Steam’s Halloween Sale is great for grand strategy


With Halloween fast approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about typical spooky things: ghouls and ghosts, vampires and werewolves, marrying off my daughter to an appropriate suitor and the best trade strategy to dominate the Aegean. The Steam Halloween Sale is in full swing until November 1, and thanks to Paradox Interactive, it’s full of grand strategy games.

There are plenty of scares to be found in the sale, but for me, nothing is more terrifying than trying to stop my insignificant kingdom from being torn apart by civil war or trying to plan the assassination of my indolent spouse without being caught.

Most of Paradox’s catalogue is on sale, including non-grand strategy titles like Cities: Skylines and Pillars of Eternity, but if you’re looking for some bang for your buck, here are a few of my personal recommendations:

Crusader Kings 2£7.49/$9.99/€9.99

CK2 remains my all-time favourite Paradox romp, and with the Monks & Mystics DLC, which introduces things like witchcraft and Satanism, it’s more appropriate for Halloween than you might think. Here’s me mucking around in Monks & Mystics.

Europa Universalis 4£8.75/$10/€10

Paradox’s flagship grand strategy affair is a daunting, elaborate game and, for a lot of people, sets the bar for the genre. It’s the most grand strategy thing you could hope to play. It’s also a cracking LAN game, as Brendan discovered when he reported on a 40-player game in a Polish castle.

Hearts of Iron 4£13.99/$15.99/€15.99

You can make Britain communist.

Age of Wonders 3£5.74/$7.49/€7.49

Besiege fortresses with giant holy warmachines and dragons — Age of Wonders was doing it long before Total War: Warhammer. This third game relaunched the series, and what it lacks in empire management, it more than makes up for in fun fantasy exploration and tactical battles. Take a gander at Adam’s Age of Wonders 3 review.

Victoria 2£3.74/$4.99/€4.99

Victoria 2 is often overshadowed by Paradox Development Studio’s more recent grand strategy offerings, but it’s still a doozy, tackling the politics, conflicts and colonial concerns of the 19th century. There’s a reason that Paradox is always being pestered for a sequel. Our pal Rob Zacny sings its praises in his critique of the 4X genre.


The newest of the bunch, Stellaris combines 4X space shenanigans with grand strategy, with some interesting results. The sci-fi conceit has also allowed Paradox to get pretty creative with storytelling, but the best stories are still the emergent ones. Here’s what I thought of its major expansion, Utopia.

Right, that’s your lot for now. Enjoy a grand Halloween.


  1. Konservenknilch says:

    Oh great, already have all of these ;)

    At least it shows my impeccable taste I guess. The new DLC for CKII is a good reason to dust it off again though.

    • AlishaScott says:

      I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do… Click Here And Start Work

  2. Ubik2000 says:

    Hmm. Maybe time to pick up the Stellaris DLC. I enjoyed it, but it felt slightly incomplete in its vanilla form.

  3. klops says:

    Still no complain how Paradox is unfair with its DLC policy and how buying the “complete” game is too expensive?

    • Fraser Brown says:

      Someone complains about it in the comments of almost every Paradox article, so I think your views are well represented…

      • klops says:

        Not my views and my point was that it was a surprise that the comments were still free of these.

        • doodler says:

          Man I almost forgot some people find this controversial until I saw your comment in the thread. Thank you for your service in making it known that the controversy exists even if you don’t agree with it being an issue!

          • klops says:

            It was mainly wondering aloud, but I’m glad to be of service.

    • Ieolus says:

      How are Paradox unfair with their DLC policy? Curious.

      • Michael Anson says:

        By constantly supporting a five year old game with a near-constant stream of DLC and improvements through patches, presumably. Something about it being expensive. To be fair, even on sale the complete bundle (including two e-books) rests at about $150, but you have to give credit to Paradox for just the sheer amount of game you get for that pile of cash.

        • klops says:

          I give credit to Paradox for the sheer amount of game you get for (less than) ten euros (CK2, EU4, Vicky 2). The games are great even without a single DLC.

        • ulix says:

          $150? You’re talking about CK2, right?

          If you get the starter pack and all other gameplay DLCs right now it costs you around 80$. Which really is very fair, considering how much time you can play the game if you’re into that sort of stuff.

          Sure, if you want all the cosmetic bs you have to pay more. The only thing really worth it in my opinion are the portrait packs, which you can get in a collection for $10 in this sale.

          • Michael Anson says:

            Yeah, I was specifically going off of the Complete Bundle, since it’s what all the ragers are complaining about. Even then, it’s an approximation, because I picked up the DLC as it came out, and Steam doesn’t do price tallies for stuff you already have.

      • teije says:

        Some people think that Paradox should be releasing huge enhancements to their games for years for free. Or at least way cheaper. Although every DLC is always accompanied with a large free update.(See Steam reviews of recent EUIV/CK2 DLCs are exhibit A of this attitude.)

        Just wait for a sale (like right now, for instance) and you can get the DLCs for reasonable prices.

        • BewareTheJabberwock says:

          For me, the “problem”* is that I haven’t heard much that’s terribly positive about the vanilla version of Stellaris (the most glowing praise I’ve seen is “it’s fine”). Then there are 10+ bits of DLC in a search on Steam, from cosmetic add-ons to full re-works to more races/missions/etc. There’s a lot to sift thru, and I most definitely don’t want all of them, even before considering the steep price tag for the complete package. I suppose if I was really interested I could do the legwork (web-work?) and research them all, but I have enough of a game backlog (that’s already grown with this sale) that I don’t feel the need to take the time.

