Strategy games have been around since the early times of the video game industry. With incredible showcases such as XCOM and Sid Meier’s Civilizations in the genre’s early days, the genre has remained beloved. It may be one of the genres that profited most from enhanced hardware of the modern era, with impressive games being made in all the varied strategy sub-genres daily. However, the best game is a free game, so let’s check the best free strategy games.
It’s worth noting that MOBAs have spiraled from strategy game mods and have maintained a lot of strategic thinking behind them. DOTA 2 may hit this particular itch especially. Considering there are a few heroes that excel at multiple units.
DOTA 2 is a MOBA that puts you in the shoes of one of the many heroes on offer. These all have unique abilities, builds, options, talents, and playstyles to consider. Each moment of a game of DOTA 2 is filled with decisions that will lead to your team either winning or losing. When you take into account that teams are made up of 5 players, the strategic opportunities skyrocket.
DOTA 2 has been around for a while now and hasn’t stopped growing. With frequent updates and events spicing in enough interesting details for everybody to indulge in. Because it has varied roles for each player, DOTA 2 offers a playstyle for everybody. No two characters play the same, despite having some familiar pieces between them.
It’s possible to get quite competitive in the game, and the difference between early play and late play is definitely noticeable. Fans of RTS games will find characters such as Meepo, Beastmaster, and Chen especially enticing. These are micromanagement-heavy heroes who can truly turn the tides of battle with their minions and abilities.
Jumping into casual online games with friends is great, but eventually, you can all start playing the more serious game modes. Although toxicity can be an issue, playing as a full team will bring over the true strategic experience of DOTA 2.
A deceptively simple game, Minion Masters takes notes from Clash Royale and adapts them to a more elaborate game. The game is made out of two sides of the map, each with the hero on it. In the middle of the map are two bridges that connect the opposing forces, and the whole rest of the field is meant for spawning troops.
The troops are varied in function, appearance, and role. Each of these you’ll pick before battle while building your deck. Each has a dedicated cost which is paid in the auto-refilling resource. As time goes on, the speed of this resource’s refill will increase, making for more mayhem. The engaging battles can be fought, and twists in strength happen every few seconds.
Additionally, each game has you pick a leader for the army. These leaders have their own unique abilities that affect the fight. Some spawn units, others buff or debuff troops, and some are firmly focused on providing damage themselves. Every leader has a unique weapon that’s effective against different units. These unique features combined make for extra tactical choices when starting a game.
There are plentiful intricacies to consider when building your deck, choosing the leader, and even while playing the game. Things can change on a whim so keep an eye out. Constant decisions and high stakes of your mistakes makes Minion Masters a joy to play. It also has a co-op mode to play with your buddy for extra mayhem and strategies.
A passion project inspired and based on the Total Annihilation franchise. Zero-K has remained free despite the insane amount of work that went into it.
Zero-K uses the open-source details given by the Total Annihilation franchise to construct a new game tailor-made for fans and fresh experiences alike. It has been worked on since 2010, providing many content updates as time went on. Even at its basic level, it was an impressive game and has only gotten better.
Zero-K has over 100 unique units to experiment and play with. The focus is exactly on that, the RTS genre’s experimental grounds for interesting combinations that we can find out. With Zero-K’s incredible multiplayer, which still sticks around, you’ll get to try these combinations out with other players instead of bots only.
A well-known strategy game, Starcraft 2 offers a free trial on battle.net. This trial will give a good grasp of the playstyle of a few factions, the fun of engaging and complex strategy being present within the little taste it gives. With those in mind, Starcraft 2 is worth a check.
The game is heavily tactical, even at a basic level but in a way that isn’t overwhelming. There are quite a few starting tactics you can employ, making the learning process much easier to digest. Of course, you’ll take an incredible amount of time learning all the intricacies.
Although there aren’t many factions in the game, the complexity of each is astounding. Every player gets to interact with elaborate systems unique to each. With the constant learning curve present, mastering a single one is usually suggested.
The available campaigns will give some general insight and prepare us somewhat for more multiplayer-oriented combats. Should you enter them, we suggest consulting Starcraft 2 communities to find fun players in.
The genre of Auto Chess emerged somewhat recently. These games focus on crafting a team of powerful units on a board and letting battles resolve automatically. The strategic aspect comes from knowing when and what to purchase as well as knowing how to combine teams. Facing off against other players as teams grow every few rounds.
