Total Nerd The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked  

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List Rules Vote up the best video games in the 4x genre.

The best 4X games don't necessarily have to be set in space, but many indeed are set in in the cold frontier of space. Wondering what the 4X in 4X strategy games means? It stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. A cheery and uplifting message, right? So what is the best 4X game of all time? The list below features all the best 4x games of all time for any console or system, according to fans.

Master of Orion II, arguably one of the best 4X strategy games of all time, is set in space. Like with any other 4X game, you need to foster your fledgling empire and turn it into a powerhouse with enough strength to take on your enemies. 

If you're not familiar with the 4x genre, it's a type of strategy game that eschews twitch reflexes and  instead embraces board control and patient strategy. These highly rated 4x games are ordered by popularity, so only the greatest 4x games are at the top of the list. Spanning the entire history of the genre, these 4x games are considered the best in the genre. This list includes all challenging 4x games that have ever hit the shelves, so it doesn't necessarily have all the more obscure or new 4x games.

This list contains games like Civilization V and Civilization IV. This list answers the questions, "What are the best 4x games?" and "What is the greatest 4x game of all time?"

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Master of Orion II: Battle at ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares 1996 Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares is a 4X turn-based strategy game set in space, designed by Steve Barcia and Ken Burd, and developed by Simtex, who developed its predecessor Master of ...more

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Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 1999 Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a video game in the 4X genre which is considered a spiritual sequel to the Civilization series. Set in a science fiction depiction of the 22nd century, the game ...more

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Civilization IV is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Civilization IV 2005 Sid Meier's Civilization IV is a turn-based strategy computer game and the fourth installment of the Civilization series. It was developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of ...more

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Civilization V is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Civilization V 2010 Sid Meier's Civilization V is a 4X video game in the Civilization series developed by Firaxis Games, released on Microsoft Windows in September 2010, OS X on November 23, 2010, and Linux/SteamOS ...more

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Stellaris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Alexey Sazonov added Stellaris 2016

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Master of Magic is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Master of Magic 1994 Master of Magic is a single-player, fantasy turn-based strategy 4X genre video game created by Simtex and published for MS-DOS by MicroProse in 1994. The player is a wizard attempting to ...more

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Endless Legend is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
rafie-gilang added Endless Legend Endless Legend is a turn based 4X fantasy-strategy game developed by Amplitude Studios and published by Iceberg Interactive for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X in September 2014. The purpose of ...more

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Endless Space is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
JacobAaenSundby added Endless Space Jun 04 2012 Endless Space is a turn-based strategy, science fiction 4X game developed by Amplitude Studios released on July 4, 2012 for Microsoft Windows and August 31, 2012 for Mac OS X. It sold over ...more

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Civilization V: Gods & Kings is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Civilization V: Gods & Kings 2012 Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings is the first official expansion pack for the turn-based strategy video game Civilization V. It was released on June 19, 2012 in North America, and on ...more

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Europa Universalis IV is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Edmund Carter added Europa Universalis IV

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Distant Worlds: Universe is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
NathanMartinsMaia added Distant Worlds: Universe

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Galactic Civilizations II: Dre... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
midnightq2 added Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords 2006 Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords is a 4X turn-based strategy by Stardock for Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to the original Galactic Civilizations, and was released at retail and on ...more

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Sins of a Solar Empire is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Sins of a Solar Empire 2007 Sins of a Solar Empire is a 2008 science fiction real-time strategy computer game developed by Ironclad Games and published by Stardock Entertainment for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It ...more

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Civilization II is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
NetavoReikalas added Civilization II 1996 Sid Meier's Civilization II is a turn-based strategy video game developed and published by MicroProse. It was first released in 1996 for the PC and later ported to the Sony PlayStation. In 2002, ...more

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Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked

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Ascendancy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Ascendancy 1995 Ascendancy is a 4X science fiction turn-based strategy computer game. It was originally released for MS-DOS in 1995 and was updated and re-released for iOS in 2011 by The Logic Factory. ...more

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Space Empires IV is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Space Empires IV 2000 Space Empires IV is a turn-based 4X strategy computer game developed by Malfador Machinations and published by Strategy First as part of the Space Empires series in which players control an ...more

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Imperium Galactica II: Allianc... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Imperium Galactica II: Alliances 2000 Imperium Galactica II: Alliances is a real-time game featuring aspects of RTT, RTS and empire-building computer games from the Hungarian-based studio Digital Reality. It is the sequel to Digital ...more

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Star Wars: Rebellion is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Star Wars: Rebellion 1998 Star Wars: Rebellion is a real-time strategy game released in 1998 by LucasArts and set in the fictional Expanded Universe of Star Wars.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
hendrik-bitzmann added Star Trek: The Next Generation: Birth of the Federation 1999 Star Trek: Birth of the Federation is a 4X turn-based computer strategy game developed by Microprose and published by Hasbro Interactive. The game was initially released on May 25, 1999 for ...more

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Imperium Galactica is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Imperium Galactica 1997 Imperium Galactica is a computer game made by a Hungarian company Digital Reality that combines many of the features of 4X games with some of the features of real-time tactical games. The same ...more

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Galactic Civilizations III is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Galactic Civilizations III

