Remember playing your first strategy video game? I sure do.
The Bloons Tower Defense series was my introduction to the genre. That said, my experience was mostly watching my brother play for hours on end. He’d modify and improve his strategy, setting the stage for each Bloon assault and emerging the victor nearly every time. It was fascinating.
Over time, my interest moved on to strategy board games like Settlers of Catan and video games like Fire Emblem. But the mobile games my brothers and I grew up playing will always hold a special place in my heart.
In honor of this fun and often underappreciated genre, I’ve compiled a list of the best strategy games for iOS. If you’re the kind of player that always tries to play the long game and are interested in a few new options, feel free to read on!
Top 10 Best iOS Strategy Games
Let’s jump right into the list with a look at #10.
10. Five Nights at Freddy’s
- Publisher: Clickteam, LLC
- Release Date: September 11, 2014
- File Size: 86 MB
Five Nights at Freddy’s received a lot of viral attention when it first released, and the enthusiasm hasn’t died down much. With seven main titles and a handful of spin-offs, this horror-strategy amalgam continues to take the internet by storm.
For those who don’t know, Five Nights at Freddy’s puts players in the position of the night shift security guard of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, an arcade restaurant à la Chuck E. Cheese. The catch? The eponymous animatronic and his friends come to life at night, and their playstyle is a little… rough.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple, consisting mostly of checking cameras and opening/closing doors. Resources are limited, so players must survive carefully on low electricity as they keep watch over the restaurant and try to stay alive.
9. SteamWorld Heist
- Publisher: Image & Form International AB
- Release Date: November 9, 2016
- File Size: 242 MB
SteamWorld Heist combines the thrill of pirate adventures with the atmospheric appeal of deep space in an action-packed, turn-based strategy game. Players take on the role of a fearless pirate captain, looting and shooting through multiple encounters with rival robot factions. The goal? To plunder booty and reward recruits with a range of new equipment and abilities.
The gameplay focuses more on skill than chance, welcoming newcomers and challenging veterans throughout the entire campaign. Players are given manual control over their robots’ guns for opportunities at ricocheting trick shots. Levels are procedurally generated and offer hours worth of gameplay.
8. Invisible, Inc.
- Publisher: Klei Entertainment Inc.
- Release Date: October 6, 2016
- File Size: 536 MB
Note: Invisible, Inc. is an iPad exclusive.
It’s the year 2074, and the world has devolved into a hyper-capitalist dystopia. Amidst a world run by megacorporations, a small private intelligence agency known as Invisible, Inc. offers infiltration and espionage skills. After Invisible, Inc. is compromised, players only have 72 hours to prepare for their final mission or risk an ultimate loss.
Gameplay revolves around turn-based tactics, with players performing select missions in preparation for their final push. In these missions, players move through procedurally-generated levels, collecting additional information, equipment, and personnel as desired. The risk vs. reward? Players must be smart about which tasks to take on, as agency operatives can (and probably will) die.
The strategy involves carefully managing resources during the three-day time limit to enter the final mission under the best possible circumstances.
7. Civilization VI
- Publisher: Aspyr Media (iDP)
- Release Date: October 4, 2018
- File Size: 3.1 GB
The Civilization games are relatively easy to explain — the point of the game is in its name. Players must build a civilization from its early days as a small settlement into a world power, working carefully to earn and spend resources to reach certain victory conditions. These conditions range from cultural influence to military or technological superiority, meaning there are many strategies players can employ to emerge victorious.
Gameplay itself is relatively simple, which is why the primary focus of the game is on strategy. Players explore the world, using their turn to expand and improve their civilization or attack the surrounding civilizations in pursuit of their chosen victory condition(s).
Civilization VI expands on previous titles with various city improvements and a new mechanic known as “city unstacking,” in which players can expand their resources across multiple hex tiles instead of stacking all of them in a single space.
6. Clash of Clans
- Publisher: Supercell
- Release Date: August 2, 2012
- File Size: 219 MB
Clash of Clans is a freemium strategy game where players assume control of the chief of a fantasy village. Build your village and fortify it against attacks from enemy clans, then go on the offensive and pillage neighboring foes. The main strategy element of the game surrounds planning one’s village accordingly and allying with other players to form stronger clans.
There’s admittedly very little gameplay involved with Clash of Clans — most of the setup involves spending the four types of in-game currency (gold, elixir, dark elixir, and gems) on building villages and training troops. As the game progresses and the player earns more resources, however, the strategies become more complex with the introduction of new buildings, forces, and attack formations.
