The Best Strategy Games on Nintendo Switch 202008 Jul 2020 0
So it turns out the Switch is a great platform for playing strategy games on. The portability of the console is the main selling point, meaning you can scratch that gaming itch while you’re out and about, or maybe you just want to step away from your computer desk for a bit and relax on the coach. Of course, you can also plug it into a television to throw your game up on the big screen.
On top of that, the combination of touch controls and cannily thought out button-mapping has made playing games that you’d think would be tough to play without a mouse or keyboard a breeze. As time goes on, more and more excellent strategy franchises are making their way from PC/Console over to the Switch. It's become a new frontier, and here is a list of some of our favourites so far.
Upcoming Switch Strategy Games 2020
- Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus (17th July, 2020)
- Evolution: The Board Game (Early 2020)
- Battle Brothers (Q2 2020)
- Empire of Sin (Summer 2020)
What are the best Switch Strategy Games?
- XCOM 2 Collection
- Ancestor's Legacy
- Battlestar Galactica Deadlock
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Into the Breach
- Bad North
- Sid Meier's Civilization VI
- Valkyria Chronicles 4
XCOM 2 Collection
Developer/Publisher: 2K Games
Tags: Turn-Based Tactics, Squad Management, Sci-Fi, Single-Player
XCOM 2 is a great turn-based tactics game that built upon Firaxis' original re-imaging of the classic series back in 2012. It comes in two flavours - the vanilla XCOM 2 game which was decent, but quite brutal and had some pacing issues. In 2018 the studio released a massive expansion called War of the Chosen which completely revamped all areas of the game. The XCOM 2 Collection for Switch contains both of these, as well as some minor DLCs but not every add-on the game has had over the years.
If you're looking for something meaty to sink your teeth into, this is the probably the ultimate switch strategy game. The port has been handled quite well, with a decent level of graphical fidelity. Load times are noticeable - it regularly takes me ~50 seconds to load a save from the main menu, but other than that is works fine. The original game was a bit clunky at launch as well, so this is expected. The only thing 'wrong' with this collection is that, with War of the Chosen representing the 'best' version of XCOM 2 it's weird they'd also include the vanilla game. XCOM 2 vanilla is has some great mods (like Long War 2), but you can't get that on Switch so its a bit of a bummer you have to pay for it anyway. Otherwise, this is a great port of a great game.
Developer/Publisher: Destructive Creations/1C Publishing
Tags: Real-Time Strategy, Historical, Base Building, Campaign, Multiplayer
If you're looking for something to scratch that Company of Heroes fix, and don't mind going a bit medieval, then this is a game worth checking out. Ancestors is a real-time strategy/tactics game in the mould of Relic's iconic franchise, set in the Dark Ages of medieval Europe. It features several single-player campaigns following cultures like Saxons, or Vikings and also features some robust multiplayer as well.
We haven't had a chance to test out the Switch version properly yet, but you can read our review for what we though of the base game when it was released. We'll update this entry once we've had a chance to put it through its paces - real-time games need careful attention when going to controller-based platforms.
Developer/Publisher: Choice Provisions/Qubic Games
Tags: Turn-Based Strategy, Board Game, Survival, Solitaire
This hilariously grim strategy game puts you charge of the crew of a dying spaceship en route to Mars. Your only job is to see the mission through and succeed, which means sacrifices must be made. If that means you need to eat a crew member in order to survive, well... pass the salt? While this isn't the direct port of a board game, the central dice allocation mechanic is very much inspired by the table-top world.
Dice get rolled, and depending on the number you can then assign them to various actions in order to meet whatever crises is currently messing up your day, and also keep the ship functioning as it travels to the red planet. There's an (un)healthy amount of RNG that permeates the game, but your success is also very much tied to the choices you make, and how you make best use of your ever dwindling resources.
Developer/Publisher: Shiro Games
Tags: RTS, Fantasy, Vikings, Single Player, Multiplayer
This is an excellent RTS and we actually saw the Switch of this demoed at GamesCom last year. Northgard lets you play as one of a variety of different Viking-inspired tribes who've fled their homeland in search of pastures anew. Every game map is an island split up into different territories. Dangers, and other tribes who've also landed are all obstacles to contend with.
