Expand. Explore. Exploit. Exterminate. Strategy games are incredibly fun to play, especially if you are kind of a strategist type that likes to manage your growing empire and conquer new lands with your mighty troops.

Strategies give you the opportunity to test your planning skills or reflexes, or the mix of both, and they reward you with a sense of accomplishment once you defeat your rivals or become the world’s superpower.

If you’re looking for a new strategy game to play, then we’ve got you covered – check the list down below, as there’s a high chance that there are some cool games you didn’t try yet.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Developer:Triumph Studios
Release year:2019

Age of Wonders: Planetfall will take you to the sci-fi universe, where you will have to fight against other factions for dominance over the procedurally generated world. For fans of strategy games it might appear oddly familiar, as it slightly reminds of the Civilization series. However, to say it’s just a sci-fi Civilization clone would be a huge misunderstanding.

age of wonders planetfall

The biggest difference is how the battles are actually played – battles are declared on the campaign map, but the combat takes place on a battlefield, where you can command your units in a turn-based fashion. The title comes with several cool features that will greatly enhance your playing experience and increase the strategy factor, including unit and avatar customization, technology research, and several unique playable factions.

Key features
  • 6 playable factions, each with its own unique playstyle
  • Unit customization and procedurally generated maps
  • Multiple win conditions

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Developer:Firaxis Games
Release year:2016

We mentioned the Civilization series above, and the latest installment of the franchise should not be omitted when making the list of the best 4X strategy games. The game lets you become a leader of one of many available civilizations and lead the chosen nation through ages to become the world’s next superpower.

Sid Meier's Civilization VI (PC)

You will be responsible for founding and developing new settlements, conducting research, and recruiting an army that will get rid of your rivals. Diplomacy, religion, and culture also play a huge role in the title, allowing you to even go after an alternative win condition – you can, for example, focus on tourism and culture and win the game once your civilization’s culture is considered the most influential one.

Key features
  • Dozens of playable nations and leaders with unique bonuses
  • Turn-based strategy on the hex-based grid
  • Multiple win conditions

Endless Space

Developer:Amplitude Studios
Release year:2012

Sci-fi games are very popular when it comes to 4X strategies, so here’s another one. Although Endless Space is not the newest 4X game, it is still able to provide countless hours of gameplay for those who enjoy conquering the space and building the next galactic empire.

endless space video game

The title lets you control one of the pre-made factions or create your own and explore distant star systems as your empire grows. Endless Space features a turn-based combat system that plays similarly to rock-paper-scissors, meaning both sides choose appropriate battle actions that are executed simultaneously.

Key features
  • 12 playable factions with the possibility to create custom ones
  • 7 victory conditions
  • Randomly generated galaxy map

Europa Universalis IV

Developer:Paradox Development Studio
Release year:2013

Europa Universalis can be extremely overwhelming, to the point of being daunting, especially if a new player gives it a try, but it generously rewards those who decide to spend some time on learning game’s complex mechanics and mastering its various aspects.

Europa Universalis IV

EU4 is played on a real world map consisting of hundreds of provinces and it starts in 1444 – you can pick any nation that existed during that time to become its leader and try to make it whatever you want it to be. The game does not have winning conditions, there are no winners – it’s more of a sandbox simulation where you are free to experiment and do some cool stuff with your kingdom.

Key features

Dominions 5 – Warriors of the Faith

Developer:Illwinter Game Design
Release year:2017

This one is quite interesting – it doesn’t have the graphics of a modern triple A title, but it surely makes up for it with its incredibly complex gameplay that will suit even the most demanding player commanders’ taste.

Dominions 5 - Warriors of the Faith

Dominions 5 is played in a medieval fantasy setting, where magic is just as common as the swords, and it draws a lot of inspiration from culture and myths. You will be playing the role of a god who leads his nation in order to defeat the rivals and become the one true god. Doing so will require you to conquer the lands or claim the Thrones of Ascension, but it’s easier said than done. Don’t be discouraged by the steep learning curve – the game is more than worth it to learn and play.

