Strategy games come with a rich history behind them, one that’s filled with a number of long-running series that have stood the test of time and led to a loyal following of fans. Titles like Sid Meier’s Civilization, which saw its debut in 1991 and is still thriving today, releasing a new expansion for Civ VI just this year. However, for every longstanding series, there’s a new contender looking to throw its hat in the race and offer players new experiences.
With an ever growing selection of strategy games at players’ disposal, deciding which titles are worth your time and money requires some research. So we thought we’d make things a little easier and highlight the best strategy games for you to play in 2019. Make sure to check back as we’ll be adding new entries to this list in the future.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the latest entry in the long-running tactical RPG series developed and published by Sega. It’s played in the same style as the first two games while introducing some new features. Among these is a new soldier class known as the Grenadier, who can fire mortar rounds at enemies.
Additionally, the game introduces a new system called “Brave” which, when triggered, allows players to either restore one Command Point and increase the ability of a nearby ally, or restore Action Points to that unit and allow it to move and attack once in an invincible state. Valkyria Chronicles 4’s story takes place during the same timeframe as the original Valkyria Chronicles and the game does a great job at onboarding newcomers to the series.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics game and the sequel to the 2012 series reboot, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The game is set 20 years after the events of Enemy Unknown and follows a military resistance fighting against alien occupation. XCOM 2 gives you control of the Avenger, a new mobile base that’s used to give out commands to squad members in battles and conduct research between missions, uncovering new gadgets, weapons and technologies.
Players can recruit new soldiers, with each class having access to a unique skill tree and abilities. The game also offers customization, allowing you customize soldiers’ names, personalities, uniforms, and clothing, and weapons. An expansion called The War of the Chosen was released in 2017, adding new enemies, hero characters, and mission modifiers to the base game.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach is a strategy game developed and published by Subset Games, and the second title to come from the studio, their first being 2012’s FTL: Faster Than Light. The game is set in a far future where humanity is fighting against an army of monsters known collectively as the Vek. Gameplay has you engaging in turn-based battles through the use of soldier-operated mechs that can be equipped with a variety of weapons and armor.
Similar to FTL, the game is split up into sequences that take place across a number of islands, each with their own procedurally generated mission scenarios. In this regard, Into the Breach would be considered a Roguelike. Should the player happen to lose any mission scenario for any reason, they are given the option to send one of their pilots back in time to the start of the first mission, essentially starting a new game, while still retaining their current experience and abilities.
Wargroove is a turn-based tactics game developed and published by Chucklefish that heavily draws inspiration from the Advance Wars series. The game takes place in a fantasy setting and has characters and environments rendered in 2D-pixel art. Wargroove has players taking control of one of thirteen commanders, each with their own campaign, motivations, and personality.
Every commander has a special move called a “Groove”, which can be activated when a meter is completely filled. Every Groove is unique and alters the battlefield in different ways, making for some interesting battles. Aside from a campaign mode, the game features the ability to craft custom maps, cutscenes, and scenarios using an in-game editor.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Based on the Battle Chasers fantasy comic book series by Joe Madureira, this turn-based RPG has you playing as a cast of heroes who, having been marooned on an island, are forced to stop a wicked sorceress’s evil plans in order to escape. Your band of heroes consists of a swordsman, a golem, an assassin, an old mage, and a young girl who fights with a pair of magical gauntlets.
Gameplay has you and your party traveling along a linear path in an overworld, fighting enemies, and exploring dungeons filled with more powerful foes and deadly traps. The game makes use of an interesting mechanic during battles, where performing non-magical attacks generates “overcharge”, which can be used in place of mana. Battle Chasers: Nightwar allows you to play through dungeons on varying difficulties, with more challenging runs yielding better rewards.
Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is a Roguelike card-strategy game developed by American studio MegaCrit and published by Humble Bundle. At the beginning of each playthrough, the game has you select from one of three predetermined characters, each with their own starting conditions, such as amount of health, gold, and deck of cards.
The goal of the game is to make your way through several levels of a spire, with each level having a number of potential encounters determined by a branching path and culminating in a boss battle. During each run you’ll come across campfires that allow you to heal or upgrade cards, shopkeepers that offer cards you can buy, chests with random loot, and random choice-based encounters.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
With the success of The Witcher 3, followed by the card-strategy game Gwent, and now Thronebreaker, it seems like CD Projekt can do no wrong when it comes to making a Witcher game. Thronebreaker is a mix of RPG and card-strategy combined in order to create an entirely new kind of game, one where decisions are neither good nor bad, and carry weight throughout its 30-hour story.
The game has you embark on a brand-new adventure in the Witcher universe, meeting diverse characters with interesting backstories and conflicting goals and perspectives to your own. The story has you making difficult choices that will impact the world around you, while enemy encounters are carried out through strategic card battles that use mechanics from Gwent.
Civilization VI stands out among its predecessors for managing to build on the best parts of Civ V, without losing focus of the series’ core principles. As with other games in the series, the goal for the player is to lead their fledgling civilization from an early settlement through many millennia to become a world power and achieve one of several victory conditions, such as through military power, technological superiority, or cultural influence, over the other human and computer controlled opponents.
Among Civ VI’s changes is a shift in art style, resulting in leaders that appear more vibrant than in previous games, as well as the ability to “unstack” cities in order to reduce crowding on maps. The game is regarded highly for its breadth of content and deep gameplay mechanics. Additionally its newest expansion Gathering Storm, introduces randomly occurring natural disasters that will challenge players’ ability to adapt and rebuild.
