The 13 Best Turn Based Strategy Games of All Time

Best Turn Based Strategy Games
Yeah, turn-based games are still that popular

The 13 Best Turn Based Strategy Games of All Time

Turn based strategy games are games that involve wits and creativity to emerge victorious. Each move must be well thought out and made carefully or else defeat is certain.  Here are 13 games that have embodied the spirit of turn based strategy the most.

13. Silent Storm

Silent Storm is a classic turn-based tactical combat game based in World War 2.  The game originally came out in 2003 but has been remastered for Steam.  Players lead a small team of soldiers either Axis or Allies behind enemy lines to fight the enemy, but also uncover and destroy a mysterious power.  This game has enormous amounts of selection in customizing each of 40 possible characters.  Each one has different abilities and each of the 75 guns work a little differently.  That is what sets this game apart.  There is just so much content in the game.  Each playthrough feels different because there are so many combinations to mix and match with.  It keeps genre lovers coming back for this over a generation old gem.


12. Heroes of Might & Magic 3

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is an oldie, but still a great game.  It is a turn-based strategy game in which players control heroes who command armies of mythological creatures. There are several game modes like all heroes competing to find an artifact and conquer mode where all opposing players must be eliminated to keep things fresh on each playthrough.  Towns are another big shakeup that keep players in a constant battle for because towns provide most of the needs in the game from funding to army recruitment.  Heroes 3 provides a unique cross between strategic gameplay and tactical turn-based combat which is why it is still in the top list after all this time since its release.


11. Endless Space

Endless Space is a turn-based 4x game that loves to provide depth and complexity for the true lovers of the genre.  The game has tons of technology options to research, so each playthrough will be a little different.  The AI are much better at handling diplomatic situations than any other seen in the genre.  They act just like you think they would until they turn around and stab you in the back, but they don't do it often enough to make you know they will always turn.  Combat is more or less a cinematic visual, but players can make some influence by choosing how to attack or defend.  All the real strategy is done in assuring the right weapons are there for the battle.  This is a true turn-based game that will enforce careful strategy preparation or the nation’s demise is inevitable. 


10. Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical shooter game that uses its BLITZ (battle of live tactical zones) mechanic to innovate from the usual turn-based strategy style.  This system allows players to take control and move characters in third person and make moves in kind of live time until all their action points are spent.  Then that character’s turn ends.  This gives a fast and exciting boost to the typical turn-based game.  The story is also great.  It does not take itself too seriously, but still managers to keep gamers wrapped in and wanting more.  This game’s unique spin on turn-based tactical combat is not one to miss out on for any lover of the genre.


9. The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga is a tactical turn-based strategy game. Players guide a group of heroes to tell a tale of Norse mythology.  The real interesting part of this game is its amazing story. The world of the game is stuck in a twilight because the sun has stopped moving.  Then a race called the Dredge, comes back to wipe humanity and the Varls (their ancient rivals) off of the world.  The game follows playable characters that at first seem to have their own plots, but eventually intertwine into one.  Each decision made in the game can have effects on how the story plays out.  There are many ways the game can go making each playthrough exciting time after time.


8. Age of wonders 3

If you have ever imagined the Civilizations game series in a high fantasy time period, then this is a game you should check out.  Age of Wonders 3 is a 4x turn-based strategy game that is very similar to Civ with diplomacy, city building, and colonizing.  The combat is expanded from its inspiration to fit the more aggressive playstyle in this game.  Leaders are units that players must select, customize, and level up as the faction progresses.  The leader plays a huge role in how effective the faction is.  This adds a good mix of RPG to the game that provides a signature flare to the gameplay.  It is easy to get attached to the hero as the game progresses which makes you feel like you are a part of the faction and really are leading it to greatness.


7. Xcom 2

The Xcom series is about fighting off the alien invasion with a top secret high-tech government agency tasked for situations like this.  Fights are done in a turn-based tactical battle fashion with players making moves and firing shots with each turn.  Xcom has done an excellent job to make the combat feel intense and quick even with its turn-based structure.  Moves like overwatch allow units to fire on enemies that move into their line of sight or suppression that has units fire a continuous volley of bullets at their enemy to reduce aim and ability to move.  Xcom 2 is a great game the provides a thrilling experience to turn-based strategy.


