Strategy and simulation games cover a wide spectrum of themes and topics, from grand strategy and empire management in fantasy worlds through to shepherding a family through every day life, and occasionally torturing them with the removal of doors from rooms or ladders from swimming pools.
Largely the preserve of PC gamers, 2017 has shown on a number of occasions that, with a little ingenuity with the control scheme, many of these games can work just as well on console as they can with a mouse and keyboard. Our winner is all about fast-paced strategising and fun.
While strategy games often depict wars between countries and empires, Antihero’s digital board game is on a decidedly smaller scale. You might be fighting for control, but it’s to rule the night as the preeminent thieves guild in a Victorian era city.
As a form of digital board game, it might have several layers of strategy and different ways to spread your influence, but it’s still kept relatively easy to grasp and play. That’s helped by the turn-based play so you can consider your actions, and support for both live and asynchronous multiplayer once you go beyond the short campaign.
Offering something refreshing and a little bit different, Antihero wins our Best Strategy & Simulation award.
Total War: Warhammer II – Runner Up
Last year’s foray into the world of fantasy battles was a rousing success for Creative Assembly and the Total War series. While it might have been surprising for Total War: Warhammer II to appear so soon after, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy.
Opening up the world to the West of the original game, CA built a more engaging campaign around the battle to control the Great Vortex at the heart of the High Elves’ domain. They continued to show their ingenuity, with distinctly different thematic mechanics for each of the four new races – High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen and Skaven – and wrapped it up in a bow by releasing the Mortal Realms campaign map that combines both these first two games into one.
It’s a great sequel, and while there’s more races being explored and introduced via DLC, we can’t wait for the third and final part of the trilogy.
Steel Division: Normandy 44 – Runner Up
Eugen Systems have made a name for themselves with deeply accurate and technical real time strategy games, and Steel Division: Normandy 44 is the latest evolution of this, taking players back to the Second World War. A unique structure to a battle takes the focus away from base building and resources, letting you focus solely on the tactical nuances of the battle.
There’s a steep learning curve to this hardcore strategy game, as you have to micromanage your army for the best effect. There’s clever twists throughout, such as the line of sight system, the card-based Battlegroup creation, and the manner in which battle ramp up and intensify in distinct phases.
If you’re seeking a tough as nails strategy game, Steel Division is ready and waiting to punish you.
Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Bridge Constructor Portal
- Cities: Skylines for Xbox One and PlayStation 4
- Oriental Empires