When our robot replacements finally toast our extinction, they’ll point to a single victory as the moment the tide turned in their favour – we’re not talking about chess or Go, but the day Google’s DeepMind beat the best of us at Starcraft 2.
Luckily, a (hopefully) large expanse of time separates us from that end – so why not fill it with some of the best strategy games?
And if your idea of a good time doesn’t involve memorising scores of hotkey combinations and build orders only to see impossibly fast opponents Zerg rush you in Starcraft or pepper you with 20 archers in Age of Empires, fear not – the strategy genre is wide and deep, with a rabbit warren of subgenres. Perhaps a more leisurely turn-based pace would suit you? Or a game melding in some RPG leveling? It’s all here! And while the genre is undoubtedly best suited to the PC, there’s a lot to keep console players busy, too.
In comparison to its dominance in the 90s, Real Time Strategy (RTS) games are now a relatively niche genre, dominated by 90s games, remakes and remasters. Starcraft 2, which came out 11 years ago, remains the most high profile in the genre, particularly, of course, in Korea, where it and its predecessor are huge esports draws. Choose one of three alien civilisations – Terrans, Zerg, and Protos – and see them gather resources, assemble your forces and defeat your opponent. Starcraft 3 isn’t on the cards anytime soon, but the second version remains very popular, with healthy online servers and a wealth of campaign expansions.
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Total War series
With its focus on controlling armies the strategy genre is where we find many of the great historical games. The pedants can feast on the historical inaccuracies, while we send Genghis Khan galloping through the Yucatán. The Total War series is up there with the best of these historical games, and could very well have a ranking list of its own. There’s the revolutionary Rome Total War (recently remastered), the newer, more refined releases such as Shogun 2, and even the Warhammer iterations, arguably the best games in the series. Whichever version you go for, it’s hard to go wrong with Total War’s classic gameplay – you switch between a turn-based strategy mode viewing a vast map and real time control of thousands of battling soldiers.