Turn based strategy games are some of the most challenging and rewarding titles in all of video games. Instead of rushing headlong into action, TBS games take a more cerebral approach, challenging players to carefully consider their actions many moves ahead.
The best turn based strategy games are some of the most popular titles on the market, and even many niche titles command dedicated audiences. Some of this success is thanks to the fun of the base formula, and some is due to how well turn based strategy games fuse with other genres like RPGs. There's a lot to love in these titles, no matter what form of gaming you prefer.
Read on to discover some of the best turn based strategy games PC, consoles, and handheld have to offer. From casual and quick to hardcore and ponderous, here are 11 turn based strategy games that can't be missed!
Civilization VI is the latest entry in Sid Meier's long-running series. Civ 6 has players selecting from famous societies from history as they try to rule through battle, economics, or diplomacy. Turn based strategy games don't get much more famous than this, with the series notorious for worldwide memes like a nuke-happy Gandhi resulting from early game glitches. Supported by ongoing DLC, this is a hardcore game that stands as one of the best.
Set in the European Middle Ages, Crusader Kings 3 is famous for tales of backstabbing, intrigue, and injustice that so well illustrate the era. The deathmatch feature in Crusader Kings 3 captures that famous turn based strategy game drama, as you make or break friendships with betrayals that could have real-life consequences…
Total War is one of the longest-running turn based strategy games that includes real-time combat elements. This game is set in feudal Japan, and Shogun 2 is perfect for fans of samurais, swords, and, naturally, shoguns.
Released back in 1997, Panzer General II is among the turn based strategy games that have best stood the test of time. Taking place in and around World War 2, this title is a must for war history buffs, and fans of tank combat. There’s still an active community for this game too, so you can communicate with fellow Panzer enthusiasts.
Building on the successful XCOM reboot, XCOM 2 received many votes for game of the year, a rarity for turn based strategy games. Set after the bad ending of the prior game, XCOM 2 has you launch a resistance to defend against the enemy alien invaders, turning their tech to your advantage. Highly moddable, XCOM is also available on many different platforms for players to choose from.
Drifting into something a little (or a lot) different, Worms Armageddon is among the turn based strategy games that are faster and the most hilarious to play. If you know how to play Flash games you should be able to pick this one up quickly, as combat plays out over a 2D cartoon battlefield. Launch rockets and grenades, blow yourself up, and be amazed at how great this title still is.
Available on Nintendo’s Switch, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical RPG that takes its combat from turn based strategy games. With similar classes of DND and a fun story to back your play up, this game really lets you get attached to your character. Just try not to let any of them die.
Another classic title, HOMM3, is what many consider the peak of the turn based strategy game series. With fantasy races and massive maps, this game perfectly matches difficulty with approachability, even nearly 25 years after its release.
Based on one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV has you choosing between the Shu, Wei, and Wu, as you lead them in taking over China. Fantastic for history buffs (and Dynasty Warriors fans), Romance of the Three Kingdoms can be unrelenting in its difficulty, but it’s worth the challenge. Does this difficulty place it in the list of Souls like games? Well, we wouldn’t go that far…
A new entry after a long hiatus, Jagged Alliance 3 places you in command of a squad of mercenaries as you attempt to rescue the president of a fictional country. Featuring a lot of style and a captivating story, Jagged Alliance 3 easily matches its high expectations.
Rounding out our list of turn-based strategy games are Pokémon Violet and Scarlet. This is another case where the main game is an RPG, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the turn based strategy game at its core. Build your team, select your moves, and get dominated by a team of Pikachu thanks to a metagame more than 25 years old.
A turn based strategy game is a video game in which each player has a dedicated turn in which to make strategic decisions. The outcome of these decisions will play out according to rules like unit strength and number, terrain advantages, and equipped gear. Players will be limited in the number of moves they can make in their turn.