Invisible, Inc. is a turn-based tactical Roguelike developed by Canadian studio Klei Entertainment. The game has you play as a remote operator for an espionage agency that has come under attack. The operator’s role is to direct agents on stealth missions, acquiring resources and support that can be used to save the agency within a limited window.
On each playthrough, players are given three days to prepare for their final mission. This is done by completing missions across the globe, retrieving information, valuables, equipment, all while factoring in time constraints. Mission details and map layouts are procedurally generated and vary each run, offering a lot of variety in terms of obstacles to encounter and level of difficulty.
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a turn-based tactical video game adaptation of a pen and paper Swedish role-playing game of the same name. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where most of the population has died from a nuclear war, with those who remain turning into mutants. You take control of a small band of explorers, called Stalkers, whose members include a clever duck-man and a steadfast boar-man.
Gameplay is split between real-time exploration, which allows you to scavenge for supplies and position your team for battles, and turn-based combat. Enemies in Road to Eden are very tough and force you to devise well thought out strategies prior to engaging in battle. Along the journey you’re able to learn more about the game’s world and the events that led to such dark times.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the best incarnations of a video-game approach to tabletop RPGs. The game has you and up to three party members exploring the fantasy world of Rivellon. You can create your own character, choosing their race, gender, stats, and even origin story, or pick from a handful of pre-made ones.
The game truly shines in how many tools and possibilities it provides you with for tackling challenges. Usually if you can think of a bizarre, out of the box solution for a problem, Original Sin II has a way for you to attempt it. The co-op version of the game is worth mentioning as well, which allows you and your friends to split up completely and perform actions that will affect the game’s world for every member of your party.
Northgard is a strategy game based on Norse mythology that has you controlling a clan of Vikings with the goal of conquering a mysterious new continent. The game has you building a settlement from scratch, assigning Vikings to various jobs, carefully managing resources, and discovering new territories to be controlled.
There’s an optional story mode for players to experience, which includes 11 chapters that expose you to the game’s six distinct clans. Additionally, Northgard has dedicated servers and offers PVP, allowing you to play against your friends or an AI with different difficulty and personality types.
Empires Apart is a free-to-play RTS game developed by Italian studio DESTINYbit. The game features a low-poly visual art style and comes with one free faction, the Byzantines. Additional factions such as the French, Chinese, Arabs, Aztecs, Mongols, can be purchased as DLC and used in any of the game’s single and multiplayer modes which include Skirmish, Survival and Challenge mode.
Gameplay has you raising a faction’s army from the ground up in procedurally generated maps. Each playthrough is unique as requirements for resources you need to collect, assembling your army, and waging war on enemies vary with each run.
Total War: Warhammer II
Total War: Warhammer II is a turn-based strategy and real-time tactics game developed by Creative Assembly. It is the latest entry in the Total War and the sequel to 2016’s Total War: Warhammer. Set in tabletop Warhammer fantasy universe, the game has you choose from four distinct factions and embark on an adventure where decisions you make will either save or destroy the world.
Warhammer II is broken up into two halves, with one being a turn-based open-world campaign, and the other a series of tactical real-time battles. The game features the option to create customized scenarios, as well as compete against other humans in online multiplayer. Additionally, players who own both Warhammer I and Warhammer II are granted access to a huge combined campaign called Mortal Empires.
Phoenix Point is an upcoming turn-based tactics strategy video game that is being developed by Snapshot Games, slated to release in September 2019. Intended to be a spiritual successor to the X-COM series, Project Point is set in the year 2047 on during the middle of an alien invasion on Earth.
Players start the game commanding a single base, Phoenix Point, and have to defend themselves from hordes of aliens. During battles with smaller enemies, large boss-sized aliens may appear, requiring you to deal with them immediately while also managing to keep your units alive.
Gears Tactics is an upcoming turn-based strategy game set in the Gears of War universe. Tactics takes place 12 years before the first Gear of War game and has you creating a team of soldiers in order to hunt down a locust monster maker that’s responsible for destroying entire cities.
The game will feature a character-driven story, fast-paced aggressive combat, a number of customizable options for your squad, and epic boss fights. Gears Tactics looks to be borrowing gameplay elements from titles like XCOM, making it appealing for more than just Gears of War fans.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
SteamWorld Quest is an upcoming RPG card-strategy game developed and published by Swedish video game developer Image & Form, creators of the SteamWorld series. The game has you guiding a party of courageous heroes through a hand-drawn world where you’ll encounter fierce enemies.
Along the way you’ll build a deck from over 100 unique cards that can be used to deal damage, perform spells, and affect the flow of battle. The turn-based game looks to blend Image & Form’s usual steampunk aesthetic with traditional fantasy elements, which will be interesting to see. Given the studio’s track record, we can expect a well-polished game filled with robot dragons and steam-powered suits of armor.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Currently under development by Fire Emblem veterans Intelligent Systems, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the next major entry in the long-running strategy-RPG series. It’s been long time since fans have gotten a home console FE game with the last title Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, appearing on the Wii back in 2007. Three Houses will no doubt be a huge exclusive for the Switch and breathe new life into the series both visually and gameplay-wise.
The game maintains the series turn-based combat and has you controlling four distinct protagonists: Byleth, Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude. Three Houses is set in the fictional continent of Fódlan, and has you exploring three areas: Adrastea, Leicester, and Fergus. Combat has you moving units across an open field and engaging in battles, with both “Combat Arts” and weapon durability mechanics making a return.