10 strategy games that will sharpen your tactics

You're no army general or mayor, and people's lives probably don't rest on the decisions you make—time for that to change. Check out these strategy games to get the tactical edge on any opponent.

Make your move

Think deeply. Plan your next move carefully, or it could be your last.

Strategy games are the best ways to have fun and sharpen those acute decision-making skills we all love to flaunt.

Whether you're planning the perfect assault, finding the most efficient supply chain, or simply running for your life to survive, it's important to be able to formulate a plan. These games are the way to do it—starting with captaining your own deathtrap, er, spaceship.

FTL: Faster than Light

You won't acquire any real-life technical know-how about piloting a fictional spacecraft, but you will learn strong leadership skills and the ability to act quickly.

Take your Federation ship into the vast solar system to outrun the pursuing rebels. Every jump could land you in some hot water—and may end up being your last.

Conjure all your Star Trek knowledge, power up the weapons, and man the shields, because it's going to be a bumpy ride. The only way to survive is a lot of strategy—and even more luck.

Check out our FTL review here.

Civilization 5

Are you up to the challenge of managing a nation from birth to a thriving technological utopia? Or how about a militaristic superpower? Your choice.

We love strategy games, and this one takes the cake. Choose every path of your civilization and manage every city, from what they build to the traits they focus on.

With the brand-spanking new expansion, Brave New World, you can enjoy promoting tourism and discovering archaeological sites. Choose from a ton of new civilizations, and implement revenue-producing trade routes. How you win is still up to you.

Starcraft II

Whether you're a fan of the first (Wings of Liberty) or the newest installment (Heart of the Swarm), Starcraft II takes brainpower, as well as quick reflexes, to succeed.

Select from three different races, all with their own strengths, weaknesses, and traits, and build up a base and an army to defeat your enemy.

Micromanaging your army takes serious concentration and battlefield know-how. Doing this while also being as productive as possible at your base takes your mental capacity to new heights.

Check out our review of Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm here.

Anno 2070

When the hustle and bustle of fighting wars and avoiding explosions is too much, Anno 2070 may be more your speed.

Yes, there are still conflicts that need to be addressed with guns and nukes, but it's much more about planning out a small civilization to be as productive as possible.

Choose from two groups with different ideals: "Eco," a bunch of tree-hugging conservationists, and "Tycoon," a cadre of ruthless capitalists. Use the island's natural resources to build an economy, trade routes, and exports. It's all rather technical.

Another twist: Build up a profitable production line while using resources to build an army to defend yourself against a rogue AI—just another Friday in the future.

Company of Heroes

The highest-rated real-time strategy game to date, Company of Heroes earned its title through innovative combat, destructible environments, and a unique cover system. Never has commanding the Allies—or Axis—to victory been so rewarding—except for maybe when it happened for real.

It's a much slower-paced game than Starcraft 2, but the intelligent strategies and decisions you employ will give you the edge over your opponent, and you will achieve victory for your actions.

If you prefer the frozen Eastern Front, Company of Heroes 2 was recently released, pitting the Soviets against the Germans with the weather as an equal opponent. You can check out our review of Company of Heroes 2 here.

Command & Conquer Ultimate Edition

Try to choose the best Command & Conquer game. It's not so easy when you realize how many there are, and how differently they all play. But why choose when you can get the entire collection in one neat package?

The Ultimate Collection (widely available) includes everything from the very first game that kicked off modern real-time strategy game-playing, to the recent Command & Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight.

You've heard of Command & Conquer for a reason. Whether you're playing the games for the first time or just taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this collection is worth picking up.

League of Legends

League of Legends is just one game in a genre that is getting a lot of attention—mostly because of the crazy amounts of strategy and teamwork that goes into them. It doesn't hurt that it's also one of the biggest e-sports around. (Jump to its website here.)

Command a valiant hero to battle against the other team, also with its own hero. Meanwhile, small groups of mindless creatures will duke it out in tug-of-war-type game play.

Communication, planning, and a strategy for buying powerful items are all essential for victory. You can get into some tricky and tense situations—making that sweet kill all the better.

Rome: Total War

This may have a few years under its belt, but it's still the most beloved Total War game of the franchise. (Here's the official website.)

Select one of three Roman houses and attempt to expand your empire over 50 provinces, battling the other houses in the process. Build up cities with buildings that provide perks to the citizens, your economy, and the military. But that's only half the battle.

When an army meets an enemy, a real-time tactical battle takes place on a 3D plane. Everything from the terrain to morale factors into victory, but you'll have to prove your worth with superior planning and positioning.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

It's tough to fight a technologically superior alien species—that's why you have to be smart and strategic to blast them away.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown puts you in command of a fragile squad of humans outfitted with weapons, armor, and abilities to dispatch the aliens that are making a ruckus on Earth.

If a squad member dies, they stay that way—taking all their precious experience with them. Be smart and think before you move, shoot, and throw that grenade!

Check out our review.

Age of Empires II HD Edition

Harken back to a time when strategy games were hitting their stride and really taking the world by storm—but now with much nicer graphics.

This remake of the classic title (released back in 1999) puts a little makeup on the graphics that were rough around the edges, while maintaining the fun and classic game play.

Command a kingdom. Build up farms, blacksmiths, and armies to flourish and conquer your foes. Collect resources to fund everything, and build a giant wall to keep the bad guys away.

11 killer sim games that immerse you in reality

You're pooped from all that thinking, planning, and strategizing. Why not drink in the sights of North America via train, or admire Europe from behind the wheel of a big-rig, or even see the skies from an A-10C Warthog. Of course, you'll need to learn how to use them first.

Check out this slideshow of some awesome simulation games that will put you in the driver's seat of your choice.

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