Strategy – A word that conjures up images of people in turtlenecks hitting chess clocks, excitable 20-somethings crowded around a whiteboard figuring out how to sell yogurts to the male over ’40s and of course PC gaming. As you can plainly see from the title of this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter here. But not because of chess or dairy product marketing are any less valid. We just happen to prefer strategy gaming because it lets us rewrite history, build enormous armies and then zoom in to wash those armies, make a huge mess of the surrounding area. Here are 10 of the absolute finest strategy experiences on PC spanning several decades multiple sub-genres. Spidey here-lets begin!
Top 10 Strategy Games for PC
So, without further ado, Let’s Begin!
10. Starcraft 2
Blizzard has a fine pedigree as purveyors of real-time strategy since the 90s and Starcraft 2 uses every last drop of that expertise. Somehow it manages to come across as genuinely cinematic even though it’s mostly a game about telling downtrodden workers to put things in a big depository. It’s got a flair for flashy camera angles, hammy voice acting and as always when it comes to Blizzard; showstopper cutscenes. And it’s a massive Esports game too over half a decade after it was first released. Really the whole three equally matched factions with different playstyles thing all started with the first Starcraft. So it’s only fitting its sequel, the king of that game type.
9. Total War: Shogun 2
Total War simply must feature in any discussion about great strategy games. It’s everything at once – macro scale, empire management, and micro detail combat sim presented with the infectious enthusiasm of people who really know and have played this title. To our minds though Shogun 2 is the best Total War that has ever been. It takes it’s series back to feudal Japan, where it all began. Brings naval combat into the mix for the moments in your empire building where cavalry charges just won’t do. And it doesn’t require you to capture whirling pools of magic certain recent additions. It’s pure strategy and unit positioning set among cherry blossoms and irresistibly cool feudal arms.
8. Civilization VI
Representing out first not for turn-based strategy, Civilisation VI does what it has always been greater at – depicting all of human history in about a hundred and fifty turns. One minute you’re exploring the Virgins while to the loincloth-wearing settler, the next you’re setting artillery guns on Harold Harada in an attempt to unbalance his space mission. Civilization VI irons out a lot of the long stamp increases – combat way less fiddly, units don’t stack up, cities sprawl out over multiple tiles, and watching a wonder being built or discovered comes with a lovely cutscene.
7. Rise of Nations: Extended Edition
Game designer Brian Reynolds steps into a room of listless execs and holds up his hands to frame the idea he’s about to cook forth, Age of Empires meets Civilization he says. Instantly the execs begin hugging each other, floods of happy tears pouring from their eyes and start to sway in perfect unison enraptured by this most brilliant of ideas. Well, that idea was Rise of Nations and it makes for a jolly fun real-time strategy game. It’s still a giddy thrill to watch modern military units tear your enemy’s woefully outdated warrior peasants to bits. Since 2003 no one else really nailed an RTS that gallops through the ages in uninterrupted real-time.
6. Europa Universalis IV
Europa Universalis IV takes place on a gorgeous map of late medieval Europe. And plays a tiny bit like a risk if one game of risk took hundred hours and hurt you fretting about which family members to marry off to other states for political favor. Or to put it in another way a bit like Total War if you liquidizes the real-time battles and remolded them as extra menu complexity. Some say once they have gazed upon the depth and agency of Europa Universalis IV, they simply cannot go back to the softer stuff like Total War or Civ. And really who could blame? Why get into another nuclear squabble with Gandhi, when you could be flirting with Central European Barons.
5. Crusader Kings II
Now to the untrained eye Crusader Kings II looks quite a lot like Europa Universalis IV. Nestled within the hardcore historical strategy hideout, we don’t need to explain that it’s actually very different. Set in 769 AD Crusader Kings II is a sort of dating sim with persistent death. Instead of playing risk you’re playing with the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes of medieval Europe. Forging a dynasty by marrying wisely. And managing your wife’s wimps. With one eye you’re watching the siege of Salamanca. With the other, you’re watching the misses for clues of her infidelity. Expanding empires and bleeding your people drive their gold is an objective inevitably.
4. Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War III
Dawn of War games has consistently offered the most accessible take on games. And at the same time experimenting with blending RTS and MOBA playstyles to varying degrees. There are honking great space marine dreadnaughts marching about and going nuts just as there should be in any Warhammer 40K RTS. And yes the orc suitor boys come in such great numbers that their gunfire actually fogs up the screen. But they are often accompanied by elite units who could probably get the job done all on their own. With the right micromanagement, it somehow manages to never tip too far in one direction or another. Consistently serving big bombastic battles for the traditionalists. And letting new-school MOBA enthusiasts do their thing with enormous heroic units.
3. Supreme Commander II
Supreme Commander a spiritual sequel created for a fan base, we just couldn’t let go of 1997. And it’s treasure trove of strategy treats. And then a bit after that came Supreme Commander II which somehow still feels like a recognizable total annihilation alike. And at the same time slick and savvy to the modern gamers needs. Gathering mass and energy are paramount as you’d expect from an old-school RTS. But so is leveling up your giant robot commander the ACU. And that’s the touch of the new because ACU rushes can win games in the first two minutes adding a fresh approach and a fresh danger to safeguard against. The campaign might not be up to much skirmishes are vigourously tense seven years after release.
2. Ashes of Singularity: Escalation
Ashes of Singularity: Escalation is the Rembrandt of painting mass robot slaughter scenes going into microscopic detail in its animation and effects while maintaining a clear sense of how the battles are going. It’s the most beautiful strategy game on the market. And as a nice bonus, it plays not unlike the wonderful and aforementioned Supreme Commander II.
1. Worms Armageddon
How could we finish the list without mentioning the celebrated landmark in turn-based strategy? The one framed for its tension and forcing you to live with the consequences of your rash decisions by implementing permadeath on your custom named soldiers. Worms Armageddon came out in 1999 when highlighted cliffs were still the be-all and end-all of men’s fashion. But truthfully it hasn’t aged a day not least because worms still go for the same aesthetic today more than nurse team 17 still use Armageddon as the reference point for the physics because they know its the zenith of invertebrate warmongering. And because they still know you’ve got that super sheer muscle memory stored away.
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