The term strategy games is pretty broad, and it actually encompasses SIMS, puzzle games, turn-based games, MOBA, real-time strategy, and so many more. So when someone says they like strategy games – be sure to look a little further into it – because there are a lot of options.
And for those who have never dipped their toe into the world of strategy games, here are some reasons why you should play strategy games and which games you should take a look at.
What makes strategy games worth playing?
Not every day is the day for a hack-and-slash FPS letting bullets fly. And while there are some tactics involved – typically, it is nothing in comparison to the work that a good strategy game will require from you.
Strategy games require immediate focus and long-term planning. You need to be aware, learn, and master multiple ways to play the game – even if it is a solo strategy game.
While playing strategy games, here are some of the benefits you get:
- Planning and real-time strategy are particularly heavy on this point, but all strategy games will demand planning. Make the wrong move, and you will end up going down a path you’d rather you hadn’t until the end of the game.
- Perspective: this one can be tricky; the natural position of a gamer is to look at what is in front of them. Over time, with a strategy game, you’ll take a broader view, getting a different perspective based on games and decisions you’ve made previously.
- Focus is a big one for strategy games; if you’re playing against AI or people, you need to pay attention to what they are doing all the time.
- Problem-solving is part and parcel of a really good strategy game; you can take your time, run through options, and make the right move, and often you need to do it quite quickly.
- Memory, remembering your last few moves, the last moves of your opponents, roughly calculating resources, units, buildings, and more.
- Decision-making will be tested, but you’ll learn to make better decisions more quickly.
Not to mention that strategy games, while they can be tense, are a great creative outlet – and, depending on the game, can be quite relaxing, too.
What are some of the best strategy games to play?
Here’s some great strategy games to start playing now.
Old World has been called one of the best 4x games in years by multiple game reviewers, and with good reason. Unlike some games, with this one, you aren’t a faction; you are a person. A person with a family name, and you’ll build relationships with those around you. Each one you build, you will have an impact on.
You will balance running your home with building cities, and again, unlike some other games, you will see the results of your action immediately through dialogue with people. Secret missions, trade deals, marriage proposals, wars, friendships, and more cause immediate consequences for you, and you’ll need to navigate them.
The quests are well-written, the interface is great to use, and the splash art is stunning.
Another great 4X, Endless Legend, is a fantasy-based game that really goes into the story and doesn’t sacrifice the 4X to do it. The factions have some very cool, unique traits, and the quest and storywriting make it even more interesting.
Endless Legend runs a delicate balance between futuristic and magical, with a lot of lore in there. For those who have played Civilisation, you’ll be familiar with the turn-based strategy game. And for fans of GoT, you will get some strong GoT vibes from it.
The setting is what most players quickly fall in love with because it is unique and pulls inspiration from multiple genres while feeling completely cohesive.
Endless Legends offers both tactical and strategic decision-making processes, a gorgeous aesthetic, and a very good map.
No matter how many times you play solitaire you’re going to get a dramatically different game. It is one of the few card games that leans heavily into strategic thinking and forces you to remember, focus, and think forward.
Perhaps the best thing about solitaire is that not every game can be won, and even if you make no mistakes, you might not come out on top. While there might not be fantasy units, towns, cities, and enemies, a game on Spider Solitaire will still force you into thinking mode.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Age of Wonders will always rank really highly on strategic games that you should play because they really are that good. But Age of Wonders: Planetfall is particularly special. It offers complexity in the story, enough to be interesting but not too much – so it never feels like it is over-told or complex.
The storyline is really well written, which means you get meaty characters and the reason behind the missions you take. There are 13 scenarios and they all take up to a few hours to complete, so you have plenty of games to play here. It doesn’t matter if you are on random maps or following the story; it flows well, so you won’t feel like you’re not getting the most from the game.
One thing to watch out for is that each of the factions you come up against will help you to evaluate how you will win the battle – because the high-damage melee hitters are vastly different from the firing lines of some of the other factions.
It’s a classic for a reason and one that anyone who is venturing into strategy games for the first time should play. StarCraft 2 is particularly good at giving back to the player for making smart decisions – and that is part of why it remains so popular.
Unlike some of the other strategy games on the list, it isn’t going to take a monumental amount of effort from your PC to run it, and it runs happily on an older build. While it might not have the huge uptake that it had when it first launched anymore, there are still a lot of competitive players and teams, and you can watch them on YouTube or Twitch.
To get to grips with the game without much pressure, the single-player campaign is going to be ideal. But, if you have some friends who are also looking to get into strategy games, then the multiplayer options are plentiful, too.
The base game is free, so it is ideal for people who are experimenting with different game genres and want to try something without commitment.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2
You can opt for the fury of the multiplayer or the less fury but challenging solo campaign – so however you like to play, you have options. In many respects, the single plate feels a lot like an RPG – but it’s not a deal-breaker by any means.
If you’re into building, then this game won’t cut it for you because you’ll be sent here, there, and everywhere to go and exterminate your foes. Your mission objectives could be that you need to defeat a boss, recover stolen items, or capture a structure – so there is plenty to do.
While this game comes under the strategy banner, many players have commented that it doesn’t feel as strat-based as its predecessor. While it might not feel strategic to the fullest, you’ll need to make tactical decisions when playing in single-player mode. The campaign takes a while to get into full swing, but if you have the patience for it – it does pay off.
Multiplayer and singleplayer are dramatically different, with more strategy demanded from the multiplayer option.
For those who like to be perpetually irritated that you are forced into making difficult choices, XCOM 2 offers this with no questions asked. It gets really tough at points because, with limited sites to scan and limited combat options (at points), you’ll quickly find that every single action or inaction has a huge impact on your game.
Along the way, you will recruit newbies to help you build coms, upgrades, and more. Due to how tight the decision-making is and the situations you will find yourself in, you’ll feel the tension pretty quickly.
What XCOM 2 does so wonderfully is it makes you question your odds constantly, and even when they look good, you better have a backup plan.
Even more Strategy Games?
Strategy games are immersive and challenge us to think in a way that most of us don’t need to in our daily lives. Trying to work out how to do a pincer move on a base, selecting the right person to speak to, and more. Not to mention that even within the strategy genre, there are plenty of options to choose from, so if you’re into history, you can find those, but if you like it a little more into Sci-Fi and fantasy, you have that option too.
Need more options? Check this out: Fun Real-time Strategy (RTS) Games – LitRPG Reads.