I've been away for a while, playing video games of course. Here is my list of the best strategy games of 2012.
Best Co-op: Orcs Must Die 2
Hands down one of the best co-op games of all time. This game can only be described as pure joy. A mix of 3rd person shooter and tower defense. You will slaughter Orcs by the hundreds as they attempt to run through your gauntlet or traps while you shoot and maim them. I can't recommend this game enough.
Best Indie: FTL
You'll feel like Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise with this rogue-like spaceship simulator. You'll command crew, upgrade your ship, target weapons at shields, engines, engineering and crew all the while protecting your crew, engines, venting fires and making sure your oxygen tanks don't explode. Your commands will be the essential decisions needed to keep your crew alive and your ship in one piece. This is a great little game for any aspiring ship captain. Also it's JefMajor approved.
Best Epic Strategy: Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Sins of a Solar Empire is back with epic space battles, planet bombing, giant starbases and giant tech trees. Just with any epic strategy game, there is a fairly steep learning curve, but Rebellion's great AI tuning will get you in the game at a pace you can enjoy. While the improvements in Rebellion aren't all that vast, this already great epic strategy game has been improved and made into a standalone game so more can enjoy and jump into what is a great strategy game.
Best Turn-Based Strategy: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Remakes don't generally turn out well or remain true to there ancestor's but the new XCOM is a refreshing take on an old favorite. It may be more storyline driven than the original, but this doesn't really detract from it's openness and it's turned based tactical combat is refreshingly new and exciting. You run your secret black project alien annihilation station managing research and engineering projects from your underground bunker, organizing alien interceptions and managing your relationship with world powers. This part of XCOM resembles city building strategy which then seemless stream into combat scenarios where your recruits that may have been alive for many missions put there lives and skills on the line in nail biting tactical combat. Usually turn based combat isn't known for putting you on the edge of your seat, but it gets tense when you have veteran soldiers that have been alive since the beginning of your game could die at any moment, the combat situation gets tense.
Most Innovative: Endless Space
Endless Space has taken a combination of things that have proven to work well together: turn based civilization game, resource management, research, ship and fleet design and thrown in a dose of refreshing combat mechanics into an epic turn based space civilization game. It takes a certain amount of patience to learn and play a game like Endless Space, but if you're like me, sitting back and meticulously planning your enemies demise is your favorite part of any game, then this game is for you. You design your own ships and fleets and manage every single planet and solar system from micro to macro and somehow it doesn't feel tedious on a grand scale. Throw in a an interesting card based combat mechanic that I have never seen in any other game and you have a streamlined epic strategy game known as Endless Space.
Most Anticipated: Europa Universalis IV
Of course I can't wait for Paradox Interactive's Europa Universalis IV, PC's premier historically accurate grand strategy game.
Tropico remains one of the greatest city building games, but it's somewhat lost track of what made the game popular in the first place.
Jagged Alliance: Back in Action
With Tactical Mode now in the game, this game is actually pretty good. I only wish there was either some sort of coop or multiplayer mode, but obviously such a mode would present difficulties in a game like this.
Legends of Pegasus
Phenominal score of 35/100 metacritic, I regret ever previewing it on this site or getting hyped about it at all. Kalypso's reputation took a big hit on this one.
Sword of the Star II
A very buggy release, and even after several issues have been fixed, the game has been overshadowed by Endless Space with it's streamlined gameplay and interface and simplified combat system. For the extremely hardcore masochist strategy gamer, Sword of the Stars II could be for you?