While some fast paced MOBA or FPS action is always a welcome diversion, a good old turn-based strategy where you can really plan your battle tactics has a very special appeal.
There's been a fabulous resurgence of the old school in strategy games lately, with Age Of Wonders getting a new iteration not too long ago, as well as yet another Heroes Of Might And Magic landing on PC.
That storied series in particular has been taking knocks lately for being released unfinished and never having major bugs fixed, unfortunately, so for many gamers its time to find a new series to try. If you need ever more turn-based combat to puzzle over (and have already played XCOM 2 to death), here are 10 genre gems you may not even have known existed!
Combining the grit of a hard-boiled western with a whole lot of occult and dark supernatural elements, Hard West offers a very satisfying mixture of styles.
There's a definite Lovecraftian bend to the supernatural horror on display, and if you've ever wanted to battle against demonic things with your six-shooter in a dusty saloon, this is the game for you.
Didn't dig the 3D, first person switch of Fallout 3 and wish that Van Buren had seen full release? Oh boy, this one's for you! There's a bit of that Shadowrun SNES feel as well, for a super nostalgic good time if you love isometric gaming or turn-based RPG combat.
Battle For Wesnoth
An anomaly in this list, Battle For Wesnoth is actually a completely open source game that's been tinkered on by developers for years. For fans of old school fantasy strategy games, this is a hidden gem well worth unearthing, and there's a ridiculous number of hours you could sink in between the main campaigns, downloadable extras, and crafting your own stories in the editor.
A new twist on turn-based gaming, mixing in real time MOBA elements where everyone takes their turn simultaneously, Atlas Reactor has been referred to as “XCOM meets DOTA” and “chess with guns." This unique little cross-genre entry is in early access on Steam but gearing up for full release in early October.
Banner Saga 2
One of the few games in this list also available for console, Banner Saga 2 has a high (and satisfying) level of difficulty with extremely tactical battles.
It also has you juggling lots of different aspects from morale to provisions as your group of vikings and giants flees down a river towards safety while an army pursues closely behind.
I would absolutely love to see the aesthetics from The One Ring tabletop RPG (easily one of the best Lord Of The Rings interpretations) done in this style as a video game, as it would fit the mechanics perfectly.
Also called Skyshine's Bedlam to distinguish from a previous FPS game of the same title, this is essentially The Banner Saga in a post apocalyptic setting -- it even uses the same engine and art style. If you like the idea of The Banner Saga's gameplay but don't dig a Scandinavian low fantasy world, give this one a shot instead.
Thea: The Awakening
Bringing to mind classics like Age Of Wonders or Disciples, this more modern hexagonal turn-based game really freshens up the formula with some interesting twists. As a Slavic god in a dark fantasy world, you can protect and expand your dominion through combat or skill challenges, with a backdrop of some really amazing hand drawn imagery.
King's Bounty Series
Now a long running-series with a horde of sequels/expansions, King's Bounty is an excellent replacement for the years when there's no new Heroes Of Might And Magic.
A lot more tongue-in-cheek and less serious than other fantasy games, the series kicked off with The Legend and has since seen subsequent iterations providing the same basic gameplay from the viking-focused Warriors Of The North to the Snow White-riffing Dark Side.
A crowd-funded success from one of the creators of the original XCOM series, this one is fantasy-focused instead of sci-fi and pits wizards against one another in some really unique environments. There's also a thriving online player versus player community if online battling with a strategy game is up your alley.
This is one appropriately titled game, as it is filled to the brim with utterly amoral protagonists and a very dark story. The main character winning in her insane crusade would undoubtedly be very bad for everyone, even if she was terribly wronged and tortured by spider venom for years. One character even previously sold another one into slavery -- and they're the good guys!
For fantasy fans who like things on the evil side, this one's an excellent option.
There's no shortage of turn-based tactical games to play these days -- spanning every imaginable genre, from the recent cyberpunk Shadowrun games to the upcoming Battletech entry.
3D, 2D, old school, modern, there's a wealth of strategy entries to try out if you know where to look. What did you think of our picks, and what turn-based games would you recommend we try out soon?