Top PC Strategy Games of All Time

Children often can't grasp strategic thinking, which is why you're unlikely to hear a bunch of school kids on the bus chatting about tactics in Europa Universalis 4 or Crusader Kings 2. For them it's all about the latest FIFA or Call of Duty.

Whilst you could argue that both FIFA and COD require a level of strategy, the list of the PC's Top Strategy Games of All Time doesn't dabble which such simplicities. In addition to the aforementioned hardcore titles, PC strategy games are dominated by long-term franchises such as Total War, StarCraft, XCOM, Command & Conquer and Civilization. These are games so in-depth that you'll be weeks into the experience and likely yet to have scratched the surface.

So if you want to feel more cleverer than the average Joe you should stop signing into Xbox LIVE to play Call of Duty against a bunch of teenagers, and instead load up Steam and download any of the games from our list of the Best PC Strategy Games of All Time. By the time you're done you'll have bumped your IQ up a few notches.

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  • 30.

    The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom

    Settlers 7 is a fabulous game. It's unique, challenging, refreshing, and all sorts of beautiful. If all-conquering internet phenomenon FarmVille is the natural evolution of anything, it is Settlers. Settlers, as any PC gamer... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 29.

    Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai

    There's a magic in Fall of the Samurai's weird juxtaposition of old and new. On paper, Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai reads like the ramblings of an eight year old after his first history lesson, hand stretched tentatively... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 28.

    Civilization V - Gods and Kings

    Gods & Kings will certainly rekindle the attention of those faithful to Civilization V's streamlined focus. George Michael famously sang that we all needed faith, but few things needed it more than vanilla Civilization V.... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 27.

    Company of Heroes 2

    A fantastic package that outdoes its peers not in tactical nuance, but in raw spectacle. Company of Heroes 2 outdoes its peers not in tactical nuance, but in raw spectacle. Its battles are governed as much by physics as they... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 26.

    Total War: Rome 2

    Total War: Rome 2 is a great game, but not the masterpiece you may have been hoping for. It took me a long while to click with Rome 2. A nine-year wait between the original and its successor meant I came into my first campaign... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 25.

    Octodad: Dadliest Catch

    A rewarding, idiosyncratic romp imbued with nonsense, humour, and pathos. Although less convincing than a trenchcoated, bowler-hatted, fake-mustachioed comic strip schoolboy standing on a chum's shoulders, no one but the... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PS4, PC

  • 24.

    XCOM 2

    Vive la résistance! Is XCOM 2 good on consoles? XCOM 2: The Ballad of Warlord Kelly Some of the added mechanics in XCOM 2 mean Commander Alice get's heavily invested in her rag-tag team of guerrilla resistance fighters,... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

  • 23.

    Oliver twists the knife Antihero is a small, elegantly formed strategy game, played like a board game set in Victorian London. As a master thief, you must get five victory points quicker than your opponent — these are won... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 22.

    The Sims 2

    The Sims 2 is worth getting ahold of under any circumstances - though it's far more likely to get ahold of you somehow. And I warn you: it won't let go. People insist on telling me that The Sims was the most unpredictable... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC, Cube, PS2, Xbox

  • 21.

    Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

    So in conclusion, Dawn of War is a great game. Players who just wish to play single player should approach with caution, whereas online gamers should lap up this excellent title Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, known throughout... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 20.

    Rome: Total War

    A glorious balance of turn-based management and real-time combat. As good as historical RTS gets. With the second series of Time Commanders in full swing at the time of writing, now seems like an opportune moment to publish... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 19.

    Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Winter Assault

    Genuine gaming additions such as the new tech-trees ensure that Winter Assault is just as essential an online experience as the original DoW. Winter Assault is not an expansion pack. That is to say, those gamers that own... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 18.

    Civilization IV

    An exceptional game that will keep megalomaniacs off the streets for months to come. Civilization IV showcases the very best that the turn-based strategy genre has to offer. War, huh? What is it good for? Well, winning games... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 17.

