Clash of Clans is one of the original mobile RTS games where you gradually build a town, train troops, upgrade buildings, store resources, and amass an army to send out and collect treasure so thatmore
Clash of Clans is one of the original mobile RTS games where you gradually build a town, train troops, upgrade buildings, store resources, and amass an army to send out and collect treasure so that you can keep expanding. But nothing lasts forever, and Clash of Clans has been on Android since October 2013. If you're looking for a fresher alternative, we've dived deep into the Play Store and surfaced some of the best mobile strategy games out there.
Battle of Polytopia is reminiscent of the vintage Civilization games, which are turn-based empire building games where you explore, research technology, and develop cities over time. The "Perfection" mode lets you see how much you can achieve within 30 turns, and the "Domination" mode lets you play until there are no more opponents left on the world map. You start with four tribes (factions) to choose from, and each has its own art style and a special ability. There are also four difficulty levels to choose from. Overall, Polytopia is a friendly introduction to empire building games that won't batter your wallet.
Additional factions cost 99 cents each, except for one $1.99 faction that has a modified tech research tree and a unique unit. Each faction is loosely based on history, so the Imperius tribe is based on the ancient Roman empire, for example. The factions are the only in-app purchases, and there are no ads.
If you're not familiar with Fallout, it's a series of post-apocalyptic role-playing games with a lot of atmosphere and a dark sense of humor. Fallout Shelter has more streamlined RPG elements, choosing to focus on building an underground base, creating defenses for it, and crafting things that will entice game characters to come inside and help run and expand the operation. Each character has a set of stats telling you what tasks they'd perform best at, and you can improve their skills and give them weapons and armor to enhance their survival and productivity.
All of this is done with Fallout's singular Atomic Age retro-futurism, blending 1940's society with nuclear-powered cars and levitating robot butlers, like a vision of the 21st century as written by a vintage pulp sci-fi author. You'll occasionally get an in-game lunch box containing a variety of awards, like special characters and weapons, and you can buy more lunch boxes for 99 cents each at any time (with the usual discounts for buying them in bulk).
There's a lot of city building sims to dig through on the Google Play Store, but City Mania rises to the occasion. Unlike many mobile games in this subgenre, City Mania has a 3D world, with a fully rotatable and zoomable camera. The tutorial efficiently explains a variety of gameplay layers and demonstrates that this game puts a lot more emphasis on individual citizens. They get names, faces, skill sets, character leveling, and there's even a tool to combine them to create a super-citizen.
To build and upgrade, you also need raw materials, in addition to cash. Materials come from nearby buildings, which must also be constructed. Materials take time to create, adding new citizens takes time, and there are a lot of timers in general. You can eliminate the timer by spending a special currency that's hard to come by unless you buy it outright, which is a common theme in mobile gaming. But City Mania can still be played in short bursts, letting the timers take care of themselves while you're not playing.
TheoTown is similar to City Mania, but with a more retro look and more nitty-gritty city planning. You'll decide zoning, set up underground pipes for water and power lines for electricity, and manage traffic, crime, and pollution. This type of game usually has no combat, although you may have to deal with natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes.
TheoTown is one of the better mobile games of this type, and it's regularly updated. TheoTown also has a variety of options for customizing the visual detail to what your phone or tablet can handle, and a detailed tutorial. We'd recommend playing on a tablet, because the environment is pretty densely packed with things to tap and keep track of. Building things takes time, and you can eliminate this by spending gems purchased with real money, or by watching a short ad. It's otherwise free-to-play. If you enjoyed the basic gist of City Mania but want something with more simulation and fewer timers, TheoTown is the next step up, though it might not be as pretty.
If you prefer a strategy game that focuses on combat over construction, UniWar is a great free-to-play option with a detailed and colorful art style that should work well on older devices. The sci-fi setting makes UniWar feel kind of like a turn-based StarCraft, right down to the three different factions you can choose from. The art style is detailed enough that we'd recommend playing on a tablet for it to shine. This turn-based game puts your combat units on a hexagonal grid, so each "tile" on the grid has six different directions to consider for attack, defense, and movement. Terrain also varies between tiles, giving you tactical advantages -- and sometimes disadvantages. Plus, you can get combat bonuses if you attack using adjacent units, and a triple bonus if you attack on opposite sides of the tile that contains the defender.
UniWar is free-to-play, with in-game currency available by progressing through the game and via a cash shop. The shop also includes cosmetic items and discounts on a few special units. The only ads we encountered were optional.