Smartphones these days are more like computers than ever, and that includes their ability to play games. Now you’re able to get some full-fledged strategy titles on your Android devices, so you won’t need to lug your laptop around all over the place to get your Civilization fix.
And yeah, you know Civ is going to make this list, but there are plenty of other great strategy games available to download.
So what makes a strategy game stand apart? Well, the strategy, obviously. These games aren’t necessarily designed to test your reflexes, but they’re built around making you think and plan your victory. You won’t personally be swinging the sword that beats the villain, but you’ll be commanding the troops that do it for you.
We can’t talk about strategy games without mentioning Civilization VI. The storied franchise is arguably the most popular strategy sim ever, spawning the “just one more turn” joke you hear all over the internet. It’s addictive.
You’re placed in charge of a small group of people at the dawn of civilization, and you get to lead them through history. You’ll build villages and cities, develop new technology, manage resources and populations, and wage war against other civilizations.
You can do this pretty much however you see fit. Want to colonize the map before everyone else? Maybe build large trade routes and get on everyone’s good side? Of course, amassing an enormous army and dominating other leaders out of the game is also a valid option, and they’re all equally fun.
With a huge variety of civilization leaders and randomization across games, you’ll never have the same experience twice. Just ask the people on Steam with 6000+ hours on Civ.
You can download the game for free and play for the first 60 turns, after which you can plop down for the full experience to keep going and finish out your games.
Play Store Download Link | Free ($20 full game purchase)
If you’re looking for something a little more modern and city focused, Pocket City is a very interesting choice. Part of the intrigue comes from its classic business model, too: pay once and play forever with no microtransactions.
Pocket City puts you in charge of your own budding city. You build it from the ground up by building roads and zoning districts for homes and businesses, managing traffic flow, and putting up special structures and resources to keep the town growing.
You’ll have to deal with money, too, of course. Roads and parks aren’t free, and you’ll need cash to build them, and revenue to sustain your city. There’s a balance between taxing your residents and growing the city, and the fun in the game is figuring out the right balance.
At just $2.99 with no IAP (and access through Google Play Pass) this one’s a very affordable time waster.
Play Store Download Link | $2.99
Bloons TD 6
Tower defense games got their start on the internet a long time ago, and they’ve started to come back around in style. The concept is pretty simple, giving you an objective to defend from hordes of enemies that just want to breach that objective. You set up “towers” that shoot projectiles at lines of enemies to keep them away, but there are typically traps and other things to help spice up the strategy.
Bloons TD 6 is the latest entry in the extremely popular Bloons franchise. It brings the polish and fun to another level with a huge array of monkey towers and upgrades, Heroes to deploy, and special abilities to stay on top of the swarm.
With 11 heroes you can place each chapter (with 20 total upgrades for the heroes) and 100 meta monkey upgrades, you’ve got a diverse slew of mechanics to work with to play through the 49 levels in a brand new 3D space. There’s a load of content here, whether you’re a fan of the classic tower defense formula or just looking for a new strategy game to whittle the time away.
Play Store Download Link | $4.99
Rebel Inc. is a strategy game created by Ndemic, who you might recognize as the creators of Plague Inc., which managed to land on our list of the best simulation games on Android. There are some similarities between the two, but Rebel Inc. puts a huge helping of military tactics and politics into the formula.
The game takes place after a war in destabilized regions, and you’ll be responsible for handling insurgents that want to seize power back. It’s a bit bleak, but engaging all the same.
You’ll have to fund governments and specific programs while dealing with different leaders and scenarios to keep things under control. Let things get out of hand, and things can very quickly spiral out of control and cost you the entire region.
If you’re a fan of Plague Inc., definitely give this a spin.
Play Store Download Link | Free
One thing I would imagine most of our readers have not done is try to escape from prison, but that’s absolutely something you can experience with The Escapists. It takes a pretty serious subject and makes it incredibly goofy and fun, dropping you in a variety of jails and prisons and letting you figure out how you’re going to escape.
You can make friends (or enemies) with the prisoners or guards, which can help you access more items and money. Build up your different skills and combine different items to cook up devious ways to get out of prison, like digging under outer fences, sneaking out in the middle of the night, or making copies of keys to walk right out the front gate.
But this is prison we’re talking about, so you’ll still have to deal with everything that entails. You have a schedule that you have to adhere to, with set meal times and lights out hours. Break curfew or get into fights, and you’ll have to deal with angry guards, and they won’t go easy on you.
With tons of prisons to escape from, items to discover, and allies to make, there’s quite a bit of replayability here. This one’s on Play Pass, too, plus a sequel to check out if you like it.
Play Store Download Link | $6.49
60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure
It’s easy to get caught up in sprawling strategy games that can chew up hours of your time, but there’s still a place for solid, shorter adventures. 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure is just that, and you’ll be roleplaying a family trying to survive the end of the world.
Essentially, you take over right when they get the notifications that some atomic bombs are about to fall. You have 60 seconds (get it?) to scrounge up food and supplies from your house and get in your bomb shelter, where you’ll be either living out the rest of your days or waiting to be rescued.
You have to manage those limited resources and very carefully send your family out to find more supplies to continue surviving. There are a host of other scenarios and characters that you’ll encounter, ranging from bandits to cults to angry wild animals, all of which have serious consequences on your run to make it out of your shelter alive.
It sounds serious, but the playful attitude and goofy art style make this one easy to pick up and play off and on. Like some of the others on this list, this one’s on Play Pass, too.
Play Store Download Link | $3.99
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