10 Best Grand Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked

Grand strategy games are usually time consuming and involve many complex layers of management. Warfare, economics, and other systems feature in most major strategy games, though the emphasis given to each can vary widely from title to title.

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Many games can be categorized as grand strategy, but two game studios tend to dominate the genre: Paradox Interactive and Creative Assembly. While there are plenty of other great games made by other developers, these two have produced some of the best titles in the genre.

ten Dominions 5: Warriors Of The Faith is the rare exception to the rule of two

Dominions 5 fighting game

One of the best grand strategy games not made by Paradox or Creative Assembly is Dominions 5: Warriors of Faith by Illwinter Game Design. It features some of the most complex gameplay of any strategy game and doesn’t hold players’ hands as they navigate through its dense amount of mechanics.

Those who manage to grasp the game will find it to be one of the deepest grand strategy games available. The graphics may leave something to be desired, but gamers looking to immerse themselves in a truly meaty strategy game won’t be disappointed. Domains 5.

9 Crusader Kings II was the original Game of Thrones

Crusader King 2 game

Crusader Kings II places players in the role of a dynasty in medieval times and has them manage not only their kingdom but also their family. Player characters will marry, have children, age, and die over the course of the game, assuming they do not meet an untimely end.

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After a character dies, the player assumes the role of their children, expanding their kingdom through force and diplomacy. The base game is packed with endless entertaining moments. Like other Paradox games, it also has a dedicated modding community which adds much more content and replayability. There is even a high end game of thrones mod which could be the best translation of the series into video games available today.

8 Stellaris takes grand strategy to space

With our powers combined

The realm of science fiction is well represented in strategy games, and Paradox Stellaris is one of the best. Players take control of a space civilization as they expand across the galaxy, encounter alien species, and face galaxy-wide threats.

Stellaris allows players to fully customize their civilizations by creating completely unique alien species with their own governments and philosophies. Numerous endgame events and crises lead to near-infinite replayability.

seven Medieval II: Total War helped build the franchise

The fourth game of the total war series, Medieval II: Total War followed the success of its predecessors by featuring core gameplay similar to previous entries. While some criticized its lack of innovation, it was seen by many as a refinement of previous games.

Medieval II puts players in control of a medieval European state and features two main game modes; the campaign map and real-time battles. Both aspects are integral to the game and are a staple of all main series games.

6 Hearts Of Iron IV Puts The World At War Once Again

Iron game hearts

Set just before and during World War II, Hearts of Iron IV is one of the most complex historical war games. Players can manage the military economies, logistics, and politics of any of the nations involved in the massive conflict.

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Like other Paradox games, Hearts of Iron IV is quite free, allowing the player to choose one of the nations active during this period of history. Playing out ahistorical narratives like a communist Canada or preventing the rise of Germany altogether gives each playthrough unique and interesting possibilities.

5 Total War: Rome II lets players see and conquer the classic world

Total War Rome 2 battle game

Released in 2013, Total War: Rome II was a very successful entry in the franchise, praised for its cinematic battles and detailed campaign map. Although the game received criticism for bugs and glitches upon release, many of them were fixed in subsequent patches.

Gameplay uses the systems fans of the franchise have come to know and love, all set in the classic world of ancient Rome. With over 100 factions, the scope is truly impressive and has helped set the stage for many total war games to follow.

4 Total War: Warhammer II is a well-made fantasy war game

Total War Warhammer 2 battle game

the total war the series’ second foray into the world of war hammer was a huge success. It builds on the first game by offering a new map and new factions to play. The game also features an impressive amount of stories woven into its strategy gameplay.

While Total War: Warhammer 2 is functionally similar to other games in the franchise, the addition of fantasy elements like magic and monsters creates innovative gameplay. Players who own both the first and second games also have access to a game mode called Mortal Empires which features a larger map and combines factions from both games.

3 Crusader King III is the ultimate dynasty simulator

Building on everything that made the previous game in the series great, Crusader Kings III was hugely successful, selling over a million copies in the first month after its release.

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The third entry in the Crusader Kings The franchise features dramatically improved graphics, intuitive user interfaces, and enhanced mechanics. The planned downloadable content aims to further expand gameplay and give players even more freedom to customize their kingdom and change medieval history for better or worse.

2 Europa Universalis IV is truly big in scope and gameplay

Europa Universalis 4 world map

Europe Universalis IV is perhaps the purest example of the grand strategy genre. Between the years 1444 and 1821 AD, players take control of one of hundreds of nations on a quest to change history and paint the map any color they choose.

The mechanics are incredibly deep and can be intimidating for new players, but the game has a fairly intuitive user interface that helps players navigate the many aspects of their nation. Managing the military, economic, religious and political aspects of the nation is a complex but satisfying experience. The amount of content in Europe Universalis IV means that players can easily spend hundreds or even thousands of hours in this game.

1 Total War: Shogun 2 slices through the competition

Total War Shogun 2 soldiers deployed for battle

Set in 16th century Japan, Total War: Shogun 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by moving away from a medieval European setting to put players in control of conflicting samurai warlords. A later extension, fall of the samurai, takes the game to the 19th century as the government tries to abolish the shogunate.

Shogun 2 received overwhelming praise upon release for both the refinement of its mechanics and the overall graphics and gameplay. Often considered one of the best strategy games of all time, it’s a staple of the genre and a must-have for fans of total war and grand strategy games in general.

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