Key features
  • Turn-based strategy with a lot of depth
  • Thousands types of monsters and hundreds of special abilities
  • Over 900 spells to utilize during play

Galactic Civilizations III

Developer:Stardock
Release year:2015

The third installment of the Galactic Civilizations once again lets you build your galactic empire and spread the influence of your superpower across the space.

Galactic-Civilizations-III

The game comes with an interesting feature that allows you to design your ships in a very detailed way – you will be able to choose ship’s hull, drives, weapons, and more, and attach all these various parts just the way you like. The game encourages different playstyles and allows players to try various approaches to win, as there are 5 different alternative victory conditions, meaning that total domination is not the only way to enjoy the title.

Key features
  • Detailed unit customization
  • Massive research tree
  • 5 different win conditions

Stellaris

Developer:Paradox Development Studio
Release year:2016

Continuing on space strategies – meet Stellaris. Here you can manage your empire as it starts its interstellar journey through space. It might seem quite complex with all the options given to players to utilize at first, and it’s not a huge surprise, considering that it’s a game from Paradox studio.

Battle in Stellaris game

This time, however, the developers did their very best to make the game as accessible to newcomers as possible with all the in-game hints and tooltips, so you can quickly find your way around, even if you’re new to the genre. Definitely a must-play if you are serious about getting into strategy games, especially those set in the sci-fi universe.

Key features
  • Futuristic real-time grand strategy
  • Space and ground combat
  • Diplomacy options

Master of Orion

Developer:NGD Studios
Release year:2016

Back to the roots – the term 4X itself originates from the 1993 review of Master of Orion, after all. The classic game received a new life recently, in form of a new title also called Master of Orion.

master of orion

It brings back to life all familiar races and gives players the opportunity to experience a good piece of the original game. If you did play the original in the past, you are in for a treat and you will be positively surprised, but if you’re new, you will also quickly find yourself addicted to the game’s unique feel and gameplay.

Key features
  • Customizable ships, different for each available race
  • Enormous play area
  • Various ways of winning

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Developer:Stardock Entertainment
Release year:2013

Legendary Heroes is a standalone expansion to the Elemental: Fallen Enchantress and it offers enhanced gameplay that will surely keep you busy and entertained for a long time.

Fallen Enchantress Legendary Heroes

The game is set in the fantasy universe, where you will be able to recruit heroes, build cities, train armies, and conquer the land. The game offers quite a bit of customization options and gives players the possibility to choose the way they want to play. All in all, a great game for those seeking a new challenge – definitely worth checking out.

Key features

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War

Developer:Proxy Studios
Release year:2018

Most of the video games from the Warhammer universe are real-time strategies, but from time to time we get a little gem that comes with a different approach – and that’s the case here. For the first time ever we get a full-blown turn-based strategy instead.

Relics of War Video Game

It’s different, but it’s great, considering that Warhammer started as a board game. The game lets you play as one of four iconic factions, namely Space Marines, Astra Militarium, Orks, and Necrons. All factions are truly unique in how they are played and they have their own gameplay mechanics, so have fun discovering all possible tactics as you play.

Key features
  • First 4X turn-based Warhammer video game
  • 4 truly unique and well-known factions from the Warhammer universe
  • Randomly generated world

Aggressors: Ancient Rome

Developer:Kubat Software
Release year:2018

This one has a lot in common with Civilization, especially Civilization IV, but it proudly stands its own ground and excellently fills the niche for 4X games that are focused on the times of early Rome.

Aggressors Ancient Rome

It’s an indie game where you can choose your country and make it great by taking care of complex strategy elements, including diplomatics, combat, trading, research, demography management and laws. One thing that deserves a special mention is how much developers tried to keep things real by tailoring game mechanics around certain historical factors – much effort and love went into these areas.

Key features
  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • More complex than it first appears
  • Probably the best 4X strategy set in the Ancient Rome era

Distant Worlds: Universe

Developer:Code Force
Release year:2014

Distand Worlds: Universe is a re-release of Distant Worlds from 2010, a space grand strategy wargame that lets players control one of many playable races and micromanage it in order to dominate the galaxy.

