With the highly anticipated Victoria III coming out next month on the 25th of October, and the recent release of Dune: Spice Wars after the 2021 Dune movie premiere, there has been a huge buzz within the grand strategy gaming community. As previous games in the Victoria series have been huge successes, it is clear why the impending release of Paradox Interactive’s newest game is gaining so much traction.
The best beginner grand strategy games ordinarily involve varying difficulty settings with in-depth or opt-in tutorials that pop up as the game progresses, a gripping storyline, and meticulously thought-out lore, so the player can game at their own pace and enjoy learning about what they’re playing.
Stellaris is an extremely unique grand strategy game, based wholly on a science fiction map. Made by Paradox Development Studios in 2016, a company that has had ample experience in the form of grand strategy games, being the masterminds behind the Crusader Kings and Victoria game series.
Whilst playing Stellaris, there is a distinctively different type of gameplay in comparison to other grand strategies. It is ideal for beginners, as it can be enjoyed without having to be familiar with the world at play or any historical context. Additionally, there is an option to complete an in-depth player guide, along with the option to play with a preset empire, a feature that is great for anyone new to the genre to gain experience before developing their own personalized empires.
Crusader Kings III
Another game made by Paradox Development Studios, Crusader Kings III was released in 2020 and offered a never seen before scope of gameplay for the grand strategy genre.
Crusader Kings III is ideal for any beginner looking to dip their toe into the type of gameplay that grand strategy usually offers. The game puts an intense focus on the building of a dynasty rather than just conquering and warfare, giving beginners the chance to get acquainted with the storytelling element of grand strategies. Crusader Kings III allows the player to just get started with gaming without having to worry about beginner’s guides, offering an in-built opt-in tooltip system that will explain every action to the player if and when needed.
The latest base game installment in Sid Meier’s Civilization game series, Civilization VI offers all the classic elements of the original games but with added twists, different terrain and land offers certain benefits that can be advantageous to an empire.
Civilization VI offers immersive gameplay that is ideal for a beginner, with a playable list of empires covering almost all of human history, the game makes itself accessible to those not familiar with large amounts of history as players are able to choose an empire they are at least marginally acquainted with. Boasting a great online multiplayer experience, players can conquer along with 11 friends and learn the basis of the game as a group.
Dune: Spice Wars
Released in April 2022 to compliment the buzz that the new Dune 2021 film created, Dune: Spice Wars is a great game for a grand strategy beginner who is a fan of the Dune universe.
Already being familiar with so much of the lore and terminology would make the gameplay all the more enjoyable. The in-game graphics and real-time playing make Dune: Spice Wars extremely captivating, and helps players get a real feel for the universe, so being familiar with Dune really isn’t a necessity when it comes to playing this game. To make it even more accessible to beginners, combat is relatively simple and the map easy to follow, so battle goals can be set accordingly.
Total War: Rome II
The Total War games are notorious for being among the best grand strategy games out there, and Total War: Rome II completely lives up to this reputation, having been a consistent fan favorite for over a decade.
For a beginner to grand strategy, Total War: Rome II is a great start, players are able to choose the difficulty of the game before they begin, with the game boasting such a consistently large fan base for over a decade, there is a substantial community out there of players willing to give tips and tricks to newcomers. Total War: Rome II has a storyline that lasts for around 300 years, which is not too overwhelming for beginners and makes it easier for a player to familiarize themselves with the historical context.
Another Roman-based grand strategy game, Expeditions: Rome is full of historical nods and strategic decision-making, ideal for beginners who are primarily interested in the combat aspect of grand strategy gaming.
Expeditions: Rome allows the player to edit the difficulty of battles mid-way through as a way to aid in-game success. Expeditions: Rome doesn’t overcomplicate the ‘create a character’ portion of the game, ideal for any beginner wanting to just get on with the actual playing of the game, only offering two options of play styles which are aggressive or defensive, shaping the way the character will conduct themselves.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War II
Another hugely popular universe, Warhammer has been a consistent fan favorite for years, both as a tabletop game and as a video game, being familiar with Warhammer and its lore will help when it comes to playing this game, although, it can be equally enjoyed by those just getting into grand strategy or the Warhammer universe.
The game takes the player through their campaign, during which the aim is to strategically determine how to win battles based on mapping and quick thinking. The game is great for newcomers to grand strategy that are already familiar with the Warhammer universe as there is the advantage of knowing the game’s backstory. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War offers in-depth tutorials on all playable races enabling a beginner to efficiently work out what playing style will work for them.
Total War: Warhammer III
Released in early 2022, Total War: Warhammer III is the perfect combination of both the Total War and Warhammer grand strategy game franchises, the third installment in the series offers newcomers to both franchises the opportunity to learn the game in an easier fashion, being a fairly simple game to just learn whilst playing.
The game itself has a strong narrative which makes it increasingly accessible to newbies, as the storytelling aspect will give the player all the lore knowledge necessary for playing. Players are also able to share the experience with friends and learn the game together, as there is a multiplayer mode that is completely new to this installment of the Total War: Warhammer games. As it was released in early 2022, the game is more contemporary which is great for anyone looking to get started with grand strategy as there is an active community of players available to guide newcomers.
Supreme Ruler Ultimate
Supreme Ruler Ultimate predominantly focuses on the diplomatic and economical aspects of grand strategy gaming, released in 2014, it is relatively contemporary and therefore easier to follow.
Forging alliances with richer and larger nations makes the game inherently simpler and more enjoyable for the player; along with having the playable country be one of strong economic growth at the beginning of the game. This game is perfect for beginners in terms of ease of play, as most choices are answerable with common sense. Supreme Ruler Ultimate focuses on WWII and the Cold War, which further improves its accessibility as there is less historical context to learn for the player.
Made by Paradox Development Studios in 2010, the Victoria series is expecting its third release later this year, so playing Victoria II would be a great way for any beginner to become familiar with the gameplay of the Victoria before committing to purchasing the third installment.
Victoria II really puts an emphasis on economic growth and maintenance. The game offers a relatively compact scope of time periods to choose from, 1835 to the beginning of WWII, meaning a beginner won’t be too overwhelmed with choice and can easily learn how to play within all the time periods available, along with it being much easier to learn the histories involved as well. Victoria II boasts automated in-game features which give a beginner to the game less to worry about and more time to enjoy playing.