10 Best iOS Real-Time Strategy Games

While there are plenty of turn-based strategy games available on the App Store, there are not many real-time strategy (RTS) games for the iPhone. Perhaps developers find it difficult to build a full console-like real-time strategy game for the little screen of a mobile phone. However, a few have created excellent iOS titles that are as immersive as PC RTS games. Here’s a rundown of some of the best real-time strategy games for your iOS device.

1. Autumn Dynasty

Autumn Dynasty
Autumn Dynasty

Autumn Dynasty (AD) is a gorgeous RTS game. It reminds me of epic strategy titles like Total War. With an Asian backdrop, AD lets you relive epic wars fought by the feudal lords of China.

When it comes to strategy, the game does not fail to deliver. It has plenty of unit tactics up its sleeve. There are several pre-built abilities for your units, as in Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX, which can be unlocked as you progress through a campaign.

Autumn Dynasty sticks to standard RTS mechanics when it comes to base-building and resource management. It offers a simple drag-and-drop base-building concept, making it simpler for gamers to focus only on strategy. Like Total War, the game allows players to take advantage of the environment. Units can be hidden behind dense forests and players can take advantage of elevation.

One of the best aspects of AD is its amazing cel-shaded visuals. The smudgy paint-dab look is just too beautiful on a Retina display. With plenty of tactical surprises, beautiful graphics, and simple base-building/resource-management, Autumn Dynasty offers a never-before seen mobile strategy experience.

2. Amoebattle

Amoebattle on iPhone
Amoebattle on iPhone

I always wanted a RTS game based on a totally out-of-the-box theme or concept, and Amoebattle is the game I was looking for. Taking place in a world of microbes, the game pits players against "bad amoebas" planning to destroy the microbial ecosystem.

Instead of base-building, Amoebattle focuses more on unit management. Resource management takes the form of food that needs to be fed to omnivore, herbivore, and carnivore amoebas to help them grow, acquire abilities, and level up. Special powers let you unleash “probes” that infect opponent amoebas or slow them down during RTS battles.

Like Spore, Amoebattle also allows you to mutate your tiny creatures into more powerful units. You can collect a variety of units that will help you devise appropriate strategies in your battle against rival amoebas.

In Amoebattle's excellent touch-based control system, players tap, drag and drop, and use other standard touch-based gestures to control the game. This game is best played on an iPad, though you can try it on an iPhone.

3. First Strike

First Strike’s gameplay is quite similar to DEFCON and Plague Inc. This real-time strategy game lets you take control of a nation’s nuclear stash. Your goal is to destroy enemy nations. As you progress, you will be able to unlock new opponents and nations, which will open the doors to chaos and destruction. Unlike DEFCON, this game does not have a multiplayer mode. But the single-player mode boasts decent AI, which makes the game quite challenging.

Your set of tasks before the penultimate missile launch includes researching new technology and building new missiles. Launching missiles serves more than one purpose – to destroy a country or shoot down incoming missiles. Every decision you take affects the entire scenario, so think twice before researching new technology or deploying nuclear weapons.

First Strike’s visuals and presentation will appeal to the cold-blooded sociopath in you. Fans of you-become-the-villain type of games will enjoy every gameplay moment. Unfortunately, it’s not available for iPhone, but iPad users can enjoy the destruction on their large tablet screen.

4. Land Air Sea Warfare

Land Air Sea Warfare
Land Air Sea Warfare

LAS Warfare reminds me of Command and Conquer Red Alert 3. With battles of epic proportions, this game provides a solid RTS gameplay experience on your iOS device.

The best part of the game is the random maps it offers to its players. Every new map has a totally new terrain and features, making battles more exciting and challenging.

Another excellent feature of LAS Warfare is the adjustable AI difficulty. You can enjoy a good strategy game against clever AI opponents at the level of difficulty you prefer. This compensates somewhat for the lack of a multiplayer option. Another thing lacking is a storyline or plot, as in C&C Red Alert. But all in all, LAS is one of the best iPhone real-time strategy games, with its large-scale land, air, and sea battles, great graphics, and random maps.

