If you’re someone who likes crunchy, party-focused turn-based combat on a grid, then this is the list for you. We’ve got both AAA releases, indie ones, and those somewhere in between. Here are my Top 10 tactical turn based games in the last few years.
Note that when it comes to tactical turn-based titles, I’ve personally come to associate the genre with a grid of some kind and a party of units moving around it. This is the general formula that the entries below will follow.
The 10 Best Tactical Turn Based Games Everyone Should Play
Solasta was the first ever game to implement the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition ruleset into a CRPG. It’s Baldur’s Gate 3’s spiritual predecessor that features various full-length story campaigns where you’ll be creating your full custom D&D party. Since it mimics the table-top ruleset, the combat mechanics are exquisite, and there being a dozen classes with their respective subclasses for specializations. Furthermore, with racial abilities, an interactable environment, the various spell and weapon choices, you’re looking at an in-depth combat system that’s highly replayable.
I just wish that some of the classes weren’t locked behind a DLC paywall — even though those DLCs are quite worthwhile. As for the story, Solasta’s main campaign and secondary campaigns offer decently compelling narratives. The best part about them is that the dialogue scenes are highly interactable and each character in your custom party can contribute something based on their unique skill set. Solasta is an immersive passion project by those who love D&D. Plus, it’s a great alternative if BG3 is a bit too pricey for you.
9. Divinity Original Sin 2
Speaking of spiritual predecessors, we have Larian’s previous masterpieces before they made BG3. While the combat system is similarly crunchy to Solasta, DOS1 and Divinity Original Sin 2 are masters of elemental interactions. Every barrel of water and oil puddle are weapons in this game for spellcasters, which elevates the standard slugfest of walking up to an enemy and exchanging melee blows until one drops.
Furthermore, the game offers a complex interactive narrative system where you can choose your endings. Your choices throughout the story will matter in specific cases, and they’ll govern how the story ends. These endings can also affect your companions and origin characters. Expansions on this system are obvious if you’ve played BG3.
8. XCOM 2
If sci-fi is more your theme, then XCOM 2 should definitely be picked up on a sale. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a strategic ranged combat game where you’ll be leading a global resistance and localized teams against an alien invasion. What makes the XCOM series different than other tactical turn-based titles is the consequences system. Your team members can and probably will lose their lives during the game. The tricky part is that you lose them forever, so if you’re focusing on a specific team, you better make sure they make it through the mission.
This feeling of permadeath is incredibly immersive, as it makes your choices in combat and the mission in general matter. It’s like the first Darkest Dungeon in that regard, where you’re not just playing a tactical combat game but also managing your team and assigning them to specific dangerous missions.
7. Marvel’s Midnight Suns
There are plenty of great action games set in the Marvel universe but not one of them is as strategic and tactical as Midnight Suns. I didn’t expect less from the creators of XCOM. That said, the grid-based combat is elevated with the addition of the card system where each hero’s special moveset is represented by cards you draw and deploy on the battlefield.
Furthermore, the game really makes you feel powerful — just like Spider Man or Iron Man — as you slam enemies into each other. This is due to the environment, which is highly interactable. You can forcefully push terrain pieces into enemies and vice versa and even throw enemies into each other for bonus damage and status effects.
The superheroics are elevated with the trope classic combo attack system. Partner up your Captain America with Blade or Ghost Rider with Wolverine for a flashy and cinematic attack. All of them are based on a fellowship system where you can build relationships among your heroes. It’s a Marvel fan’s dream.
6. Battle Brothers
Set in a low-fantasy setting of medieval Europe, Battle Brothers is a hardcore tale of mercenary survival. You’ll be leading a band of sellswords bound only by a thirst for adventure and glory. Unlike a linear story experience, Battle Brothers is about surviving in a harsh open world where you’ll be traveling from town to town picking up quest contracts.
Each battle will at first be unforgiving as you get used to the system and many of your companions will lose their lives. But as you slowly gain levels, skills, and better gear, the game comes to life and each victory feels earned. Unlike the previous entries, you’ll be controlling a much higher number of units and their position in combat makes a huge difference. Elevation bonuses to hit chance and damage are a thing and trapping enemies in a chokehold or flanking them are key mechanics.
You’re not playing superheroes here like in Midnight Suns; you’re playing regular humans, and that’s exactly what makes each victory satisfying. Especially, when you start facing undead, goblins, and orcs.
5. Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Owlcat’s WH40K Rogue Trader, along with Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous, is a masterful example of a great tactical turn-based combat game. All three games borrow their rulesets from their respective tabletop games like Rogue Trader and Pathfinder. This, in turn, offers the player an in-depth character customization system with various elements affecting your character’s abilities.
For example, in RT, you can pick an Origin, such as Psyker, a psionic mage-like character. Then you can pick a Homeworld for extra abilities that modify how you approach combat. Finally, you pick a class or Archetype (as they’re called) that provides a core gameplay style. Warriors excel in melee combat, Officers are masters of team-wide support, and Soldiers are excellent marksmen.
Each choice you make for your party changes how combat is played out. Some party compositions can rush down enemies while others pick off targets and bosses from afar. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed mixing and matching different characters and the respect system in all three games helps greatly.
4. Into the Breach
On the roguelite side of things, we have the mech-piloting isometric masterpiece Into the Breach. While simplistic in its approach, both mechanically and visually, this is a highly addicting tactical game that puts you in the seat of time traveling mech pilots saving the world against Kaiju monsters. You’ll play through an array of randomly generated challenges, where turn-based combat is almost like a puzzle to solve.
Each victory against the Vek, massive bug-like monsters, will earn you resources to both upgrade your mech and pilot abilities. Furthermore, completing challenges allows you to unlock the various different mech squads, and each one has a unique playstyle. Whereas other games on my list have combat that focuses largely on offense, Into the Breach offers a defensive combat system where you’ll defend cities around the world while fighting Kaijus.
Each run is unique based on your choice of which world to start in and which squad to play. You can even mix and match teams for an additional layer of customization. Control Titan-like melee combat robots, long-range artillery ones, or deploy smoke clouds and hazards with the numerous utility mechs. Build your perfect team and strategy and save the world.
In many ways, Wartales is similar to Battle Brothers in its pseudo-realism that offers a grim and gritty tactical combat experience. With your team of mercenaries, you’ll be exploring the vast reaches of a medieval world. This is as much a team-managing game as it’s a turn-based combat one. You’ll be scavenging for resources while trading and crafting new gear for your characters.
Each fight increases your experience point pool, which you can spend not only on combat skills but also on social and roleplay ones. Your character can be a tanky brawler or sneaky archer while still mastering blacksmithing, medicine, and other professions to further benefit the entire team. This is the perfect game if you like the combat system of games like Divinity Original Sin and Baldur’s Gate 3 but want a realistic low-fantasy experience. It’s also on Game Pass.
While originally a board game I highly enjoyed with my friends on the weekends, Gloomhaven has been expertly ported to the PC by Flaming Fowl and Saber Interactive. The game uses a hex-based grid with character abilities represented by cards similar to Midnight Suns. It’s one of the highest-rated board games of all time on the Board Game Geek site — and for good reason.
It offers a crunchy combat system with 17 unique mercenaries to master and level up across nine levels with hundreds of unique skills along the way. That’s not even considering the equipment items and enchantments you can buy which further modify your play style.
While many of our previous entries have online co-op modes, Gloomhaven is truly best enjoyed in co-op as each mercenary has several team-based abilities. Coordinating with your team feels satisfying as you generate and proc elemental combos. The interactive narrative system set in the game’s open world is nothing to scoff at either.
1. Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 blends many elements we mentioned and liked from the previous entries. It features a detailed combat system with various races, classes, subclasses, abilities, and spells inspired by D&D 5e. You can utilize environmental effects and hazards against enemies. There are multiple companion (and romance) options to customize your party. The story and social interaction system is incredibly engaging and diverse where each choice matters in some way be it for a lesser side quest or the main narrative and its endings.
Overall, this is a massive game with hundreds of hours of content hand-crafted by Larian. You can replay it at least a couple of times and experience vastly new scenarios (such as the Dark Urge) and combat situations. It didn’t win the 2023 Game of the Year for no reason. This is one of those rare releases that I would say you can grab at full price, and it will still be worthwhile many times over.
That’s my list of the Top 10 tactical turn-based games you should play right now. There are numerous other releases I also wanted to talk about, like Iron Oath, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk, Othercide, Mutant Year Zero, Wildermyth, etc. This top 10 list can only hold so many. Not to mention that I purposefully left out turn-based tactical games like Darkest Dungeon, where movement around a grid isn’t an element. That said, here’s 2024 and more fantastic entries.