Distant Worlds Universe

This version packs the original game and all of its DLCs into a single package for your convenience. What makes the game shine is the large playable area that consists of thousands of planets, and also an advanced unit customization system that allows players to create their very own ships. It’s also worth mentioning that the game is extremely mod-friendly, meaning that once you are done with everything the base game has to offer, you can try one of many popular mods to further enhance the gameplay.

Key features
  • Enormous playabale area with hundreds of star systems and thousands of planets
  • Huge research trees and a lot of playable races
  • Race-specific victory conditions

Star Ruler 2

Developer:Blind Mind Studios, Glacicle
Release year:2015

Star Ruler 2 is an amazing 4X game to try if you are interested in designing your space ships in a very detailed way. One of the title’s main strengths is a free-form ship builder that lets players create their ships from absolute scratch.

Star Ruler 2 Video Game

The building takes place on a hex-based grid where you can draw your ship with tiles and assign different groups of tiles different roles. Add more tiles to make the ship stronger, add different weapons, change their angle, and more. But the fun doesn’t stop there – the game also features advanced economy and allows you to play politics and diplomacy, for not every conflict can be resolved with use of brute force.

Key features
  • Ship designing with incredible amount of freedom
  • Real-time strategy with massive scale
  • Numerous technologies to research

Warlock II: The Exiled

Developer:1C:Ino-Co Plus
Release year:2014

Warlock II: The Exiled takes place in a fantasy world overflowing with magic and mystical creatures, but it’s probably unlike any other game you may have already played before.

Warlock 2 The Exiled

You will play the role of one of powerful warlocks as he tries to annihilate his rivals from the world map. There are some similarities with the Civilization series, like hex-based map, founding and developing new settlements, and recruiting armies, but the fantasy setting, warlock’s powerful spells, and heroes that can equip rare artifacts are already turning the game into something entirely different and worth checking out.

Key features
  • Turn-based strategy played on a hex-based map
  • Randomly generated maps for neverending replayability
  • Tons of spells and abilities to utilize

Eador: Masters of the Broken World

Developer:Snowbird Games
Release year:2013

For the final game, we’d like to show you something, that may interest fans of tactical turn-based combat. Eador: MoBW lets you grow your fantasy empire led by one of the mighty Masters.

Eador Masters of the Broken World

Rule your lands and conquer new ones. Find powerful artifacts that will make your character stronger, and learn devastating spells that will help you decimate your foes. Lead your army and test your strategic mind during turn-based encounters on the battlefield – roleplay your hero and tailor your own adventure.

Key features
  • Original living fantasy world
  • Turn-based strategy with tactical turn-based combat and RPG elements
  • Tons of spells, artifacts, and quests

Summary

4X stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate and originates from the 1993 review of Master of Orion. It’s usually used to describe strategy games that let players create and manage their empire, and are complex enough to require thorough planning and thinking a few steps ahead. Usually, you can find diplomacy and political systems, trading, religion, resource collection, research, army recruitment, and other stuff to worry and think about, adding multiple layers of empire management.

4X games often come with procedurally generated maps, so every game is a completely new adventure and needs individual strategies to be developed and executed by the players. The two most common settings for 4X games are space and fantasy, although it’s not the rule and not always the case. In modern-day usage, some games may even skip certain elements from the explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate quartet, and still be considered 4X games.

Because of how complex 4X strategies usually are, they have a steep learning curve that may be daunting for some players, especially the ones that are new to the genre:. In the case of certain 4X games, it’s not uncommon for players to spend literally hundreds of hours playing the game and still discover or learn about things they didn’t know about, or they didn’t have a thorough understanding of.

Depending on your point of view, this can be either a bad or a good thing – sometimes it’s great to know that the game still has some secrets waiting to be found, but it may not be that great if your time to play is limited. If that doesn’t discourage you, then go ahead and try the games mentioned above – once you get the grasp of a certain game and your empire starts to grow and prosper, it will begin to feel surprisingly rewarding.