What makes the best strategy games so popular? From simple games with pieces made from seeds to chess, people have enjoyed tactical challenges for centuries. Strategy games continue to capture our imaginations in the digital age with the oldest of mechanics being blended with the technology and graphics video games can offer.
So, how have strategy games evolved to what they are today, and what is it that makes the best strategy games online so appealing? If you don’t already know, read on!
While the terms “turn-based strategy games” and “strategy war games online” give us the ultra-modern impression of online gaming and eSports, their roots go all the way back to the days of Ancient Egypt and the Levant. Multiplayer strategy games back then were as much a tactical training tool as they were a way of entertaining and challenging the mind. The mancala mechanic is around 5000 years old, and is still included in many modern strategy games. Its objective generally challenges players to capture all or certain pieces belonging to the opposition.
Further, we all know the imagery of old military leaders, based in fantasy or reality, playing chess to hone their wits and show off their strategic superiority. And, if certain beloved sci-fi shows are to be believed, three dimensional variations of what is possibly one of the best strategy games will continue to be played far into the future.
War strategy games that simulated military tactics were particularly important to the Prussians in the 18th century. These types of games revolutionized military training and continue to be used by all major armies these days.
Then, as digital technology came into being, developers were quick to see the potential of strategy games for recreation. Some of the best strategy games emerged when developers realized that the genre could be reinvented with “real-time gaming”. These games were separate from traditional turn-based strategy games in the sense that players had to react to situations instantly leading to more intense experiences.
Online multiplayer strategy games continued the revolution after the turn of the millenium. With the internet connecting people around the world and technology improving, many of the most popular strategy games for PC and console became vastly more complex. The best strategy games were massively multiplayer online (MMO) strategy games, giving players the chance to enter virtual worlds where hundreds, if not thousands, of opponents were waiting to challenge them.
The increasing number of players also led to a larger revenue base, which made the free-to-play model feasible. The number of free strategy games available has grown further with the rise of mobile gaming. Nowadays, most people in the developed world have a smartphone, and the market for free strategy games is huge. The result is that gaming has become more accessible than ever. Your portal to playing strategy war games online along with a whole bunch of other subgenres lies right in your pocket!
However, for all the developments from board games to free strategy games on PC, the fundamentals have remained the same. When you strip everything back, strategy games test your wits against your opponent, be it an AI enemy or a human.
Over the years, these games have splintered into all-new subgenres that give players an innovative look at an otherwise ancient concept. Let’s take a look at some of the popular ones right now:
These games, as the name suggests, happen in real time. Players don’t take turns to perform in-game actions; they play simultaneously. Other core aspects of real-time strategy games are resource gathering, base building, unit training, technology development, and enemy unit and building destruction. These games can be played against AI opponents (PvE), or other players (PvP) online.
In the last decade, this subgenre jumped on the MMO bandwagon to give rise to massively multiplayer online real-time strategy games (MMORTS). The ability to challenge thousands of other players from across the world in real-time has greatly contributed to its huge boost in popularity.
This subgenre also happens in real time. No surprise there. These are typically war strategy games that usually do away with the resource micromanagement and base development aspects to focus on operational warfare and military tactics instead. While traditionally these were single player experiences, some popular online multiplayer strategy games have come up recently in this subgenre, combining cooperative and competitive gameplay modes.
It’s a little bit harder to decipher what an Auto Battler is from its title, but it becomes easier once you know that these strategy games are also called Auto Chess. Two or more players face off on a chess-like playing field. Here, players place their units on the field, as and when they become accessible, and watch them battle it out automatically to see if their strategy wins out.
Unlike real-time strategy, this subgenre requires players to take turns to perform actions. Apart from this main difference, many other features can cross over from real-time strategy games into turn-based strategy games.
I think you may be starting to see a pattern here. Turn-based tactics games are typically war strategy games, similar to their real-time counterparts, but they are played in turns rather than simultaneously, just like turn-based strategy games. Some of the leading games in this subgenre have started incorporating RPG elements as well to give greater gameplay depth.
If you thought time management strategy games sound too much like work, I wouldn’t blame you. These games usually have a more casual theme and require players to fill requests in as timely a manner as their resources allow.
Though they are usually single player experiences, some exciting couch co-op titles have captured loyal fanbases in recent years. The frenetic gameplay and the real-time coordination needed to succeed as a team makes these games perfect for co-op play.
These can be either real-time or turn-based, and the focus is on defending your territory. The enemies here usually have a defined path, and it is up to you to place key structures and units to slow them down and defeat them before they reach the part you’re trying to protect. This subgenre became particularly popular in the early 2000s with the rise of flash technology paving the way for numerous cult tower defence strategy games online.
Finally, we have grand strategy games. Players pick a nation and control its military or sometimes its entire government, strategizing on a global scale. They must build alliances, use diplomacy, and optimize resource usage to win battles and increase the territory they take care of. Many of the leading titles here have begun incorporating RPG elements too, allowing gamers to keep playing with the members of their dynasty through the ages.
We’ve already talked about how intellectually stimulating the best strategy games can be. But we would quickly lose interest if by the end of a strategy war game online we felt no sense of accomplishment. Overcoming or outwitting an opponent taps into a person’s competitive nature, and strategy games take full advantage of that fact.
Many of the best online strategy games have complex AI that helps you learn the game in the beginning, and matches your level as you master the mechanics. So, you won’t get bored and you won’t be frustrated by constant defeat.
Further, the inclusion of clan mechanics in the leading free online strategy games also appeals to our human nature. Social gameplay can take the strategic aspect of these games to a whole new level. Being part of a team also gives a sense of camaraderie and adds a new dimension to the experience.
In addition, psychologists have found that playing strategy games on PC or mobile help you improve your ability to prioritize and think logically in the real world too. So, there’s a whole bunch of reasons that make the top titles appealing.
If you’re looking to dive in, you’re sure to find something right up your alley among the hundreds of free online strategy games out there. You want to explore space? There’s a strategy game for that. How about ruling in a medieval society? You can bet there’s something like that. If you think strategy war games online aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of free online strategy games in the casual time management subgenre too. You can easily pick them up, play a game on a break, and get back to business! So, just choose one and get started.