What made you interested in strategy games?

The best strategy games for Windows, Mac and Linux

[Update 5/14/2020]: We checked and updated this post for the last time in May 2020.

Base building, unit bustle, resource management, epic solo campaigns and multiplayer battles - these are some of the many faces of the strategy game genre. Typically, the titles are divided into two camps: real-time and round strategy. Those who value fast-paced gameplay, which not only require brains but also nimble fingers, will usually be happier with real-time titles; Meticulous planners, for whom tactics alone should decide success or failure, should find more pleasure in turn-based strategy games. Westwood Studios landed with in the mid-1990s Command & Conquer a real real-time strategy hit that is now available for free and is still extremely popular. And what Command & Conquer real-time strategy is well-kept for fans, the more than thirty million copies have been sold Civilization-Games for friends of round strategy. In addition to these traditional titles, the genre has other great and current candidates up its sleeve, some of which we would like to introduce at this point. We also took various settings into account: some players only feel comfortable in the Middle Ages, while others prefer to travel into the future or be part of a fantasy world. Our recommendations also include strategy games for every budget - free freeware, classics that have fallen in price and current full-price titles.

Anno 1800

2019 | Antiquity, real time | Windows

At the AnnoRow is difficult to get past if you are interested in good strategy games. The last two Anno-Games, 2070 and 2205, took place in a sci-fi setting and were less celebrated by fans and critics than the first four parts, all of which were set in past centuries. With the award-winning Anno 1800 *, which was released in April 2019 and is set at the beginning of the industrial revolution, the popular strategy game returns to the roots of the game series.

Also in Anno 1800 it is again a matter of colonizing islands, building cities, engaging in trade and - if necessary - waging wars. Even the ones from Anno 1404 known frictions with any AI rulers are now back, as well as the randomly generated island worlds. As usual, the story campaign offers hours of gaming fun in single player mode. You can also start multiplayer games with other players.

Command & Conquer

1995 - 2020 | SciFi, real time | Windows

On June 5, 2020, the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection * released a refurbished version of the popular strategy classic. The collection includes Tiberium Conflict and Red Alert, as well as the State of Emergency, Counterattack and Retaliatory Strike extensions. In addition, the look was noticeably spruced up, the soundtrack revised and the multiplayer mode and the user interface expanded.

With Command & Conquer: The Tiberium Conflict the developers at Westwood Studios created a milestone in the real-time strategy genre in 1995 - after they had invented the genre themselves in 1992 with Dune II. The games of the Command & Conquer-Series deal with global conflicts between a good and bad faction or between different great powers such as Russia, the USA or China. Each faction has different units, vehicles and buildings that are useful for building bases and fighting opponents.

The armed forces each have strengths and weaknesses that can significantly contribute to victory or defeat. In the first C&C part stand each other NOD (nasty sect) and GDI (United Nations Force). While the GDI sometimes has overpowering units such as the mammoth tank or the orca attack helicopter in its repertoire, the Brotherhood of NOD rather on cheaply produced mass and devious means such as a flame thrower tank, an invisible vehicle and a motorcycle with a rocket launcher. The Tiberium Conflict (Part 1), Red Alert (Part 2) and Operation Tiberian Sun (Part 3) can be downloaded free of charge in the classic version. If you want to own all 17 parts of the original series, you can fall back on the Command & Conquer Ultimate Collection *.

Age of Empires

1997 - 2019 | Antiquity, real time | Windows

Of course, in a post about the best strategy games, a title like Age of Empires (AoE) not missing. The first part of the game series was launched back in 1997, which was named in February 2018 Age of Empires: Definitive Edition * was published as a revised new edition.

The first part of Age of Empires plays, unlike the other series parts, in antiquity - the successor Age of Empires II is dedicated to the Middle Ages while Age of Empires III covers roughly modern times. All parts have in common that they offer a bustling real-time strategy and give the player numerous races to contest the campaign or multiplayer matches. Each of the races has similar standard units, but also unique special units with special abilities. Core of the gameplay of the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is to build a solid base, research technologies, extract resources and raise armies to fight against the enemy.

In November 2019, the AOE II Definitive Edition a revised new edition of the hugely popular Age of Empires II is launched. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition offers a smooth-ironed look and a new soundtrack as well as three new campaigns and four new cultures.


