The Best Star Wars Strategy Games

By Jack Trumbull 04 May 2020 0

Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good Star War? Sure, we all complain (rightfully so) about all of the movies and shows in equal amounts, but deep down, how can you resist a good sci-fi fantasy battle with laser swords, fancy war machines, and the most tactically proficient teddy bears to grace the silver screen?

While the franchise has inspired several middling-to-excellent action games, many people would be surprised at the amount of very solid strategy games under the Star Wars license. In the spirit of the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (I’m told as you read this our Editor is in the cinema watching it instead of doing his job) we’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategy games to have emerged over the years.

What are the best Star Wars Strategy Games?

  • Star Wars Rebellion
  • Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
  • Star Wars: Armada
  • Star Wars: X-Wing
  • Star Wars: Legion
  • Star Wars: Rebellion (Board Game)
  • Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Saga
  • Star Wars: Interregnum (Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Mod)
  • Star Wars Conquest (Mount & Blade Mod)
  • Star Wars: Jawa Fortress (Dwarf Fortress Mod)

Star Wars Rebellion

Developer: Coolhand Interactive
Tags: Grand Strategy, Sci-fi, 4X, Star Wars, Single-player
Available from: Steam

Sw Rebellion

Grand Strategy? In MY Star Wars? Turns out it does indeed exist, and it is pretty special. Take command of either the Rebels or the Empire right after the Battle of Yavin IV (the end of Episode IV) as the head honcho of your respective faction. The goal at the end of this is to capture the 2 VIPs of the enemy faction (Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine or Mon Mothma and Luke Skywalker), as well as the enemy capital planet. The means to enable that end are capturing planets in a vaguely 4X-ish manner, either through diplomacy, subterfuge, or outright conquest. The game starts out in a fairly asymmetrical fashion, with the Rebellion having to turn to soft-power options due to their lack of resources, with the Empire starting out hated by everyone, but with a very strong military. Over time, they will naturally swap roles, but it's interesting to see a digital game so early in the field of Grand Strategy have an asymmetrical focus.

Also of note are the battles themselves, because you can’t have a Star War without a War that happens in the Star(s). The ground combat should be a familiar affair to any fan of a Paradox Grand Strategy; throw your guys at their guys, add in modifiers, someone wins. That’s all very well and good, but the interesting portion are the real-time 3D space battles. Sure, they are 90's era 3D graphics, but you can feel the DNA run from this to our more current space combat games.

Star Wars Empire at War Gold

Developer: Petroglyph
Tags: Strategy, Sci-fi, 4X, Star Wars, RTS, Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Available from: Steam

Star Wars Empire at War

The other REALLY big PC Star Wars strategy game, who could forget our reliable friend Empire at War? This is very reminiscent of Rebellion in terms of scope and timing (the Death Star just blew up, it’s a popular time), but with more focus on fighting rather than negotiating. The player picks either the Empire, the Rebellion, or a third faction of a criminal underworld, vying for power in the conflict. The three factions have very different playstyles from each other, but all share the same goal of taking over the galaxy.

Like Rebellion, Empire at War features real-time space combat, featuring fleets you’ve built yourself and sent to assault enemy planets. I always got a kick out of these, as your capital ships would deploy squadrons of X-Wings, TIE fighters, or the forgotten name of the underworld faction’s ships, and they would duke it out with each other, clearing the way for bombers to make runs on the bigger ships. Unlike Rebellion, we also see a full RTS experience on the ground, with some pretty decent squad-based RTS action. This part of the game was unfortunately overshadowed by Company of Heroes, which came out later the same year, but I’d say it still holds up. And for what it’s worth, Company of Heroes doesn’t let you send Darth Vader into a swarm of Rebellion soldiers to wreak havoc, so there’s a lot to like here.

Star Wars: Armada / Star Wars: X-Wing

Developer: Fantasy Flight Games
Tags: Tactics, Sci-fi, Star Wars, Tabletop, Multiplayer
Available from: Direct, FLG Stores

Star Wars Armada Set

If you’re anything like me, you had a small horde of plastic Star Wars fighters when you were a kid (or at least wished you did). The most I could do with them is just pretend my single X-Wing repeatedly shot down my single TIE fighter. Happily, an alternative now exists, in Star Wars: W-Wing. The game features a squadron of Rebel fighters in an encounter battle with their Imperial counterparts (and/or the Pirate faction), with the goal to wipe the enemy off the playing field. The method of play is something special, reminiscent of older paper and pen dogfighting games. Each turn, players plot a course for their fighters, and the least skilled pilots move first, but the more experienced pilots get a chance to fire first. It’s a system that promotes forward-thinking and predicting your opponent’s next move, like chess but with lasers, which is a great concept.

