Home / News / Grand Strategy Games With The Best Economy Systems

Grand Strategy Games With The Best Economy Systems

65
A grid of three grid-based strategy games The Banner Saga 3, Civilization 6, and Invisible Inc

Highlights

  • Strategic gamers find satisfaction in outwitting enemies on the financial front, not just through military conquest.
  • Titles like SuperPower 2 provide complex economic systems that influence global trade dynamics and can even glitch the market.
  • Games like Nobunaga’s Ambition emphasize the critical role of economy in wartime, shaping the war effort with budgeting and logistics.

GAMERANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

While grand strategy titles such as Civilization and Europa Universalis can help gamers create their ideal territory, enthusiasts may look for games with the best number-crunching options. After all, strategy games become more interesting when players pursue victory conditions other than waging war against opponents, and it’s significantly more satisfying to outwit enemies on the financial front.

Related

8 Best Grid-Based Strategy Games, Ranked

There’s a certain charm in strategy games that employ a grid-based system. Here are the best of this genre.

However, not all grand strategy games offer a dynamic way of engaging opponents in an economic war. Thankfully, specific titles in the genre have an exciting way of approaching economic systems that encourage players to focus more on being strategic in resource management.

Updated March 2, 2024 by Rhenn Taguiam: With upcoming strategy games such as hell-based Solium Infernum, the much-awaited Homeworld 3, and even medieval city-builder Manor Lords, fans of the strategy genre might want to go even “bigger” and look into grand strategy titles that allow them to assert complete control over vast reaches of land. However, grand strategy enthusiasts tired of the usual conquest win-cons might be intrigued if there are games that would allow them to reign supreme on the economic front instead, especially when it comes to complex economic systems.

Fans intrigued by the notion might want to consider trying titles that involve a more in-depth take on simulating global geopolitics, a classic political sim, or a simulation of the unification of Japan in its Warring States period.

1 World Warfare & Economics

Simulate The Impact Of Budgeting Across Departments

World Warfare & Economics

Release Date

December 21, 2023 (Early Access)

Platforms

PC

Developers

Okron Studio

Players who want a modern geopolitical simulation with a deeper focus on economic activity may appreciate World Warfare & Economics, an upcoming grand strategy game currently available for players at the time of writing as an Early Access game. Similar to games like SuperPower, gameplay in World Warfare & Economics has players control a nation and its many elements. However, unlike other grand strategy titles, World Warfare & Economics takes a deep dive into the simulation aspect of gameplay, with a simulated world map complete with an active news bulletin informing players of global events.

Elements of nations are spread across departments, each of them with allocated tabs. The economy management of World Warfare & Economics simulates real-world economics well in exploring the reality of how an allocated budget can affect all other departments of governance. Departments in World Warfare & Economics affect the economy not just by budget constraints but also by laws enacted, manpower assigned, and facilities created by players.

2 SuperPower 2

Where Self-Sustaining Nations Can Potentially Break The Game

Super Power 2

Release Date

October 12, 2004

Platforms

PC

Developers

GolemLabs, DreamCatcher Interactive

While SuperPower 2 received middling reviews among critics, fans of grand strategy titles may still appreciate the real-time wargame for its attempt to demonstrate in-depth aspects of modern geopolitics. Set in 2001, players of SuperPower 2 can select any of the 193 UN-recognized countries in the world at the time and work towards any (or no) pre-set goals. Fans may like SuperPower 2 in the way it tries to simulate complex relations between countries, especially from the perspective of diplomacy going into war. However, the economy also plays quite a large role in the modern strategy game, especially with SuperPower 2 having a rather complex take on the system.

From the game’s economic sphere view, players can not only control their country’s expenses and income but also their levies and taxes. Players are free to set tariffs, spending, income tax levels, and national interest rates that may affect global trade. While some may state that SuperPower 2 has a realistic take on economic trade, its “Autarky” bug may eventually inconvenience players. This “glitch” can halt global trade when nations eventually become too self-sufficient to want to trade in the global market. This bug has yet to be fixed by the developers, therefore giving players a meta-challenge of eventually going for world domination or trying to manipulate the market to find ways of delaying “Autarky.”

3 Nobunaga’s Ambition: Spheres Of Influence

Logistics, Budgeting Can Affect The War Effort

Nobunaga's Ambition - Spheres of Influence

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence

Released
September 1, 2015

Developer(s)
KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.

Genre(s)
Real-Time Strategy

Similar to other media set in the Warring States Period, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Spheres of Influence takes place around the same timeframe that Nobunaga Oda began his quest to unify Japan under his rule. While the game plays like a traditional grand strategy game, Spheres of Influence excellently portrays the dynamic shifting of priorities throughout a playthrough – from establishing a power base in the early game, establishing management automation in the mid-game, and diplomacy and warfare in the endgame.

Unlike other titles, Spheres of Influence emphasizes the role economy plays in wartime. Entire battles could be lost not just by positioning but also by improper logistical preparation, and it’s just as important to attack, defend, and fortify supply lines to secure an advantage over enemies. Management also has heavy ties to the competencies of assigned personnel, with specific lands capable of being developed to include structures, facilities, and production elements based on special properties.

