Another decade has come and gone. In the past ten years, we saw a lot in the strategy genre with some bad and some great games gracing our screens. This list will take a look at the top 10 strategy titles of the 2010s.
Also read: Top Ten Games Of The 2010s
Before we begin the list, there are a few ground rules. It will only comprise of one game per franchise (i.e. Total War and Civilisation). Second is that the base game had to have come out in the 2010s, games with only expansions in the time-frame don’t count (i.e. Dawn of War II). Lastly, restoration projects on older games that don’t fundamentally change the gameplay also don’t count (i.e. Age of Empires II Definitive Edition). Now with the ground rules set, here is our top ten!
10. Frostpunk (2018)
Starting the list off we have Frostpunk. Developed and published by 11 Bit Studios, Frostpunk is a survival strategy game that sees you try to build a society whilst facing overwhelming odds. This is not a typical us vs them strategy as the main focus is keeping your colony alive and making hard permanent choices in doing so.
You can genuinely find yourself becoming connected to the people in your charge as you can rule over them with kindness and strong leadership, or via an iron fist, the choice is yours. If you manage to do really well you can even construct structural marvels and even attempt to expand beyond your start in New London.
Overall this was a very pleasant surprise, and one can find themselves completely absorbed in this game for hours after you wanted to call it a night. If you’re looking for a great strategy game that’s a little bit different, Frostpunk may be the game for you.
9. Men of War Assault Squad 2 (2014)
Men of War Assault Squad 2 was a really nice surprise to play. Developed by Digitalmindsoft and published by 1C Entertainment, MoWAS 2 is a strategy game based in WW2. In it, you can play campaigns as the U.S.A., USSR, Germany, Britain and Japan.
One thing that really sets this game apart is your ability to make on the fly decisions with individual troops. What I mean by this is every soldier has a name and an inventory. Now for example, if he runs out of ammo, you either have to restock or you can loot gear and weapons from the bodies of the fallen. Every faction has it’s own weapons, vehicles and special abilities when you acquire enough manpower.
The graphics are also quite good for a 2014 game. There’s also a strong modding community if you want a more beautiful/polished experience. Alternatively, you could also get the Star Wars mod for added content (highly recommended). This was definitely the standout military strategy game of the decade, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of the era.
8. Planetary Annihilation Titans (2015)
The sci-fi realm of strategy games always offers a wide variety of things to do. Developed by the company of the same name, Planetary Annihilation Titans is a fresh take on a very crowded market. What sets this title apart from the others is the ability to go from planet to planet in the same game.
This can lead to a multitude of encounters as you could be being invaded on the ground of one planet whilst engaging in a massive space battle over another. This can also create fun situations where you can blow up entire planets (as pictured above), as well as using smaller moons as literal battering rams.
The cartoonist look is also really refreshing and gives an added degree of relaxation as you rampage a Titan through an enemy base. The games relatively small download file size also makes it easily accessible to people with limited remaining space on their solid-state drives.
7. Slay the Spire (2019)
The newest entry on the list and only 2019 title belongs to Mega Crit Games, Slay the Spire. It’s fast-paced, looks beautiful and, most importantly, for a card strategy game, it feels fair. When you spec properly for scenarios you’re rewarded, and if you don’t the game will punish you.
To top off the already great vanilla game, there’s also a very strong modding community. With new free content added on a regular basis, you can play Slay the spire almost endlessly and it will feel new every playthrough.
The game is currently sitting at an overwhelmingly positive rating (97%) on Steam. If the game keeps evolving at its current rate it will remain a community favourite for years to come. It’s the perfect blend of chance and skill that makes this the penultimate card game of all-time.
6. Rimworld (2018)
Now Rimworld may never go on sale on Steam, but this is definitely worth the full price. This simple looking strategy is anything but simple, in fact, it’s one of the most in-depth games you will ever play (on higher difficulties). Developer Ludeon Studios has crafted something of a masterpiece in Rimworld and the 98% overwhelmingly positive score will back that up.
The premise is your colony has crashed landed, these are not professionals and it’s a harsh world out there. You can do anything from managing their health to progressing relationships and fighting off pirates and other more terrifying creatures with weapons you must craft. You can explore for quests or even to migrate your colony and potentially tame a pet or two.
I cannot stress this enough, don’t be deceived by appearances. If you want a game that really makes you think and has an enormous amount of depth then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better game than Rimworld.
5. Starcraft II (2010)
One of the defining games of the RTS genre of strategy games is Blizzards Starcraft II. Certainly the dominant strategy game on the e-sports scene, as well as the game with the most cinematic story on this list.
