG-like hub, where you interact with people, research new techs and decide on where your next destination will be.
A story is usually hard to do in Real time Strategy but Starcraft II actually makes you interact with the world outside combat. Multiplayer mode is a huge part of Starcraft II as well. Here your enemies will be human (other gamers); and so competition will be fierce.
#3 Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II is an off shoot of a grand-strategy game where one plays as a medieval lord, trying to gain more power, influence, and territory in a historically accurate medieval Europe. The graphics aren’t anything to die for but to compensate the game offers complex game mechanics where you manage economies, armies, and people. But it’s a personal element that makes Crusader Kings II so attractive.
You are not in charge of some abstract nation but in charge of a family dynasty. This means you will need to marry and have kids, so when you die, your heir will take over and the whole thing begins again. Through the game, you can use intelligence or brute force to increase your holdings all the while fighting off enemies both external and internal. Betrayal should be expected in the game, whether it’s from you or someone else.
As a Count or Duke, you can organise coups and rebel against your Lord for more power. As a King, you have to defend your Kingdom against invasion or uprising. But as long as there’s a member of your bloodline still alive, you’ll always have a chance to win it all back.
#2 Total War: Shogun 2
Total War requires you to run an entire empire, while fighting every battle they face on the road to domination. Total War: Shogun II, is the best in the series so far, set in 16th century feudal Japan.
The game ranges from tinkering with taxes and building baths to firing cannons and charging headfirst into the enemy. This is possible because the game has two distinct modes: up-close, real-time tactical battles and the more distanced, turn-based empire management. Whenever two armies meet, the game switches into a tactical battle. Now, you get to play as the general, the hero as you command your units, build formations and strategies, and fight your enemy down to the last man.
Another enjoyable fact is that battles are not completely down to the stats and numbers, meaning that, with the right use of terrain and the right tactics, a small outnumbered force can resist almost any odds, and the largest army can be defeated by a decent ambush.
#1 Civilization V
The Civilization series games are about human history where you guide a race of people from the Stone Age through to modern times and beyond. This game is about strategy on four frontiers: expansion, exploration, exploitation and extermination. You begin with nothing, and must grow into a global power. Or die in the attempt. The freedom of choice is the game’s best asset.
There are many decisions you can take right from political, economical, military, even social. You can choose to be a friendly neighbour or a conqueror, a hub of trade and tourism, or an industrial powerhouse; the choice is all yours. Civilization V is as slick as the series will ever get and the perfect game for you to get in the fad. It has a strong set of tutorials and tooltips that guide you through every decision.
A rethink of Civilization’s grid system means that the combat is top notch and the Steam Workshop support means there will be a never-ending flow of mods and maps to play with.