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Strategy Games That Offer Real Challenge

Tired of too easy games and digging in sandboxes without a specific purpose? Do you want a real challenge that will force you to destroy your keyboard, and then try to go through again and still win? Then this article is for you. Strategy games that will make you sweat and challenge your intellect.

They Are Billions

The post-apocalyptic colony simulator that set the bar for many similar games. The idea is simple: you build a settlement, and there are zombies around. Lots of zombies, thousands of zombies. The game offers a campaign with increasing difficulty and a survival mode that you definitely won’t beat the first time. It all starts simple: we build houses, chop down trees, kill zombies in the area … and then a raid of a thousand zombies comes to you and forces you to play again! Successfully surviving in They Are Billions will require careful timing, map exploration and thorough resource management: every investment and every building must be justified, otherwise … you simply cannot survive.


A space colony simulator that received a huge number of negative reviews due to being too hard! IXION is about an ark ship traveling in space, inside which the player builds a mini-city. Space is a dangerous place. The body of the ark strives to be torn apart by the vacuum throughout the game, the population is constantly demoralized due to the uncertainty of the future, and in each star system there are only remnants of humanity angry at your corporation. All this is complicated by the management of resources, which are constantly lacking. The first walkthrough of most players ended in failure, because not every one is be able to plan in a very limited space.

XCOM 2 and Xenonauts 2

Two stories about an alien attack on Earth. Two really hard campaigns with a lot of freedom of choice and a bunch of tactical battles in which you have to think a lot. It is not so easy to complete the campaign of these games on the first try, even on medium difficulty. XCOM 2 will offer an easier to learn (but not beat!) gaming experience, while Xenonauts 2 will appeal to those players who prefer a lot of detail and more micromanagement.

Shadow Empire

Shadow Empire is a wargame that is complex in every way. A huge number of details, complex battle system typical of serious wargames and advanced economy system. This game is hard enough to beat, especially on a specific maps. Shadow Empire will force you to use your brain to its full potential. The game uses planetary scale, where you build a new post-apocalyptic empire and interact with other states.



An excellent simulator of turn-based combat involving mechs. The game includes a detailed, but not tedious, robot editor, and a fairly interesting campaign with a degree of freedom of choice and a bit of economic management. But the main reason why Battletech got into this article is the rather difficult tactical battles, not every of which can be won on the first try. Overcoming the challenges thrown by opponents is even more enjoyable with beautiful graphics and detailed damage details – each part of the robots that was torn off is displayed graphically.


Unity of Command 2

Unity of Command 2 doesn’t bother with complex mechanics, instead focusing on strategic gameplay that is more like solving a complex puzzle. This is a World War II strategy game that offers many scenarios in which you, with a limited number of combat units, have to defeat an enemy, often with a numerical superiority. Easy to learn, hard to win approach.


Battle Brothers

Not recommended for the especially nervous players! In Battle Brothers, you create your squad of mercenaries and set off on a journey through a medieval low fantasy world that does not forgive mistakes. Have you just dealt with another group of bandits and start feeling omnipotent? A passing gang of orcs doesn’t think so, chopping your best fighter to pieces. Despite the fact that the game is turn-based (but moving around the world happens in real time), a large amount of adrenaline is provided due the Ironman mode that will not allow you to do save scamming. You need to think about every step, and the price of each decision is life or death.


Some games from Total War series

Many have heard about the Total War series, which combines a turn-based global map and battles involving thousands of fighters, but not everyone knows which games in the line can provide the most difficult challenges. Over the course of more than two decades, a lot of Total War games came out, and here are those that can throw a real challenge when playing on above-average difficulties:

  • Total War: Shogun 2. Relatively easy start, but a furious late game where you have your state against everyone.
  • Total War: Attila. Everything is complicated here: the hostile world of the early Middle Ages does not forgive mistakes: constant illnesses, a desperate population and deteriorating soil fertility every year. And closer to the middle of the game, hordes of Huns come, completely breaking the formed world order.
  • Total War: Warhammer. In the Warhammer trilogy, the developers have done quite a lot of work on the balance, as a result of which you have to strain quite hard throughout the campaign. After all, problems are literally pouring in from every side: constant raids, lack of money, negative events and disorder in the settlements.

Of course, each Total War game has some exploits that can greatly facilitate your walkthorugh. But we will not talk about them.


Don’t let the simple graphics fool you: Factorio deserves the title of the most mind-blowing action strategy game ever. This game is able to stress the player in two different ways: incredibly complex production chains based on automation and logistics using conveyors, and an ever-growing threat in the face of alien bugs, who strive to destroy everything in the area. To fulfill the main goal – to build a spaceship, you will have to create a huge base with complex interdependent sectors, as well as protect it from aggressive creatures that surround it from all sides and constantly increase their numbers. Yes, this game is actually top-down action where you control a character, but after 5 minutes of gameplay you will understand what a complex strategy layer is there.



The game that set the bar for all space strategy games for years to come thanks to its complexity. However, it is worth highlighting another side of Stellaris: it offers excellent multi-level challenges starting from above-average difficulties. Developing an empire for several hours of real time, only to be completely destroyed by invading guests from another dimension, is an invaluable gaming experience. The amount of micromanagement will also make you sweat – however, this aspect is not to everyone’s liking.


Multiplayer RTS that are worth trying

Of course, no artificial intelligence can pose such a challenge that online RTS players are capable of. RTS genre, contrary to all misconceptions, lives and thrives. Here are a few currently relevant games, online battles in which will make you sweat immediately after reaching a decent rating level:

  • Age of Empires II and IV. Moderately difficult gaming experience, many professional players in the rankings.
  • Company of Heroes 3. Emphasis on tactics and positioning. Suitable for those players who do not like to scrupulously manage resources and prefer to focus on the military aspect.
  • StarCraft II. The most unreal gesture that will make you click furiously and learn dozens of builds, especially if your opponent’s nickname is written in hieroglyphs.
  • SpellForce 3. A hybrid of strategy and RPG with nice graphics and lively online battles with a variety of factions.
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