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The Best Strategy Games Like Civilization
The Best Strategy Games Like Civilization
With plenty of great strategy games like Civilization available it can be difficult to choose an adventure. To help you pick your next gaming experience you'll find this list of strategy games that I love an invaluable resource.
The peak of the turn based strategy game genre has definitely passed with only a slow trickle of new games being released into this space. With the success of Civilization V and it's recent expansions games like Civilization are a hot topic of discussion on many gaming forums, more often then not though you'll be met with plenty of blank replies that don't offer many good game recommendations.
Most of these people simply weren't around when the turn based strategy genre boomed and aren't aware of the all the great turn based strategy games of the past. Thankfully this is where I come in! As an older game I grew up in the prime time of this genre and I'm happy to share my favourite games like Civilization with you. If you've got your own thoughts and opinions please use the comment section located at the bottom of the page.
I'll admit that I'm a huge fan of science fiction so several of these games like Civilization have space based and sci-fi settings.
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Atwar is another free to play strategy experience that you can play in your browser and is well worth investigating. It's similar to Anno Online featured above in a number of ways but also very different in it's approach.
While the economic focus is definitely still there Atwar is much more focused towards the conquest of the game map and how you intend to achieve it. This puts your focus more towards offering for the needs of your strategy.
If you try out Atwar and decide you want more experiences like it you'll find a wealth of options built right within the game from custom scenarios to multiple game modes.
If you aren't familiar with the Anno series of video games then you are seriously missing out on one of the great strategy franchises. I strongly recommend checking out the free to play Anno Online version of the series which is a great way to get a taste for what is on offer without the need to purchase a full game (of which there are many on several platforms).
Anno has always been a very economical driven game and Anno Online is no exception, it will have players focusing on building up a strong economic foundation as they also expand and colonise the game world that is set in front of you. Through conquest, trade, diplomacy and quest driven adventures you'll take your small coastal settlement into a thriving hub.
From each strategy decision to the next you'll feel engaged with the opportunity that awaits you in Anno Online.
Total War Series
If you want something a little more fast paced that also has a focus on military elements I have to recommend the Total War series that combines some of the best turn based elements from the likes of Civilization but uses a real time battle system.
Having followed the series from the start I'm a big fan of what the Total War series, there is no need to play the game series from the beginning though, it's easy to just jump into anyone of the games depending on what you're after. I do generally recommend that newcomers try to start on the more recent additions as the better UI elements and graphics generally present less of a barrier to entry.
With options for medieval, samurai, Roman and 18th century warfare there is something available for all tastes. While mechanics have changed slightly and continue to be built upon the same mechanics have generally stayed with the Total War series.
These mechanics include turn based grand strategy where players will control their territories, unit movements, diplomacy, trade and much more. It's only when battles between two factions take place does the game switch to the real time environment where you control your troop formations and tactics to hopefully outwit your opponent.
The Total War series has given me hours of enjoyment that probably push the four digits (spread across all the games). If you're like me and love both real time and turn based strategy then Total War is the obvious choice as it combines both seamlessly.
Master of Orion Series
If you want to return to the golden age of games like Civilization then Master of Orion is one of the games you want to be looking at. The game series started in 1993 and has three game instalments, the first two of which are extremely tough experiences best reserved for turn based veterans while the third was designed to be more casual and simplified.
The games are all set in a science fiction universe and has you trying to take over the galaxy in a turn based manner. It's one of those games that really makes you feel like you're the head of space able race as you control every single aspect of the game (which in turn makes it quite complex and tough to master).
You get to control your ships as they explore the galaxy, the individual colonies on each planet, how you spend the resources that you generate, what to research for an extra edge, the diplomacy with the other varied races and of course combat when it comes down to that. All these elements work perfectly in a turn based game as you have the time to carefully think out your actions, it really has that level of depth that simply wouldn't work in a real time strategy game.