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Stars! is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Stars! 1995 Stars! is a complex turn-based computer game in which planets and fleets of spaceships are managed, using the 4X game model. The game has been around since 1995, and still has a strong

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Master of Orion: Conquer the S... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

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Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
luccgooner added Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic 2003 Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a turn-based strategy video game in a fantasy setting. Shadow Magic is the third incarnation of the Age of Wonders series, and is a direct sequel to Age of ...more

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Civilization III: Complete Edi... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked

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Sword of the Stars is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
luccgooner added Sword of the Stars 2006 Sword of the Stars is a space 4X game developed by Kerberos Productions. In the game the player chooses one of four unique races to form an interstellar empire and conquer the galaxy. In order ...more

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Sid Meier's Colonization is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Carlos Benavides added Sid Meier's Colonization 1994 Sid Meier's Colonization is a computer game by Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier released by MicroProse in 1994. It is a turn-based strategy game themed on the early European colonization of the New ...more

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Civilization III is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Carlos Benavides added Civilization III 2001 Sid Meier's Civilization III, commonly shortened to Civ III or Civ 3, is the third installment of the Sid Meier's Civilization turn-based strategy video game series. It was preceded by ...more

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Galactic Civilizations III is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Galactic Civilizations III 2015

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Emperor of the Fading Suns is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Emperor of the Fading Suns 1996 Emperor of the Fading Suns is a science fiction "grand-scale" space strategy computer game made by Holistic Design in 1996. This game was based on Holistic's in-house role playing game ...more

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Space Empires III is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Space Empires III 1997 Space Empires III is a turn-based 4X space strategy game published by Malfador Machinations in 1997, and is the third game in its Space Empires series. Despite its age the developers still offer ...more

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Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain 1997 Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain is a real-time strategy computer game. The game emphasizes empire building and customization. Instead of using a single large map as do most of the current real-time ...more

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Galactic Civilizations is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Galactic Civilizations 2003 Galactic Civilizations is a turn-based strategy video game developed by Stardock and released in March 2003. The game is a remake of a vintage OS/2 series of the same name. An expansion pack ...more

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Dominions 3: The Awakening is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
luccgooner added Dominions 3: The Awakening 2006 Dominions 3: The Awakening is a fantasy turn-based strategy game created by Illwinter and published in 2006 by Shrapnel Games. It is the third game in the Dominions series, preceded by ...more

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Star Control II is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
AldarGoa-Baden added Star Control II Star Control II is a science fiction video game, the second game in the Star Control franchise. It was developed by Toys for Bob and originally published by Accolade in 1992 for DOS. It was ...more

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Europa Universalis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Edmund Carter added Europa Universalis 2000 Europa Universalis is a grand strategy video game released on March 14, 2000 by Paradox Development Studio and distributed in North America by Strategy First. Originally based on a French board ...more

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Stardrive is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Stardrive

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Civilization: Beyond Earth is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Carlos Benavides added Civilization: Beyond Earth

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Star Control 3 is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
AldarGoa-Baden added Star Control 3 1996 Star Control 3 is a video game developed by Legend Entertainment. They were hired by Accolade to create a sequel of Star Control II when the original creators Toys For Bob expressed no interest ...more

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FreeOrion is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
FreeOrion 2006

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Space Empires V is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Theotenai added Space Empires V 2006 Space Empires V is a 4X turn based strategy game that was released in 2006. It was developed by Malfador Machinations and published by Strategy First. The game retains many races and ...more

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Classic Empire is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Classic Empire Empire is a turn-based wargame with simple rules, conceived by Walter Bright in 1971 based on various war movies and board games, notably Battle of Britain and Risk. In the game, each player ...more

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Warlock: Master of the Arcane is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
henrik-zabel added Warlock: Master of the Arcane Warlock: Master of the Arcane is a 4X turn-based strategy video game developed by 1C:Ino-Co Plus and published by Paradox Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows on 8 May 2012. The ...more

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Reach for the Stars is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
MarvinWhite added Reach for the Stars 1983 Reach for the Stars is a science fiction strategy video game. It is the earliest known commercially published example of the 4X games genre. It was written by Roger Keating and Ian Trout of SSG ...more

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Fragile Allegiance is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Fragile Allegiance 1997 Fragile Allegiance is an open-ended 4X real-time strategy game from Gremlin Interactive, released in 1996 for MS-DOS and Windows 95. The game begins on May 25, 2496 as the player begins their ...more

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Warlock II: The Exiled is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
henrik-zabel added Warlock II: The Exiled Warlock II: The Exiled is a 4X turn-based strategy video game developed by 1C:Ino-Co Plus and published by Paradox Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows on 10 April 2014. It is the ...more

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Starlords 3K is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
mahks added Starlords 3K

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Starships Unlimited is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Starships Unlimited Starships Unlimited is a 4X real-time strategy game series. Unlike other 4X games, Starships Unlimited puts greater emphasis on starships than on colonies.

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Spaceward Ho! is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best 4X Strategy Games of All Time, Ranked
Spaceward Ho! 1990 Spaceward Ho! is a turn-based science fiction computer strategy game that was written by Peter Commons, designed by Joe Williams and published by Delta Tao Software. The first version was ...more