Every year, during the early days of summer, Gabe Newell jumps from wherever he’s hiding (I assume it’s some Team Fortress 2 server) to thin out wallets and deepen Steam backlogs. Unlike Gabe, most likely, your pockets are rather slim, and instead of having to suffer buyer’s anxiety on what you should get and what you’ll be missing out on, I’ve decided to put a list of some of the best Strategy and Wargaming titles out there that I would recommend in 2022. I also have a larger list of 100 Amazing Steam Summer Sale Recommendations if you have more money than reason. To get the most strategy brain-twister for your hard-earned coin follow my lead:
Ultimate General: American Civil War is going for some measly 7€! Imagine that, one of the best Civil War games on the block, costs you less than a terribly served on the wrong side of town. UG: CV is a tactical real-time war game developed by Game-Labs, from none other than the guy that created the Darthmods for the Total War series. It has a fantastic art style, it’s a joy to play, and all the Civil War battles you need to keep yourself entertained during the summer months, in fact, over 50 battles! There’s a persistent campaign for both the North and the South with army management, decision-making, and army corps progressions. It’s not the grand Strategy affair some folk had hoped for, but in terms of 3D battles, the only competitor out there is Scourge of War: Gettysburg, and that game only focuses on a couple of battles.
If there’s one game I’ll always recommend to every single person I meet despite their taste in games is XCOM: Enemy Unkown (Complete Pack). It’s arguably the most influential turn-based strategy game of the last 15 years and the Kickstarter of the largest strategy gaming-genre renaissance we’ve been witnessing ever since it was released all the way back in 2012! Ten years on, the rebooted XCOM still holds as well as it did on its release day. Last summer I’ve done another playthrough and it still managed to kept engage all the way through. I don’t know what it is about XCOM. It might be the characters, the setting, the weapons, the campaign, the progression, the excellent (and simple) move-shoot mechanics, the idea of fighting an evil intergalactic civilization or discovering their secrets and lore, but whatever it is, I have a feeling XCOM will never, ever, get old for anyone that loves an otherworldly turn-based skirmish. For 5,99€ you could do a lot worse and if you don’t pick it up, we can’t be friends anymore.
The price on this one might be a bit steep for the ones that are looking only to enlarge their backlog as much as possible. I can’t let this article go on air without recommending Crusader Kings III, even the Royal Edition if you have enough gold to spare this sales season. My late nights have been utterly consumed holding Courts because a good King listens to his subjects. Plotting the untimely death of disgruntled vassals -after all, a good Kings worries about the stability of his domain. Marrying my kids to secure feeble but essential alliances, what kind of King would I be without someone else to blame when my plans fail? Make sure my bishop likes me just enough to contribute a little bit, that useless leech. CK3 is a big game, a complex game that demands your full attention and that not only you learn the ins and outs of how the game works and plays but also how medieval rulers had to play things for the long run and be politically savvy at all times. The Fate of Iberia expansion adds a ton of exclusive mechanics exclusively created to allow players the chance to live through the motions that changed the history in this corner of Europe, where Christianity and Islamism fought their last battle on European soil.
I was torn between placing Eugen Systems’ second attempt at World War’ing here or Company of Heroes 2, but since Steel Division II has panned out better than their landings at Normandy I’m going with it. Their second iteration brings a slower pace, a dynamic campaign mode called Army General, and takes all their Second World War hardware to the eastern front. Eugen has been expanding it ever since with new divisions, new campaigns, and maps. For 9,99€, the base game brings a sturdy package that justifies you playing it, even if only for the Army General mode.
Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front is currently going for 19,19€, so it was cheaper in the past for quite the margin, at 14 or 15 euros, but this is still “The” Ultimate World War II tactical experience on a 1:1 scale. No game does it better, not even Combat Mission. It’s hard to get into and it’s going to require some tutorial watching and manual reading but there’s nothing quite like it. Before playing this better learn how units will spend some time laying wires on the field, which squads are in shouting range, and which ones need radio contact to do their job. No line of communication? How will your artillery commander know when and where to fire? It’s that kind of game. And it’s better to go in with some understanding of WWII tactics and unit organization. Mius Front pulls no punches but it’s marvelous.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. What? You’re expecting me to convince you to buy a remake of the most influential RTS of all time when it only costs 5,99€? C’mon!
Arma 3 life cycle might be coming to an end but it’s still the dominant military shooter in the civilian market. Look no further if you want to start recreating and reinventing your favorite conflicts in the game’s powerful editor that allows you to modify missions on the fly. It’s the universal WarSim and Military Sandbox. Packing extremely realistic physics, sprawling maps, and a very dedicated modding community. With literally thousands of weapons and vehicles, Arma 3 stands as the Go-To-Shooter if you’re craving a life-like experience of modern combat. Add to those player-made missions and campaigns, new soldier uniforms and models, weapon attachments, missions scripts, and improvements to the AI. Arma is a game for the mil-sim community, created almost entirely by the mil-sim modding community. Bohemia Interactive is already laying out the groundwork to launch Arma 4 but at 6,99€ you have little to lose and more content available than what is humanely possible to play with.
Combat Mission: Black Sea was the Battlefront.com game that marked the launch of their Combat Mission titles onto Steam. The Black Sea is a 3D wargame at the tactical battalion level and below that depicts what would happen if Russia invaded Ukraine… oh- let me gather my notes- and if the US decided to actually intervene. Oh boy, this one is a doozy. But right now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another game that does as good of a job recreating what’s happening in Ukraine. Battlefront videogames are tough nuts to crack and the more modern you go, the deadlier the battlefield becomes. With things such as night visions, drones, and electronic warfare simulated, there’s a lot to have in consideration even when moving your troops from one place to another. The sole reason why I’m recommending this one instead of the other two titles on Steam is that people’s interest in the war on Ukraine is still ongoing and military enthusiasts love to recreate whatever it’s going on. At 34,99€ it might come off as a bit on the steep side for a sale but trust me, these kinds of games would never go on sale before, so consider yourself lucky if you haven’t bought them at full price!
Darkest Dungeon is the pioneer of the PTSD-RPG genre, Early Access sweetheart and one of the best RPGs ever made and at just 3,44€ I would gift it to you if we were friends! Darkest Dungeon will take you exploring the darkest corners of the deepest caves. Sending other human beings deeper and deeper into the wells of madness as they venture forth, hopeless and scared against the ancient creatures of eons past. All while trying to unravel what happened that lead your family estate into ruin. The striking aesthetic, the unusual character classes, the punishing combat, the management aspect, and the idea that your heroes are nothing more than frail-minded humans that can, in one second. deliver a critical strike that wins the day and, in the next dungeon run they can encounter a short near-death experience that will send them down into an unsavory mental breakdown. This focus on the mental health of your characters and the real impact it has on gameplay help carry on the idea that madness and death play along, hand in hand, in the Darkest of Dungeons.
Look, I know this is mainly a strategy website but we all have our guilty pleasures, ok? Ryse: Son of Rome, just so happens to be one of those! This one came out all the way back in 2013 as a release title showcasing the possibilities of the Xbox One. After being trampled by critics for having repetitive combat and a superficial story, Ryse went into the witness protection programs, away from the public eye ever since. To me, Ryse is one of the best and most visually striking single-player experiences Roman history lovers can have today. Sure the combat is a button-mashing fiesta and the executions get boring after the first couple of hours but it’s still a fun time ripping through the barbarian hordes and following the story of Marius Titus. It even has a D-Day landing moment. Because of course, it does. Then you’ll end up as a gladiator and it becomes Gladiator the videogame. For just 2,49€ it’s a no-brainer if you don’t own it already. If you do, go play it.