Real-time and turn-based strategy games have been a standard fixture of the gaming universe for a long time. Whether you’re looking at the professional scene of StarCraft or feeling a more casual experience with friends in one of Sid Meier’s Civilization games, strategy games are a brand of entertainment that favor tactical and cunning minds. Creativity and the ability to plan the infrastructure of your forces in order to strike the most critical and crushing blow at your enemies is paramount, whether that be in the form of the swift and early strike or the long prep for all-out decimation. It is for the most patient of strategists that super weapons exist in these games.
Super weapons in strategy games are a niche. They are often impractical and take patience and planning to deploy. A player set on unleashing the top tier of their chosen army’s capabilities must be prepared to survive all attempts to cripple them early or wipe them out before their desired moment of reckoning. However, those who have the patience and the fortitude will reap the reward. There is a reason these weapons are so hard to deploy. Each of them are tide turners, game changers, and trump cards on their own, not to mention just visually awesome. These are the 15 Best Super Weapons in Strategy Games.
15. Death Hand Missile (Dune Series)
The Harkonnen faction of the Dune universe is notorious for being dastardly and ruthless, adhering to the belief in brute strength and victory at all costs. The Death Hand Missile is the apex representation of this philosophy. While upon initial introduction, the Death Hand Missile was terribly inaccurate, it was still a viable source of destruction when targeted into the heart of an enemy base. Later iterations made the Death Hand more accurate and added even more treacherous after-effects such as radiation or poison that would spread to the surrounding area after initial blast. Amongst all the options in Dune, the Death Hand Missile is the only one-stop-shop for immediate destruction of large scale entities, making the Harkonnen a threat best dealt with quick and early.
14. Xeno Titan (Civilization: Beyond Earth)
Do you ever think to yourself, “I love Civilization games, but I also want to destroy cities with a colossal kaiju-esque super monster”? Then the Harmony path is for you in Beyond Earth! Taking Harmony progression to its scientific ultimate limit grants you access to the Xeno Titan, which is a giant bio-engineered crustacean perfect for laying siege to anything that might offend you. This critter stomps across the battlefield and wrecks enemy units and cities like nobody’s business. The Xeno Titan is not only the ultimate platform on which to spread (or more likely force) the tenets of harmony throughout humanity, but it also might be the closest we will ever come to enjoying an army with a Godzilla-tier creature at our command.
13. Protoss Carrier (StarCraft series)
The true threat of a Protoss Carrier is that posed by each additional Carrier added to the fold. Sure, any unit becomes more dangerous in multiples, but Carriers are literally an exponential problem due to their method of attack. Each Carrier can field eight Interceptors that fly around rapidly attacking targets. Focus firing the Carriers themselves is a viable method, but when five carriers are fielding a total of forty Interceptors and can easily make a getaway to regroup while the drones are wrecking your business, that’s easier said than done in many cases. It’s truly unfortunate that these once viable masters of the sky have been dismissed from the regular Protoss roster as of Starcraft II’s Heart of the Swarm expansion.
12. Chaos Lightning (Emperor: Battle for Dune)
Dune’s House of Ordos are a tricky bunch. They’re the kind of people that would rather mess with your mind and use what you’ve built as a weakness to be exploited. The most prominent among their options is the Chaos Lightning. Send a shot of Chaos Lightning upon an unfortunately clustered group of enemy vehicles and watch them go haywire, turn on each other, destroy each other, and do your work for you. It’s a great way to reach across the map and lay waste to an enemy’s hard spent investments without dedicating any of your own to the fray. Not to mention, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch your enemy’s most prominent force tear itself apart in front of them.
11. Firestorm Barrier (Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm)
The Firestorm Barrier has a special distinction from all the other items on this list, save maybe one other. It is super-weapon tier tech, but not a weapon in of itself. Instead, the F.D.S. provides another ultimately unique and valuable service. It protects your base from the super weapons of other forces. In the world of RTS, where your base could be one crucial nuke or super missile away from being absolutely crippled, the Firestorm Barrier is built to be activated upon notification of incoming enemy super weapons. It puts up a wall of energy that will shoot down enemy nukes, preserving all your hard work and progress in a given scenario. The F.D.S. is the perfect super weapon for those going against the Brotherhood of NOD who demand adherence to the rules of conventional warfare in their strategy games.
10. Psionic Decimator (Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3)
In all honesty, the offensive super weapon of each faction in Red Alert 3 does the same thing, which is take a big area and explode it and everything in it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and it gets the job done, but if there was one to be picked, it would definitely be the Psionic Decimator. Utilizing the psychic power of several clones of a young powerful psychic girl, the Psionic Decimator fires off a blast that unfurls outward in a super massive energy ball. The destruction that follows is a visual coup de grace that would make the creators of the Japanese manga and animation, Akira, proud. Compared to its Soviet and Allied counterparts, the Psionic Decimator just has a theatrical presence in Red Alert 3 that can’t be matched.
9. Terran Battlecruiser (StarCraft series)
A Battlecruiser in of itself is quite a unit to have, but several Battlecruisers armed with Yamato Cannons are a wrecking crew armed to cut a swath through most Zerg and Protoss bases. The Yamato Cannon upgrade not only gives the Battlecruisers the longest weapon range in the StarCraft games, but also the largest single shot damage output, making them ideal for safely destroying base defenses or decimating a highly costly unit or structure in no time. On top of all that, Battlecruisers have massive hit points and an armament of smaller laser cannons that can fire in rapid succession on any enemy within range. Put all these stats together and you have a force built to strip the fangs off of your enemies and lead the charge down their throat.
