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As a big fan of strategy games it was difficult for me to choose just one. I couldn't decide between Age of Empires 3, Crusader Kings 3, Anno 1800, and Empire Total War. However, in the end I have to go for the latter, given its presentation, huge amount of depth, and also just the fact I love the 1700s as a setting in any game. It does have many pitfalls but in my opinion it remains the best Total War game to date. It manages to capture the feeling of the era very well, and there's just so much depth to it, with all the various factions, each having different troops, each region having different changes in their playstyle, and more. I think it beats out the others I mention in how timeless it is and how many different scenarios you can play out, and how diverse it can be in each campaign or battle.

Speaking of battles, as it's a Total War game, it's essentially two games in one. The large-scale management of your nation, and the micromanagement and battle tactics that the franchise is known for. Moving around your soldiers on the field, planning out the best tactics, having to make do with whatever untrained troops you have, it truly makes you feel like some military mastermind.

Civilization

If I were to pick a single game, I'd say Civilization VI, but my reasons apply to the whole series.

All strategy games have the potential for abuse: a best build that you can rush and dominate your opponents. I quickly grew tired of matches ending in 5 minutes because I wanted to try something different or couldn't quite click the same options faster than my opponent.

Taking a turn-based approach, Civilization allows you to think a little more and gives you far more winning conditions than just domination. You can pursue a victory in science, culture, faith, diplomacy, run the clock down, or go to war. Randomly generated maps provide you with starting resources that may help or hinder you, requiring you to think deeply about your next steps rather than spamming units. Civilization VI even introduces more political elements and natural disasters that can tear through your progress like soft butter.

As a child watching my stepdad play Civilization II on PlayStation, it looked like the most boring game on the planet. Grabbing Civ V for a fiver and loving it so much that I bought Civ VI at full price, I stand completely corrected. Everyone should give this a shot, even if strategy isn't their normal bag.

It's also 90% off on Steam at the time of writing.

I am going to state, Red Alert period, end of story.

This was my first ever PC game and came with two mission lists, Basically Allies & Soviets, some of these missions were beyond difficult at the time, for this was a new genre of PC gaming, long campaigns, tactical know-how needed and you had to plan your attacks around your resources.

With the structures being weaker than fish on land, this was the first game of its kind that required you to have proper defenses in place on missions as well as multiplayer, you had special units such as "Tanya" etc, and everything from Aircraft to Seacraft, you could swarm bases with a man army or send in units in waves, etc.

For me, my challenge was always loading up 8 player maps and setting myself against 7 NPC armies and after each match, cranking the difficulty or having my friends come over, messing with routers to get the connection right, and then going 1v1 and staring daggers at each other when one of us got the upper hand.

Red Alert forced its players to THINK before attacking, every mission had maybe one or two ways of doing it, or you ran out of money and you failed, you had to fully think your way through the entire situation before acting.

One of the best strategy games ever made in my opinion.

My goodness you've all got great taste. I love all these nominations already.

While I understand that this is a community centered around Video Games, the criteria for the best strategy game of all time doesn't strictly limit us to computer or digital games, right? So, I'd like to step outside the box and nominate something that predates our modern understanding of games by over 2500 years: the ancient game of Go.

Go's beauty and complexity stem from its minimalistic rules, leading to a nearly infinite number of possible moves. This vast array of possibilities ensures that every game is unique, presenting new challenges and requiring constant adaptation.

In contrast to modern strategy video games, Go is a game of ‘perfect’ information. There are no hidden elements, chance occurrences, surprise mechanics, loot boxes, or unpredictable variables like those found in Civilization’s tech tree or StarCraft’s fog of war. Every move in Go is deliberate and consequential, requiring players to think several steps ahead, anticipate their opponent’s strategy, and adapt accordingly. This level of strategic foresight and flexibility is unmatched in most digital strategy games.

Moreover, Go embodies the essence of pure strategy. Unlike Civilization, or C&C, which often involves resource management, real-time decision-making, and multitasking, Go focuses solely on strategic placement and territorial control. This purity makes Go not just a game, but a mental discipline. It's a test of patience, planning, and psychological insight.

The choice of Go over modern video games also lies in its timeless appeal and historical significance. Go has been studied for centuries, with strategies evolving and being passed down through generations. It's a game that connects players (of all ages!) to a rich tradition of strategic thought, something modern games, with their ever-changing platforms and updates, cannot emulate.