          So, long story… longer, I like grand strategy/4X games, so this is def my cup of oolong, but there are roadblocks stopping me.

          *Not so much a “problem” as a “reason I haven’t given Stellaris a go”.

          • teije says:

            Played Stellaris extensively and have them all so I’ve done the web-work for you – all you really “need” is Utopia at this point. The many free updates have fixed many issues/added depth. Synthetic Dawn only is worth it if you want to play as a robot empire. The rest is mostly eye candy/lore stuff, some of it cool but not significant by any means.

            However, there is major rework of many core game systems coming in 1.9 – the next update – for early next year – so if you’re not itching to dive into it I’d recommend waiting until then.

          • Morat Gurgeh says:

            The free updates on Stellaris are really very good. Paradox are not by any means one of the egregious offenders. I wish more companies acted like them.

        • derExperte says:

          Looking at user reviews for EUIV it seems they actually made the main game worse with patches and certain DLCs are more or less needed (‘Common Sense’ has a lot of those comments).

          And despite being three years old they’re only 50% off which is the maximum discount those DLCs ever get.

    • ramshackabooba says:

      Why complain for something that I like? Why do you feel you HAVE to have all DLCs for a ‘complete’ game? You can buy and enjoy those games without any DLCs and have fun for hundreds of hours. In fact, if you only buy the original game (deeply discounted nowadays for less than $10), you’ll have a much better game than how it was originally as the developers keep updating the base game with each expansion for free.

      • klops says:

        I’m not the one complaininglike I said. But apparently the idea of my post was badly formed since you’re not the only one who misunderstood it.

  4. DarkVane says:

    Speaking of Paradox games, just recently tried the Kaiserreich mod for HoI4. If you like HoI4, but want to try something a little different, I would highly suggest it!

    • TheOx129 says:

      Kaiserreich is definitely worth a try and is a lot of fun from a RP perspective, but in terms of actual game design, it’s a bit of a mess: unnecessarily large focus trees, way too many ministers, OOBs lifted directly from the HoI2 version of the mod, and general “square peg into round hole” attempts at implementing HoI2 mechanics in HoI4 (e.g., the use of political power as a reflection of stability, which they’ll now need to gut entirely as the next DLC will implement stability as a proper mechanic).

      Granted, it’s an alpha and what they’ve accomplished thus far is still very impressive, but I fear it ultimately suffers from a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

      Personally, I highly recommend Après Moi, Le Déluge for an alt-history mod that seems to gel better with HoI4’s more sandboxy mechanics. It gets bonus points for having a more unique point of divergence than the typical “what if the Central Powers won WWI?” one typically sees, with the game starting as Napoleonic France’s hegemony appears to finally be ending.

    • Blastaz says:

      Kaiserreich is after all a game where Britain starts out as communist but, if you play your cards right, you can get TELawrence to depose Oswald Mosley and lead a pro monarchist coup…

      The breadth it that sandbox is fantastic!

  5. SaintAn says:

    Stellaris is stellar, and Age of Wonders 3 is wonderful.
    Get them if you get anything from this sale.

  6. Grizzly says:

    Hmm, I quite liked that Paradox has fully embraced the new steam collection thing and that it’s DLC makes somewhat more sense now.

  7. TheAngriestHobo says:

    While I’m sad that RPS has lost some great writers like Richard and Pip, I gotta say that I’m enjoying seeing Fraser take on a prominent role. I’ve always liked his articles, and more representation for strategy (especially Grand Strategy!) is always appreciated.

  8. RaunakS says:

    Say I want to get Hearts of Iron IV, what are the essential DLCs? Should I just get the base game + the expansion pack? There are so many bundles that it’s super confusing, plus many of them don’t even seem to have a discount.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Get the base game and try it out. If you don’t like some of the ways the game plays (I’m personally thinking of air war micromanagement and endless piddling naval invasions, but I know other players have other issues) then the DLC won’t change that.

    • teije says:

      Unlike EUIV or CKII, I wouldn’t say any of the DLCs are essential at this point.

      • ramshackabooba says:

        I would say only “Common Sense” is essential for EU4, but I don’t consider any DLCs essential for CK2.

  9. Morte66 says:

    How does Victoria 2 play without the expansions, compared to with?

    • Blastaz says:

      Heart of darkness is definitely “needed” as probably is a house divided. At that point you might as well get the collection and get the cosmetic stuff for free.

      Then again you might get the dlc on a better discount in a subsequent sale

      • Morte66 says:

        Thanks both. I think I’ll wait — I don’t generally spend more than five pounds on games without a demo, and it’s way over that with both DLC.

        • Great Cthulhu says:

          Allow me to add a dissenting opinion. I like both expansions, but I consider neither essential. In fact, depending on your play style, you may even prefer the game without the them. With HoD it became a lot harder for small nations (and large nations with few ports) to build a large colonial empire, for instance.

    • ramshackabooba says:

      Victoria 2 is from the previous generation of Paradox games, back then you could only get fixes via expansions, so yes you really should get both expansions.

  10. Morat Gurgeh says:

    Thanks for the heads up, just got Age of Wonders 3 and having a blast. How did I miss this?!