Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and for many people, that means playing video games. In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Association, more than 164 million Americans play video games. This means that three-quarters of American households have a gamer in their ranks.
Yet while gaming provides relief from reality, you can only shoot a zombie or fry an alien so many times before the joy starts to wear off. That’s where strategy games that get you thinking come in.
Keep reading for a list of the best strategy games that won’t make you feel bad about investing hours on end into them.
The Civilization Series
Many gaming sites consider the Civilization series to be some of the best turn-based strategy games on the market. Few other games offer the scope and magnitude that this almost 30-year-old series provides.
The premise throughout the six iterations is more or less the same. You select a civilization, or civ, to play through across the ages. From Cleopatra’s Egypt, to Otto von Bismarck of Germany, the countries and playstyles to choose from are almost endless.
Start out in Paleolithic times, then advance thousands of years until you’re in the Space Age of the future. Construct buildings, wage war, found religions, and engage in diplomacies as you play in a massive sandbox world. You can shoot for a military, diplomatic, cultural, or scientific victory.
The latest Civ game is Civilization 6, which features impressive graphics in addition to amazing gameplay. Make sure you have a system that can handle the requirements.
The Total War Series
The Total War series parallels Civilization in some ways. It’s another grand strategy series that lets you take control of a nation and guide it to victory. However, the different Total War titles are more structured and focused.
The series celebrated it’s 20th birthday this year, and today offers titles covering time periods from ancient Rome to colonial America. Although most of the titles are historical, Sega released Total War: Warhammer in 2016 to the cheers of fantasy fans.
Similar to Civilization, Total War offers a campaign map where you construct buildings, form alliances, and declare war on your unsuspecting neighbors. However, when it comes to battles, Total War does things a little bit differently.
When your forces begin a battle with an enemy, the game switches from the campaign map to the battle map. You then take the role of a general, ordering cavalry charges, archer volleys, and infantry flanking maneuvers in an effort to defeat your enemy.
Age of Empires III
The Age of Empires series is another classic, having been around for four over 20 years. It’s one of the best real time strategy games, letting your control a nation and your forces on a map.
In Age of Empires III, you select one of eight great European powers. Starting with your town center, you then build a city across the map. As you expand, you also need to recruit soldiers to defend your city. Ultimately, the goal is to burn down the enemy’s town.
Later installments have expanded the scope of the game. With the two expansion packs, you can play as Native American tribes, such as the Sioux and the Iroquois. You can also enjoy playing as different Asian powers, such as China and India.
The fourth installment of the Age of Empires series will be coming out sometime in the next year, promising modern graphics and the incredible gameplay that fans expect.
Europa Universalis IV
If you’re into historical video games, look no further than Europa Universalis IV. The scope of the game is unmatched; you can play as any nation in the world from the Middle Ages to the 1800s. From the Native American tribes of Central America to Ming China, the setups are endless.
Like many of the other top strategy games, EU4 has you controlling every aspect of your nation. Raise taxes, deal with civil wars and contenders to the throne, found colonies in the Caribbean islands, and search for the Fountain of Youth.
For the most part, the game parallels history. At the game’s start in the mid-1400s, England and France are embroiled in the Hundred Years’ War, while Spain and Portugal are searching for new areas to explore and colonize. However, you have the power to change history.
Play as the Aztecs and repel the European colonialists. Conquer England as France and marry your Queen to the Scottish King. Expand the reach of the Ottoman Empire to the shores of the Indus River. The opportunities and gameplay possibilities are endless.
Rise of Kingdoms
If you’re on the hunt for another one of the best real-time strategy games, look no further than Rise of Kingdoms.
Rise of Kingdoms lets you choose a unique kingdom, from Korea and Spain, to Rome and France. Wage battles, explore maps, and lead your nation to victory in a game that offers unparalleled amounts of freedom.
The Rise of Kingdoms fandom is active, and there are many guides and tips available to help new users get into the game. If you’re looking to get started, check out this guide that explains the best commander tier list.
One of the best parts about Rise of Kingdoms is that you can play it on your mobile device. This lets you enjoy it wherever you go, without being constrained to a computer like some other strategy games.
Ready to Think? Enjoy Some of the Best Strategy Games
With a market saturated by mindless shooters and other thoughtless games, there’s a niche of people left behind that crave more substance. As this guide explains, a whole world full of the best strategy games awaits you. Get ready to strategize, think, and have fun.
Are you ready to play one of the best turn-based strategy games? Before you go and put your thinking cap on, make sure to check out some of our other blog posts for more gaming news, guides, and tips.