5. Pirates Outlaws
- Publisher: Fabled Game Limited
- Release Date: March 5, 2019
- File Size: 215 MB
Pirates Outlaws is a card-based strategy game where players explore (and expand) the environment to defeat enemies in turn-based combat. The strategy element is based around utilizing your character’s pre-made decks and unique abilities. Whatever it takes to win is fair game. Use Ammo, tactical cards, and relics to build clever hands and execute killer combo attacks.
The game offers a wide variety of enemies, with over a hundred outlaws and fifty unique bosses for players to battle as they build up their decks. The game’s Arena mode also introduces new champions, cards, and trophies to claim in head-to-head encounters.
4. Catan Classic
- Publisher: United Soft Media Verlag GmbH
- Release Date: November 15, 2017
- File Size: 888 MB
Catan Classic brings all the fun of the original board game to mobile platforms, pitting players against one another in an effort to establish the largest and strongest civilization. Players can choose to compete with AI opponents or participate in cross-platform multiplayer games with other fans around the world.
As is the case with most civilization-based strategy games, resource management is an essential aspect of the game. Although resources must be spent to get ahead, players can claim additional resources by building settlements on new lands and trading with their fellow players. But keeping a reserve for crucial projects and tactical maneuvers is a must.
Classic Catan also features two popular expansion packs for optional purchase: Seafarers and Cities and Knights. Each expansion pack offers new resources and mechanics to build on the game and create new and more sophisticated strategies.
3. Magic: ManaStrike
- Publisher: Netmarble Corporation
- Release Date: January 29, 2020
- File Size: 302 MB
Magic: ManaStrike is a relatively new game that combines the world of Magic: The Gathering with real-time strategy. Players can use the different mana colors (white, blue, black, red, and green) to build unique strategies around their characteristics and spells.
With a wide variety of cards and quick matchmaking options, players can go head-to-head in casual or ranked play to test their strategies and show off the powers of their Planeswalker heroes. Seasonal rewards are offered for ranked players, so there’s an added incentive to jump into the mix.
2. Bloons TD 6
- Publisher: Ninja Kiwi Limited
- Release Date: June 14, 2018
- File Size: 118 MB
As I mentioned earlier, the Bloons TD games were the progenitor to my interest in strategy games. Watching my brother play got me interested in resource budgeting, and I always loved to see the payoff when his cleverly-placed towers would decimate each new wave of Bloons.
The premise of the game is simple and gets to the essence of mobile strategy games. Players must assess which resources will be most valuable at any given time, choosing whether to build new towers and upgrades or invest in their heroes and abilities. Each map offers a unique challenge that must be overcome using various strategies. To that end, experimentation is the name of the game.
Bloons TD 6 builds on previous installments with original 3D maps, improved towers, and an array of new skins, animations, visual effects, and upgrade paths for the game’s unique Heroes. There are also elements for players that want more of a challenge, including new Bloon types and game modes that add an extra layer of difficulty through various modifications and/or restrictions.
1. Plague Inc.
- Publisher: Ndemic Creations
- Release Date: May 26, 2012
- File Size: 127 MB
It may seem a bit macabre to give Plague Inc. top billing, but the downloads don’t lie. Despite its malicious end goal, Plague Inc. contains helpful and accurate information about the spread and evolution of disease. In the process of trying to destroy the world, players can learn more about the preventative measures they can take during real epidemics and the circumstances that can lead to those same measures sometimes not working.
For some added context, Plague Inc. is a game about the art of the pandemic. Players begin the game by developing a disease and choosing various characteristics like contagiousness and resistances. New traits can be unlocked as the game progresses, allowing players to customize their contagion for optimal results.
The goal is to infect and subsequently kill the entire world, but that’s easier said than done. The strategy aspect of the game involves deciding which characteristics will be helpful and balancing them accordingly to stay ahead of the world’s race for the cure. Since the diseases are so customizable, there’s no single end-all-be-all strategy that guarantees a win — players are encouraged to experiment and find new approaches. Each type of disease introduces new mechanics and new strategic options, ensuring that each playthrough is unique and challenging in its own way.
Thanks for checking out our list of the top strategy games for iOS! If you have any thoughts or would like to recommend a few other games, feel free to leave a comment — we’re always happy to hear from you.