8. Iron Curtain (Command and Conquer: Red Alert Series)
The Soviet Iron Curtain doesn’t destroy anything per se, rather it allows you to make a group of units invincible for a short period. Initially only capable of covering one unit, the Iron Curtain’s effect was later expanded to shroud nine vehicles at once. This means you could literally lead a strike of several tanks deep into enemy territory and destroy valuable structures and units before they could ever even make a dent in your forces. The Curtain could also be used to make one of your own structures invincible, saving it from destruction of an enemy force or perhaps another super weapon. Sometimes the mark of a great super weapon isn’t the destruction it wreaks on its own, but the way it changes up how you use everything else at your disposal.
7. Weather Control Device (Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2)
In the world as we know it, once humanity learns how to control the weather, weaponizing it won’t be a far stretch of the imagination. That is exactly why the Allies turn to the skies in their second war against the Soviet powers in the Command and Conquer universe. The Weather Control Device is the Allied answer to Soviet nuclear weapons. Upon charging the device, the commander in control of it gains the ability to deploy a catastrophic lightning storm over their desired territory. This storm fries infantry, destroys weak structures and vehicles and cripples anything able to withstand the barrage. It might be grossly unconventional warfare, but in a war where their enemies are using psychic powers and weapons, weather of mass destruction might as well be the logical next step.
Civilization games are commendable for the variety of ways in which you can win the game. You don’t have to wipe out all your enemies. In fact, many nations will be dedicated to keeping an armed force only for the sake of deterrence to enemies. That said, when a nuclear submarine enters the playing field, everyone better keep an eye on their coast, keep track of all the people they’ve wronged, and know of what those enemies are capable. Somebody is going for a military victory and it only takes one stealthily moved nuclear submarine and a launch on a capital city to hobble the hopes and dreams of a given player and push back hours worth of hard work and progress.
5. Nuclear Missile (Command and Conquer: Red Alert Series)
Anyone who is a fan of the Red Alert series will never forget what it felt like the first time they ever launched a Soviet Nuclear Missile and watched the glorious aftermath of all their hard work pay off on in one fell swoop. Red Alert wasn’t the strategy game that first introduced us to the nuclear missile super weapon, but may have been the one that made them matter. And the explosions and destruction just seemed to get bigger and more catastrophic with each entry in the franchise, introducing more over-the-top effects to the surrounding area, adding the radiation fallout to the formula and just generally making this super weapon a staple of the Command and Conquer series for the many games to come. The Red Alert Nuclear Missile in all of its evolution and glory will always warm our Soviet hearts and haunt our Allied nightmares.
4. Matter Storm (Universe at War)
In the case of most super weapons, it’s usually a duality. A defensive super weapon will pay in utility for the rest of your units and structures and not be involved in directly damaging your enemies. An offensive super weapon will destroy most everything in your way, but often you must be wary of your own units on the battlefield to avoid catastrophic friendly fire. For those who are uninterested in all the picking and choosing, the Masari dark mode super weapon, the Matter Storm, supplies a balance of both defensive and offensive worlds. Casting the Matter Storm sets off a torrent of dark matter, destroying enemy units within the area. If Masari units in dark mode are in the blast, they gain armor. Even further, the Matter Storm can be upgraded to heal all friendly units within its area of effect. Those who favor having their cake and eating it too will enjoy the ability to wipe out their enemies and heal their forces in one sweep of the Matter Storm.
3. Orbital Ion Cannon (Command and Conquer: Tiberium series)
Are you a commander that can’t get enough out of your ground forces? Do you need something special to get the job done, but think missiles and regular old planetary ordinance are annoying? Then you’re itching for some special Global Defense Initiative ordinance and the scratch is a super powerful space laser. The ion cannon fired from the orbital GDI base is enough to take out most anything instantly in a super-heated blast of directed energy, sending a shockwave out to kill many weaker things nearby. The GDI weapon isn’t just fun in the way it destroys whatever you’re aiming it at. It’s also a pure joy to watch the beam come down upon the hapless target and wipe it off the face of the battlefield.
2. Strategic Missile (Supreme Commander)
Though cool to see and game changing in most cases, the problem with most games using the title of “nuclear weapons” is that they’re generally scaled back to a little square of effective space. That’s not so with Supreme Commander. When these guys say they’re going to hand you a nuke, they mean a weapon that’s going to take a ton of space and turn it into smoldering ash. The nuke can effectively make a small island nation uninhabitable and render it to just a handful of surviving buildings and vehicles. With this, Supreme Commander does a good job of taking the effective scale of a nuclear weapon and making it really say, “this is a distinct point of no return,” which is exactly the feeling that a weapon of mass destruction should convey.
1. Novalith Cannon (Sins of a Solar Empire)
Most super weapons in strategy games will have the destructive power to cripple a base or be the triumphant leading force within other units. It may seem like mass destruction, but it’s always essentially localized to a city or small nation. By comparison, the Novalith Cannon is an intergalactic railgun that can reach across a galaxy and destroy planets. When diplomacy is a lost cause and when you need to show your enemies that you are not screwing around, the Novalith Cannon is how you tell them that playtime is over. Not quite a Star Wars Death Star, but pretty darn close, there isn’t another weapon put into the hands of a player that matches the scale of decimation that the Novalith Cannon can launch in just one intergalactic shot.