Strategy games are the bread and butter of PC gaming (and by PC, I mean Windows, Mac and Linux). Consoles may be more popular if you look at the numbers, but no console can provide a proper strategy experience.
When it comes to the Mac, the strategy genre is one of the better represented, thanks to the efforts of some of the top Mac porting companies around. Not all strategy games are available, but the cornerstone franchises are here.
After rounding up the best Racing games, First-person shooters and MMORPGs for Mac, it’s time we tackle my personal favorite genre, the best Strategy games for Mac. As always, there will be no web-based fremium here. Sorry!
If you’re looking for the best Mac games, no matter the genre, this resource has the 100 Best Mac games available. In no particular order, these are the best Mac Strategy games.
The Best Strategy games for Mac
Brought to the Mac by Feral Interactive, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the remake of the cult classic UFO: Enemy Unknown from the nineties. And by the way, this is how a proper remake is done.
The game is set in the near future, during an alien invasion. You’re in control of an elite paramilitary organization called XCOM and it’s obviously up to you to stop the attack and save the Earth. As the man in charge, you get to command your squad on the field. Combat is turn-based, giving you limited moves each turn to destroy your enemies without getting anyone killed (specially as death is permanent here). In-between missions, you can research new technologies to enhance your soldiers from recovered alien technology and captured prisoners, expand XCOM’s base of operations, manage XCOM’s finances, and more.
And the game only got better with the release of the expansion XCOM: Enemy Within. Mechs anyone?
A Good Match for: Gamers who enjoy turn-based strategy games. However, old-school fans of previous XCOM games will particularly love it.
Shogun 2 may not be the latest Total War game available, but it certainly is the best Total War experience you can have on a Mac.
Shogun 2 follows the classic Total War formula, offering a mix of turn-based strategy and real-time combat. The game is set in 16th-century feudal Japan. The country is fractured into rival clans, all fighting for control of the country. As one of the leaders, you will have to dominate all the other clans and reunite the country.
During your campaign to become ruler of Japan, you get to manage your lands, economy and armies turn-by-turn (like Civilizations), but as soon as your army engages another one in battle, you get to control it in real-time.
Feral Interactive was also in charge of Shogun 2’s Mac port and it shows. The game plays smoothly, even in older Macs. In fact, this is a great game to play on a MacBook. Compared to most recent Total War games brought to the Mac directly by Creative Assembly, Shogun 2 is better optimized and has better Mac support. This is the main reason why Shogun 2 earned its spot here instead of Rome 2 or Attila.
A Good Match for: Tacticians. Gamers that are not intimidated by the complexity of Total War battles and love the subtleties of military tactics.
Watch it in action.
One cannot talk about the best strategy games without mentioning the Civilization franchise.
Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game that puts you in the helm of a civilization that you must guide over the course of thousands of years. Your “Civ” starts out as a primitive settlement, but it will be up to you to transform it into a great empire. Your objective is to lead your “Civ” to greatest, but you get to decide how. It can be through culture, wealth, science or military power.
Civilization IV was a monument to gaming, but developer Firaxis managed to make Civilization V even better. The game was based on an entirely new game engine (the same used on Civilization: Beyond Earth) with hexagonal tiles instead of the square tiles, an overhauled combat system and much more. Expansion Brave New World further improved the experience, with the addition of trade routes, a World Congress, tourism and Great Works.
A Good Match for: Everyone! If you want to give the strategy genre a try, Civilization V is the most complete, addictive and satisfying strategy game there is.
Developed by Blizzard, Starcraft II is a fast-paced strategy game that takes place in space. The original Starcraft helped define the strategy genre and Starcraft II is probably the best real-time strategy game today.
If you’re unsure whether Starcraft 2 is for you or not, you can try their Starter Edition, which includes enough content to keep you busy for hours. With the Free Starter Edition, you get the first 4 missions from the Wings of Liberty Campaing, the first 2 Challenges, matchmaking against AI players, access to all 3 races (previously, only Terrans) and more.
If you’re ready for the full Starcraft experience though, you can grab Heart of the Swarm, which is the second and latest expansion of the game.
A Good Match for: Fans of fast-paced strategy games. Beware though, Starcraft 2 is extremely competitive. Be prepared to be pawned the first few matches!
Watch it in action.
Get it from the Mac Game Store
Brought to the Mac by Aspyr Media, Company of Heroes was revolutionary when it was first released in 2006. But the beauty is, play it at the highest settings and you will still be impressed.
