CGR's Games of the Decade - Strategy

What makes a game stand out against its peers? Honestly? Often it's because if how it resonates with the person more than how it may compare in a by the numbers game.

Continuing on our two week gush fest to celebrate Chalgyr's Game Room's 10th anniversary, here are what we each thought reigned supreme from turned based to real time tactics!

Fire Emblem: Awakening

I enjoy all kinds of strategy games, though the turn-based with RPG elements definitely tend to hook me in more successfully. I had been playing Fire Emblem for years. It had a very niche following that appreciated the hardcore difficulty, anime-style visuals and interesting characters. However, something happened with Fire Emblem: Awakening. It was made more accessible and it was given a bit more fanfare by Nintendo than in the past. What followed was a game that catered to multiple audiences, providing what is still to this day arguably my favorite 3DS title.

Sid Meier's Civilization V

The second Civ ate up oodles of my time years ago when I was first introduced to it. For some reason, the next couple of games never quite tickled my brain in quite the same way. Then came the fifth installment, and I happily sunk tons of hours into the series again. For me, the magic had been recaptured.

Halo Wars

Proof that strategy games (and RTS games no less!) could not only be made and played on a console - but that they could be incredibly well done as well. Until this time, just about everyone said that a proper RTS required a keyboard and mouse, but Ensemble Studios proved otherwise with Halo Wars

Disgaea 4

I said it in my Switch Review, didn't I? Disgaea 4 is my strategy game if the decade. Refined turned squad-based tactics on a square grid with some of the craziest things you'll ever see dood. Making fun of vampires, werewolves humans and exploding penguins in a political coup, this remains at the top of my favorite Nippon Ichi Software titles!

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Sega, thank you. Valkyria Chronicles was one of my favorite PS3 titles and remained one of my favorite squad-based tactics title. Moving one unit at a time from a static map, you zoom into the action where everything is real-time and everyone is shooting at you as you. Only refined through the versions, Valkyria Chronicles 4 was stellar in its storytelling. It was stellar in its combat. And it was stellar for bringing the series back to today and bringing it back in force!

The Banner Saga

Stoic Studio, I have to thank you for an amazing summer of gaming last year when I restarted the first Banner Saga and played right through into the conclusion. Epic storytelling. Amazing combat. Wonderful characters and I don't know how many tears I shed as people I loved died and there was nothing I could do about it. Thank you so much for this amazing trilogy.


I am honestly not sure where to begin with Stellaris… It comes from a 4x/Grand Strategy development studio with one of the most incredible pedigrees on the planet; with titles like Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings, and Majesty under its belt, veritable juggernaut Paradox Interactive entered the hard science fiction strategy game foray in 2016 with Stellaris and it took the genre by storm. From the gorgeous graphics to the deep political mechanics, everything about Stellaris is as close to flawless as a game can get. Though it has historically dominated the genre, Paradox outshone even its own brightest lights when it shipped Stellaris, cementing it as THE strategy game developer to beat. 

Set on a galactic scale, Stellaris is about establishing superiority over your enemies and allies through subversion or military might; hundreds of systems, each with their own unique planets and orbital bodies are ripe for the taking, and with one of a few dozen customizable races, the choice is up to you on how to take it all for yourself. Add to it the slew of immense expansion packs (both free and paid), and you will rarely come close to playing the same game twice. Add to the expansive title and its official DLC the fact that Paradox is extraordinarily Mod-friendly and you will easily find yourself putting thousands of hours into your galactic domination. Few titles have the staying power that a Paradox title has, and Stellaris is the strongest of them all. 

Total War: Shogun 2

The Total War franchise is long and storied with some utterly spectacular releases and some spectacularly terrible releases. None though, stand the test of time as well as Total War: Shogun 2. Honestly, by way of pure, traditional, 4x games, Shogun 2 is without peer. Meticulously balanced, extraordinarily detailed, stunningly approachable, and possessing some of the most storied moments in my personal gaming experiences, Shogun 2 is perfect. 

