The best Android strategy games without in-app purchases

We've combed through the Google Play Store for the very best strategy games out there, then weeded out anything with a pesky "Offers in-app purchases" label. Here you'll find our top ten premium Android strategy titles, including turn-based combat, real-time strategy types. You won't be upsold on features or levels in any of these, nor will you have to deal with freemium-style currency or any of that nonsense.

If you're in the market for more, we've got top ten lists for action games without IAPs, best IAP-less RPGs, and best Android games without IAPs across all genres. Fans of pure, unadulterated strategy gaming will not want to miss this round-up.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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XCOM is a mix of strategic turn-based combat and long-term base-building. Players engage in international missions to clear out alien threats in an attempt to keep global panic to a minimum. These combat missions require the intelligent usage of cover, mobility, and specialized skills. Keeping your squad alive isn't just a matter of making it through a level, since once a member is dead, they're gone for good and you have to train a rookie from scratch to replace them. Though players earn rewards for completing missions, they have to stay in the good books of countries around the world in order to the keep funding coming in. and continue researching new technologies like weapons, jets, infrastructure, and lots more.

XCOM is a mature, balanced strategy game with no in-app purchases, a great premise, and some truly polished graphics.

Anomaly 2

Anomaly 2 brings the same reverse-tower-defense mechanics as the original, but the updated graphics, new transforming tanks, and multiplayer mode make this sequel more than adequate. In the multiplayer mode, one player gets to be in charge of the alien defense, complete with consumable special abilities.

If you're looking for loads of tactical depth and eye candy to boot, Anomaly 2 delivers.

Star Command

Star Command is retro-styled sci-fi game with incredibly funny writing. Throughout Star Command, you hire new crew members with varying skills in science, engineering, and combat. Over time, you put them on missions to improve their skills and unlock new perks, as well as upgrade the ship's various rooms. Completing missions requires some light role-playing through various dialog options, tactical combat when your ship gets boarded, and finely-honed reflex-driven mini-games for ship-to-ship combat. A token-based crafting system forces you to make meaningful decisions about the rooms you upgrade and crew you hire.

All in all, Star Command elegantly mixes strategy and sim with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor.

Autumn Dynasty

Autumn Dynasty is a finger-friendly real-time strategy game set in feudal China. Players direct a varied force to victory across a wide range of terrain types in a single-player campaign or or skirmish mode. There's a full tech tree to research and buildings to construct. Commands are made with a variety of gestures, each leaving a stylish calligraphic trail (though standard button input is included for those who want more traditional controls as well).

Autumn Dynasty is the best traditional real-time strategy game you'll find on mobile.

Rymkapsel

Rymdkapsel combines Tetris-style base building and real-time strategy resource management in a minimalist and finger-friendly package. Players have to build residences, feed the populace, and expand towards objectives, all while fending off wave after wave of progressively more difficult enemy air strikes. Rymdkapsel is decidedly unique in both its art and play style. Rymkapsel prunes away all of the extras in real-time strategy games and leaves players with a clean, pure experience.

Great Little War Game 2

Great Little War Game 2 is a turn-based military strategy game where players have to take out the opposing general. To that end, you need to take to land, sea, and air with various trained units while using the terrain to your advantage. Battle points gathered from successfully completing each of the 60 missions are spent on unlocking and upgrading units. Get into Great Little War Game 2 for some classic military gameplay with a goofy spin.

First Strike

Players in First Strike start as a major super power nestled in their respective corner of the globe. Slowly, players expand into neighboring countries and begin researching recon, efficiency, missile, and national military technologies. Then the stockpiling begins. Every country can store a handful of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and faster, short-range cruise missiles for defensive purposes. Research continues along in the background, but it doesn't take long before one player or another pushes the red button to launch the first nuke. From there, it's all-out war. First Strike mixes a bleak, brutal theme with highly polished graphics and strong strategic gameplay.

Worms 2: Armageddon

Worms 2 is the touch-friendly evolution of a classic turn-based strategic shooter. Players build a team of squeaky-voiced invertebrates armed to the teeth in order to blast their opponents to smithereens. To do so, they'll use the unlikeliest of weaponry, including the Old Lady, the Homing Pigeon, the Concrete Donkey, and, of course, The Holy Hand Grenade. The implements are deployed with cold calculation across randomly-generated, destructible stages. Online and local multiplayer are both supported for a real challenge. If you're able to stomach some IAPs, Worms 3 is also available (opens in new tab) with updated graphics.

For some truly ridiculous warfare, get Worms 2.

