In a lot of ways, turn-based strategy games are an ideal fit for mobile. Their menu-heavy navigation and slow pace mesh better with touch input than just about any other control scheme.
Unsurprisingly, this means there are a lot of strategy games to choose from on mobile, but not all of them are worth your time (or money). Take, for example, War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. For all its flashy visuals and pedigree, it’s a shameless gacha game that capitalizes on your fondness for Chocobos and older, better games while locking up its strategic depth behind a dizzying amount of monetized systems.
With that in mind, I went ahead and selected our top picks for the best turn-based strategy games on mobile. Check them out below. Oh, and click here to check out all the great lists we’ve been making recently.
If you’re new to this genre and wondering where to start, I can’t recommend The Battle of Polytopia highly enough. It’s free, matches are short, and it does a great job of teaching you the fundamentals of strategy games without feeling overly complicated.
It’s also one of the most convenient strategy games there is, as it plays well in portrait mode and auto-saves constantly. Once you feel ready, you can also spend as little as $ 0.99 to unlock a new tribe that will also give you the ability to play with others online.
All of The Banner Saga games are great, but the second one showed me that the first one was worth playing, and the third one isn’t out on mobile yet. This pick melds strategic combat with a rich narrative about a world in the midst of an apocalyptic event, and is set against some gorgeous Eyvind Earle-style artwork.
This is also a good title to pick up if you’re looking to dip your toe into turn-based strategy games, as the tactical combat takes a backseat to the game’s world and characters. Although it makes up a large chunk of the game and has its own unique depth, embracing the combat system (or even winning fights) isn’t completely necessary in order to make your way through the story, which—while bleak—is absolutely worth experiencing.
If you want to be strategic without necessarily having to fight, Invisible, Inc. might just be right up your alley. This game is about a small band of super spies infiltrating megacorp facilities to try and take them down.
In almost every scenario in Invisible, Inc. you are outmanned and outgunned, so stealth and subterfuge is key. Luckily, this game is jam-packed with really neat skills and abilities that allow you to sneak and hack your way around just about anything. You need to be careful though, as this game can cut you down fast.
For the Apple Arcade subscribers, you’re in for a treat. It just so happens that one of the best mobile turn-based strategy games is on the service in the form of Overland. This survival game involves making stops along an apocalyptic wasteland to gather supplies and rescue other survivors while fending off mysterious, subterranean creatures that want to kill you.
Overland really hits the sweet spot for mobile turn-based strategy games. Its maps are small, but dense and complex in a way that gives you plenty to sink your teeth into without feeling overwhemling. Well, you may not feel overwhelmed by the game design, but you likely will by the monsters chasing you around the map. Those are no joke, making Overland probably the most difficult (though also one of the most satisfying) game(s) on this list.
XCOM is a modern classic in the turn-based strategy genre. Its mobile version is slightly different than its PC and console counterparts, but it’s every bit as good as them and has aged incredibly well since releasing back in 2014.
In case you’re unfamiliar, XCOM: Enemy Within is a game about putting together a paramilitary organization in a fight to defend earth from an alien invasion. The odds are stacked against you, but with some tactical prowess, strategic planning, and perhaps a little bit of luck, you can scrape by. XCOM is just such a detailed and layered strategy experience that you’ve got to pick it up if you haven’t yet. Even if you have, it’s absolutely worth revisiting.