Set in feudal Japan during the Sengoku Period (Ashikaga Shogunate, Ōnin War), you take control one of a dozen or so warring clans in a vie for the rule of Japan. Shrewd political tactics, trade dealings, and a mind for military strategy are key factors for victory in Shogun 2 and given the incredible balance between units and political or trade actions in the game, a combination of all three facets of gameplay are necessary not just for victory, but survival. Nearly ten years on and the title has an immense following and dedicated modding community that breathes new life into the game with every new day. Total War: Shogun 2 is the highlight of a storied franchise where the passage of time holds no sway.

Distant Worlds: Universe

So few 4x, Grand Strategy, etc. games have a level of depth while maintaining simplicity the way that Distant Worlds: Universe has managed. Eschewing hyper realistic graphics and fanciful art for a more utilitarian design language, the approach to player-accessible information is stunningly simple yet incredibly deep. Like Stellaris, DW:U sits in a realm that's not truly turn-based while maintaining the deep universe-planning gameplay of more traditional Grand Strategy and 4X titles. To be frank, the format works and works quite well. By focusing on the more simplistic art style there is something of a timeless quality to it; in 5 years, in 10 years, in 30 years, Distant Worlds: Universe will still look and feel nostalgically great while maintaining the deep sophistication and complexity that it is known for, all the while staying true to its approachable and accessible nature.


Those of you that read my review of BattleTech know that it became my game of the year when it came out. I love the game because of the different levels of strategy, both the financial and the in-mission strategies, the story, and the customization of the mechs. It is a game that has existed for a very long time and ended up with a bunch of spin-offs like MechWarrior and Mech Commander. The series has dozens of books released in its universe and it continues to live on as a miniature game, book series, video game series, etc.. What can we say? Mech battles are awesome. How could it NOT be number one on my list? I have spent countless hours in this game already and will spend a ton more.

Civilization V

I have enjoyed the Civilization series for many years, and though I can't recall which one I started with, I have always loved turn-based strategy games that give players options to win through military dominance or diplomacy. There are other victory conditions like the tech race, but it just goes to show that the game can be won in multiple ways without forcing people into one type of win condition. Civilization V is also at the top of my list because of Baba Yetu. I'm not going to sugar coat that fact. The music is brilliant and as a theme song, very little tops it for me. But beyond that, I enjoy games that can be played with friends with some casual mayhem, diplomatic strategies, and the ability to be mad at Gandhi (because he's a dick in Civilization. Trust me. He's not to be trifled with.) I also really love the ability to chase after monuments and exploring the land around your initial city. All in all, I love Civilization V and it is my runner up under strategy.

Starcraft 2

If you don’t know about Starcraft, then I’m gonna be really disappointed. I was never very good at micromanaging, or even working out a winning strategy in the original starcraft, so when a buddy of mine told me to get Heart of the Swarm, I was a little skeptical, but still got it anyway. Hoo boy, I was not disappointed. With a lot of updates and upgrades and even a co-op mission mode, Starcraft 2 has to hit this list somewhere, and at the top seems most appropriate. It felt great getting back into the swing of RTS warfare with alien creatures and monstrosities of death with my Ultralisk rush. Mwuhuhuhuhu.

X-Morph Defense

An interesting tower defense style strategy game where instead of the humans defending against aliens, you’re aliens invading the humans. While the basic tower defense aspect is pretty standard, being able to use the ship to shoot down enemies was pretty cool, as was the huge boss fights that throw an interesting spin at the tower defense genre. With the option of a second player joining in for a couch co-op mode, Xenomorph defense makes a great entry for killing some time with a friend, as well as eliminating those squishy human pests.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

This was the first time I ever picked up this series. The only reason, and I kid you not, I bought this game was because I found out you could marry dreamy anime boys AND have their children. SOLD! PLUS, you know, it's actually super fun to take the time and think about your next move carefully or else you could lose your dreamy anime husband, PERMANENTLY.

Dota 2

When I first got my Steam account my brother and a good friend started me off on Dota. That game is structure around how strategic a 5 player group can be. It was extremely tough to master, but with some very patient teammates, and a great sense of humor, it became one of my favorite pastimes.

Fire Emblem: Echoes

Another Fire Emblem? Yes! Since I don't play many Strategy games I gotta double up, but that's ok because Echoes was awesome. I can't choose my husband this time around, but don't worry, the game does a great good at telling this tragic love story. It also introduces a bit of dungeon exploration with lots of sweet little goodies and power-ups if you looked high and low.


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