5. Line of Defense: Tactics

Line of Defense: Tactics
Line of Defense: Tactics

Line of Defense: Tactics is a real-time squad-based RTS game set in a sci-fi world. You need to make the most of each space marine’s unique abilities, which expand and become more powerful as you gain experience. As in Battlefield, LoD’s squad is class-based. You will need to take advantage of each of the four classes to fend off enemies.

The game’s 16 action-packed missions will take your team to abandoned spaceships, planets, and space stations. Battling enemies will require proper planning, including setting up defensive positions, securing abandoned weaponry, and using grenades and futuristic weapons, which is fun. The tactical leeway given in this game makes it somewhat easier to defeat enemies. There’s also a stealth option that lets you sneak up on enemy for a surprise attack.

All in all, Line of Defense: Tactics is a great game, and tactical RTS in its purest form.

6. Total War: Battles

Total War: Battles
Total War: Battles

The iOS adaptation of Total War: Shogun is stunning to say the least. This and Autumn Dynasty are some of the few historic RTS games available for iPhone. Brilliant graphics, an interesting plot, and the medieval Japanese setting are some of the highlights of this top-notch strategy title.

A key feature of Total Wars: Battles is the inclusion of puzzle-like features in many missions. While building your base, the game will force you to try different layouts in order to defend it.

TW: Battles is not exactly like its PC counterpart and does make you feel a bit constricted for space and unit management. There’s actually no moving back, so you will need to have a good strategy in hand before you begin your battle campaign. There are plenty of combat tactics to employ.

The visuals in TW: Battles are top-notch. The game’s hexagonal grid pattern might be a turn-off, but trust me, this isn’t anything like a turn-based strategy game. Developers might have devised a grid pattern just to make it a bit easier for players to place their units and construct buildings.

The troop animation is amazing, and each unit class has a unique set of animated battle actions. You can zoom-in to watch these tiny soldiers fight their hearts out. Looks very impressive I must say.

Total War: Battles is an engaging game that offers interesting tactical play and is worth the money.

7. Warlords RTS

Warlords RTS
Warlords RTS

Warlords RTS is a mobile real-time strategy title set in a Tolkienesque fantasy universe. In this game, you control a band made up of a mage, a ranger, a huntress, and a warrior, with complementary skills and abilities. There’s also an inventory system as in most role-playing games; amulets, weapons and rings collected from treasure chests help defeat large numbers of orcs and goblins.

Warlords RTS has impressive graphics that look straight from an animated movie. The bobblehead-inspired artwork is just too adorable. Everything from the presentation to the interface looks quite flawless and polished. If you are into fantasy worlds and love real-time strategy games, you should try it.

8. Alien Tribe 2

Alient Tribe 2
Alient Tribe 2

Alien Tribe 2 is an open-world sandbox game that combines tower defense with 4X real-time strategy elements. The game lets you explore the universe, hunt for materials on asteroids and planets, build weapons platforms to research new technology, and battle enemy spacecraft in real-time space battles.

The game has over 40 missions, in randomly generated environments, each one a little more challenging. After successfully completing a mission, a player can get access to new research and building options. The game has plenty of weapon platforms and ships to build, with which you can attack enemies or defend your space station.

The game’s top-down graphics are excellent, and the visuals and interface really make it easy for players to command spaceships. AT2 is probably the only 4X space real-time strategy game available for iPad (but not for iPhone it seems…sigh!).

9. Machines at War 3

Machines at War 3
Machines at War 3

From the developers of Land, Air, Sea Warfare comes another Command and Conquer-like game, with RTS elements. This iOS port of a PC title keeps you on your toes as you look for the tiniest of spaces by which you can squeeze through a building, or for defensive cannon for maximum protection.

The game’s top-down visuals give you ample opportunities to set up a strong base, but it’s the right choices in space management and structures that decide the winner. The game has single-player and multiplayer modes. It also has fun skirmishes to keep your fingers busy tapping and dragging for hours. If you love military RTS games, then Machines at War should be the right game for you.

10. Warfare Incorporated

Warfare Incorporated
Warfare Incorporated

A sci-fi-themed real-time strategy game for the iOS platform, Warfare Incorporated (WI) has a good plot and equally good gameplay. It's for those who want a StarCraft-like game for their mobile device. The best part of WI is that it takes advantage of the touchscreen pretty well, giving you total control over your units and troops.

