The 10 Best Android Strategy Games that Require no Wi-Fi
Maybe you’re sitting pretty with five glowing bars today but tomorrow might prove another ball game entirely. Could just be nothing more than a plane ride. Or a neglected bill. Or, maybe you’re out on the tundra hunting wild boar with a bowie knife. Whatever the case, it happens. And it’s not pretty. Not to worry. As with so many of life’s more trenchant challenges, Hardcore Droid has got your back. What follows is a list of the best offline strategy games for Android circa 2020. In other words, the best Android strategy games you can play without Wi-Fi. You can thank us when your dad pays the cell phone bill.
10. Civilization Revolutions 2
No, it’s not Civilization VI, nor Civs I through V. And yes, the Civilization formula has been simplified for mobile devices. And yet, Civ Rev’s simple interface belies its depth. While you cannot micromanage every conceivable detail of your budding civilization the way you can in the big boy Civs, the game offers a plethora of tasks to conquer your competition and keep your people moving ever upward. In a mobile gaming space saturated with trash city building sims designed around the perpetual extraction of dollars, Civilization Revolution 2 represents not only a gulp of welcome fresh air, but a genuinely well-designed made-for-mobile title designed primarily for enjoyment.
9. Iron Marines
Probably the best RTS game on Google Play. Also, likely the only one that really works on a mobile phone. Designed by the superlative game makers at Ironhide studios (see: the Kingdom Rush Series below), Iron Marines takes the RTS concept, simplifies and pairs it down for the tiny screen. However, like the Kingdom Rush titles, Ironhide not only has a lot going on beneath its cartoonish surface, it’s a blast to play. Offering up genuine RTS missions and combat that’s high functioning and well-balanced, Iron Marines offers a wealth of solid RTS stuff under the hood, like a bevy of units, buckets of upgrades, hero units and a wealth of missions. If you find yourself without internet and you love the RTS paradigm, my friend, this is the first and last stop.
8. Rebel Cops
HandyGames’ superb tactical sim is a must-have for tactics and stealth fans. A spinoff of This is the Police 1 and 2, Rebel Cops, unlike its predecessors, is heavy on the tactics and light on the sim and we couldn’t be happier. Rebel Cops has you heading up a renegade squad of policemen who, fed up with local corruption, have set out to destroy the organized crime elements that have adulterated local law enforcement. Missions play out like a simplified XCOM with a stealth facet. Between missions you micromanage your team while funding local grassroots endeavors to win over the locals. While some of the missions are a bit on the long side for a mobile title, the game’s excellent and challenging tactics missions make it a must-buy for armchair tacticians.
7. Plague Inc.
Predicated on an absolutely vile premise, especially in light of recent events, Plague Inc. sees you managing the evolution and spread of a deadly virus.
After designating a place of origin, you set about managing your at first harmless microorganism, tweaking its evolution as you go in an effort to create an apocalyptic plague that utterly destroys humanity. Bad timing, you say? Sure. But in our defense, we moved it back from No. 4. Actually, it’s not only a superb simulation in its own right, it’s also a scientifically accurate simulation that demonstrates how human-borne pathogens interact and evolve on a global scale. Not unexpectedly, sales of Plague Inc. skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, especially in China, where it was eventually banned. For sim lovers who enjoy playing the antagonist, it doesn’t get better than Plague Inc.. For the rest of us, the game is not only entrancingly engaging, it also sheds some light on how viruses function, and why it’s not such a bad idea to put your damn mask on.
6. Bad North
Bad North started life as a PC indie but it is a perfect fit for mobile. In terms of gameplay it mixes the simplicity and defensive tactics of tower defense with the open movement of an RTS. In it you play a Viking commander who is island hopping to recruit allies and escape the encroaching hoard of your pillaging kinsmen. Visiting new islands provides bonuses in the shape of skills, items and allies, as well as providing defensive missions wherein you stave off the latest wave of Norse ravagers.
The game’s combat is challenging and nuanced enough to provide visceral battles. But the game’s art direction is perhaps its greatest accomplishment, featuring cel-shaded graphics that are at once cartoonish and medieval in the vein of the Bayeux Tapestry. The emphasis is definitely on the cartoonish here, however, with simple, amusing sound effects and spritely animations that put one in mind of a warring flea circus. If you have to scratch your strategy itch and your Wi-Fi is down, Bad North will keep you pleased for hours.
5. Kingdom Rush Series
Some mobile strategy fans are likely to tell you that the Kingdom Rush games are the beginning and the end of tower defense on Android. And they would be right. With its high fantasy theme and line-drawn cartoony world, the uninitiated could be forgiven for thinking that the Kingdom Rush titles are childish. And they wouldn’t be wrong.