Star Wars: Armada features a similar ruleset, but more aimed at fleet-level combat. Rather than just fighters, you can throw an entire Imperial Star Destroyer at the Rebels, or 2 or 3, if you’d rather. Armada adds objectives rather than a simple 'kill the enemy,' as well as an interesting movement system that simulates the inertia of the heavy capital ships. This is married to a relatively in-depth combat system, simulating firing arcs, guns, shields, and hulls. As a result, Armada takes a bit more time to play than X-Wing, but if you’re the kind of person that wants to chuck a fleet at your friend, this should be welcome news.

Star Wars: Legion

Developer: Fantasy Flight Games
Tags: Tactics, Sci-fi, Star Wars, Tabletop, Multiplayer
Available from: Direct, FLG Stores

Star Wars Legion

So it turns out that if you like the idea of playing Warhammer 40K on tabletop but balk at the high cost to entry, you’re in luck! Star Wars has an equivalent in Legion. Take control of either Stormtroopers or Rebel Soldiers (there is also a Clone Wars era set) and point them at each other, while fighting over objectives across your table. Each side can comprise of 15 or more soldiers, not counting special heroes such as Vader or Luke, but the game simplifies this by attaching each squad to a leader, who you move and just arrange their squad around.

The combat simulates cover and suppression in a tactical manner that did first strike me as similar to Company of Heroes, which is certainly a good thing. And yes, while it is automatically pricey as a tabletop miniatures game, the core set gets you most of the way to a full army for either side, so it certainly seems less daunting than certain other grimdark futures.

Fantasy Flight Games also created a previous Star Wars miniature-based line, Imperial Assault, which was more of a Dungeon-Crawler/RPG than a true skirmish war game, but it was still pretty fun.

Star Wars: Rebellion

Developer: Fantasy Flight Games
Tags: Strategy, Sci-fi, Star Wars, Tabletop, Multiplayer
Available from: Direct, FLG Stores

star wars rebellion

Another Fantasy Flight board game! This time, we’re zooming back out to a strategic view of the Star Wars galaxy. Much like the 1998 Star Wars Rebellion, Star Wars: Rebellion (is this confusing yet?) offers players to be the master of either the Empire or Rebels across the whole system in an asymmetric system. This time, the action is set at the start of the original trilogy, which means that the Death Star is on the prowl for the Rebel base.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have to liberate enough planets to warrant a victory for their side. The action here is focused around moving forces from planet to planet, with leaders attached. Leaders can offer special abilities that will modify battles, or can go on (Han) solo missions to sabotage the enemy. It’s a tidy experience that can offer the tabletop player a way to conquer the galaxy, when us PC players have been hoarding that for ourselves for so long.

Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Saga

Developer: Ensemble Studios
Tags: Strategy, Sci-fi, Star Wars, RTS, Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Available from: Steam

star wars galactic battlegrounds

Back to PC games! This one is a bit of an oddity. Galactic Battlegrounds Saga is a Star Wars game built in the Age of Empires 2 engine, and is basically just Age of Empires 2 but with Star Wars guys running around and shooting stuff. What makes this game stand out in the list is that Galactic Battlegrounds Saga is one of the few games mentioned to include factions outside of the original trilogy’s timeline. Sure, the Empire and Rebels are there, but so are the Wookies, Trade Federation, Naboo, or the Gungans.

The array of factions brings a lot of variety to the mix, and is a welcome respite from our two good friends from the original trilogy. AoE2 is known for being one of the best RTS games of all time, so if you like Star Wars and RTS games, you will like this.

Best Star Wars Mods

Star Wars: Interregnum (Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion)

This mod features the factions of Sins jumping through a wormhole and popping out in the Star Wars galaxy between the 5th and 6th episodes. Features a good space focused RTS on a galactic scale, now with Star Wars! You can grab Star Wars: Interregnum here.

Star Wars Conquest (Mount & Blade)

Mount and Blade is such a good sandbox to play around with, and with the Conquest mod, you can now play around as a leader of a mercenary band in the Star Wars galaxy! The beauty of Mount & Blade is its freeform nature, and you can create your own goals as you cut your path across the galaxy… with a lightsaber.

Star Wars: Jawa Fortress (Dwarf Fortress)

I will never miss a chance to plug Dwarf Fortress, the best game of all time, whenever I can. In Jawa Fortress, you can send off some enterprising Jawa to dig deep into the earth, and create a settlement worthy of note. Or, you can go adventuring in Adventure mode, a roguelike RPG mode that allows you to pick from several different races as you wander your way across the ASCII galaxy.

So Many XCOM 2 Cosmetic Mods

XCOM 2 is a game near and dear to one of my fellow contributors’ heart, so I would be remiss if I did not throw a mention to the modding community there. There are not a ton of complete overhauls, but sometimes you just want to have Stormtroopers running around and blowing up aliens in a very excellent turn-based strategy, and I think that’s a very valid thing to want. Cosmetics for days.

What are your favourite Star Wars games, strategy or otherwise? Let us know in the comments!

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