Similar to the scorching heat enveloping Napoleon’s army on the battlefield of Egypt in 1798. However, unlike the march to Egypt, Steam’s occasional sale happens all too often for little old me to keep pushing out article after another trying to chase Gabe Newell’s wet dream of running a sweatshop equivalent of indie developers and one-man army developer shoving indie games down our throat. Go away, please.
So, instead of diving into a trash bin to splurge your hard-earned money on relatively cheap wargames, allow me to present to you the living article of the top 10 computer wargames from Steam. These games are worth it that they are still a great delight to grab hold of whenever possible, notwithstanding sales.
Top 10 Computer Wargames from Steam in 2023
Below are my top 10 computer wargames from Steam in 2023. I have narrowed it down to highly acclaimed wargames that are both affordable and deep in value – of course, taking into account the value from reading the 300-page manual! To be as inclusive to everyone, my list is also as varied and disparate as the colors of Napoleon’s army.
Ultimate General: Civil War is one of the more colorful wargames I always recommend to new wargamers. Something to soothe their eyes before the inevitable read-up of that aforementioned 300-page manual – just kidding. I love reading manuals. In a tactical wargame, you’ll be commanding the Union or Confederacy in the full civil war campaign. You can create corps and companies under your command while also deciding on the weapons they used. Aside from the primary campaign, there are also several important battles you can play in, such as the battle of Shiloh. Scenarios in Ultimate General: Civil War is not only order of battle oriented but split down into phases based on historical turning points.
Ultimate General: Civil War strikes a great balance between casually issuing battle lines and executing grand maneuvers of creeping your reserves across rivers to flank your enemy. Tactics like this always pay dividends in the long run. Do not allow the pretty graphics to deceive you. Behind this wargame is the right amount of thought needed to win its battles. You will always feel like you ran out of breath at the end of every fight.
One of my favorite wargame series, Graviteam Tactics, has proven again that Ukrainian developers make great wargames with a different vibe of unnerving authenticity. The devs even drive through the actual location of battles to recreate them in their games. Graviteam Tactic: Mius Front is their latest installment with a good variety of obscure battles on the Eastern Front. The game may not be newbie-friendly with its obtuse UI. Still, if you spend the time to learn about commanding your troops like actual commanders with high-level instructions, then you can enjoy sitting back and witnessing the closest thing to a real-world war two battle from the comfort of your seat.
Graviteam Tactics frequently releases new DLCs every few months with consistent updates to their base games. They are a few active developers who continuously support all of their wargames, even older titles. The base games are packed with historical operations in the eastern front of the war. You can play as either side in the operational theatre, and when conflicts happen, you are pulled into tactical battles, which make up its core gameplay.
3) Civil War 2
Civil War 2 is one of the most acclaimed AGEOD games. This is the de facto game to get if you are like me and love the American civil war period. You have a similar command as Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis. Commanding every army and assigning apt commanders. Your sole responsibility is to decide where, when, and how battles happen, but the outcomes depend on your ability to manage your military command structure. Carefully dividing the army and creating corps within your general’s ability to command is key to winning battles and the war in the long run.
The game comes with several starting points in the civil war, including a short tutorial scenario. However, most people play the larger civil war campaign from 1861 – 1865. Civil War 2 is one of those games that would demand hours to learn the basics. However, a great video tutorial series on Youtube delves into every aspect of the game, which I feel is an excellent alternative to reading the actual manual.
Let’s say you can only choose one game out of this list, then Gary Grigsby’s War In The West Complete Edition is the one you need to splurge your money on. Without the discount, this game can run up to USD 70, but on Steam, you get more than half the price off plus the expansion. You may be wondering why War in the East isn’t listed here. War in the East is a slightly older game, and the air battles mechanic is different from the later War in the West. It is also receiving its sequel soon.
If you love the details of every bullet shot in the game, then you can’t go wrong with any of Gary Grigsby’s wars in the West. Almost everything is simulated, including the type of railroad tracks used to move your supply while you conquer the West. You can spend literately hours in one turn when you have so many things to consider and divisions to move across the map. It’s a vast and deep game filled with love. However, beware that this is one of the hardest wargames out there, but like New York, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is one of the most underrated wargames out there. Released after the success of Pike and Shot. Sengoku Jidai leverages similar mechanics as its spiritual predecessor. Campaigns cover the invasion of Korea by the Japanese and also the war with the Chinese Ming dynasty. It’s steeped in Eastern history and could be a gateway to pique your curiosity about the far east history that is seldom represented accurately in other games.
