Conquering the world one nation at a time can get lonely once there’s nothing else to conquer. To spice things up, players can always bring a friend to their grand strategy campaign so that once all AI enemies are defeated, it’s time to betray and wage war with each other. That’s just one possibility, of course, there’s always the more peaceful co-existence route.
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In any case, co-op multiplayer in grand strategy games or even hybrid 4X-grand strategy games is always fun-filled power struggles. Having a friend in tow lets players cover their empire’s weak spots. While most grand strategy games have some rather basic implementations of co-op or multiplayer, the following titles shake up the formula with their themes and overall structure.
Updated on February 6, 2024, by Ritwik Mitra: Grand strategy games are a lot of fun to play through. These titles make it a point to let players control massive empires and kingdoms as they help these regions flourish, either with the help or at the expense of others. Most people argue that these experiences are better enjoyed in solitude, but a lot of games in this genre have multiplayer capabilities and are all the more enjoyable as a result. Competitive experiences are fun, but there’s something to be said about two or more players colluding their efforts to work in harmony that makes them such tantalizing prospects.
14 Victoria 3
Economical Superiority And Expansion Is Way More Manageable If Players Are Cooperating
- October 25, 2022
Paradox is considered to be the king of the grand strategy genre, with the vast majority of their games being pretty engaging in their own way. While the launch of Victoria 3 may not have been the best, it’s still a great game to enjoy with a friend.
The mechanics governing a nation’s economy are pretty deep and one of the best parts of this game. The other gameplay pillars of Victoria 3 need to be fleshed out, but players who collude and bolster their respective nations’ economies will boss the AI in no time.
13 Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion
A Space Strategy Game Where Players Can Collude To Establish Their Superiority
Sins of a Solar Empire
- February 4, 2008
- Ironclad Games
- Real-Time Strategy , Tactical
This space RTS is one of the best games in its genre and one that features a pretty steep learning curve. Players will have to play and lose a few times before understanding how Sins of a Solar Empire works, which is why co-op is such a useful inclusion here.
Players can easily grasp the mechanics of this game if they play with a veteran. Even if both players aren’t well-versed in how this game works, a few playthroughs where they team up are all it takes for Sins of a Solar Empire to show why it continues to enjoy the love and adoration of a dedicated fanbase.
12 Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance
A Great RTS With Complex Strategic Decisions To Make, With Some Co-op Goodness Added To The Mix
Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance
- November 6, 2007
- Real-Time Strategy , Strategy
Most people would assume that a game with complex strategies and a decent learning curve would be hard to get into, but this isn’t even remotely the case. In fact, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is considered by many to be one of the best macro RTS games fans can sink their teeth in.
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The inclusion of co-op makes this strategy game way more engaging to play through. Fans of unique RTS games with compelling gameplay loops and the inclusion of multiplayer will be more than happy with what this title has to offer.
11 Europa Universalis 4
A Brilliant 4X Strategy Game Where Players Are Encouraged To Colonize, Trade, And Expand
Europa Universalis 4
- August 13, 2013
Europa Universalis 4 is one of the many excellent grand strategy games by Paradox Interactive, a company known for developing some of the greatest games in this genre. The game takes place around a time when the world was entering the modern age, meaning that players will have their hands full trying to be as diplomatic as possible while colonizing areas and making their trade routes as profitable as possible.
There’s a lot of work that goes into learning the ropes in Europa Universalis 4, but players who finally get a hang of how to play this game will find the hours pass by like nothing! If the gameplay wasn’t as engaging as is, then players can start a session with a few friends and engage in some heartfelt diplomacy, with players working with each other to harmonize the activity in their nations and hopefully working together against a common enemy.
10 Civilization 6
An Accessible Grand Strategy Game Where Players Can Collude In Multiplayer Games To Let Both Nations Flourish
Sid Meier’s Civilization 6
- October 21, 2016
The Civilization series is one of the most popular and accessible grand strategy games around. The scope of these games is massive, with players starting from the very start of humanity’s development before slowly researching the best technologies while making their country as massive and imposing as possible.
The combination of classic grand strategy elements along with a fair bit of quirkiness is what has made Civilization such a beloved series, with the sixth entry continuing the trend of excellence that this franchise is known for. Players can engage in a session of Civilization 6 with their friends, forming alliances to help each other and take out any country overzealous enough to wage war for no indiscernible reason.
9 Airships: Conquer The Skies
Constructing Airships To Battle Against Opponents Is Even More Fun With Friends
Airships: Conquer The Skies
- August 16, 2018
- David Stark
- Grand Strategy
It’s quite hard to classify Airships: Conquer the Skies into just one genre since it’s an amalgam of multiple. There’s a layer of grand strategy in it via the campaign map and part of the core gameplay also includes customizing steampunk airships and commandeering them into a tactical and strategic battle.
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For this very reason, Airships: Conquer the Skies has a more dynamic and thrilling multiplayer mode. Duking it out with the AI with the help of friends or fighting them head-on in airship engineering showdowns is always a delight and a nice break from all the management.
8 Old World
A Fun Take On Grand Strategy Gameplay With A Fun Multiplayer Component
- May 18, 2022
- Mohawk Games
- Grand Strategy
Old World is a hybrid 4X and Grand Strategy game that’s most similar to Civilization games. The scale is definitely there and it can qualify as a grand strategy game. There’s also a comprehensive multiplayer component, similar to Civilization games.
