Strategy and simulation games capture the hearts of only certain individuals. The rest settle for the average run of the mill sports games, or solitaire, or interactive checkers. Let's take a look at the best of the best when it comes to strategy and simulation games for PC's. The following are ranked in no particularly order.

Civilization IV

The jury is still out on Civilization V, but there is no doubt that the fourth iteration in the Civilization series by Sid Meier has become a veritable icon of strategy gaming. This is the classic grand stategy game where the player takes control of their chosen civilization and leads them to greatness or ruin.

Tropico (the original)

This classic part simulation part strategy game, puts you as the leader (elected or not) of a small island nation. As the leader, you construct buildings for your population and provide for their needs (or not). Choose to win their respect or keep them in fear, it is your choice. This tropical simulation game is considered a cult classic, recently having been remade into Tropico III and soon Tropico IV. Both of the new versions represent good attempts, yet they still can't quite measure up to the original.

Sim City 4

The Sim City series has been lying dormant for some time now, but Sim City 4 delivered fans of city building game of epic proportions. If you zone it, they will come! This city building simulation game absolutely goes down as one of the greatest hits. Now if only there was an adequate sequel...

Rome: Total War

For Roman glory! This is the Total War game that catapulted the series into the mainstream best seller list for strategy games. Part turn based with a vivid real time battle experience, this game tests both the player's planning as well as advanced tactics. Not only to you have to furnish the army and point and click, you also must lead them to victory in the field.

Shogun 2: Total War

The most recent offering from the Total War series, Shogun 2 delivers a mesmerizing blend of Japanese culture, stellar graphics, the acclaimed tactics of previous games, and intriguing politics to boot. If you have a PC that can handle it, this game is a must have on the current market.

Age of Empires III

Another storied franchise, another great recent adaptation. Age of Empires III brings the classic RTS empire building game to your computer with vivid updated graphics and excellent historical scenarios. The simple formula of resource gathering  and a limited resource economy seems elementary, yet is still a winning formula.

Warcraft III

Before the online version, there was the stand alone Warcraft of which Warcraft III delivered the most punch. This is your standard resource gathering RTS strategy game. It is much like Age of Empires, except with dark magic and witchcraft.

Rise of Nations

This one hails back all the way from 2003. Created by a protegé of the famous Sid Meier, this strategy game delivered an impressive combination of Civilization meets Age of Empires, effectively bridging the gap between these two franchise names. There are many unique features in this game that make it an interesting and highly replayable alternative for fans of Civilization and/or Age of Empires.

Caesar III

This is the classic Roman city building game and the best of the series. The more recent Caesar IV is decent, but does not measure up to Caesar III. While the graphics may be dated, the gameplay is not. Building your Roman metropolis from a few lonely huts to a thriving city is not only fun, it is immensely satisfying.

Europa Universalis III

While Europa Universalis will not "wow" you with graphics, it delivers rewarding gameplay and one of the deepest pure strategy games on the market. The third iteration is much like the others, except for better graphics and an easier learning curve. That said, the learning curve is still considerably difficult to master. Unless you have the patience and are seeking the ultimate strategy thrill, you would be better served by sticking to Civilization. EUIII is essentially played like a board game on steroids. Diplomacy is a central function of the game and victories are realized over time, not with some grand Total War style battle.