Turn-based strategy games have plenty to offer for those patient enough to spend the countless hours required to learn all their little intricacies. Even though it’s often seen as a very time consuming and difficult genre to get into, it also offers some of the vastest and most complex worlds found in gaming. That’s not to say that all TBS games are good time sinks, mind you, but the ones we’re going to talk about today are definitely worth clearing your schedule for. Just make sure you have hundreds of hours of free time on your hands before jumping into any of these ten gems.
10. Galactic Civilizations III
While it’s true that Galactic Civilizations III wasn’t the best in the series right off the bat, a number of subsequent updates and improvements have since transformed the third installment into a very solid 4X turn-based strategy game.
9. Age of Wonders III
The long-running series came back into the spotlight back in 2014 with a third installment after more than a decade of absence. Despite the long hiatus, Age of Wonders III is a great sequel to the original two games and a must-play for veterans of the series and newcomers to the genre alike.
8. Endless Legend
This fantasy turn-based strategy game is a sort of love letter to the people who enjoy the gameplay of the Civilization series but aren’t necessarily all that thrilled with the historical setting. In a sense, Endless Legend did something similar to Beyond Earth by replacing the setting and leaving most of Civilization’s core mechanics intact, however, in this case the changes actually worked out for the better.
7. Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria
While not as well-known nowadays, Steve Fawkner’s Warlords was at one point one of the most popular turn-based strategy franchises, with the fourth installment arguably being the pinnacle of the series. Unfortunately, Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria also marked the end of the series as we knew it, as Fawkner eventually decided to move away from TBS games in order to focus on other projects.
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery and that is definitely true in the case of Xenonauts. The game is considered by many to be the best re-imagining of the original X-COM and manages to give even the highly praised XCOM: Enemy Unknown a run for its money. Despite the similarities between the two franchises, however, Xenonauts is fully able to stand on its own as a very good and extremely challenging turn-based strategy game.
5. Disciples II: Dark Prophecy
Though not many people might remember this title, Disciples II: Dark Prophecy remains a cult classic that managed to leave a lasting impression on pretty much everyone who played it. In terms of gameplay, Disciples II is highly reminiscent of the Heroes of Might & Magic series, however, the dark tone and unique art style truly set it apart from any other turn-based strategy game.
4. Total War: Warhammer
Total War: Warhammer brings together two of the most beloved franchises and creates a mash-up that can only be described as a wet dream for any fan of strategy games. Admittedly, Total War: Warhammer combines aspects of turn-based and real-time strategy games but the overall macro management and progression systems are definitely much more akin to a traditional TBS than an RTS.
3. Heroes of Might & Magic III
Even though the folks over at Ubisoft did their best to recapture the magic of the older titles, none of the more recent efforts even comes close to what Heroes of Might & Might III represents for the series and the turn-based strategy genre in general. The graphics definitely look a bit dated by today’s standards but the gameplay continues to be just as good as it was back in 1999.
2. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
While some may view its predecessor as being the pinnacle of the series, Civilization V is actually the title that made turn-based strategy games look appealing and accessible to everyone again after the genre had almost fallen into obscurity by the late 2000’s.
1. XCOM 2
Back in 2012, Firaxis managed to surpass all expectations by successfully reviving one of the best turn-based strategy series of all time. But even though XCOM: Enemy Unknown was an incredible game, earlier this year the company found even more ways to improve upon the tried and true formula by adding a lot more customization options, mod support, and extremely difficult alien encounters that only the most skilled of PC gamers can hope to survive, let alone best with a perfect mission score.
Galactic Civilizations III
While it's true that Galactic Civilizations III wasn't the best in the series right off the bat, a number of subsequent updates and improvements have since transformed the third installment into a very solid 4x turn-based strategy game.