However, unlike in Civilization games, Old World‘s multiplayer makes players work with each other to actively improve their opinions with each other instead of just locking them as default teams. There are also play-by-email or cloud games in Old World‘s multiplayer component for those who prefer that.
7 Total War: Three Kingdoms
Another Brilliant Entry In The Total War Series Where Players Can Team Up In Lucrative Alliances To Aid Each Other
Total War: Three Kingdoms
- May 23, 2019
- Strategy , Tactical
There are other historical Total War titles that also have a smooth implementation of co-op, such as Shogun 2, but Three Kingdoms gets extra points for the added drama. The Romance mode is an interesting semi-fantasy twist to the campaign that practically turns the generals into superheroes.
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Players can also intermarry their generals and lords to forge better alliances and create more heirs or future lords. Romance campaigns in Total War: Three Kingdoms thus get an added layer of family tree intrigue and dynamics similar to games like Crusader Kings (more on that one later).
6 Total War: Warhammer 3
The Fantasy Take On Total War Is A Blast With Friends, Who Can Either Team Up Or Fight Against Each Other
Total War: Warhammer 3
- February 17, 2022
- Strategy , Tactical
For the most complex and multi-layered Total War experience to date, there’s no more robust option than Total War: Warhammer 3. It’s a culmination of all the previous Total War: Warhammer games as well as the mechanics of the historical Total War titles in a grand Thunderdome where dozens of races battle it out for supremacy.
There’s no shortage of choices here, and it can get rather dizzying. That’s all the more reason to bring a friend for a co-op Immortal Empires campaign. The asymmetrical nature of the combat ensures some rather busted army compositions from co-op partners never before seen in a Total War title or any grand strategy game, for that matter.
5 Crusader Kings 3
An Accessible Grand Strategy Games With A Multiplayer Component That Lets Players Form Lucrative Alliances
Crusader Kings 3
- September 1, 2020
- RPG , Grand Strategy
If mobilizing armies and micromanaging them is too chaotic or tedious, then perhaps a different kind of drama awaits players in Crusader Kings 3. This latest entry in the Crusader Kings series focuses on courtroom and family tree drama— a perfect game to play after watching House of the Dragon or Game of Thrones.
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Like its predecessors, Crusader Kings 3 is primarily a dynasty simulator where players manage and develop their dynasties until the in-game year 1453. Players can then select government types, marriage arrangements, and political edicts to shape their territories. Or if they’re petty, they can have their characters commit infidelity by sleeping with their co-op partner’s character’s spouses.
An Intergalactic Grand Strategy Game That’s Way More Fun In Multiplayer, Where Chaos Or Harmony Can Ensue
- May 9, 2016
- 4X , Grand Strategy
Stellaris is made by the same team responsible for Crusader Kings 3 though it introduces a more hands-on approach in letting players manage their empires. Stellaris has a fully-fledged combat system similar to Total War games though not as tactically intricate or involved. The meat of the game, after all, lies in territorial expansion and aggression.
To that end, the game starts like a 4X game and gradually develops into a grand strategy once the borders start squeezing into one another. Like other grand strategy games with multiplayer, players can bring their friends and start as a team or form alliances and merge their empires later on.
3 Hearts Of Iron 4
A Grand Strategy Game Set During World War 2 Where Players Can Fight On The Same Side To Attain Victory
Hearts of Iron 4
- June 6, 2016
- Grand Strategy
Hearts of Iron 4 has something for those craving for a strategy title closer to contemporary times. It’s a World War 2 strategy game that lets players pick their favored World War 2 faction and out-plan and outgun all the other players in this great war. In fact, if players want, they can even modify the outcome of World War 2 in an alternate history.
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The game starts in 1936 or 1939, so players receive ample time to prepare for the eventual start of the war at the latter date. Or they could speed up World War 2 with the country of their choice. Hearts of Iron plays out differently compared to other grand strategy games since it focuses primarily on wartime economics and logistics and, of course, warfare itself.
2 Dominions 5: Warriors Of The Faith
The Mechanic Of Ascending To Godhood Can Turn A Co-op Playthrough Into A Competitive One In No Time
Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith
- November 27, 2017
- Illwinter Game Design
- Grand Strategy
Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith is an underrated gem in which the goal is to ascend one’s ruler into godhood. For that to happen, the players need followers in their dominion, which will generate enough faith for their ruler character to ascend to godhood. In essence, this game is all about waging holy wars to determine who has the best religion.
This unique strategy game/4X hybrid introduces a hot-seat type of co-op or a multiplayer mode called Disciple Mode, where among human players, only one can ascend to godhood as they fight against the AI factions. If there are more than two players, this definitely creates a peculiar dynamic—players can help each other ascend to godhood but will need to fight a sudden death elimination war once it’s time to choose a god candidate.
1 Endless Space 2
Forming Alliances In Co-op Is A Great Way To Ace This Fun Grand Strategy Game
Endless Space 2
- October 6, 2016
- Amplitude Studios
- Grand Strategy , 4X
Like Stellaris, Endless Space 2 is a hybrid 4X/grand strategy title but at a slower pace since it’s turn-based like Civilization games. Multiplayer is also less friendly to teams here, but players can form alliances easily with their preferred friends once they have the proper technology.
It’s just that the factions here are brimming with so much lore and personality that it’s hard not to recommend it for multiplayer. Even interacting with the AI with an allied friend is a good roleplaying experience, which is usually what makes co-op in grand strategy so engaging.
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