An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made. From intricate wargames to soothing peacegames, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best. The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.
Before diving into this delicious stack of games, we should define exactly what we mean when we say “Strategy Games”. The answer, quite simply, is that we don’t mean “Strategy Games”. Don’t worry, they’re here, – from grand historical strategy and RTS clickity-clicking to turn-based operational level wargaming – but our church of strategy is broad. Games that concentrate purely on tactical decisions have been considered for inclusion, as have management games that might not fit into Colonel Trousers’ rigid definitions as outlined in the seminal brain-pacifier That Is Not Strategy Vol I-XXX.
There are several reasons to recommend our broader definition. Perhaps most importantly, it means that we haven’t ended up with a list of 50 games about World War II or alien spacewars. The treasures below are varied in theme, style and setting, and there’s surprisingly little overlap between them. Some of the management games included would struggle to find a home on any genre-based list if they didn’t have a home here. Inclusiveness is key.
Of course, you might find that your personal favourites haven’t made the list. When your moment of grieving has passed, remember that all attempts to rank games are arbitrary and ultimately futile, and whether X should be placed above Y might isn’t really all that important.
That’s not to say this isn’t the most accurate list you’ll ever read, of course, because it is.
The links below will take you to specific parts of the rankings, although we recommend that you read in sequential order to create maximum tension.