5 Great Strategy Games on the Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch boasts plenty of great strategy games, ranging from ports to remakes to fresh originals. Whether you like a casual game you can just pick up and play, or one that demands careful attention to build a sprawling civilization with its own laws, occupations and territories, there’s a strategy game on the Switch for you.
For strategy fans who appreciate great tactical games, too
While the strategy genre generally means players manage long-term visions, often for growing some kind of kingdom, we’re also including recommendations for tactics and simulation role-playing games (RPG), which offer self-contained combat segments.
Strategy and tactics games generally fall into one of two main subgenres: turn-based and real-time. Turn-based games can feel like complex, interactive board games. On your turn, you consider your next move, plan for what your opponent might do and move your pieces into position. Real-time games require players do all of that in the moment—reallocating resources based on the chaos of the map—while their opponents do the same.
Read on for some of the best strategy (and tactics!) games the Switch has to offer.
1. Casually fight “The Battle of Polytopia”
If you like Sid Meier’s “Civilization” (a cornerstone of the genre, available on the Switch), but want a lightweight turn-based strategy (TBS) game, developer Midjiwan’s recently ported “The Battle of Polytopia” fits the bill. “Polytopia” features bright, polygonal visuals with new maps every time you play, at a lower difficulty level than many games of the genre. Choose from among 12 tribes with different abilities and starting characters, and defog and conquer a map loaded with items, upgrades and formidable opponents. Build and conquer cities to gain stars used to spawn new warriors, like swordsmen, archers and steed-mounted knights. DLC (downloadable content) adds more tribes with special abilities, but you can enjoy a fulfilling “Polytopia” experience without spending beyond the base game.
Looking for something harder but still lo-fi and whimsical? Try “Wargroove,” which we wrote about in our roundup of great indie Switch games. It sports a nice blend of real-time strategy (RTS) and RPG elements, online play and an armored Great Pyrenees as a playable character!
2. Split the difference between RTS and TBS with “Bad North”
Try “Bad North,” which Polygon described as the “chillest” game of the RTS genre. “Bad North” demands the watchful eye of regular RTS games, but goes into slow motion while players plan and move units—which max out at four. It features beautiful, soothing graphics in cool color palettes and a soundtrack that’s at once cozy and epic. Released in 2018, “Bad North” is an oldie but goodie and worth a look if a simpler RTS Switch game is what you crave.
Prefer a game with more complexity, structures to build and maps to expand? Explore “Northgard,” a Norse-inspired RTS with many more unit types, terrain-dependent bonuses and skill trees. When you’re up to speed, play online with up to six players—and make sure you have an excellent internet connection.
3. Save the world in “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle”
“Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” is the delightful fusion of Nintendo’s beloved Mario IP and Ubisoft’s Rayman spinoff that no one asked for. An Xcom-style turn-based tactical shooter starring first-party favorites like Yoshi and Luigi, plus disturbing bunny-Nintendo hybrids like Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Mario, the game is a quiet triumph and a frequent mention on Reddit for the best Switch strategy game. It’s quick to pick up but packs surprising depth, requiring players to manage multiple combat styles and weapon types, carefully plan turns and upgrade their characters’ abilities. Dash, jump and warp pipe through grid-based stages on your quest to rescue your friends and restore order to the time-space continuum. An unlockable challenge mode after the main game features head-scratching puzzles that leave no room for error.
Already played it? Check out the sequel, the late-2022 release “Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.” Both games are frequently discounted in the Nintendo eShop—you can sometimes snag the original for under $20.
4. Engage with “Fire Emblem Engage”
The genre lines get blurry here. In the “Fire Emblem” series, players assume the roles of specific characters in a storyline, rather than faceless units like pikemen or mages. The franchise’s latest entry, “Fire Emblem Engage,” released in January 2023, has enjoyed some good reviews lauding its great level design and gripping turn-based combat. The game is technically a simulation RPG (SRPG) due to its character-driven narrative, but the turn-based gameplay is front and center. Fight multi-front battles on lushly rendered maps with characters old and new, featuring a rich upgrade system and all sorts of tactics to master.
Like “Fire Emblem” but want a deeper story, whose branching decisions have lasting consequences? Try 2019’s epic war saga “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.”
5. Dig into a blueprint of the genre with “Tactics Ogre: Reborn”
Another late 2022 release, “Tactics Ogre: Reborn” is a loving remaster of 2010’s “Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together,” itself a remake of the original “Tactics Ogre” game from the mid-90s. Head spinning yet? The game features spritely visuals indebted to, but not constrained by, the series’ low-res origins, and boasts surprisingly high-quality voice acting in its cutscenes and in other key moments. Hailed for its challenging turn-based gameplay, “Tactics Ogre: Reborn” is for those who want to experience an update to gaming history—and are prepared to work as hard as they play.
Bonus ideas if you’ve played ’em all
Strategy games are poised to have a banner year. Bookmark Whatoplay’s list of upcoming Switch strategy games for 2023 to stay current on new releases. In the meantime, check out tactical RPG “Triangle Strategy” for something fresh, or the excellent Switch port of “Pikmin 3 Deluxe” (to prepare for the upcoming “Pikmin 4”) for an RTS favorite, featuring an alien world loaded with cute critters. Happy strategizing!
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