The Best RTS Games on Android, iPad & iPhone

By Michael Coffer 14 Dec 2018 2

When it comes to the RTS, the mobile marketplace has big shoes to fill. From Age of Empires to Command & Conquer (how about that Rivals, eh?), the frantic blend of actions-per-minute with grand strategy, the macro- and micro-management required to play this genre at peak performance has inspired many a gamer.

The internet is great, but we don’t always have access to it. Here are some of the best strategy games you can play while offline.

Recent Releases

Not everything that releases makes it into our top lists for one reason or another. Here's around up of some recent (going back to August) RTS releases that you might want to check out on your own time:

Without further ado Here are the best RTS games for android, iPhone & iPad to play in 2018.

Rebel Inc. (Review)

Developer: Ndemic Creations
Platforms: iOS Universal
Price: $1.99

Rebel Inc Head

Plague Inc. this is not, but Rebel Inc. still shares in its predecessor's excellent design pedigree. As the newly appointed administrator of a region that's just suffered a major war, your job is to try and help the population rebuild was also keeping local insurgents in check. It's full of tough choices and challenging tactical game-play as you struggle to pin down enemy insurgents and prevent them from doing too much harm.

Dealing with the concept of reconstruction is no easy feat, and the subject matter could be considered slightly controversial given the recent events that have inspired it, but Ndemic have treated the topic with as much care and attention as they can, even consulting with real-world experts on the subject. Rebel Inc. is a challenging and tense game, but just as rewarding, making this one of the year's best real-time strategy/simulations.

Element RTS (Review)

Developer: Flightless
Platforms: iOS Universal
Price: $4.99

Element Best RTS

One of the top RTS releases of 2018 to date, Element is a PC port that fits right at home on mobile. It's unique and streamlined design makes it a very accessible strategy game - you've got to balance the production of resources with the construction of units to either defend your base or attack your foes. The matches are short, and the AI is a pretty decent challenge, so you won't want to for entertainment.

It's just shy of being a 'must-buy' - the inclusion of a multiplayer mode would probably cement it as one of the best RTS games in mobile history, but we'd settle for an Android version. According to the devs, the game's been able to run on android devices for a while now, and they're just putting on the finishing touches before they announce a formal release date.

Kingdom Rush: Vengeance (Review)

Developer: Ironside S.A.
Platforms:  iOS Universal, Android
Price: $4.99

Vengeance Rev Head

The latest entry in the acclaimed Kingdom Rush tower defence series has caused no small amount of controversy, which is likely to continue with it's inclusion in this list. It all depends how much you're bothered by the game's slightly-too-persistent micro-transactions. The only blemish on what is otherwise a stellar real-time strategy experience, these IAPs are completely optional and unnecessary, they're just a tad pushy.

If you're like Dick, who was a bit more forgiving in his review, then you'll find another excellent tower defence game, and one with plenty of humour and content to last you a decent amount of time - each level can take up to thirty minutes to complete. The way Vengeance handles towers as well is also fairly unique, requiring a bit more thought and planning. All in alll, unless you really want to take a stand against micro-transactions, there's a great game here waiting for you to discover and enjoy.

Autumn Dynasty

Developer: Touch Dimensions
Platforms:  iOS Universal, Android
Price: $1.99, $4.99 

Autumn Dynasty Besrt RTS

Autumn Dynasty has campaign progression and a bare-bones story to push the action forward with some serviceable if dull reasoning, but what really makes it shine are the battles. Unit types include simple categories like cavalry, pikemen, archers and catapults but this simplicity is complicated by the rock-paper-scissors relationship between them.

In the heat of battle, single moments of positioning and command become crucial, and this constant feeling of decisive command is what makes Autumn Dynasty such a fulfilling RTS title. Its sequel, Autumn Dynasty: Warlords lost some of the pure force and tension of the original in favor of adding map objectives and 4X elements, but the first game is still the best. This one is for all intents and purposes an Android-exclusive, for the developer’s whole portfolio was wiped out with iOS 11 Appocalypse. It works, but only selectively on older Apple hardware.

Auralux: Constellations (Review)

Developer: War Drum Studios
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: Free (IAPs)

auralux

Auralux is generally brilliant and wickedly simple. Glowing orbs skip across the void of space to do battle over planets, which in turn spawn more orbs for the controlling player. Gestures are dead simple, tapping to select and dragging to assign. There is only one type of ‘unit’ and one objective: take over the entire map. From these givens, Auralux has some intense, hair-pulling and nail-biting levels where the odds are almost ludicrously stacked against the little player that could.

