Strategy games are played over hours, sometimes days or weeks.

They can have you control whole empires or small squads and can task you with organising them down to the tiniest detail. Games with so much UI it can be scary. Heck, even the name of this genre sounds mentally taxing.

But strategy games boast some of the most incredible experiences that you can sink your teeth into. These games implore you to take such care in the management and style of your nations that you become one with your chosen team. You will experience every sweet victory and bitter defeat as if you were there yourself.

With a plethora of games out there, many of which are far too complicated for a beginner though (cough Crusader Kings II cough), it can be daunting for a newcomer to the genre to know where to begin. Worry no more, as we've listed five of the best strategy games for beginners right here.

1. Civilization V: Brave New World

The big daddy of 4X games, Civilization V has you control an empire right from its conception through to the modern day.  Any Civilization game is a must-play for any strategy game enthusiast — the series is one of the best games to really highlight the scale that you can explore within a 4X game — but I've chosen over the latest release as I feel its two DLC packs, especially Brave New World, refine the game to be much more balanced and fun to play.

You go from researching pottery to stockpiling nukes in your quest to be the best civilisation there ever was. You can legitimately play to any number of different strategies — will you opt for a military campaign, or will you peacefully turn your direction towards the arts and culture?

2. Rome: Total War

Not all of us want the broad spectrum of playstyle options that Civilization offers up. Sometimes we just want blood, blood and more blood!

If you want to play a war strategy game, then you do not need to look further than the Total War games. They have been consistently brilliant, only ever falling to their own high standards. Total War games give you a very compelling overworld campaign that focuses on creating and maintaining cities and armies while letting you dive deep into the battles in real time.

For strategy game beginners, I recommend the original Rome: Total War. The gameplay still holds up to this day and can run on any set-up. It has a lot of different nations that you can play as, all of which offer unique units and ways to set up your army. It also offers a compelling tutorial campaign that introduces you to all the fiddly parts of the UI. The agent cut-scenes are also a laugh and a half.

1 2