4 Terra Invicta

Influence Becomes Its Own Currency Amid Conspiracy Gameplay

Terra Invicta

Terra Invicta

Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows

Released
September 28, 2022

Developer
Pavonis Interactive

Genre(s)
Simulation , Grand Strategy

When an alien invasion threatens life on Earth, players of Terra Invicta control secret factions that influence humanity’s response. Despite Terra Invicta being in early access, its take on macro-level planning provides a straightforward approach to grand strategy economics. Thematically speaking, Terra Invicta’s “economics” revolves around factions using their “influence” over nations to work towards the three-pronged goal of Earth’s defense, interstellar domination, and their secret objectives.

Related

10 Best Warhammer Strategy Games, Ranked

The Warhammer and Warhammer 40K franchises have produced a huge number of great strategy games across the last twenty years.

Factions achieve these goals by exerting Control Points over nations, which they grow by adding Investment Points into Priorities (e.g. Economy, Knowledge, Nuclear Weapons) or concepts that define their capabilities across multiple fronts. However, players eventually need to manage their areas carefully, as more productive nations carry larger risks of unrest whereas flexible smaller nations have fewer capabilities.

5 Crusader Kings 3

Economy Can Have A Domino Effect Into The Game’s Legacy-Oriented Gameplay

Crusader Kings 3-1

Crusader Kings 3

Released
September 1, 2020

Genre(s)
RPG , Grand Strategy

As Crusader Kings 3 follows the formula of a Middle Ages simulator, its nation-building components go beyond mere economies. Whereas a region’s expenditures revolve around simple Domain and Vassal Taxes, they still form part of the bedrock of a player’s survival across generations. Players need to manage using tax-based income to facilitate functions of policies and gameplay approaches (diplomacy, warfare, subterfuge) without these features being used against them.

It’s this balancing act that makes an otherwise simple economy challenging to manage in Crusader Kings 3. A slight increase in taxes to maintain a nation can transform a ruler into a tyrant, pushing territories closer to rebellion and encouraging Vassals to plot against them. And with both positive and negative sentiments extending to a player’s heirs, even a slight economic shift can affect long-term play.

6 Hearts Of Iron 4

Production Can Heavily Affect The War Effort

Hearts of Iron 4

Hearts of Iron 4

Released
June 6, 2016

Genre(s)
Grand Strategy

Unlike other grand strategy titles, Hearts of Iron 4 places a greater emphasis on the wargame aspect of the simulation genre due to its World War 2 setting. At its core, Hearts of Iron 4 gameplay simulates not just strategic combat, but also behind-the-scenes elements such as production, political interests, diplomacy, and even espionage that affected the war effort. While flawed from a theoretical standpoint, Hearts of Iron 4 provides perhaps the closest a war game could offer to a historically accurate wartime economy.

Related

13 Ways Grand Strategy Games Change Your View Of World Leaders

Grand strategy games can provide players with some unique and interesting insights into real-life world leaders and the issues they face.

On top of factories determining how well nations are supplied to accommodate military tactics, they have to be protected and maintained. Tech research, laws established, and even diplomatic endeavors affect a nation’s productive capabilities. Improper production management could result in a nation falling in Hearts of Iron 4, making them one of the unexpected backbones of military success.

7 Distant Worlds 2

Private And Global Economy Can Affect A Planet’s Stability

Distant Worlds 2

Release Date

March 10, 2022

Platforms

PC

Developers

Code Force

Released as the much-awaited sequel of 2010’s Distant Worlds, Distant Worlds 2 boasts familiar space 4X mechanics while improving upon its acclaimed automation system. In turn, Distant Worlds 2 lets players delegate entire aspects of their galactic empire to AI, such as planetary management, tech trees, as well as space warfare.

While players can fully control (or automate) their civ’s economic status, actions taken here can only influence the game’s Private Economy or civilian finances. In turn, players have to go beyond mere space trading, as they also have to balance providing resources for civilians to spend on with the potential corruption within heavily populated planets. Moreover, automation also helps Distant Worlds 2 become a friendlier game to newcomer grand strategy economists, as being able to handpick specific economic aspects to automate can help them learn systems at their own pace.

8 Civilization 6

Trade Routes, Districts, Civics Can Affect Economic Production

Civilization 6

Sid Meier’s Civilization 6

Released
October 21, 2016

Genre(s)
Strategy

The most recent entry in the Civilization series may be more economically intensive, with Civilization 6 having a streamlined yet flexible ruleset that makes it more of an upgrade to Civ 4 compared to Civ 5. Managing Gold, Food, and even Production became more fulfilling courtesy of micro-to-macro effects caused by Trade Routes, specialized city Districts, and nation modifications through Civics, Diplomacy, Espionage, and Governments.

Granted, the “economy” in Civilization 6 has less to do with a real market and instead focuses on resource management that extends to civ interactions. However, this rudimentary approach to simplified resources can prepare gamers for larger-than-life economics in other grand strategy titles, making Civilization 6 a recommended title in this regard.