Eufloria HD

Eufloria is a deceptively calming, abstract strategy game where players have to send swarms of spores between asteroids to germinate them and produce resource-bearing trees. This gets tricky once you encounter other life forms that are aiming to do the same. There are 25 levels in story mode, plus one-off skirmish modes to keep the fun coming after that. Levels are procedurally generated, so no two matches will be the same. If you'd like something more laid back, there's a relaxed mode, while the dark matter mode makes things considerably more challenging.

Though the music is bound to make you nod off at least a little, stay on your toes; Eufloria requires careful planning and attention throughout.

Frozen Synapse

Frozen Synapse is an abstract strategic shooter with lots of possibilities. Players determine every minute action of their squad members, including how long they take to get from point A to point B, when to pause and check certain angles, ducking beneath cover, and setting a variety waypoints along the way. This is very much a thinking man's action game, and the abstract art style keeps things visually interesting. Frozen Synapse is a cool, calculated take on combat.

Your favorite Android strategy games without in-app purchases?

There are some really great strategy games in the Google Play Store, some of which skip IAPs. Let us know in the comments about your personal favorites that buck the freemium trend.

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Simon Sage
Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at simon@futurenet.com.
20 Comments
  • I love you guys so much.... lol THIS is one of the many reasons I come to AC everyday.
  • ^^Exactly this^^ Hate IAPs unless it's for unlocking features after you preview an app. The Play store needs a separate tab for games that are IAP free. Posted via Ash William's Boomstick
  • Yup, articles like this really help people stay away from IAPs.
  • You forgot Imperium Galactica 2, Worms 3 and Transport Tycoon.
  • Worms 3 gets a shoutout under Worms 2. It has IAPs, so...
  • Annelids (a Liero clone!) > Worms Posted via Android Central App
  • Like half of these have been featured in various Humble Bundles. Just goes to show how well-curated the HB collections are.
  • Simon I want to nominate Monsters ate my Birthday cake its is a surprisingly deep and fun puzzle game with loads of content and no IAP
  • I own two of these, and Great Little War Game. ------------
    Android: It will make you a sexual tyrannosaurs, just like me.
  • Pathogen is also a great game. Posted via the Android Central App
  • XCom is so good, sadly I suck at it :( Great list AC, keep it up! Posted via the Android Central App
  • If there was any game company that I would like to see bring strategy games to Android it would be Paradox. I really wish I could play one of there grand strategy games like Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Universalis 4 on my Nexus 7. Posted via Moto X
  • I can make Android game like EU4. Just need more support and demands.
  • Great! I hope you keep up with this section! I also liked the last one.
  • My favorites are, Game Dev Story, Great Little War Game, Plants vs. Zombies, and Plague Inc (which qualifies as no IAP because they can be unlocked through normal gameplay). Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tricks are for kids
  • Eufloria is really something different :-D Too bad that these type of more experimental/different games are next to impossible to find on your own. The discovery on the Google Play is horrible. If you like classic turn-based war games, Conflict-Series has plenty of campaigns from Operation Barbarossa to American Revolutionary War, which is a bit more event based than other games in this series and when those events happen in a row against me I just want to throw me phone against the wall. I guess what I'm trying to say is that some of the Conflict-games actually require strategic/tactical thinking even to finish the campaign successfully, not to mention reaching top scores.
  • The choice for smiley faces just disappeared on messaging Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have published a new game for Android : DroidWorldGame.
    It's a real strategic game, based on geolocalization, with allready some players all over the world.
    Try it and tell me what do you think about it ! Available for free in the play store
  • Have you tried Age of Strategy? Age of Strategy The first thing you'll notice is the sheer staggering amount of content. You can make your own maps and other people have already uploaded all of their maps. There is a method of donating to get in game gems which can upgrade your units permanently outside of the maps. Which means any upgrades you get last forever no matter what new games you make. But don't worry the in-game gems can be gotten any time you beat a campaign that and there are hundreds of campaign maps. You will never want to be forced to buy a gem and you can even that gems on online matches. As far as multiplayer goes it's a blast to the past with turnstile tactics with games that can last as long as you want them to. I have multiple games going on with my friends right now and they're all fantastic. It's a great way to get in contact with your friends and have fun with them no matter where you are. The combat is relatively seamless all of the units have their own benefits and each one will be useful to you. You can unlock new units upgrade units and upgrade the upgrades of units. I want to stress the sheer size of this game, there are so many campaigns and maps that you can choose I have yet to become bored with it. I highly suggest it and the developer stays in contact with you personally. It's updated regularly and you can find it on Google Play. Most games which have in game currency is 5, the developer seems to think the same way and seems to only have it in the game as a method of donating. I really respect that and that's why I'm leaving this lengthy review, because he deserves it. Give the game a shot and I think you'll agree with me.