This isn't a straight direct control RTS like Warcraft (although it has similar vibes). Instead, you assign your tribesman to different jobs, some of which you can 'direct', but otherwise they pretty much get to it themselves. You need to explore and expand to new territories to ensure you have enough resources for when winter comes, and there are multiple routes to victory. You can only play single-player locally, but multiplayer is available for up to six people online. Read our PC Northgard review for more!
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock
Developer/Publisher: Black Lab Games/Slitherine
Tags: WEGO/Turn-Based, Sci-fi, Single-Player, Multiplayer, Tactical Fleet Battles
One of our favourite space strategy games has made the jump over to the Nintendo Switch, and you all need to know about it. Set during the First Cylon War, this is an excellent turn-based tactical space strategy game where you control a fleet of ships trying to fight off the Cylon onslaught of the twelve colonies, commanding everything from smaller combat ships to fully armed Battlestars. The single-player campaign is a mix between a strategic layer, with a map of the colonies, and the tactical battles. You must manage your fleet's resources and manpower, bringing new ships online as quick as you can while also keeping the colonial governments happy.
In battle, you must navigate your forces in WEGO tactical fights, where both sides issue orders at the same time. Deploy fighters, initiative flak barrages and broadsides, even use tactical nukes. It's quite easily the best Battlestar Galactica game of all time, and an excellent strategy game in its own right. The fact that it's now on Switch is a bit bonkers, so if PC or console isn't your thing, perhaps the Switch is the place to give it a go? Read our Battlestar Galactica Deadlock review for more.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Tags: Turn-based, Singleplayer, Story, Fantasy
The only game on this list that was made as a Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is already a contender for Game of the Year on the Switch. This is because Fire Emblem: Three Houses is really, really good. For those unfamiliar with the series (which most PC gamers likely are, having never seen a PC port), Fire Emblem games are tactical turn-based games with a load of RPG thrown in. Every unit has visible stats, and in addition to those, units can have various levels of proficiency in skills such as swordsmanship, black/white magic, flying on a pegasus or wyvern, etc. Battles are largely defined by cunning placement of units (this is the first Fire Emblem game to make flanking/supporting fire an actual mechanic), as well as long-term planning, because you will want to get your lower-level units kills so they can grow to be big and strong, just like the allied NPCs at the beginning of the game. It is a simple formula, but there is a great amount of depth to it, and combat is incredibly satisfying.
Outside of these fights, the game centers around a military academy in the middle of 3 feuding realms. Students are divided into Three Houses based on their allegiance, and you are chosen to be a new professor at this school, getting to choose a house to teach and lead into battle (go Golden Deer!). As the professor, you train your students in whichever proficiencies you see fit during the week. As they grow more skilled from classes and battle, you can grow them into newer, more powerful classes. On the weekend, you can choose to bring your class to battle, attend an extra seminar on skills, or simply walk around to become closer with your students, which confers combat bonuses in addition to some entertaining dialogue between the two parties. Each student is a unique, fully voiced character, and they are pretty much all wonderful across the board. The story is very engaging as well, featuring 4 different storylines based on which of the titular three houses you chose to support. It’s easy to get very invested in the story and the characters who find themselves caught up in a struggle no one was really prepared for. I’m remaining intentionally vague about the story, but I can say that Three Houses is a must buy if you are a strategy fan who likes a good epic.
Into The Breach
Developer: Subset Games
Tags: Turn-based, Tactical, Strategic, SciFi, Singleplayer
Into the Breach may be the poster child for how well a strategy game can work on the Switch. The game features a team of mechs looking to fight back encroaching giant bugs from cities. There’s a lot of meta-strategy to this game regarding upgrading your team and choosing missions, but the star of the show is the combat itself. You will never be able to purely brute-force your way to victory, as the large amount of enemy units makes that impossible. Instead, your team comes with moves that synergize with each other, forcing the enemy into unfavorable positions.
You can see where the enemy will attack, so a frequent tactic of mine is to make two bugs attack eat other by shoving one into the other’s line of fire. It’s quite good, as we’ve said in our Into the Breach review, and it feels fantastic on the Switch. Selecting units is a breeze, the controls feel well thought-out, and the ability to throw the game up onto a TV makes you feel as if you’re playing a retro Pacific Rim (the first one, not the second).
