Strategy Games Like Civilization

games like civilizationWelcome to our comprehensive games like Civilization. fan page dedicated to finding the very best games similar to Civilization. If you are looking for games like Civilization, you can come to the right place.

From the genius of Sid Meier came the epic Civilization franchise. Starting with the very first Civilization, the series developed a cult following among hardcore strategy gamers.  By combining board game like strategy with interactive graphics and statistics, Civilization mastered the art of addictive strategy gaming. Over the years the game has broadened its audience, but a core of enthusiasts have grown up along side the game, developing giant game mods to enhance their experience.

But there are other games the employ strategy in different equally successful ways that may not be as well known as Sid Meier’s flagship game. Civilization may have been the first massively successful strategy game, but there are many other games like Civilization that have been released that have similar game play and strategic focus. The following is a list of Civilization type games.

Rise of Nations

games similar to civilizationRise of Nations is of the same generation as Civilization III and as such is a bit dated, but it is probably the game that comes closest to mirroring the Civilization gaming experience. Game Designer Brian Reynolds was already well know for his work on Civilization with Sid Meier.

The best way to describe Rise of Nations is as a combination of Civilization and Age of Empires. Using the concept of “national borders”, the game only allows you to build structures (like in Age of Empires) within the borders of the nation. This is a unique twist that blends the lines between Age of Empires and Civilization.

Unlike Civilization, Rise of Nations is played in real time which leads to a faster paced game play. The game also introduces unique concepts like unit attrition when operating in foreign territory. Not to worry though, you can send supply trains to accompany your marauding armies in an effort to keep the campaign going (and learn a thing or two from Napoleon’s foibles). Like in Civilization, you capture cities rather than destroying them which ultimately builds your own might. Similarly, wonders of the world can be built for various bonus advantages.

The Gold edition contains all the updates and the expansion pack. You can find Rise of Nations over at Amazon for about $5. This is a bargain price for a great strategy gaming experience, so long as you do not need the very latest graphics.

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Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

sidmeiersalphacentauriThis is the classic space based version of Civilization from the acclaimed Sid Meier. While the game is certainly an oldie, it is definitely worth a spin. Hardcore strategy gamers probably won’t might the lower standard of graphics (like Civilization I & II) in exchange for excellent (and addictive) game play.

The game picks up where Civilization leaves off. Prior to the space colonizing ship landing, the crew splits into various factions, thus setting the stage for future conflict on earth. At least initially, the only thing that separates them is different philosophies regarding how the colonization should occur.

Gameplay is familiar enough to fans of Civilization, while also being introducing some unique concepts. It might take a bit of getting used to. After all, there is not the familiar historical crutch to rely on to make decisions. You will establish cities, build colonies, and create various improvements like farms. The one difference from Civilization is that the planet itself is at times an obstacle; almost like another competing player. It does not react well to the new interlopers and you must take this into strategic consideration.

If you want to play this classic strategy game, pick it up at Amazon for about $5! It’s a small price to pay for a best selling award winning strategy game.

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Europa Universalis (Series)

europauniversalischroniclesEuropa Universalis is even less of a graphical game than Civilization, but it features a similar map-based interface and amazingly deep strategy. Paradox games (the developer) is known for their deep and original strategy games. It is the type of game you can get lost in, weeding among statistics, checking out rival powers, and tinkering with policies for the desired effect.

The game is historically based and generally follows history. Certain historical events always occur, but they can occur at different times depending on the individual game you are playing. This makes for a fun mix of historically accuracy and “what if” scenarios occurring depending on the game.

Europa Universalis is played in real time, however the game clock can be paused if things get a bit overwhelming. EUIII is one of those games – like civilization – where you can watch neighboring nations rise and fall, small states emerge as key players, and witness the general ebb and flow of history. There is a steep learning curve, but for strategy gamers this is well worth it. The game is a mix between a strategy board game and Civilization at its best.

The best version to get right now is the Chronicles edition which includes all of the expansion packs, updates, and patches. You can find it for about $12 on Amazon.

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Total War: Shogun 2

totalwarshogun2The Total War franchise is another enduring series of best selling games that rely heavily on player strategy. However, Total War has always been more graphical in nature. What has made the series so successful is the combination of turn-based strategic decisions pared with real-time pitched battles in which the player directs units on a battlefield. The latest Total War entry is Shogun 2, which takes the successful strategic turn-based and real time game formula to Imperial Japan.