In conclusion, while video games like Civilization, Total War, and Anno present complex and varied strategic experiences, Go stands apart in its elegance, depth, and the pure strategic challenge it offers. Go is an art.

The Battle of Polytopia

Move over Civilization. Make way for Polytopia! This charming turn-based strategy game is all about exploration, growing your villages, harvesting resources, researching new technologies and growing your armies. Each new game starts you in a biome unique to your tribe and with a bonus technology. As you explore you will push back the fog of war and find villages and temples that are free to take over, but before long you'll bump into neighbouring tribes.

You'll need to use strategy to develop your villages and research technologies at a faster pace than your neighbours and use overwhelming force to pick apart your neighbours and add their villages to your empire!

Polytopia has different game modes including Perfection (develop as much as possible in 30 turns) and Domination (defeat all other tribes on the map).

With 16 different tribes to choose from, the game has a lot of replayability.

You can challenge yourself against the computer opponents, play online or do pass and play with a friend at home.

It's free to download, with in-app purchases essentially being extra tribes to play as.

You'll have a lot of fun.

I'm just going to say "Chess" and leave it at that. Chess is not only "alive" some 200 years after its inception, it's stronger now than ever. No other game holds a candle frankly.

Star Wars - Empire at War

It was the first strategy game I ever played and still only the tabletop Star Wars Armada could beat it for me. The more planets your control the more resources you will have and battles are fought both in space and on the surface for control over a planet.

It's set before A New Hope and and features famous characters from the movies like Admiral Ackbar, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader. You can get these heroes summoned in time of need and they will help you in your battle.

I loved to go down to planets known from the movies and books and establish or conquer outposts. You can pick a side, Empire or Rebellion and since the Forces of Corruption expansion introducing a third faction the Zann Consortium, should you fancy becoming a crime lord.

Each side has signature fighting styles and requires different strategies so if you enjoy them all there's plenty of replay options in the game. There are multiple endings to the game, both canon and non-canon, depending which faction you play, how and where your final battle will take place.

Best thing in it all? As mentioned in this discussion it's still getting updates after 17 years!

I loved Risk as a game.

I have really fond memories being a child trying to take over the world.

It generally ended up in lots of shouting and raised voices... pretty much like real world politics and diplomacy.

Surprise ambushes, occupation of nations, betrayal, alliance forming, backstabbing and cheating - who doesn't want some of that over a hot chocolate on Christmas morning?!

I just wish that i could find the game at home ... I've got the urge to play it now! :D

Does this game even need an intro? Age of Empires II!

This is the game that set everything off RTS-wise - right from the get-go, right from when we still had to string the LAN wires between everyone's dorm rooms...

For this explanation, I'll keep it simple and retain it to the base edition released in 1999. (Yes, it is that old!)

This game has everything that one could as for RTS wise, and then some. The gameplay still is, in my eyes, the best to this day with its timeless and polished mechanics and graphics.

The historical setting for this game, spans each of the historical periods including the Middle Ages to the Imperial ages with every civilization dreamable! (The Teutons were always my favourite)

Another thing to note is that every civilisation was balanced with its own strengths and weaknesses, with their unique civilization troop, technologies and units allowing for unlimited replayability because no single strategy is "the meta" and is the singular tactic to use... I mean, throwing a whole bunch of foot soldiers at a cavalry-focused civilization isn't the greatest idea!

Then you have the neat resource management - everything must be managed correctly for other resources are finite and your opponents won't hesitate to sneakily grab yours whilst you're busy up north. It was well polished, with the resource demands ramping up later in the game which forced players to start making moves on each other (Uh, strategically of course...)

Then, like my comment in the first sentence..... the multiplayer experience.

I don't think many games can hold a candle to the multiplayer experience (except quake) with its great multiplayer games. It was so easy, accessible and fun, everybody could play! And even 25 years along since its release, there are hundreds and hundreds of lobbies, still on! Talk about popularity.

All of these things combined with its strategic depth, scenario editor for unlimited replays and wacky creations, and fantastic tutorial and singleplayer missions, easily puts Age of Empires II at the VERY top of my list.

Wololololo

Chess. Forces you to use your brain, very fun and great with a drink/and/or a snack.

nnnnnnnnoooooooooooo I just wrote a love letter to red alert 2 and clicked submit to bought again by accident and it cleared my whole story instead of clicking post submission :(

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