    DEFCON: Global Thermonuclear War

    If you love strategy games or simply like interesting gaming experiences, this is for you. So, here's to Global Thermonuclear war. Who knew it would be so much fun? DEFCON was always going to be an easy sell for Introversion.... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 16.

    Company of Heroes

    Company of Heroes doesn't so much raise the bar for RTS games, but twists it into knots and blasts it into orbit. Company of Heroes is a game that I've had marked down as "a bit special" since I got to play the preview code... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 15.

    Supreme Commander

    With incredibly inventive mission objectives, a spectacular sense of scale and an overall feeling of strategy that puts other real-time strategies to shame, Supreme Commander is a classic. This one has been top of many people's... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 14.

    Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars

    Whether you're an obsessive fan or a newcomer making your first tentative steps into the RTS genre, Command & Conquer 3 should be in your collection. Few games hold as many fond memories as the Command & Conquer series but... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 13.

    World in Conflict

    Experts will tear through World In Conflict's campaign quickly enough, but it's just the starter, whetting the palette for the main course, a hugely engaging multiplayer extravaganza. Ever wondered what would have happened... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 12.

    Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization

    It's all a bit hectic, and at times it may all feel a bit much to handle - but then that's the challenge, isn't it? Some video games are all about quick, visceral pleasures: head-shotting an enemy from halfway across the... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 11.

    Empire: Total War

    Empire is without doubt or reservation the best Total War yet and is a game of unmatched scope and ambition, with its uniquely compulsive blend of turn-based strategy and real-time tactics. Preconception is probably the greatest... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 10.

    World in Conflict: Complete Edition

    If you've never sampled the wonder that is calling a nuclear strike down on your enemy in World in Conflict, then this Director's Cut is unequivocally worth forking out your hard-earned cash for. On the back of the World... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 9.

    Plants vs. Zombies

    With 50 levels, numerous unlockable modes that extend the lifespan significantly, stupidly addictive gameplay and fun-infused presentation you'd be a fool to pass up Plants Vs Zombies. It's not often a game completely exceeds... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 8.

    Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising

    There's little wrong with Chaos Rising. In almost all respects, it's a better game than Chaos Rising, and from a campaign perspective, the best since Warcraft III. It is a problem that has befuddled RTS developers for years:... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 7.

    Civilization V

    Civilization V is the most playable Civilization game to date. Yesterday it got so bad I played Civilization V while eating breakfast and dinner; I swapped lunch for a few snacks so I could spend more time defending my western... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 6.

    Total War: Shogun 2

    Shogun 2 is a worthy successor to the original and shows that Creative Assembly has no desire to stop making great strategy games. The land of the rising sun holds a strange sort of fascination for westerners, more so than... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 5.

    XCOM: Enemy Unknown

    XCOM works best as a panic management simulator. To get the most enjoyment from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, name your squad. Whether you opt for philosophers, authors, members of your favourite band, or even your Twitter pals, it's... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

  • 4.

    StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

    A solo campaign that knocks the socks off the one from Wings of Liberty and a refined multiplayer mode are marred slightly by a reliance on the original game. In an era in which additional content can take so many different... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 3.

    Card Hunter

    Card Hunter is excellent. Card Hunter is a browser-based free-to-play game which surprisingly isn't total rubbish. After you've finished reeling, here's another shock: Card Hunter is excellent. Strategy card games are in... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC

  • 2.

    XCOM: Enemy Within

    One of the best games of 2012 is back, and it might be the best game of 2013. Enemy Unknown's replay value wasn't evident until you started playing Iron Man, a mode which would cruelly wipe you out and force you to start... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

  • 1.

    StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

    StarCraft II can be daunting, distressing and demanding but it's one of the richest and most expertly produced video games of recent years. When we left off, in 1998, the insectoid Zerg had just betrayed the technologically-advanced... more

    Reviewed on:   Platforms: PC