The ‘constellations’ in the title are simply clustered series of levels, each with a gimmick mechanic which must be understood and utilized to power through said levels. The game shows its age a bit, but it also demonstrates how a simple idea with excellent execution can stand the test of time. Another bonus is the variable speed setting, which makes the action go from hyper to sedate, depending on playstyle. Local multiplayer is a nice plus, but the game’s primary draw is solo play.

Dominations

Developer: Nexon M
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: Free (IAPs)

dominations

Dominations deserves to be loved and known for the quality of play it provides and its relatively tasteful monetization, but unfortunately the quickest way to worm its way into your heart and home screen are comparisons, so let’s get those over with. It’s Civilization meets Clash of Clans, with empires spanning the Iron Age to Space Age, wonders to build, raids to conduct, and all the usual trappings.

So, yes, there is a certain likeness to established powerhouses, but the devil is in the details, and Dominations gets those spot-on. Playing it to a satisfying endgame without shelling out serious dinero will take patience, but Dominations’ emulation of all of recorded human history and conflict is pretty satisfying to stretch out and play in pieces. Of course, human history never before ran on a timer...

Iron Marines (Review)

Developer: Ironhide Studios
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: $4.99

iron marines

The Iron Marines are a space-trotting, world-saving team of elite squads tasked with putting out fires and defeating hostiles wherever needed. The elevator pitch for the game would be Starcraft...in space. There is a home-base which usually has to be fortified and defended, additional refineries to secure more resources, and just a handful of units. 

From these simple, intuitive elements, the game ekes out a good sense of micromanagement and delectable real-time tension. Its enemies have unusual abilities and synergies, and its difficulty is no joke, especially on the higher levels. Yet the game also retains Ironclad Studios sense of long-term planning and strategy present in its tower defense titles. Its next update will introduce a brand-new world, the icy Borealis, on September 27th, but this is just an extra check in its favor.

Subterfuge

Developer: SnappyTouch
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: Free (IAPs)

subterfuge

Subterfuge is exactly as advertised: a subtle, long-term game of expedient alliances and stone-cold betrayals, filled with the irrefutable logic of hard numbers and the soft uncertainty of fog of war. A turn just means giving subs and bases a command which will take hours to fulfil, so while it is real-time like warfare is real-time, in Subterfuge the theatre of war sees its stage advance slowly.

Its scale is just grand enough to be deeply satisfying but be warned that it does take some time investment to get a game fired up. The leaders provide asymmetrical player powers, but even these super-units can be captured and bartered. Barring these modifies and special cases,  the bases and subs are more or less identical. The game is simply a question of position, resources and force, but these factors are always shifting because of the partial information and precarious alliances.

Rymdkapsel (Review)

Developer: Grapefrukt Games
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: $3.99

rymdkapsel

Rymdkapsel is about space-base-building and defense, mostly, but also includes some spatial puzzling a la Tetris and ‘exploration’. Its minimalism is more than just stylistic, going instead to the core of every action, options and goal. Perhaps the most satisfying bit is the constant packing problem for expanding the base.

New buildings can be any type and go any spot the player chooses, but also must have predefined dimensions. (all four unit polyominoes) A tightly knit base might come across as more defensible but reaching and researching the far-flung monoliths gives permanent global passive bonuses. The game is a logistics and timing puzzle with a really keen sense of efficiency and management for all its stripped-down design.

Tropical Stormfront

Developer: Noble Master Games
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: $3.99

tropical stormfront

Island-hopping Tropical Stormfront pits the United Democratic Alliance against Order, Discipline and Obedience in a faux-historical struggle across the archipelago. The graphics are deliberately dated and the unit mixture, contrary to every other item on the list, is realistic and accurate. Missions scenarios range from the typical conquest to capture the flag and survival mode.

It’s like a real-time Advance Wars with pretty much no hand-holding, just sink-or-swim gameplay. The touch controls mean a bigger screen is practically a must, for while missing a swipe or tap in another genre would be merely inconvenient, in a game like this it is quite the setback. Still, Tropical Stormfront is a smartly realized real-time-strategy game with staying power.

Hall of Fame

We want to keep this list lean, so as new comes come into the lime-lite other games will get rotated out. We don't want to forget about them though, so we've added this hall of fame section so we can remember them forever.

What would your list of the best RTS games on mobile look like? Let us know!

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