Looking for the best iOS strategy games for your iPhone or iPad? Look no further
Updated on October 14th, 2021: Added new titles, slight tweaks to the entries
We’re here to discuss the best strategy games for your iPhone and iPad today, and it was a surprisingly easy list to write.
Mobile gaming is typically associated with quick, light, bite-sized genres that you can consume between bus stops. Your match-three puzzlers, or your idle clickers. But we all know that’s doing our beloved iPhones a gross disservice, don’t we? There are loads of deep, thoughtful games on the App Store.
Just look at all the brilliant iOS strategy games that are available on the platform. Some of these are direct ports of PC and console games, with all the attendant depth and nuance that brings.
But even the many mobile-specific strategy games out there boast plenty of meat to get your teeth into. Or at least, the best examples do. And that’s where we come in.
So, what are the best iPhone and iPad strategy games?
Whether you’re into turn-based tactics, real-time strategy, or some weird genre hybrid in between, there’s something for you below. So click below to find out what, in our opinion, are the best strategy games for your iPhone or iPad.
Original Post by Jon Mundy, updated by Pocket Gamer Staff.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Developer: Aspyr Media
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
It’s Civilization VI on your iPad. Like, the actual Civilization VI, not some streamlined approximation. It’s nothing less than one of the best and deepest strategy games on any platform. If you are already familiar with the Civilization series, then all you need to know is that you’ll find Civ VI one of the best strategy games for iOS.
I’m not trying to draw a comparison between the mobile and the PC version of the game, but if I were to do that I’d mention that there is absolutely nothing that this game is missing. Although the game is free for 60 rounds, that’ll be more than enough to draw you right in and make you purchase the full game. Will it be worth it? Definitely – just read our Sid Meier’s Civilization VI review!
Download Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM has a reputation for being one of the finest squad-based strategy games around, with tense turn-based battles rendered in glorious 3D. Similar to its PC counterpart, you’ll have every single element that you already know and love about the game, except on a slightly smaller screen. I have to admit – although some of the levels might seem a tad bit too easy, they won’t last for long.
This iOS conversion brings it to mobile without compromise from every point of view. Missions, resources, equipment and storyline – they’re all there, and they make XCOM: Enemy Within one of the best strategy games you can purchase for iOS. We’ve also covered an XCOM: Enemy Within review if you’re eager to learn more about the game.
Download XCOM: Enemy Within
FTL: Faster Than Light
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
If games, where you manage your own resources, base and various departments within your territory, is something that you thoroughly enjoy, then you should give FTL a shot. This game tasks you with running your very own spaceship, allocating resources to the departments that need it most, and not only. The real strategic thinking behind this game is doing all that while fleeing through a hostile star system.
You’ll have to fend off intruders, keep your spaceship functional, and try to survive despite all odds being against you. Don’t let the relatively cute, simple graphics fool you – there are plenty of layers of strategic thinking hidden underneath this title. We’ve shared some in our FTL: Faster Than Light review also, so go check it out if you’re curious.
Download FTL: Faster Than Light
Publisher: Ironhide Game Studio
The maker of the peerless Kingdom Rush series proves that it can do classic RTS as well as its does tower defence. Iron Marines is a brilliant balance between all those, topped off with some amazing graphics and sound effects, ideal for keeping you busy for hours on end. Your goal is to deploy your troops and complete various types of missions, from saving civilians to hacking supercomputers and much more.
There are battles to be held, and many heroes to be deployed – you’re in command of them, and all you can do is try to find the best solution to end up victorious. We absolutely loved it, and you can read about our experience playing the game in our Iron Marines review.
Download Iron Marines
Bad North: Jotunn Edition
Developer: Raw Fury Games
In Bad North you get a uniquely brilliant mish-mash of RTS, tower defence and roguelike elements, all packed seamlessly into a game that you’ll quickly fall in love with. Your task is to defend your island communities from enemy attacks by using your strategic thinking to deploy the correct units for that purpose. Players will be able to enjoy beautiful, yet simple graphics and smooth gameplay, which might not seem like much (at the start) for such a type of game, but the more you play the more it’ll grow on you.