6. Endless Legend

Endless Legend comes from the creators of Endless Space who this time chose to harness their creativity towards a fantasy turn-based 4x game.  There are four factions to choose from and each one has its own events or missions that change the way each faction operates in the game.  The game has tons of quests that give a unique vibe to the game that is missed in many in its genre.  The quests give the game life and make a story come to life.  Quests will grow the player’s knowledge on the lore of the game, how the factions work with events happening in the world, and how factions feel about each other. This is a great breath of fresh air for 4x games.


5. Galactic civilization 3

Galactic Civilizations 3 is the third installment in the series that has been improved each time. The game draws very close comparisons to the regular Civilizations series with the main difference being that players are running a space age civilization and not an Earth civilization.  There is a lot more action in the beginning of this game because players must race every turn to try and find the habitable planets before they are taken by others.  Some galaxies make planets hard to find causing a more aggressive playstyle being mandatory for gathering scarce resources. Battles are viewable, but all the action is done in the strategic map beforehand.  It is a pretty cinematic to watch though as huge ships rip each other apart.  This is a must have game for any fan of Civilizations or just sci-fi games in general.


4. Civilizations 5

Civilizations V is the next in line to what was one of the most popular if not the most popular turn-based strategy game ever made, Civilizations IV.  Civ V expanded and improved everything from its previous installments such as AI competency and removing the ridiculous army stacking.  In this game players will rule over their own civilization that they get to choose the path for.  It is important to balance military might, technology research, economy, culture, and diplomacy to win.  This is what makes it such a great turn-based game.  Everything must be well thought out to stay alive in the game.  Too much military may collapse the country’s economy, but too little will make it an easy target.  Strategy crafting is the core component of this game as every move must be planned or it will end up making players pay the ultimate price.


3. Invisible, Inc.

This is a great turn-based strategy with a rare combination of turn-based battles and stealth like gameplay. The game takes place in the year 2074 where megacorporations have taken over the world.  The player’s story is at an agency called Invisible Inc. that has been attacked.  Agents of Invisible Inc. must find a way to get their powerful AI, Incognita, away from enemy hands and to a safer place.  The agents must act quickly because Incognita cannot survive for more than 72 hours outside its habitat. The agents also must act stealthily because the attackers have them outgunned. 

In each mission, you get to use two agents who will be dead permanently if they are killed during the mission.  The real cool part is each mission and map are randomly generated so each playthrough is never the same.  Every time you restart the game it is like a new experience with new challenges and new ways to sneak around and complete the mission.


2. Total War: SHOGUN 2

Total War is an amazing series that brings turn-based and real time strategy together.  Running the country and making moves on the strategic map are done in a turn-based system, but the actual battles are done in real time.  Shogun 2 is probably the most refined in the series in terms of mechanics.  The game has very balanced factions and units with nothing feeling too powerful or weak which is a common occurrence in other titles in the series.  In the turn-based side of Shogun 2 players will run a Japanese Dynasty aiming to take over all of Japan.  There will be many factions looking for the same thing and all must battle for valuable cities to unlock much needed resources to win.  Some lands will provide better horses and other provide more stone for infrastructure.  Players must also balance diplomacy, economy, public order, and war in each turn they make.  If you are a diehard turn-based fan, then do not worry about the real time battles because the game has integrated an auto-resolve feature to keep you in the strategic mode.


1. Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon has players manage a group of heroes to explore a variety of dungeons below a gothic mansion that the player has inherited.  Players find a portal that releases evil creatures into the world upon investigation of the mansion.  Heroes then must be recruited to vanquish the evil back to where it came. A key feature that is unique to Darkest Dungeon is players get to recruit multiple heroes and have to manage each hero’s stress level.  The stress level rises from a combination of factors including prolonged periods of combat, certain curses, and damage to the hero.  Higher stress for the heroes will lower their stats and make them vulnerable. Players must be careful how they use their hero because once the hero is dead they are gone for good.  This adds a level of severity to each mission as the best soldiers have probably leveled up a lot through combat that increased their stress which will make them an easy target and once the best hero on the team is gone it can become very difficult to rise back to a powerful squad.  This game is the height of turn-based tactical combat and should not be missed by any fan of the genre.

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Coming from the backwoods of West Virginia, Paul is a veteran to treacherous mountains and telling tales by the campfire.
Gamer Since: 1991
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Cities: Skylines, Xcom 2, Path of Exile
Top 3 Favorite Games:Total War: Rome II, Sid Meier's Civilization V, Dark Souls II

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