Strategy games come with a rich history, one that’s filled with many long-running franchises that have stood the test of time. However, for every established series, you’ll find a new contender looking to throw their hat in the race by providing new challenges and satisfying gameplay.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the best strategy games to play in 2020, including a mix of both strategy staples and recent releases. Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games and while you’re here, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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There aren’t many physics-based strategy games outside of Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, which functions more so as a parody of the genre. While T.A.B.S. uses overexaggerated physics for comedic effect, Besiege swings the pendulum in the complete opposite direction in order to make things feel as realistic as possible.
The game tasks you with clearing 54 single-player scenarios using an open-ended medieval siege engine. There’s a lot of room for creativity since contraptions can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and be outfitted with all sorts of medieval weaponry ranging from cannons to giant flails. An online mode also lets you battle against other players in custom arenas or team up against the AI.
Yes, Your Grace
Yes, Your Grace is a medieval kingdom management RPG that forces you to make tough calls as your country’s leader. The game is set in a fantasy world inspired by Slavic folklore and sees you taking on the role of King Eryk as he juggles his kingdom’s resources and battles rivaling nations.
Each day, villagers will come to your throne looking for advice or solutions to their unique problems. While some of them are genuinely in need, others may have their own interests in mind. Since resources are extremely limited, it’s up to you to decide who’s being honest and who’s looking for an easy payday.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
It seems like the Total War series has been dominating the real-time strategy PC scene for as long as we can remember. And while Creative Assembly has released some lengthy entries in the past, such as Total War: Rome I & II, none are on the same level of scale and scope as 2019’s Three Kingdoms, set during the Three Kingdoms period in China lasting from 220-280 AD.
In it, you play as one of eleven rivaling factions tasked with defeating the remaining ones to become China’s new ruler. Improvements to the game’s UI and enemy AI behavior make for more immersive RTS battles with less time spent in menus than on the actual battlefield.
For players who really want a challenge, Stoneshard offers an unforgiving open-world in the form of Aldor. This war-torn region consists of villages left in ruins, abandoned roads, and treacherous dungeons filled with monsters. However, enemies are only one of the many obstacles you’ll encounter.
While exploring Aldor’s environments, you’ll be at the mercy of the game’s survival mechanics, which see require you to treat bleeding wounds, relieve pain with alcohol and drugs, and monitor your character’s mental health should they start to go insane. A character development system allows you to experiment with over 100 different abilities free from any kind class or level restrictions.
Bad North is a challenging RTS rogue-lite with some elements of tower defense. In it, you’re tasked with defending a series of small islands from Viking invaders using an array of specialized units. As you progress and win battles, commanders with unique traits and expertise will offer to join you in battle, providing an opportunity to diversify your units and devise new strategies.
While its charming, minimalist presentation may lead you to believe otherwise, Bad North is brutally difficult, with even the slightest slip-up having the potential to cause your downfall. Interestingly, the game provides you with some tools to give yourself some breathing room, such as save slots, adjustable difficulty, and the ability to replay levels. Enabling each of these is entirely options but goes a long way towards removing the repetition associated with progressing in a rogue-lite.
SteamWorld Quest is card-strategy RPG developed and published by Swedish developer Image & Form, best known for the SteamWorld series which Quest belongs to. In it, you guide a party of courageous heroes across a steampunk fantasy-inspired world as they set out to conquer a host of evil beings.
The game features turn-based card-battling mechanics and includes over 100 unique cards that can be used to deal damage, provide buffs/debuffs, and manipulate the order of attacks. There’s a great deal of flexibility in terms of fleshing out your party and coming up with multiple strategies.
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.
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 that affect the quantity of health, gold, and cards players begin with.
The aim 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.
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics game and the sequel to the 2012 series reboot, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Set 20 years after the events of Enemy Unknown, it sees you controlling an army of military rebels as they defend themselves from the aliens. New for the sequel is the Avenger, a 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.
The game also includes customization tools that allow you to rename units, tweak certain soldier personality traits, and change the appearance of guns/armor. An expansion called The War of the Chosen was released in 2017, adding new enemies, hero characters, and mission modifiers to the base game.
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 iterations, the player’s goal is to lead their fledgling civilization from an early settlement through many millennia to become a world power and achieve one of many victory conditions.
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 highly regarded for its breadth of content and deep gameplay mechanics, with its latest Gathering Storm expansion adding in-game natural disasters as a new obstacle for players to tackle.
Offworld Trading Company
Coming from the mind of Soren Johnson, Lead Designer for Civilization IV, Offworld Trading Company is an economics-focused RTS that sees you competing against other corporations for control over Mars’ resources following the planet’s colonization. Similar to Civ, the game lets you start out as one of many different leaders, or ‘CEOs’, each possessing their own distinct traits and abilities.
Navigating the game’s player-driven market is can prove quite challenging, often forcing you to make tough calls on what resources to buy up and which to sell as prices are constantly in flux. OTC boasts a robust single-player campaign with tons of replayability as well as a multiplayer mode that supports up to eight players.
Wargroove is a turn-based tactics game developed and published by Chucklefish that heavily draws inspiration from the Advance Wars series. The 2D game takes place in a fantasy setting and sees players taking control of one of thirteen unique commanders, each with their own campaign, motivations, and personality.
Every commander also 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.
Jupiter Hell is an indie strategy game that harkens back to classic ’90s shooters while incorporating elements of roguelikes and turn-based battlers. The game takes place on one of Jupiter’s moons and sees you controlling a stranded space marine as he wages war with an army of demonic enemies.
Each run sees you blasting your way through a variety of procedurally-generated military space bases and mining colonies brimming with enemies and loot. Although the game is more action-focused than most strategy titles, enemies only advance when you do, giving you the option to stop and carefully plan out your next move.
Phoenix Point is a turn-based tactics game from the original creator of X-COM, which the game is a spiritual successor to. Set in the future during the year 2047, it sees you commanding an elite military force as the human race scrambles to defend earth from invading aliens.
Missions task you with defending military bases around the globe as hordes of aliens approach from all sides. While a majority of the battling takes place in the form of small-scale skirmishes, battles against giant suped-up bosses help spice things up and may even catch you and your team off guard.