The islands you’ll find in the game are procedurally-generated, which leaves room for plenty of planning and even more strategies. It’s absolutely brilliant.
Once you start playing it, you should also check our Bad North beginner’s guide meant to give you a hand and help you better understand this game.
Download Bad North: Jotunn Edition
Publisher: Image & Form
Genre: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle
SteamWorld Heist demonstrates that iOS strategy games can be zoomed-in, action-packed and even funny. This brilliant 2D squad-based game will take you on a space-robot-battling journey as you are taking on enemy pirate robots with expertly placed ricochet shots. Sounds complicated? Well, not quite – it all depends on your aim!
The characters you’ll meet along the way are what make this game a must-have, and with over 15 hours of gameplay, you’ll have a pARRrty on your hands. Try out different weaponry and abilities and show those pesky pirate that your gears are better oiled than theirs, and read our SteamWorld Heist review before anything else. It’s worth a shot!
Download SteamWorld Heist
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Genre: Stealth, Strategy
We already know Klei for delivering some amazing creations in the form of Don’t Starve and Oxygen Not Included – but did you think that’s where their creativity came to an end? Well, of course not! In Invisible, Inc. players will take part in a turn-based strategy with high-tech stealth in order to complete some highly profitable missions.
The beautiful isometric cyber-punk graphics would make you think of a rather different style of game, but it’s not. It’s actually a very well-made strategy game where each and every move matters. What a futuristic and intriguing creation this game is… check our Invisible, Inc. review to get a better grasp of what you’re about to dive into. It’s absolutely amazing!
Download Invisible, Inc.
ROME: Total War
Available on: iOS
One of the greatest and deepest real-time strategy games ever made makes its way onto the iPad, and it works shockingly well. ROME: Total War cleverly combines real-time strategy with turn-based strategy into a masterpiece that will give you the feeling you need when going into battle. Although the graphics cannot compare to the ones from Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, that doesn’t take away from the game overall vibe.
If you played this game on PC (ages ago), then you will be more than happy to take it onto your mobile device with you, everywhere you go. This giant is as great on mobile as ever – read our ROME: Total War review if you need even more convincing.
Download ROME: Total War
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Taking place in outer space, Crying Suns is a tactical rogue-lite where you take the role of a space fleet commander and explore a mysteriously fallen empire. The rich and absorbing story of the game complements the battles and various other encounters perfectly, making this game something close to a masterpiece of the strategy genre.
If you heard that you should give it a try in case you like FTL, yeah – you should. But that’s not the sole reason why. You’ll be filled with a similar sense of exploration, but also with an entirely new dark tactical gameplay that’ll only leave you wanting for more. You can read about our experience in our Crying Suns review.
Download Crying Suns
Fire Emblem: Heroes
Looking for a compelling strategy game that combines RPG and gacha elements? This is the one for you. Fire Emblem Heroes will not only test your strategic thinking and luck in the gacha, but also your decision-making in key situations. And trust me, there will be plenty of such situations.
Much like every other game in this list, things will kick off pretty easy, but the more you play, the harder it’ll get. Each decision and battle you take part in could result in a failed mission if you didn’t take the preparatory steps required beforehand.
Want even more FEH? Then make sure to check our Fire Emblem Heroes review!
Download Fire Emblem: Heroes
Dungeon Warfare 2
Genre: Strategy, Tower defence
You could well make the argument that Dungeon Warfare 2 is a tower defence game. But constructing the ultimate death-filled dungeon here proves to be so much more strategic and nuanced than your average lane runner. In this game, you will experience just about any possible situation that you can imagine in a tower defense game, and if highly strategic tower defense type of games are your go-to, this is a must-play.
You will have in-depth trap systems, entire passive skill trees to bring your ideas to life, and even various loot dropped by enemies for further upgrades. While the graphics of the game will take you back a few decades, that’ll leave plenty of room for quality gameplay to shine.
Download Dungeon Warfare 2
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG, Strategy
Everybody knows Final Fantasy, but only those in love with strategy games can say the same about Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. In this game you’ll be faced with enemies they’ve previously gotten familiar with, but also new ones. There are many reasons as to why this game is great, but only one that might take away from that – the controls.