No doubt children everywhere are happily tapping away at them, but they are also smartly and comprehensively detailed. Kingdom Rush’s tiny little towers often involve little dudes with swords and arrows, true enough. But there’s also a variety of towers, each of which offers multiple levels and accompanying perks. Similarly, there are waves of singular enemy types, whose details, when you face them for the first time, are laid out for the player. While we are on the subject of the spice of life, the game offers up a variety of heroes that level up RPG-style and cool bosses who wreak havoc in a variety of ways. What’s more, you can level up said heroes, towers and skills in the backend between missions. Kingdom Rush offers a veritable smorgasbord for tower defense fans. Its myriad elements balance each other out providing a smart and satisfying strategy experience.
4. Conquest of Elysium 3
Illwinter Game Design is known in indie circles for exceptionally deep strategy games. Conquest of Elysium 3, their only mobile title, is no different. A seamless port from the PC, Elysium sees you leading a military cohort in a high fantasy-themed world. You will capitalize on locations and resources in an attempt to grow a large diversified army and conquer the map of the day. While the game seems a dumbed-down strategy title at first glance, Elysium contains multitudes via an assortment of units, factions, races, skills and hero units. Units possess not only abilities and skills, but have battle line preferences and specific goals. Once you enter battle, there’s a deep yet comprehensible battle system running under the hood. While the graphics are dated, it really doesn’t matter as it is without a doubt one of the finest strategy games you can play on Android.
3. Door Kickers
In Door Kickers you head up a SWAT team. By way of some superb real-time tactical combat you do all the stuff a SWAT team does. In short, you infiltrate the bases and homes of terrorists and bad guys with guns a-blazing.
While Door Kickers real-time combat may throw off some armchair tacticians, the detailed waypoint system, through which one can create a lovingly detailed multi-pronged incursion into enemy strongholds, will undoubtedly draw them back into the fold. Like a lot of mobile titles, missions are rated on a three-star system, which governs the quality and amount of mission rewards. Through said rewards you earn new team members and equipment. Thankfully, you can replay each mission and thus upgrade your team to the teeth. And if you stick with this elegantly-complex title, you’ll need the upgrades because as you progress the missions grow more challenging as the rewards more glorious.
2. The Banner Saga 1 & 2
Beautiful production values combined with elegant and challenging gameplay mark Versus Evil’s tactical cross-platform series.
A portion of the Banner Saga games are played using an Oregon Trail mechanic. Your Varls (giant Norsemen with ox horns) and Vikings move on a forward trajectory from settlement to settlement. All the while, you manage unfolding random events in an attempt to keep your band of Norse happy and healthy. Your prospects, however, are bleak. Both titles provide well-written, epic-sized stories that are also pretty bleak. But the Banner Saga games’ high-stakes plot full of wonderfully vile and heroic characters will undoubtedly make you happy.
During the other half of the Banner Saga games, you will take part in some of the most elegant tactical combat you’ll find anywhere. Instead of HP, your units have two stats to worry about: strength and armor. Armor generally works as you would expect but strength functions as hit points as well as a damage modifier.
In every engagement you have to weigh whether a given unit’s strength can overcome his opponents’ armor. When it can’t, you have to break down the armor first. A longer list of beneath-the-hood stats, some cool and unique for this type of game, such as the exertion and break attributes, add depth to the game’s tactical battles. The battles themselves, absent high ground and cover, seem simple at first glance. A lot, however, is going on under the surface. Between the Banner Sagas’ take on skills and attributes, the unique units you’ll control and face, the new paradigms Banner Saga creates via armor stats and the merging of strength and hit points, Versus Evil has created what is hands-down one of the most elegant tactical mobile games available on Android.
1. XCOM: Enemy Within
The XCOM story told in short cut scenes, wherein you head up Earth’s last line of defense against an alien invasion, is a small part of XCOM’s whole. The cooler stories by far are the emergent ones: the bona fide fear you feel when approaching your first downed alien craft, followed by the palpable relief when you have actually destroyed the foul invaders; the elation of deftly dismantling a sectopod in a well-laid ambush; the genuine anguish you feel watching a character you leveled up and named fall while wrapping up a mission.
XCOM’s emergent experiences are the result of its deep strategic and tactical layers. In the strategic layer you try to keep Earth’s first-world nations happy by promptly and deftly building XCOM into a high-functioning anti-alien force. To this end, you build a base, do R&D on alien loot, craft sick anti-alien stuff and keep your soldiers leveled-up and looking badass. As fun as all of that is, XCOM’s tactical battles are the title’s heart and mind. Its turn-based tactical missions represent pitch-perfect turn-based tactics.
Everything on display here is as good as it gets: enemy design, mission design, destructible environments, smart AI, arrays of good stuff to be found, crafted and upgraded. Chinese developer Virtuos blessedly ported Firaxis’s XCOM Enemy Unknown to Android in 2014. Later that same year they ported XCOM Enemy Within. The latter, no more than a host of enhancements for the former, is the only one available at present. But it really is all you need. XCOM has sat on the top our Best Android Strategy Games of All Time list every year since 2014. What else can I tell you? Get it.