Company of Heroes is a real-time strategy game set during World War II. The game follows the general principles of real-time strategy games, asking you to collect resources to build units to destroy your enemy. However, Company of Heroes adds destructible environments, cover-mechanics, buildings that can be occupied (and destroyed, so be careful) and a variety of impressive units, from Sherman thanks to snipers and flamethrowers.
The game is intense and will keep you on your toes the whole time. Feeling confident with those too many tiger tanks? A smart enemy can tear them apart with the right counter units…
A Good Match for: First timers who think that strategy game are “dull”. Company Heroes is so action-packed that someone next to you could easily think it’s an action game instead.
Faster Than Light is one of the most famous indie successes for a reason.
FTL: Faster Than Light is a roguelike real-time strategy game from indie developer Subset Games. The game puts you in control of a spacecraft that holds critical information that needs to be delivered to your allies, but a large rebel fleet is on your tail.
Your challenge is to guide the spacecraft through many sectors, each holding entire planetary systems. However, every sector will be filled with procedurally-generated events full of unexpected surprises (both good and bad). All events that occur are random and no two games will be the same. Besides fighting rebel forces, you will also be in change of recruiting new crew members and upgrading your ship.
Combat takes place in pausable real-time, however the game leaves no room for mistakes. Death is permanent and losing your ship or crew will force you to start all over again…
A Good Match for: Fans of roguelike games, where you never know what to expect, except for a challenge.
Get it from GOG.com (DRM-free!)
DotA 2 is a Massive Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game from developer Valve. Some may claim that MOBAs are a different beast, but they are still closer to the strategy genre than anything else.
In DotA 2, all matches involve two teams of five players each and only one objective: To destroy the other team’s “Ancient”, which is a building located at their stronghold. Throughout the game, you will be in control of a “Hero” that you will need to improve and “level up”: collect XP, gold, better items and gear.
A Good Match for: MOBA fans who love the fascinating universe of Warcraft. Also, gamers who love free games 😉 .
Get it from Steam
There’s only one company that can deliver as much quality for free as Valve, and that’s no less than Blizzard. Hearthstone is a digital collectible card game based on the popular Warcraft universe. But before you move on to something else because you don’t “dig” card games, know that this game is simply amazing, no matter your past experiences (or lack thereof) with the genre.
Hearthstone is much simpler than you would imagine. In every match, you pull three or four cards (depending on who goes first) out of your customized deck of 30 cards. There are a different card types (weapons, spells and minions), but the objective is clear: empty your opponent’s health before he does the same to you.
A Good Match for: Everyone. Seriously. This game is appealing to hardcore and casual gamers alike. Easy to get into, but hard to master. Just the way we like them. This game is also perfect for everyone who has a Mac with limited performance.
Read our review.
Get it from Battle.net
This is the most sophisticated history-simulation experience you can have. Want to rewrite history? You’re in the right place.
Europe Universalis IV is a grand strategy game that excels on many aspects. The game gives you control of a nation and its military, diplomacy and economy. But a nation cannot excel everywhere, so decisions will need to be made, as your resources are limited and have to be handled with care.
The game is a an interactive simulation and really puts the World’s history at your fingertips. The entirety of the geography of Earth is represented and able to be owned, conquered, and colonized. The game is so precise and complex that it creates a a level of historical plausibility that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
A Good Match for: Gamers who love complex and detailed games. Although the game does a great job to welcome new-comers, Europa Universalis 4 is perfect for those willing to put the time and get into the nitty gritty.
Get it from the Mac Game Store
Skylines is a game that almost didn’t happen because who would dare to compete agains SimCity, right? It seemed like the World only had room for one city-building game, but as SimCity crashed and burned at release, Skylines went on a mission to become everything SimCity was supposed to.
Developed by Colossal Order, Cities: Skylines is a city-building simulation that managed to right most of SimCity’s wrongs. In Skylines, you get to create a city from scratch. You will have to supply energy and water, control zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, public transportation and more. You will have many challenges, like maintaining the city’s budget, population, health, happiness, employment, pollution and even the traffic. But Colossal Order manages to make it all extremely fun.
A Good Match for: Fans on city-building games, but specially all of you who were disappointed by SimCity.
Get it from the Mac Game Store
It looks like you no longer have an excuse not to try a strategy game on your Mac. With so many options, ranging from fast-paced real-time games to collectible card games, the Mac has something for everyone.
In fact, many other Strategy games didn’t make it to the list, but are still great games: Beyond Earth, Total War: Attila, Anomaly 2, Crusader Kings 2 and many more.
So what is your favorite Strategy game on Mac? Are you currently playing some? Let us know in the comments section, perhaps you’ll even find fellow Mac users to play with!