Put on your thinking hat with these strategy games for Android

We're rounding up some of our favorite strategy games on Android for the deep thinkers out there. These are more than just simple puzzles games — these require careful planning and forethought to emerge victorious. You'll find some great replay value in games like these as well, since the same strategy won't always work twice.

Strategy gamers, pop on your thinking caps and get downloading these outstanding Android games.

Mushroom Wars 2

Mushroom Wars 2 is an award-winning real-time strategy game that has you controlling tiny armies of mushroom soldiers in online or offline battles. Finally released for Android, this game features beautiful graphics, and gameplay that's easy to learn but challenging to master.

Your goal is total domination, which requires you to move your troops across the map, taking over strategic mushroom huts and other structures while defending against advances from your enemy. There are four Mushroom tribes to choose from with a full campaign episode available for each, but the real action begins with the online multiplayer. You'll need to keep your wits about you as you balance your troop levels, build morale, and use special skills to dominate your opponents.

Don't let the cutesy characters confuse you — this is a cutthroat strategy game at its core, and certainly a game you'll want to check out!

Download: Mushroom Wars 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Clash Royale

From the makers of Clash of Clans comes Clash Royale. Battle human opponents in real time via frantic card-based battles where you must take out the enemy's Crown Towers while defending your own.

To be successful in Clash Royale, you'll need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of all the different cards, then use them very strategically during battle. Play the wrong card at the wrong time and it might be game over, so be smart, and patient.

The longer the play and the more trophies you collect, the more cards you unlock. In-app purchases can help expedite your progress, but they're not necessary as you'll be automatically matched up with opponents at your skill level. Clash Royale is one of the best games of 2016, so download it and find out what the hype is all about.

Download: Clash Royale (Free)

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc. is a rather dark global virus simulation game. Players gently guide a disease from a modest cough to a deadly worldwide pandemic by evolving it with new symptoms, means of transmission, and resistances. Over time, players unlock new disease types with their own unique traits. World events also randomly pop up every game, forcing you to change your evolution path.

With an in-app purchase, you can get rid of ads and add a fast-forward option, or shortcut to new virus types. As morbid as it may be, Plague Inc.'s gameplay is truly infectious.

Download: Plague Inc. (Free)

Pandemic: The Board Game

From spreading the plague, to trying to prevent one, this mobile version of the popular strategic board game of the same name that provides a real challenge whether you're playing alone or with friends. Your goal: Try to cure four contagious diseases from spreading and taking over the world.

You select your characters at the start of the game, with each character performing specific roles to help eradicate the diseases. Which characters you pick will have a big effect on your team's ultimate success. This is a pass-and-play game to play with friends, and you'll all have to work together and use your teams strategically if you want to win. There's an in-app purchase available for expansions, which improves the replayability of this addictive and challenging game.

Download: Pandemic: The Board Game ($6.99)

Vainglory

Vainglory is the complete package, featuring all the frantic MOBA action fans of the genre have come to expect — jump into a quick match with random teammates and opponents, create your own party of friends and take on all comers, or chill offline and practice your strategies against bots. There are five hero classes featuring a total of 25 unique heroes to unlock, upgrade and take into battle. The touch controls are smooth and easy to pick up, so you'll be able to jump right into the heat of the battle instantly. As you fight your way down the lane, there's a significant upgrade system that branches out, allowing you to react and counter your enemies more effectively.

If you're new to the MOBA genre, no worries! After introducing you to the gameplay fundamentals on first launch, Vainglory also features the Academy, an extensive tutorial section that will help you bolster your skills and abilities in the game. There's also a ton of things to unlock, live events to participate in, and a bustling online community on Twitch. Jump in!

Download: Vainglory (Free)

Hearthstone

Hearthstone is a free, turn-based card game that follows a familiar formula: players summon creature cards and cast spell cards based on the Warcraft universe in an effort to defeat online opponents.

Every one of the nine heroes has their own unique special ability as well as a sizeable batch of collectible and craftable cards. Casual online games, ranked matches, wacky weekly Tavern Brawls, and gruelling Arena games appeal to varying levels of commitment, as you build your deck and your best strategies.

Hearthstone is without a doubt the best free card game to come to Android to date.

Download: Hearthstone (Free)

Plants Vs. Zombies 2

Plants vs. Zombies is a venerable mobile franchise for a good reason.

The bizarre premise of protecting your back lawn from hordes of undead with sunflowers and pea shooters (literally pea plants turned weapons) is certainly part of that, but there's a lot of tactical thinking in terms of plant choices before the attack begins, and placement. In Plants vs. Zombies 2, you're taken back in time to defend against zombies dressed in era garb, and try out all sorts of new mechanics. The zombies are getting smarter, and challenge your reaction speed in a number of ways, though you also have a whole new complement of plants to use. Stages also have new terrain features to keep every round fresh. Plant food can be collected to super-charge any plant when things get especially hairy.

All in all, Plants vs. Zombies 2 presents deep strategic gameplay in a fun, colorful package.

Download: Plants Vs. Zombies 2 (Free)

Star Command

Star Command is a sci-fi strategy game with a retro pixel art style. Players take command of a spaceship that vaguely looks like it could have been pulled out of a Star Trek movie, and recruit a crew, upgrade facilities, and embark on intergalactic adventures that usually end in a firefight with grotesque aliens.

Battles rage between ships with different mini-games for each weapon system, or against boarding parties, where you need to move crew members into position, put out fires, and make sure your people don't get sucked out into the cold void of space when there's a hull breach. Over time, your crew increases in skills, enabling them to man the ship's various stations with increasing effectiveness.

If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted single-player experience with great writing and a lot of long-term progression, Star Command is where it's at.

Download: Star Command ($2.99)

The Battle for Polytopia

If you're a fan of the Civilization franchise, you just have to check out The Battle for Polytopia. This indie game features polygon tribes battling for control of the battle arena. The game features simple turn-based gameplay that's quick and easy to pick up and play. Each turn, you collect stars based on the number and size of the cities you control, which you can spend on upgrading your tribe's technology tree, building troops, or collecting resources. You must be wise with how you spend your resources and position your troops on your turn.

There are multiple ways to play. For solo play, you can create a custom game that either ends after 30 turns, or play until only one tribe remains. There's also the rarely scene pass-and-play multiplayer option, which lets you set up a custom game among friends and even keep them saved so you can play the same game over time. If you aren't able to play in person with friends, the AI offers a pretty decent challenge with difficulty levels ranging from easy to "crazy". There are four tribes available to you when you download the game, with six others available via in-app purchases.

Download: The Battle for Polytopia (Free w/IAPs)

What are you playing?

These are our picks, but we love to hear what our readers are playing. Let us know in the comments and your picks just might appear in a future update!

Updated September 2017: We've added the award-winning Mushroom Wars 2 to our list! Check it out!