Developer: Plausible Concept
Tags: RTS, Tactical, Vikings
We all love a good Viking game, don’t we? Bad North is an RTS all about island-hopping your people to safety, defending yourself at each stop from Viking hordes with up to 4 groups of soldiers. These soldiers can be equipped with bows, pikes, or swords and shields, and the deployment and placement of these units is what separates your fleeing team from a tide of Viking-ed longboats. Enemy forces are varied in their composition, and each of the 3 types of units you can field excel in countering specific enemies. You may have to quickly shuffle your shields to the beach to fight off archers, but then pull them back to let your pikes poke away at heavily armored brutes. Your campaign is persistent, so defending the houses on each island will earn you gold to upgrade your forces with, but losing a unit means they’re gone for good.
Bad North is surprising in how well it fits onto the Switch. Most of us who prefer the PC (myself included) can and should be terrified at the prospect of an RTS without a mouse and keyboard. But the shoulder buttons on the Switch swap from unit to unit quickly, and the gameplay slows down when you select a unit, so it never feels as though you need to have the speed of a pro-Starcraft player to stay alive. The easy unit selection coupled with snappy responses from the sticks make this a satisfying game to pick up during a break, either at home or work. It’s just gotten better too, with the recent free 2.0 “Jotunn” patch that adds more content, checkpoint islands, and a very hard mode. Now’s a great time to make your own series of stands against the ever-invading longboats. Check out our Bad North review for our original thoughts!
Sid Meier's Civilization VI
Developer: Firaxis Games
Tags: Turn-based, Strategic, Singleplayer, Local Multiplayer
That’s right, now you can’t escape “one more turn” on the go either. The celebrated civilization-builder appears on the Switch, and it’s not the cut-down version that the earlier Civilization Revolution games were. Nope, this is pure, uncut Civilization, ready to suck all of your free time away. The big change in VI from previous titles is multi-tile cities. Now cities, rather than condensing all buildings onto the single tile, will have various districts, spread through the surrounding tiles. Each of these districts houses specialized buildings, such as the scientific Campus, the military Encampment or the industrial… Industrial Zone.
The launch of Civ VI was a bit underwhelming, hampered by lack of mid and endgame content. However, the Switch base game comes with 4 additional scenarios, so there’s a bit more meat to it than the PC version at launch. The two expansions released so far for PC, Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm, are expected to be added to Switch later this year. They both added substantial features that have certainly made the game much more enjoyable, so keep your eye on those. Regrettably, the Switch version does not feature online multiplayer, instead offering 4-player LAN matches. Frankly, this is likely fine given that the Switch is meant to be taken out and about, in places without a ready source of WiFi anyway. However, if you want to play against your friend in another country, stick with the PC version for now.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Tags: Turn-based, Real-Time, Squad, Singleplayer, Story, Fantasy
This one feels at home on the Switch, as the Valkyria Chronicles series started on the PS3. As such, the controls are made for controllers, rather than mice and keyboards, making for comfortable play. Valkyria Chronicles 4 centres around a squad of soldiers in an anime-tinted fictional setting that’s a companion to our own dearly beloved World War 2. The game is more story focused than most strategy gamers would normally be accustomed to, but the solid writing proves an extra incentive to move forward to the next scenario.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is unique in how combat plays out. Each turn, you get a pool of “points” you spend by selecting units to take actions. When you select a unit, the camera zooms in on the map to take you to a third-person perspective of the character, who you now control in real time. They have a limited distance they can move, and can generally execute one action (shooting, using an item, etc.) in this turn. While no other units move during this turn, enemy units will shoot at your controlled character if they get close enough to the enemy. It’s a really neat system, and one other games should emulate. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is worth checking out if you like a good story, or if you like your strategy games with a twist of action thrown in. Read our review if you want to know more!
Other Switch Strategy Game Recommendations
There are plenty of other Switch strategy games that are quite good, mostly PC ports but there's also some bespoke stuff:
- Broken Lines
- Invisible Inc.
- Yes, Your Grace
- Railway Empire
- The Banner Saga (1, 2 and 3!)
- Mutant Year Zero,
- Prison Architect
- Talisman Digital Edition
- Slay the Spire
- Police Stories
- Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
- Mini Metro
- Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics
- Two Point Hospital
- Narcos: Rise of the Cartels
Do you own a Nintendo Switch? What are your favourite strategy games to play, or what would you like to see ported to Switch? Let us know in the comments!