Part of my favourite aspects of the experience is the ability to create your own ships to suit your needs. With several different hull types available and plenty of extra components you can create a fleet of ships that perfectly translates into your strategy. It wasn't uncommon for me to spend up to 30 minutes on this feature alone to tweak my perfect ship (although you don't need to be that crazy with plenty of premade options available as well).
If it's a space based game like Civilization you're after Master of Orion would be my favourite out there.
Space Empires Series
The Space Empires series is another one of those long running space based series of games like Civilization that I have really enjoyed playing over the years. It started all the way back in 1993 and has several games under it's belt. To start off your adventure with Space Empires franchise I like to recommend the fourth of fifth game in the series.
In a similar way to the previous games listed here the game has evolve slowly over time but for the most part mechanics have remained the same. In the games you're put at the head of a space faring race as you attempt to expand their civilization to the countless stars. In order to get around you'll have to rely on a warp gate system rather than being able to travel directly to locations which does add some more strategy to the game.
The games generally through you into a game world where you've just discovered the ability of space flight so you'll be starting with a completely blank slate in terms of space technology and planets. The games have a huge collection of different races available which does offer good replay value as you explore the different strengths of each option. If you're fussy like myself then the ability to create your own race down to the tiniest detail will be a particularly enjoyable element.
Your progress in the Space Empire games is closely aligned with the ships you can produce, a journey that will take you from small ships to more advanced ones that are quadruple the size (if not more) by the end parts of the game.
Are you tired of space based games like Civilization yet? I hope not because here is another one of the really fun sci-fi turn based games I've enjoyed over the years. Like the many other space options I've included here your goal is an obvious one, dominate the galaxy.
I like the settings of the games because it portrays the human race in a great way, as the pioneers of faster than light travel which before we joined the space races didn't exist. It's our discovery that opens up the galaxy to both us and several other races.
What I really like about the Galactic Civilizations series and why I think it's different from the other two I've featured here is the different win options. It's one of the games in the genre that I actually felt like I had different options to pursue, I find that the other games emphasis military winning conditions a little too heavily.
In Galactic Civilizations while a combat victory is an option it's just as easy to chase a cultural victory, a diplomatic one or a victory based on your overwhelming technological advantage. Just like other space games in this genre that I've featured above you can control everything you need to create your own strategy from technology progression to ship building and colony management which is probably more in depth than the other games I've featured above but does add to the micromanagement required for success.
Warlock: Master of the Arcane
If turn based space adventures aren't on your radar then the fantasy themed Warlock: Master of the Arcane probably will instead. It's also one of the newer turn based options around released only a few years ago in 2012. It's heavily inspired and based on the experience that Civilization V offered so if that's the game your most familiar with you'll feel right at home with this fantasy based offering.
In Warlock: Master of the Arcane you'll use hexagon grid for units and buildings as you expand your area of influence to open up new options and boost your population. I generally consider the game to be a simplified version of the Civilization series in parts while some other areas are more complex.
Diplomacy in particular is more simple as are the resources you'll have to manage (two areas that I welcome more simplicity). Managing air units is also simplified as you'll have fantasy based creatures that don't need an air base to fly out from like you do in Civilization. So where does Warlock: Master of the Arcane pump up the depth? Most notably is in the religion system which has eight different religions to explore which adds some interesting elements to your grand strategy.
Images on this page are either provided by the respective developers or are my own images from the game. They are used solely for review and identification purposes.
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Related Civilization Links:
- Civilization Games - Comparison
See a comparison of the Civilization games in one place. From the number of difficulties in the game to the civilizations, new features and more it is a great place to compare all the games.
- Civilization Game Rankings (Kotaku)
Do you agree with how Kotaku has ranked the Civilization games? An interesting read for any Civ fan.
- A Larger List of Games Like Civilization
If that strategy itch of yours still hasn't been scratched then the larger database of games over at Games Finder will serve you well.
- Sid Meier's Civilization | Official Civ Site
The home for everything Civilization. Get your news, media and community from here.