When Starcraft II first came out is blew our minds with its ability to play at a smooth 60 fps which was very rare at the time. Over the years Blizzard continued to support the game with two new expansions that added a new campaign and new units to the three factions of the game.
Every faction has it’s own shtick and as such play differently from one another. Certainly, a prime example of easy to learn but hard to master, and a still large online community means there’s no shortage of fun to be had for an almost ten-year-old game.
4. Stellaris (2016)
You can’t have a strategy games list without an entry from Paradox Interactive. While Europa Universalis IV could have potentially made the spot, I decided to give it to Stellaris. Once again the sci-fi setting creates a world of things to do, and with regular expansions and mods the content just keeps on rolling in.
This is one of those games where exploration feels really satisfying. You can run across all manner of things from wormholes to primitive civilisations and even superstructures like Dyson spheres. You can even customise the arsenal of your ships to befit whatever immediate threat you may be dealing with. You can also set what kind of people you are which can lead to many different victory types.
It isn’t uncommon to see people put thousands of hours into this game. With constant additions, both paid and free, Stellaris will be a game that becomes your life for many years to come.
3. Mount & Blade Warband (2010)
Barely eligible with a March 31st 2010 release date, TaleWorld Entertainment’s Mount & Blade Warband is number three. The game is a unique concept that blends strategy and RPG elements. You can command an army and move through a big campaign map like a Total War game, but your story is centralised around your character.
This blend is absolutely magnificent. You can hire/recruit troops, and even find named companions who can accompany you. You can even give them gear and spec out their skills. As you rise in power you can even join a faction, or create your own and try to rule the world.
There’s also an expansion that adds two new campaigns. If that also doesn’t tickle your fancy then you can get even more campaigns via the enormous mod collection. This game is loaded to the brim with fun whether it’s rummaging through Calradia, or leading Easterlings into battle via the Third Age mod.
2. Sid Meier’s Civilization V (2010)
A top 10 strategy games list would be pretty bad if it didn’t include a Civilization game. With 2010’s Civilization V, Fireaxis Games and 2K managed to create the best of the entire franchise. This is the title that introduced the new hexagonal grid and removed unit stacking (which was overpowered in older games).
There’s more civs than ever with an easier to manage system of different ways to win. The game runs unbelievably smooth and has a very pleasing aesthetic to it. It also still has the best net code of any of the civ games and the other two Civilization games that came out this decade weren’t anywhere akin to the masterpiece that is Civilization V.
As if the base game wasn’t amazing enough, there’s also a host of DLC that can be grabbed on sale for next to nothing. Top that off with a great selection of mods and you’ll be playing just one more turn for hours upon hours.
1. Total War Warhammer II (2017)
Quite possibly the single greatest strategy franchise ever, there’s no list without Total War. The jump to fantasy really paid off for Creative Assembly and Sega as Total War Warhammer II is the best game the franchise has produced since Medieval II. Shogun 2 was the only other title in the decade with a chance at this spot, but the variety difference for replay-ability put Warhammer II on top.
The game as a whole is a grand spectacle. Great fun to soak in and can get very challenging on higher difficulties. All major factions play with their own unique mechanics and units, and the generals of your armies have more impact than ever. Plus if you have a copy of Warhammer I then you can play the mortal empires campaign which combines the two games and all the factions within them for a gargantuan sized map.
Couple that with added content coming out the wazoo both paid and free, and you can play near endlessly. Not to mention the mods in this game are easily the greatest of any Total War games mad collection. It’s the game on the list I’ve logged the most time into (432 hours) and for good reason, it’s the most fun game to play in the list.
XCom 2 (2016)
The runner up game on the list as there’s really nothing fundamentally wrong with XCom 2. It has great visuals and fun game-play (except when you miss the point-blank shot), and has a great element of strategy and bonding with your characters. It simply came down to the fact I enjoyed Frostpunk slightly more.
Cities Skylines (2015)
The new definitive title for city builders and the spiritual successor to Sim City 2000. Again this is a great game and was in consideration for the top 10. Where Frostpunk beat it was ultimately in the fact you don’t just build a city but also society. That little extra X-factor kept Cities Skylines off the list, but it was no landslide by any conceivable amount.
A great new take on the RTS genre as not only are you managing your game like a typical RTS but it changes based on the weather. The visuals are pleasing to the eye and it’s not a fast-paced game so you can play with more relaxation. Where it didn’t quite cut into the top 10 is in the stage of the game where you just haphazardly throw your blob of troops against the enemies slightly smaller blob and usually win. The moments up until that point are great but when you toss away the strategy aspect during the fights you can’t compete with the other entries on the list.
What are some of your favourite strategy games of the 2010’s? Let us know in the comments below!