Unlike other wargames, newer ones like Sengoku Jidai come with a built-in PBEM function for multiplayer. This is a Godsend for most of us. Finally, you don’t have to email your opponent your game file or find opponents outside of the game. And because this game doesn’t take up much of your time, most of the value of the game will come from multiplayer matches with opponents.
World War 2 wargames are a dime a dozen, but not so for modern wargames covering the Global War Against Terror. Afghanistan 11, like its predecessor Vietnam 65, is a turn-based wargame set in Afghanistan. You play as the US forces occupying the poppy fields of Afghanistan. Your mission is basically to keep everyone safe by winning their hearts and minds through supply missions and building necessary infrastructures like roads and water towers for each town.
Towns can change allegiance based on how much you have helped them and defended them against terrorism. But then again, you’ll start to notice that the terrorists only attack American forces and not the villages, so that is something to think about. The unique part of this game is that fighting terrorists in the mountainous region isn’t as easy as conventional warfare. You’ll need valuable intel of enemy locations from the locals and well-secured convoys to protect your men and supply. So, the game will test your every vigilance.
Yes, here’s another underrated wargame. And like Napoleon’s other military campaign, when mentioning The Operational Art of War 4, it is often followed by the sentence “…oh yeah guess that’s also available” Similar to people’s infatuation with Waterloo when mentioning Napolean- that’s his most significant defeat. The Operational Art of War 4 comes jam-packed with folders upon folders of scenarios from its prequels. Covering a vast range of eras throughout history, including the American Civil War.
Despite not focusing on a single conflict, like many other wargames on this list, its mechanics adapt well to most scenarios across eras. One upside is that the game covers obscure conflicts like the Chechnya war. It’s also not an easy game to play as turns are drawn out by decisions you make, like movements and attacks. These will subtract the percentage from your turn. It’s a little weird and needs some getting used to, but once you’re over the curve, you get to enjoy a plethora of conflicts across the world!
Blocks! Julius Ceaser is an excellent adaptation of its original tabletop counterpart. The game focuses on the Roman civil war between Julius Ceaser and Pompeii. Each turn, you decide to move your “blocks” of troops across the Mediterranean to outmaneuver your enemy. The AI in this game is robust and will make you fight for every inch of territory. To top this off. The game has an amazingly appealing art style that’s clean and easy on the eyes with just enough color pallet to keep you playing for a little longer.
Another honorable mention is Blocks! Richard III. The first adaptation of the Blocks! Series to digital wargames. It’s an identical wargame except for the time period and the lack of multiplayer. This is why I have recommended Blocks! Julius Ceaser over Blocks! Richard III. But if you have some spare cash, then get both. They are relatively cheap and easy to get into as entry-level wargames.
If you would like to know the true feeling of a hundred thousand men firing across vast fields of green, then this is the wargame to play. I know it’s ironic since I mentioned that most people only focus on Napoleon’s most significant defeat, Waterloo. But beggars can’t be choosers, and this game further proves my point. Regardless, I would recommend other wargames in a heartbeat if they cover other campaigns like the Peninsula or Egypt. Luckily we have John Tiller Series for that, but unfortunately, it’s not available on Steam.
Scourge of War: Waterloo gives you the ability to play as brigade commander up to Napoleon himself. Before you know it, you can be on horseback riding across the fields and dispatching your orders through messengers to your subordinates. The game paced realistically, unlike the Total War series. Each battle can take up hours of in-game time to fully play out. And easily more than an hour in a real-time playthrough. Moving troops is also accurately represented by the speed of column formation movements on the road versus the tortoise paces of marching through the fields in line formation. Never before have I seen an accurate 3D representation of wars fought in this era until coming across the Scourge of War series.
It’s not only for the sake of variety that I included Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith in my list. It’s also a deep high fantasy 4X wargame. You can play as any of the races from the Dominion world. There is so much depth in this game that I cannot possibly cover it here. All you need to know is that each race/faction plays very differently from the next.
This affects how you colonize other regions and battle your enemy with literal blessings raining down on your troops from your flying monolithic stone God! While most 4x games focus on empire development. Dominion 5’s primary focus is on warfare with the goal of the whole world, praying to your flying stone God. If you want to try something different than the usual military shenanigans, then you should give Dominions 5 a shot!