Pretty much every game you play will have you make decisions about how to tackle a situation or what loadout will ensure victory—but some games take that idea to the extreme. The strategy genre is full of brain-testing titles loved by players young and old. And whether you’re a veteran of the genre or someone who’s interested in learning, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the best strategy games out right now.
Civilization VI (PC/Switch/PS4/Xbox/Android/iOS)
Civilization is one of the better-known strategy series out there, and the newest entry, Civilization VI, is a fantastic game for both experienced fans of the genre and new players. The game operates on a tile-based map, with each turn allowing players to move units, complete tasks, and interact with the other players or NPCs on the map. With a large cast of diverse historical civilizations, each with their own perks, there’s plenty of experimentation to be had here, and the game does a good job of walking new players through the various mechanics.
Into the Breach (PC/Switch)
In this single-player, rogue-like, you’ll need to manage a small squad of mechs as you take down alien creatures trying to take over the world. Each unit has a unique role to play, and as you progress, you’ll unlock even more mechs and abilities to take down the opposition. Each time you die, you’ll need to restart the game, but the experience and skill gained after each demise will help you progress further into the game every run.
XCOM 2 (PC/Switch/PS4/Xbox)
XCOM is an award-winning strategy series, with XCOM 2 bringing the iconic gameplay to modern systems with fantastic visuals. Aliens are attacking the planet, so you must build up your unique band of resistance fighters to take them out. It’s turn-based combat, but taking into account your gear, the landscape, and the enemies you’re fighting is critical to victory. This certainly isn’t a walk in the park, but discovering the strategies to victory is a consistently rewarding experience.
Crusader Kings III (PC)
The Crusader Kings franchise is back, bringing with it great real-time strategy action, along with deep and meaningful role-playing mechanics. You get to make choices about your avatar, ranging from their history to personal desires, and it all affects your campaign. You can guide a dynasty throughout the centuries, but don’t worry—while Crusader Kings III places a large focus on role-playing, the core elements of the real-time strategy genre are still there and are as strong as ever. Whether you’re playing this to conquer Europe or simply to build up a grand character, you’re gonna have a good time.
Crusader Kings supports online multiplayer and is only available on PC.
Total War: Three Kingdoms (PC)
The Total War series is well known for its unique mix of turn-based movement and real-time battles. Three Kingdoms ventures off to ancient China to deliver a unique setting and collection of units to battle with. You’ll need to be smart with how you move your armies throughout the map, and ensure that you have the best mixture of units possible to see your attacks and defenses through to the end. From how your units charge into battle to the type of horse your general is riding, there’s plenty to take into account in this title.
Total War: Three Kingdoms supports online multiplayer and is only available on PC.
Time to take to the stars in Stellaris. This game takes place on a grand scale, as you’ll be traversing between various planets and systems with plenty of role-playing elements to decide how you’ll play and win. You can create your own civilization and backstory with the game’s fairly robust customizer and decide exactly how you want your campaign to go. Whether you’re interested in ruling the galaxy or exploring the deepest parts of space, Stellaris gives you the tools and options you need to make that happen.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
Fans love the Fire Emblem series for mixing strategic turn-based combat with fantasy story-telling, and Three Houses lives up to that expectation. In a new direction for the series, you control a teacher responsible for training the various characters in the game. These are the very same characters you’ll be controlling on the battlefield, so you’re going to want to make sure they’re well-educated. As you progress through the story the game continually throws new challenges at you as you continue to level up your students and expand your armies.
If you’ve played some of the older Fire Emblem titles on the GameBoy Advance or even the Advance War series, then you’ll feel right at home in Wargroove. In this pixelated adventure, you’ll get to lead the various factions to victory by managing units and capturing strategic points on the map. The story mode does a great job of teaching you the mechanics that you can take into the online multiplayer modes. From the expertly designed gameplay to the charming pixel art, Wargroove is a pleasant game through and through.
Taking a step away from the war-based nature of most of the games on this list, Frostpunk is instead a city-builder where you must make some difficult choices for your city to survive. Living in a frozen world, your main goal is to keep the central furnace of your city alive whatever the cost.
This is a rather gritty game and you’ll have to make sacrifices for the city to continue on—but be careful, because your citizens can overthrow you if they’re not happy with your decisions. With so much to keep track of and a unique visual style, Frostpunk is sure to be a game that eats up your brain for a good long while.
Disgaea 5 (PC/Switch/PS4)
To wrap up this list, we’ll be taking a look at the interesting mix of standard RPG gameplay and strategy-based combat that is the Disgaea series—more specifically, Disgaea 5, as it’s the latest entry. There’s plenty to customize about the units you take into battle, with hundreds of items available to augment them. With hundreds of hours’ worth of content, layer upon layer of mechanical depth, and an insane number of choices to make both before and during battles, Disgaea 5 is a deep game that’s sure to absorb hardcore fans of the genre for a long time.