9 Stellaris

Location-Based Pops, Resource Focus Makes Distance An Important Part Of Management

Stellaris

Stellaris

Released
May 9, 2016

Genre(s)
4X , Grand Strategy

Being in charge of a burgeoning species means Stellaris gameplay first revolves around controlling a single planet and basic surrounding resource centers until players explore the known galaxy and establish colonies. To avoid overwhelming players, Stellaris opts for a straightforward economy system: Pops (population) do specific Jobs to produce Resources, which are then used to achieve most of the game’s needs.

However, where the game’s economy shines is how Resources are divided into Material and Abstract variants. In turn, a planet can focus on providing Resources that could be consumed towards tangible production efforts. Standardizing a planet’s offerings with a straightforward list of consumables can help players look into producing tangible materials such as structures and ships, or more conceptual benefits such as political Influence or even speeding up Research.

10 Imperator: Rome

Laws Can Affect Taxes And Wages, Which In Turn Affect Overall Trust In The Player

Imperator Rome

Imperator: Rome
Platform(s)
Linux , Microsoft Windows , macOS

Released
April 25, 2019

Genre(s)
Strategy , Simulation

Similar to the glorious short stay of the Roman Empire, so too did Imperator: Rome with its timespan of 304 BCE to 27 BCE. Payers can choose to develop any nation from the Iberian Peninsula to India, with Imperator Rome emphasizing the interplay between colony annexation, diplomacy, and trade routes. While the game’s economy feels like a mere balancing act between Income and Expenses, each action here can drastically affect the empire’s functionalities.

7:55

Related

The 12 Best Grand Strategy Games Of All Time, Ranked

The best grand strategy games are often played out over several centuries, with some leaning into the immersion and role-play aspects of these eras.

For instance, mere deficits affecting Wages to mercenaries can make them disloyal. Likewise, passed laws could impact the amount of Taxes cities could provide players. Limitations in diplomatic reach could also hinder the creation of trade routes. This micro-to-macro approach of Imperator: Rome economics can make it a strong entry point for newcomers.

11 Total War: Three Kingdoms

Provinces Have Relationships With Each Other, Affecting Trade On A More Localized Scale

Total War Three Kingdoms

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Released
May 23, 2019

Genre(s)
Strategy , Tactical

Taking in the chaotic Three Kingdoms era, Total War: Three Kingdoms tasks players to unify China as one of its twelve major factions. On top of traditional resource juggling and the occasional warfare, gameplay in Total War: Three Kingdoms focuses on siege battles, and duels between generals, as well as building and maintaining social connections. This focus Total War: Three Kingdoms has on social relations extends to its economy.

Aside from a traditional interplay between Income and Expenses, a faction’s economy is affected by a province’s relationship with nearby areas, represented by trade influence, marketplaces, and trade shares. Likewise, players need to quell internal unrest by managing the political progress of their retainers, and even the wealth possessed by family estates.

12 Victoria 3

Balancing Ideology Demands With Economic Growth Can Dictate A Country’s Fate

Victoria 3

Victoria 3

Released
October 25, 2022

Genre(s)
Strategy

Set in the titular Victorian Era, Victoria 3 puts gamers in charge of a country on their journey from 1836 to 1936, alongside its many developments. Instead of eyeing simple world domination, Victoria 3 appreciates meticulous planning, with the emergence of factions such as the Communist Party or the Free Trade Party potentially destabilizing even the most tightly-knit nations.

This political focus ties heavily into the game’s economic system, taking the form of a simulated market with buy/sell orders and a constantly changing market price. On top of nation-only markets, Victoria 3 lets players trade via trade routes, multinational markets, or their own customs unions. Surviving throughout the century in Victoria 3 relies on how well players manage their economies, be it relying on specific exports, capitalizing on subject nations, or getting the jump on technological developments.

13 Europa Universalis 4

Trade Routes Can Influence Global Geopolitics, Motivating Wars And Other Conflicts

Europa Universalis 4

Europa Universalis 4

Released
August 13, 2013

Genre(s)
Strategy

Among Paradox Interactive’s slate of games, Europa Universalis 4 gives a player total control over the fate of one of the world’s nations throughout the Late Middle Ages up to the Early Modern Era. Matches in Europa Universalis 4 happen within a timeline of 1444 to 1821, a period where a player’s decisions can transform a nation into their real-life counterparts or pursue radically different histories.

As Europa Universalis 4 boasts a more accessible interface, a nation’s economy is condensed into a single tab that highlights Income and Expenses. However, the economic system’s depth shows when every action impacts resources. In turn, players have to juggle predictable components such as taxes and nation maintenance while taking into account funds revolving around subsidies, colonial efforts, and missionary expenditures.

More

7 Classic Strategy Games With Great HD Ports

These strategy games have gotten a modern facelift, making them ripe for newcomers to jump in and discover what made them classics of their era.

No Comments

Comment on
There are no comments yet, but you can be the one to add the very first comment!

Comments