Stylistically, Shogun 2 is a gorgeous game (just make sure your gaming rig can handle it). But the enhanced graphics are matched by a deeply entertaining strategy element. You play as an ambitious leader of one of Japan’s ten major clans (or daimyo as they are called). You will have to select the clan you choose to play carefully, because each one has unique strengths. This is actually a nice feature because a strategic gamer can play to their own strengths as well.

When not fighting battles in real-time, there are plenty of natural disasters and events to attend to. For example, determining how much outside contact from the European world to allow is a key strategic concern. There are positives and negatives to many of the choices. This introduces an additional strategic element to deal with.

Fans of Civilization probably are not wowed by graphics, but underneath the gorgeous exterior is a finely tuned strategy game. Total War: Shogun 2 is available at Amazon for about $35 for the PC. Alternatively, you can get the instant download for just $30 here. Either way, playing this latest Total War game is an excellent choice for strategy gamers.

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Age of Empires (Series)

ageofempiresAge of Empires is probably as iconic and enduring as the civilization franchise. Where Civilization was the king of turn based strategy, Age of Empires dominated the RTS gaming market. Back in the day, you were either an RTS or Turn Based strategy gamer. There is really no reason why strategy gamers can’t enjoy both types of strategy games.

Where the original Age of Empires games centered around Medieval combat, AoE3 is focused on the modern era, introducing cannons, gun-powder, and the game world template of the colonial-era New World. Players choose from eight different civilizations to play; French, British, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russians, and even the Ottomans. Each civilization has certain advantages, although none are particularly dominating.

Resource gathering is another important part of Age of Empires. In the third installment, deploying workers to harvest raw materials is critical to keeping your colony developing. While the gaming options may appear a bit simplified when compared to Civilization, Age of Empires III is a game like Civilization in the sense that it emphasizes strategy. Key development and tactical choices early on can be a huge determining factor later on.

It is definitely worth picking up Age or Empires III, especially because it has been out for a while now and the price has come down considerably. You can pick up Age of Empires at Amazon (also has PC download version).

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Rise of Legends

riseoflegends

Rise of Legends is another older classic that was designed with Civilization in mind. The game is actually most similar in style to Rise of Nations, but it is clearly a part of the strategic civilization-like game genre. What makes Rise of Legends so different is that it mixes elements of fantasy and sci-fi with Rise of Nations style RTS game-play.

The playable civilizations are pulled from both history and fantasy. You can choose to play the Venetian Vince who, inspired by the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, bring various machines into play. Or you can play the Alin civilization which focuses heavily on wizards with a vaguely Arabian flare. As you might imagine, their style of play utilizes magic heavily. Finally, you have the Cuotl who are inspired from the Mayan civilization, but carry elements of science fiction technology such as flying saucers

The game might seem a little far fetched for hardcore alternative history role-players. But for the strategic gamer who is willing to incorporate fantasy into their style of play, Rise of Legends is a fun diversion. It is certainly not a masterpiece of a game, but it is both enjoyable and affordable.

If you are interested in picking up the game, it’s on sale for less than $7 on Amazon. It is worth a shot to try something different and off the beaten path of traditional historically based strategy games.

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Settlers VI: Rise of an Empire

settlersIVriseofanempire

Settlers VI: Rise of an Empire is a long running series in its own right, but it also borrows heavily from the same gamer niche as Age of Empires The game series has long topped the charts in Europe, but has struggled to gain a strong following in the United States. Most gamers will find it to be a nice hidden strategy gem.

The core of Settlers initially has more in common with city-building franchises like Caesar, Sim City, and the Stronghold series. The player is tasked with building a medieval city from the ground up, using resource gathering similar to Age of Empires and other RTS city-building/civilization games. However, the resource system is a bit more complex than typical RTS games. Unlike Age of Empires, the economy is not run on merely three main resources. Honey, stone, wood, hunting, metals, minerals (and more) all feed into central warehouses where they are then distributing to various refining industries, much like in the Caesar city-building games of old.

Players will need to account for the different climates they start in. Much like in Civilization, the land surrounding your first settlement will have a large role in dictating your play style for the rest of the game. Similarly, conflict with neighboring settlements will often arise over resource conflicts.

