1. Kingdom Rush
Kingdom Rush is a tower defense game. Enemies (including goblins, trolls, spiders, the undead, etc.) are trying to make it to an end point and steal one or several of your twenty hearts (life.) Along their path, you can place various towers to slow them down and eventually kill them. Towers include a barracks (with three soldiers), archers, mages, and bombers. With each kill, you get an amount of gold that allows you to upgrade the towers. There's too many angles and aspects to explain it all here, so hopefully my basic information gets you a feel for the game. Here's some screenshots from their official website:
If you manage to beat a level without losing any hearts, it gives you a three star rating and then unlocks two additional modes to play the level over: Heroic and Iron Challenge. Heroic usually gives your towers a level cap and sends six super waves instead of twenty smaller ones and the Iron Challenge usually locks one or two tower types from even being built. Both Heroic and Iron Challenge give you one heart so you can't even let a single enemy through. Great for general-minded strategists (while I've beaten all the levels on normal, I'm still making my way through the Heroic and Iron Challenge modes.)
Pricing on this has ranged from free (only for a day or two) to $2.99. I picked it up for my iPad when it cracked the top 10 paid apps and was on sale for $0.99. I stopped playing after I beat the initial set of levels (including the Heroic and Iron Challenges) but then started playing again recently when an update brought some new levels and possible achievements. It's definitely worth a few bucks, as I've played this game for hours and never found it boring. I didn't find a legitimate version for Android (though it is available through third party app systems), but check it out in the Apple App Store:
2. The Room
The Room is a straight-up puzzle game. You're locked in a room with a strange box. You have to solve small puzzles on the box in order to move in to the next level of the box. This game made me nostalgic since I grew up with puzzle-solving games like this (it's in the same vein as Myst, The 7th Guest, Connections, and The Last Express, though it's much shorter.) For most, it won't take more than a few hours to solve the entire puzzle box and make it to the center. Try to make it through without cheating; it's a lot more fun that way. It'll take longer to solve without Google but you'll feel better about yourself afterwards (I was tempted to cheat at a couple of points, but I eventually got through on my own.) Here's the YouTube trailer:
Since its release in September of 2012, The Room has sold more than one million copies. I don't think I got this when it was on sale, meaning I paid the full $1.99, but it was worth it. This is another one with no legitimate Android version yet, but you can check it out in the Apple App Store:
iPhone pocket Version
Since I've given you two Apple only games, I figured I'd give you one that's only for Android. Summoner is an amazing strategy-based game that, if I were to break it down to its simplest form, is like Magic: The Gathering on a chess board. I'll confess at this point that the programmer behind Summoner is my brother, but if I thought his game was shit... I would have told him (obviously in the nicest way possible) and I wouldn't be recommending it here. It's not. I promise.
You begin by picking two elements and then gaining energy from those two elements each turn. You can use the energy to summon monsters from that element (or save up and summon monsters that require energy from BOTH elements.) Once you have monsters summoned, you use them to attack your opponent's monsters and then their life. There's a campaign mode with pre-set challenges or you can play against the computer. There's both a free and a paid version and I have the paid version on my Android smartphone. It got me hooked to the point that I wanted the full content. While I haven't played it in a while, it's a fun game that I sometimes pull up on my phone when I'm waiting for installations or downloads to finish and it's a good way to kill time. Here's some screenshots from Summoner:
If you think Summoner may be your type of game but you want to try it out first, download the free version. I'll give links to both versions below.
Summoner Free Version
Summoner Full Version
4. Plague Inc.
Here's an app you can get with either Apple or Android. Plague Inc. is a strategy-based game where you create a virus and then use it to kill the world. You choose what type of virus and then the country where it starts. It spreads and you indirectly guide and evolve it using DNA points that you earn over time. You can evolve symptoms, its lethality, its infectiousness, etc. Scientists will combat you by developing a cure. The more deadly your virus becomes, the harder they will work to end it. You complete each virus type and level by killing the billions of people alive in the world today. Here's the YouTube trailer:
I grabbed a copy of Plague Inc. when it started topping the charts of the Apple App Store at $0.99. It's still only $0.99 and definitely worth it. Links to different versions are below:
5. Plants vs. Zombies
My final recommended app for this post is Plants vs. Zombies and it's available for both Apple and Android devices. Plants vs. Zombies is a lot like Kingdom Rush in that you will have various types of zombies trying to make their way to the house across your yard and you act as... the gardener I guess?... and plant flowers and other plants that have seed-based attacks to stop them. You get energy to create plants by harnessing the sunlight (or there are plants you can create that spit out sunlight as well.) There are several different types of zombies that will attack. I got this on sale when it was a dollar or two off from the normal purchase price and, while it isn't my favorite app / game, it is still worth getting a copy if you haven't already. Here's some screenshots:
Plants vs. Zombies has had a few updates since I last played it so I might be looking into what they've added soon. For a comical strategy game, it's pretty solid. Links to the different versions are below:
So there you have it. 5 strategy-based games that I openly recommend to everyone who enjoys wasting hours of their lives. If you have anything to say about any of the above games, feel free to leave a comment below. I also wanted to add that everything stated above is my personal opinion and I don't get anything for recommending these apps. No one gives me a cut, so you can trust that I'm being honest here.