Warfare Incorporated provides plenty of mission variations. Apart from a full-scale RTS war, there will be separate missions where you will be charged with defending your base, gathering resources, or sending a stealth unit to destroy the enemy base. With such mission variety, WI guarantees fun and exciting gameplay moments.

Game controls are based on standard touch gestures. You can select groups and individual units, and tap on the enemy unit you wish to attack. The interface menu is optimized to suit an iPhone’s screen, giving you an easy control system. The graphics are good though not spectacular. Overall, WI is one of the better space strategy games, with lots of variations and a great unit management interface.

All Screenshots Courtesy of their Respective iPhone Game Developers/GamePublishers

Favorite iPhone Real-Time Strategy Game?

  • Autumn Dynasty
  • Amoebattle
  • Total War: Battles
  • Land Air Sea Warfare
  • Warfare Incorporated
See results without voting

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Comments 21 comments

aykianink profile image

aykianink 4 years ago

You seem like the guy to ask, so I'll ask you: Are there any games like SF2 or MVC2 on the iPhone or iPad?

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 3 years ago Author

@aykianink You can try Blades of Fury. There aren't many fighting games for iPhone. May be such games aren't comfortable to play on a touch-screen device. Blades of Fury is a good game IMO. There are a few iOS versions of top fighting games like King of Fighters, SF IV and Ultimate Mortal Kombat. But games like SF2 and MVC2 aren't developed yet AFAIK.

aykianink profile image

aykianink 3 years ago

Dug up some Blades of Fury gameplay. Interesting. Thanks, Anurag.

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 3 years ago Author

You're welcome!

Gamer_boy 3 years ago

Don't you mind starfront collision for this list?

Lala 3 years ago

This is a really nicely written article. Just wanted to point out that Autumn Dynasty is now universal and on the BB world too.

I'm an android user and am really hoping for some of these games to appear on google play :(

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 3 years ago Author

Thanks, Lala!

SimilarSam profile image

SimilarSam 2 years ago from Australia

I find real time strategy games still very disappointing on mobile platforms. Starfront Collision is my favourite and I recommend you check it out.

srijan 2 years ago

try tankboom game available on googleplay store.

Stefan Ritter profile image

Stefan Ritter 2 years ago

Alien Tribe 2 is now universal (iPhone and iPad) and it got some great updates in the past! The game is currently ranking in the Top 25 (Games / Strategy) in more than 20 countries.

Andy 24 months ago

How come Machines at War 3 is lower on the least than the game it replaces, Lan Air Sea Warfare? It is its official sequel you know, and bests it in everything, including having a multiplayer option and storyline as you described.

It is my favorite.

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 24 months ago Author

@Andy the list is in no particular order.

Chris L Edmister profile image

Chris L Edmister 21 months ago from Elmira, New York

What iPhone games use real time maps of the city you live in. Years ago I had a google tablet and it had a game that was like a crime city type thing and it used the real gps map of my city and even stores and businesses. Do you know of any games like that?

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 21 months ago Author

I think that was an augmented reality game. There are several of them available for Android and iOS devices. Will make a list soon.

AlainTrep 21 months ago

On ios, I play Age of Booty: tactics every days ... It't the best strategy games i've played And I played a lot... First strike also can be fun rts. Xcom enemy within is wow. And Spymaster deserve to be look at.

Corb. 17 months ago

No Star Wars Commander?

iSaltZz 16 months ago

Awesome article really helped me find rts games like Starcraft!

iSaltZz 16 months ago

I also play totalwar and autumn dynasty looks awesome

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 16 months ago Author

Thank you

suraj punjabi profile image

suraj punjabi 12 months ago from jakarta

Looking at all the games we can play nowadays, I really wish I had the time to get into it. Alas, adulthood gets in the way. Come to think of it, Adulthood itself is kind of like a real time strategy game right there. Great hub!!

Anurag2008 profile image

Anurag2008 12 months ago Author

Thank You

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Anurag Ghosh (Anurag2008)312 Followers
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Anurag has been playing video games for 15 years. His guides and listicles revolve around popular iOS, Android, PC and console games.

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