If you don’t mind relatively smaller touch controls, and you’re up for some FF-style challenges, then you’ll be in for a treat. We loved playing it, and you can read about what to expect while playing this game in our Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions review.
Download Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Kingdom: Two Crowns
Publisher: Raw Fury Games
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Sports
A side-scrolling micro strategy game that strips a lot of the fiddly stuff out of the strategy genre. In its place is an intuitive 2D side-scrolling system and a pleasantly accessible learning curve, as you trot back and forth building up your empire. You’ll recruit various villagers and pay them for their work (in other words, to build your empire) like every respectable monarch out there.
Except… things can get messy sometimes. While the game will not be as challenging as other strategy names on the list, you might find yourself lacking funds and thus set you back a good while. Managing your resources is an art in this game, and if you’re looking for a more laid-back strategy game, this one makes for a great choice.
Our App Army friends have made their own Kingdom: Two Crowns review, so if you want to read even more convincing opinions on why you should definitely play this game, make sure to check it out.
Download Kingdom: Two Crowns
Company of Heroes
Publisher: Feral Interactive
World War II-set Company of Heroes is one of the most beloved RTS games of all time. Its tight, squad-based tactics work well on modern iOS devices, barring a few touch control issues. None of these will, however, take away from the great overall experience that many of us have gotten used to in CoH in the past.
The game will deliver on absolutely everything, and from a strategic standpoint, you have every reason to stick to build a powerful squadron and take over the battlefield. Use all the tactics you can think of, and bring the victory home! Read our Company of Heroes review if you’d like to learn how this game plays out.
Download Company of Heroes
Clash of Clans
Genre: Strategy, Tower defence
With millions of players worldwide, that can only mean one thing: Clash of Clans is doing a mean job of delivering from every point of view. From a strategic standpoint, the game is spot-on. You have specific ways to take down the different bases, you have set entry points, and each PvE stage comes with its own set of challenges.
You’ll have to train specific troops to take on these challenges, and that’s where the fun lays. In Clash of Clans there are always new events undergo, and with constant updates, players will have plenty of content to keep busy with. We’ve loved this game so much, we’ve not only dedicated a Clash of Clans review to it, but also a bunch of Clash of Clans guides that we keep updating regularly. If you decide to play this game, make sure to check them out.
Download Clash of Clans
Strategy games don’t need to cover world problems or out-of-space affairs. Sometimes they can just feature a couple of towers and a field to deploy the units in, and that’s exactly the case for Clash Royale. This RTS features tons of events and content that let players show their creativity by building decks of heroes, which will then be deployed into the battlefield – all with the purpose of taking down the enemy base first.
While it seems like a fairly simple and easy RTS (especially if you compare it to some heavier titles on the list), in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In Clash Royale, every aspect matters – from the time that you deploy your units, to where you put them and which path you send them off to, it will all have a different impact in the game. Just read our Clash Royale review where we give you more details on every important game aspect.
Download Clash Royale
Though it’s less viscerally impressive than Tropico, Pocket City remains an absolute treat of a premium city builder. In particular, it manages to combine intuitiveness with strategic depth better than most. Unlike many other city builders, every single building will be available to you by just completing various missions or upgrading the city.
So if city builders are your cup of coffee, this one is one that you shouldn’t overlook. Although it comes at a premium price, it’s vastly superior to many free ones. It’s easy to love this game so much, and if you’re not yet convinced to give it a shot, make sure to read our Pocket City review.
Download Pocket City
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Easily the best city builder on the market, Tropico is a richly detailed, responsive, engaging, and fun PC port that feels perfectly at home on iPad. It looks and sounds beautiful, and it delivers on everything that a good city builder should. While its premium price is also slightly superior to others (take for example Pocket City), it does deliver. You’ll have access to every aspect you might expect from the PC version, all packed into your mobile device.
Fun interactions? Check! Plenty of tasks to fit any ruling style? Check! Building your own tourist destination above all? Double-check!
It’s an absolute joy to play, and you should read our Tropico review if you haven’t yet. It’s a must-play in our books!