Dota Underlords is among the most polished members of the genre, with plentiful intricacies to consider. Of course, even at its most basic, it’s a fresh strategic experience to interact with. Although randomness is a part of the game, it’s possible to plan our turns enough to a point it’s more of a nuisance than a hurdle. The better you learn the system, the more potent your team becomes.
The last bit of strategy will come in the form of positioning. Not every unit excels at the same location. Some do better at range while others need to get in close to clobber enemies. Regardless, maximizing synergy between the two will yield the best results in every match. Things ramp up, and by the end of the game, you could have an absolute mess of abilities going off in the middle of the arena. The automatic nature makes it a sight to behold instead of a visual nuisance which is why Dota Underlords can be so captivating.
The game has been updated for a while now and keeps changing things around to consistently provide a fresh experience. Another game in the genre that you should try if Dota Underlords doesn’t quite hit the spot is Team Fight Tactics, which sprung up during a similar timeframe.
Just like Dota Underlords, it’s a spin-off from a MOBA, which makes the inception of these two games quite similar. However, they vary differently in gameplay which makes them worth a check even if the other doesn’t feel that good.
A unique take on strategy games, AirMech Strike offers an odd mix between MOBA hero combat and strategy. The game is quite intriguing, taking clues from some of the strategy genre staples such as Command and Conquer.
The game is often a match between two players where each commands a consistently increasing army that spawns from factories on the map. Each factory can be capped by either player aside from the main one which acts as an HQ and the ultimate objective of the game. While it’s possible to win through domination, you’ll more often overwhelm enemies by assaulting the HQ.
Before the game can even begin, AirMech Strike gives you ample choices to consider. Which mech to choose, any modifications, and what units to bring with you. This choice of units will shape the entire match and different units can’t be recruited. The loadout is often the biggest worry you’ll have outside of the game as poorly combined roster can be blasted through easily. Going for a varied pick of infantry and vehicles alike will lead to the best results.
When on the map, you’ll need to upgrade factories and gain resources as much as possible. The benefits of the mixed playstyle are seen in different approaches to advancement we are given. Even the mech alone can make quite a lot of damage across the board.
Among the various trading card games and collecting card games, we see dozens of approaches to the genre. Shadowverse offers a great way of balancing the joy of unlocking without having us pay money for access or card packs. It’s an important part of the experience, as the feeling of falling behind due to not paying real-life cash can feel quite bad.
Shadowverse offers a game style similar to Hearthstone, with a single resource for all cards. The similarities end quite fast, as the game allows you to mix and match units across the board. Making for more unique deck-building opportunities for every player. That makes each new card you get even more worthwhile.
On top of that, the game introduces a new type of card, artifacts. These artifacts cannot be attacked in a regular manner, give special abilities, and run out after a few turns. The duration limit of the artifacts makes it possible to make some cards decently cheap, with the downside of them eventually running out.
The mix of special abilities will make decks powerful but still varied enough. With the amount of choices we have, it’s simple to engage with new systems present and try out every deck type. So many characters are available too, changing the tactics associated with them.
Crusader Kings II
A classic grand strategy game, Crusader Kings II has been made free to own for everybody on Steam.
The strengths of Crusader Kings II come in its dynamic AI and powerful political mechanics. There are quite a few threads to unwind in every game of Crusader Kings II, playing around enemies and friends alike. Allegiance can change on a whim. Backstabbing is nothing new, so being careful is good.
Making sure your family survives and lordship continues on the next of kin is almost as important as politicking. It can even be used to influence politics which gives more intricacies despite the questionability of these actions. Twists and turns come in the form of frequent events that you’ll need some finesse and knowledge to deal with.
Be careful though, Crusader Kings II isn’t too newbie-friendly. Thankfully, the free nature of the game allows everybody to try it without spending any cash. Even better, the popularity of the game provides each new player a lot of tutorials to check out if uncertain about certain mechanics.
Now for something completely new, EVE Online. EVE Online is a difficult game to describe. Even among many strategy game genres, EVE Online hardly fits in. The peculiar playstyle between MMO, resource gathering game, space ship combat, and many more concerns.
EVE Online is rarely found recommended due to its difficulty of learning. The game can feel like a second job at times, with the amount of effort one has to put into it. However, this playstyle is very gratifying in general. It’s the constant rush of satisfaction that little victories get us.
However, things get extreme when players come together. The battles and wars waged in EVE online can include dozens of fully armed ships, all constructed with profits of previous simple jobs.
The growth and change of your position in the galaxy can be felt in any sphere. Especially with all the available groups, you can join in enacting interesting actions in the game world. The more time you spend crafting allegiance, the better your time will be.