2016 | SciFi, Turn Based | Windows, Mac, Linux

In XCOM 2 * aliens have taken control of the earth - and now it is up to the forces of XCOM, a human resistance movement, to take back their home planet. For this purpose, the organization, which had already been defeated by the aliens, is reorganizing itself underground and starting a guerrilla war against the occupiers.

Before each mission, you equip your units with weapons and aids and then go into the battles, which take place in the isometric perspective. In each round the player stands for what he has used XCOM-Soldiers have movement and action points available, which must be used tactically. A kind of base construction takes place at XCOM only takes place outside of the battles - then you expand the headquarters in order to unlock bonuses and better equipment. To whom the gameplay of XCOM 2 agrees, the expansion War of the Chosen * is also recommended. In addition to new opponents and mercenary classes, it also brings many improvements in comfort.


2018 | Sci-Fi Survival, Real Time | Windows, Mac, Linux

Rimworld * is a mix of sci-fi survival simulation, building strategy and story generator. In a fuzzy look, Rimworld sends the player to a randomly generated, unknown planet, where a small group of survivors made an emergency landing with their spaceship. With a few essential goods and the remains of some kind of material, it is now a matter of founding a colony that is not only able to ensure its own survival, but can also assert itself against hostile tribes, natural disasters and killer squirrels.

When setting up your own colony, food procurement, house building, research and trade are just as important as a functioning, social structure within the colony, which is growing over time. A narrator AI determines the level of difficulty and always sprinkles good and bad events in a text message at the bottom right of the screen, to which one has to react. Every new "run" tells a very special, exciting and often very amusing one Rimworld-History.

Civilization 5 Complete

2010 | Historical, turn-based | Windows, Mac, Linux

The mother of all turn-based strategy games is arguably that Civilization-Line. Appeared at the end of 2010 Civilization V part of the series that is still very popular today and also in one Civilization-V-Complete-Edition * is available with all additional content and extensions. In Sid Meier's Civilization V As with all Civ games, it is primarily about exploring the world map and expanding your own empire. To do this sets Civilization in addition to acts of war also on diplomacy, trade and the development of a national culture.

At the beginning of each campaign, the player can choose one of 18 nations (basic game) including the corresponding head of state. Each nation has special units and sometimes also unique buildings, while the head of state also has special bonuses and skills in his luggage. In 2012 and 2013, respectively, "Gods and Kings" and "Brave New World" were released, two large additional packages that complement the game in a meaningful way. These extensions are already included in the Complete Edition.

There has also been a successor since 2016 Civilization 6 *, for which six new enhancements were recently announced. The DLCs will be released in 2020 and 2021 and will include new races, new leaders and new game modes in their luggage. The "New Frontier Pass" sends the first part of the DLC series into the race with the "Maya & Gran Colombia Pack" in May.


2018 | Post Apocalypse, Pausable Real Time | Windows

Frostpunk * sends the player into an icy, dystopian and hostile environment. As a leader of a city, one must care for the survival of the inhabitants who are exposed to the adversities of the icy climate on earth. To do this, you have to familiarize yourself with a wide variety of tasks and, for example, get coal to run the huge generator, which is the community's only source of energy and heat.

The generator stands in the center of the city, which over time grows around it by building shelters, department stores, hospital wards and manufacturing facilities. In addition to resource and technology management, as the head of the city you also have to deal with social problems, some of which require serious, moral decisions. Do you build more buildings to ensure food supplies for everyone or do you care for the sick first and invest in medical care? Frostpunk creates a gloomy game feeling that is so challenging and depressing at the same time in hardly any other game.


1998-2017 | SciFi, real time | Windows, Mac

Celebrated in March 2018 Starcraft its 20th anniversary. The SciFi real-time strategy game was released on March 31, 1998 and was already convincing with its epic single player campaigns and a very balanced multiplayer part. As a player, you have the choice between three different races: the very mobile Terrans, the technologically advanced Protoss and the Zerg, who act in huge swarms.

The individual strengths and weaknesses of the three races are perfectly balanced and provide a great multiplayer feeling to this day. The completely revised Starcraft Remastered, published in July 2017, lets the classic shine in new splendor and combines the tried and tested gameplay with revised graphics. The 2010 StartCraft 2 - Wings of Liberty is now available free of charge.


