The best strategy games for the iPad include traditional turn-based strategy games, real-time strategy games and classic tower defense. The iPad's intuitive touch-screen controls make strategy games a natural fit, and developers have provided would-be gamers with a great selection that range from games high on tactics to tactical games with a sense of humor.
The Best iPad Strategy Games
While this list isn't in any particular order, it is only befitting to begin with Civilization Revolution. Sid Meier took strategy games to a new level when Civilization debuted for the PC in 1991, and the series has gone on to have five sequels.
Civilization Revolution is an attempt to bring the game back to its root, simplifying certain aspects of the game to create a game that appeals to both the casual gamer and the hardcore strategy nut. And it succeeded. Civilization Revolution has the same epic feel as the PC line of games and contains hours of fun for anyone who loves strategy games.
As the iPad has grown up, more and more complex games initially designed for other systems have been ported to the tablet. But XCOM: Enemy Unknown may be the first current game designed for high end systems to receive a full, feature-complete port to the iPad. This is great news for strategy fans. Regardless of platform, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is among the best strategy games to be released in the past few years. The turn-based tactics allow a greater depth of strategy and the alien invasion setting is a nice change of pace.
Plants vs Zombies was a refreshing take on the tower defense strategy game, and the sequel stays true to those roots. This game is perfect for those who want the addiction of a strategy game without the need to spend hours on a single game session. The levels get more intense as you go along, and you'll be able to play through different themes such as the Wild West and Ancient Egypt.
This is one of those rare entries when if you've never played the original Plants vs Zombies, the sequel is the best place to start. The free-to-play model used in the game isn't as aggressive or as annoying as some other apps that feature in-app purchases, so you can check it out without paying a dime. And the original is so fully-featured and entertaining, you'll still have a ton of fun with it even if you play through the entire sequel first.
It might be hard to pronounce the name of this unique game, but it isn't hard to become addicted to it. The minimalist graphics might normally turn some people off, but they really work for Rymdkapsel, adding to the atmosphere of the game. The object of the game is to build a space station capable of warding off alien attacks while reaching out to research some strange monoliths.
In many ways Rymdkapsel is reminiscent of the old Dungeon Keeper games, where you build a dungeon with different types of rooms while preparing your minions to ward off intruders. It's unfortunate that the Dungeon Keeper remake went too heavy with in-app purchases, but for those that like that type of passive real-time strategy meets tower defense game, Rymdkapsel is a load of fun.
Perhaps the best tower defense game on the iPad, TowerMadness challenges you with humanity's most important task during the alien invasion: to save the sheep. It's a little known fact that aliens really love sheep, so in order to save your flock, you'll need to pull out all the stops, including a tower that electrocutes aliens to make them run slower, an artillery tower, and an amplification tower that improves surrounding towers.
TowerMadness features freeform tower defense game play and an excellent tutorial that will quickly get you into the game without completely boring longtime tower defense nuts.
One of the best strategy games of 2012, The Walking Dead: Assault brings the AMC series to the touch screen in all of its glorious horror. Assault is a squad-based strategy game set in the zombie apocalypse that begins with Rick waking in the hospital and follows him through the story. For fans of the show, it's fun to play through some of the situations we watched, and for those who haven't watched The Walking Dead, the game does a great job of getting you into the story and into the action.
If you've ever dreamed of captaining the Star Trek Enterprise, don't read any further. Just go download Star Command and start playing it. Designed for those who love the space faring genre, Star Command gives you the mission of helping Earth defend its borders by commanding your own ship, allocating resources to different areas of the ship. There are even red shirts in the game, and because red shirts are mainly tasked with the ship's defenses, they do tend to die a lot. In addition to the red shirts, there are yellow shirts who serve as engineers and blue shirts who are science officers.
The retro-style graphics and light-hearted take on the genre only add to the fun. As you maintain the ship, you'll face off against enemies who beam onto your ship. The only downside to the game is the linear story-line that makes playing through the game a second time something only hardcore fans will want to do.
"Shop smart. Shop S-mart." If you loved Bruce Campbell in Sam Raimi's classic Army of Darkness, you'll love this game. Army of Darkness Defense takes place after Ash "sort of" says all of the words over the Necronomicon and unleashes an army of undead soldiers that lay siege to the castle. And, befittingly, it contains ample quotes from the movie.
The game play consists of your standard castle defense with some RPG elements in the form of upgraded units and special abilities gained by the main character, Ash. The abilities include using your Boom stick and tricking the enemy with a false version of the Book of the Dead.
The combination of setting, character, quotes and strategic game play make this one a real winner.
Wargaming enthusiasts will love Ravenmark Mercenaries. The game cleans up some of the issues with Witching Hour's previous attempts at producing a complex strategy war game on the tablet, introducing the player to the mechanics through tutorials. But the sheer complexity of the game remains, which lends itself to being one of the deepest strategy games on the App Store.
The big selling point of Mercenaries is the multiplayer game play and the tactical turn-based game play. Each of your units has its own strength and weaknesses, and it is up to you to link them together to exploit those strengths while shoring up those weaknesses.
The Sentinel series of tower defense games keeps getting better, with Sentinel 3: Homeworld adding a commander mech to an already great series. The commander mech levels up between stages, allowing you to customize your mech by choosing different attributes to improve.
The game also adds a new level of strategy to the series by limiting the number of units you can bring into the action. Now, you'll need to plan your tactics in advance based on the map and your enemy.