Settlers VI is a great game, even though it is a bit dated. This is one of the games like Civilization that most strategy gamers will find accessible and enjoyable. There are more recent versions, but not nearly as well done as Settlers VI, especially the Gold Edition which includes a number of patches and updates. You can find the game over at Amazon.

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R.U.S.E

RUSE

This is probably one of the most unusual strategy games I have ever played. It is at once mesmerizing and odd. It is a game where you outwit your opponent through trickery using decoy strategies so the enemy will never know you are coming. History is littered with hundreds of “ruses” that turned the tide of events. In the game R.U.S.E. you play your hand at pulling off the next D-Day or Pearl Harbor.

One of the neat things about R.U.S.E. is that the entire battlefield is accessible to the player. When zoomed all the way out, the map resembles a board much like a General would see it. When zoomed all the way in, the player can few nitty-gritty details down to individual units executing the plan.

R.U.S.E. is essentially a real-time strategy game. Each player has a number of “ruses” they can play and winning or losing depends on successfully fooling or thwarting an enemy ruse. You can bomb from above user air power to intimidate the opposing ground forces, or send infantry at the front of the enemy to mask an attack from the rear. Like chess, this game is all about thinking a few turns ahead especially when facing other human players. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing your plans come to fruition and watching the enemy fall for your elaborate “ruse”.

The game itself is available in a variety of formats for different platforms, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. At Amazon they are all available for less than $20 ($5-10 used).

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Sid Meier’s Colonization

colonizationIf you liked Civilization IV, then Sid Meier’s Colonization will be a very recognizable alternative. It is one of the closest games similar to Civilization. It is built on the Civ IV system so it plays well right out of the gate. The game itself is based off of one of Sid Meier’s original games entitled Colonization. The game was a cult hit among strategy gamers, but it was released in the mid 1990s so the graphics were quite dated.

The game is more highly focused around the colonial period and is less open ended than Civilization, but it obviously shares many of the same thematic and game play elements. You must decide to play either the French, Dutch, Spanish, or English. Each nation has unique strengths to exploit.

Rather than starting off with a settler in the middle of nowhere, Colonization has your settler stationed on a ship ready to make landfall. Wherever you choose to make landfall can dictate hugely how your colony will develop. Early concerns will be how to deal with the native populations whether this be trading goods, acquiring land, or outright warfare. Later game concerns will involve trade and conflict with other European powers. The ultimate goal of the game is to declare independence and successfully fight a war against the mother country.

If you are interested in getting this game, check out the Amazon page for the best price. Amazon also has the Mac version and both versions for instant download.

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Crusader Kings 2

crusaderkings2Crusader Kings 2 is another deep strategy game from Paradox Games. While not turn-based and limited to the medieval period of history, it is an incredibly complex and addictive strategy game, much like Civilization. For hardcore strategy gamers and casual gamers, Crusader Kings is the perfect blend of being accessible and complex depending on how in depth you want to play. It is certainly much easier to start playing and having fun than other Paradox strategy titles.

The goal of the game is quite open ended. Taking over the world is hardly feasible (yet still possible), let alone securing your own corner of the world. You can start off as either a King, Duke, or Count. The higher the title, the more responsibility and territory. You control your reigning character and any of his (or her) successors. As you can imagine, securing your heir becomes a huge priority. After a few generations, you begin to sympathize with the problems Henry VIII faced.

The game has deep nuance, making no two games ever alike. You can start off as a lowly Count (beholden to some other liege) and work your way up to to King after numerous generations, or you and your heirs can remain Count’s for the entire game. The way to get ahead is through diplomacy, military conquest (assuming you have a valid reason to go to war), and marrying into various estates of other families (thus ingratiating yourself within their lines of inheritance). In total, the game is unlike any other, yet takes elements from a whole range of games to craft an entertaining deep strategy experience.

The game is available for instant download at Amazon for about $40. There are also a number of extremely well made expansion packs available for about $5 each. They are well worth the money and add tremendous value and longevity to the game.

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About the Author

John Alexander is a long time video game fanatic, having been weened on a steady diet of FPS, RPG, and RTS games at a young age. He writes wherever he can about games and gaming, but can most frequently be found right here, at Games-like.net.