2017 | Fantasy, real time | Windows

The Total War series, known for great staged battles, has also spawned two parts from the Warhammer universe. Total War: Warhammer II * appeared in September 2017, around a year after the first part, and sends the from the Warhammer-Tabletop game known peoples again to the computer game front.

In the second part, in addition to orcs, goblins, humans, dwarves and vampire lords, lizardmen, skaven and high and dark elves join the battle for the "Great Maelstrom", whose power everyone strives for equally. Base building and active warfare are with Warhammer ii strictly separated from each other. While the improvement of the armed forces and the expansion of your own cities is turn-based, you fight on the battlefield in real time. With the exception of a few leaders, the units appear as a group in the battles and can also be commanded as such. This results in eventful, tactic-heavy battles, from which the more experienced general emerges as the winner.

The Warden & The Paunch is the latest expansion pack for Total War: WARHAMMER IIwhich will be released on May 21, 2020. The DLC has two new legendary commanders as well as associated units and mechanics up its sleeve.

The Battle for Wesnoth

2003 | Fantasy, turn-based | Windows, Linux, Mac

Friends of open source software can also use the strategy game shelf. The turn-based The Battle for Wesnoth was published under the General Public License (GNU) and can boast a considerable community of players who are also actively involved in the further development and design of the game.

The Battle for Wesnoth is set in a fantasy world and offers numerous lovingly designed races such as dragons, northmen, sand people, elves and undead for the single player campaign as well as for the multiplayer mode. Strengths, weaknesses and the optimal game strategies of the peoples sometimes differ greatly from one another. The deep story and detailed game world of Wesnoth are without a doubt a cornerstone of the game's far-reaching success. There are also numerous mods created by the community that add even more fun to the game.

Blood Bowl 2

2015 | Sports, Fantasy, Round-Based | Windows, Mac

Something apart from the traditional strategy games is Blood Bowl 2 * settled. The turn-based strategy game combines American football and the Warhammer universe with the force of a passenger ship that crashes unchecked into an iceberg. The gameplay looks similar: bloody, brutal, action-packed and funny - typical Warhammer. Eight races from the Warhammer world are available for the matches in the standard version of the game, including orcs, dwarves, chaos, skaven and dark elves.

As crazy as the setting of the game and the characters are, the core of the game is "normal". In Blood Bowl 2 The aim is to score more points than your opponent via touchdowns and to move up in the respective league. For this purpose, the Warhammer units mentioned are available with numerous skills and weapons that are strategically clever and unconventional to use. Additional races such as Amazons, Undead, Northmen or Vampires can be added to the Blood Bowl 2 Add.

Crusader Kings II

2012 | Middle Ages, Pausable real time | Windows, Mac, Linux

If you like Game of Thrones, you should Crusader Kings II * like. The game looks like a course in European history, but is actually a tangible intrigue simulator with a clear goal: to lead your own dynasty to maximum power. In hardly any other strategy game can politics, intrigues and (family) alliances have such a great influence on the game. But be careful, the AI ​​uses the same means!

Of course you can also simply fight wars with armies in order to color the map province by province in your own color. In fact, it goes in Crusader Kings II far more than the individual battle if you want to build your own dynasty over centuries. This is how you cleverly marry new members into the family, change your own succession or use that of your opponent to your own advantage. Has a multiplayer mode Crusader Kings II Likewise. Up to 32 players can ram knives into their backs - literally and figuratively.

Faster Than Light

2012 | SciFi, Pausable Real Time | Windows, Mac, Linux

The roguelike space strategy game is already a few years older, but of timeless quality Faster Than Light *. The aim of the game is to use your own spaceship to reach the base of the Federation in order to deliver data there and to fight the rebel mother ship. On the way there, the player encounters all kinds of enemy ships that belong to more or less hostile groups of space dwellers.

The numerous on-board systems such as weapons, shields, drives and teleporters are manned by the individually talented crew members depending on the situation. With the right strategy and a little help from "RNGsus", the god of chance, you can shoot your way from sector to sector. You earn resources that can be spent on new equipment, repairs or fuel in randomly appearing shops. The real-time battles can be paused at the push of a button, so that you can think about the next steps in peace.

What is your favorite strategy game right now? Are there other titles that should definitely not be missing from a list of the best strategy games? Tell us about it in the comments.

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