Sid Meier’s Starships
Sci-fi strategy on a grand scale, Sid Meier’s Starships has got interplanetary diplomacy, deep space exploration, and plenty of pew-pew laser battles. Doesn’t sound exciting enough? Top it off with fully customizable starships to fit your every need, no matter the situation, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Explore the vast nothingness of space with your own fleet, and create unbreakable bonds with important diplomatic figures.
While Starships comes eerily close to EVE Echoes at first glance, but with 1000 more layers of strategy deeply ingrained into its circuits. If you want a great starship strategy game, this is definitely your best choice. Want more? Make sure to read our Sid Meier’s Starships review, as well as the Sid Meier’s Starships guide!
Download Sid Meier’s Starships
Crush Your Enemies
Oh, good ol’ Crush Your Enemies. With such a title, not many will dare show up way. This amazing piece is simply summed up by real-time strategy in its purest form. In the game, players will take part in a series of feisty minutes-long battles for land and manliness. It’s not just a sharply-made RTS, but a funny game filled with foul-mouthed, half-drunk barbarians.
Each stage is unique and finding the best way around each and every one of them can be a tad bit challenging at times, but nevertheless fun. Is it like Conan? Like we stated in our Crush Your Enemies review, yes – yes it is.
Download Crush Your Enemies
Developer: Ndemic Creations
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
After the COVID-19 pandemic we would probably think twice about launching a massive virus or bacteria into the world, even if it takes place in a game. In Plague Inc. you can engineer your own deadly virus and spread it into the world in order to eradicate humanity, or worse – transform them into apes (yes, that’s an expansion).
There are many layers to this game, many more than you might actually expect. From where it starts to all the possible ways of spreading, you’ll have to take everything into consideration. Evolve and devolve various symptoms and create the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It’s dark, it hits home hard, and it’s absolutely strategy-packed – just take a look at our Plague Inc. review.
Download Plague Inc.
Publisher: Mode 7 Games
Some iOS strategy games simulate the big, the epic, the expansive. Frozen Synapse goes in tight, letting you plan the individual seconds of a frantic gunfight between computer-simulated warriors. It couldn’t get more cyberpunk-ish and futuristic than this, am I right?
While incredibly simple at first glance, Frozen Synapse is HIGHLY addictive once you get the hang of it. It basically offers you the whole shooter experience, except the first-person, blood and chaotic frenzy of the battle. In reality, it’s much deeper than meets the eye – there is a multitude of elements that make Frozen Synapse amazing, and once you learn them all, it’ll all start to make more sense.
Did you know we have a Frozen Synapse review?
Download Frozen Synapse
Publisher: C4M Productions
Available on: iOS
Battleplans is a thoroughly modern mobile strategy game hybrid, blending RTS, MOBA and base defence elements into a gloriously colourful whole. There are PvE campaigns, competitive PvP battles and much more, and plenty more features which brings a very close resemblance to other RTS base builders currently on the market.
However, when you look at it from a different perspective, or graphics-wise, Battleplans is nothing like those other games at all. The MOBA features of this game make it truly unique, and a must-play for those passionate about the RTS genre. You can read more in our Battleplans review, since this game is a must-have in our opinion.
The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands
Publisher: Xigma Games
An engaging and intuitive strategy game that offers genuine consequences for your decisions as you strive to keep your village alive and thriving. It’s also beautiful, in its own sparse way. Your decision-making is key, since it can bring about fortune or utter despair. Why does it sound so dramatic? Because it can take up quite a while to build something great, only to then commit to destroying it.
If you’re looking for a game that can really shine through with simple graphics and key basic strategic elements, this one will be well worth the buy – just read The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands review if you need some more convincing arguments.
Download The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands
Publisher: Frogmind Games
Genre: Sports, Strategy
This iPhone strategy game is nothing like you might expect. It IS a game that highly depends on your decision-making, but in reality, it is actually just football. You will play with other players in real time, so that makes it a tad bit exciting and challenging. However, positioning and other such key elements are where the real thinkers will stand out from just the kickers.
You can assemble a team of different characters, each with their own powers, and also upgrade them. While these won’t win you the game, specific powerful combos will. We loved it, and we’re confident so will you – just read our Rumble Stars review.
Download Rumble Stars