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Top 10 Turn Based Strategy Games

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Chris Gregoria Despite many games turning to action and excitement, some will always chase after that slow and steady thinking pace. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Turn Based Strategy Games. For this list, we’ve selected the video games that best use the traditional turn-based strategy format, so things, though not to be confused with turn-based combat of certain RPG’s, those games have lists of their own. And,as always, only one game per series. Special Thanks to our users "Callum Prentice" & "Shawn Frary" for suggesting this topic with our interactive Suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Chris Gregoria

Top 10 Turn Based Strategy Video Games


Despite many games turning to action and excitement, some will always chase after that slow and steady thinking pace. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Turn Based Strategy Video Games.

For this list, we’ve selected the video games that best use the traditional turn-based strategy format, so things, though not to be confused with turn-based combat of certain RPG’s, those games have lists of their own. And,as always, only one game per series.

#10: “The Banner Saga” (2013)


Not many games that were KickStarted see great success. However, The Banner Saga saw fantastic support and proved that it could be done. The game uses an isometric-styled grid system and turn based battles, and featured a rather mature storyline. As you follow the exploits of the caravan that takes center stage, you’ll be thrust into tough battles that will require well thought-out strategy to overcome. In addition to its sturdy gameplay style, The Banner Saga features an original and striking art style that helps it stand out in the crowd.

#9: “Worms” series (1995-)


Many games are remembered for their ridiculous weapons. Worms falls in that list, being memorable for its weaponized sheep and the all-powerful holy hand grenade. The classic 2d turn based artillery game popularized its subgenre among kids and has remained one of the best in its genre. The gameplay is solid, insane amounts of fun, and deeply strategical if you have a like-minded opponent. The random map layouts and full destructible environments lend to more strategy, and the weaponry will leave even the most serious players laughing. And there’s definitely something to be said for teams of worms blowing each other up with Halleluiahs.

#8: “Advance Wars” (2001)


The Game Boy Advance had many strong turn based games, but two stood head and shoulders above the rest. Advance Wars was one of the two, attracting many players with its light-hearted, cartoon-like style and the depth and strategy of combat. Advance Wars was likely many a gamer’s first real strategy game in that era, and it has held up against the test of time remarkably well. The series is also notable for its use of multiplayer on the Game Boy without the need of multiple systems, using a hot-seat mechanic involving passing the system back and forth for turns.

#7:“Valkyria Chronicles” (2008)


Strategy games don’t always have to be top-down or isometric, and Valkyria Chronicles is one of the strongest examples to that point. Putting aside the game’s amazing anime-esque pencil-sketch art style, the gameplay makes this title always worth playing. Switching between a map of the battle and a third-person perspective as you directly control your team, the gameplay to be found here is thoughtful and visceral. As you aim and shoot everything yourself, any failure is on you and your preparation, and less is left to a random dice roll. Few strategy games capture the feel of a battle like Valkyria Chronicles can.

#6:“Heroes of Might and Magic III” (1999)


Might and Magic is a long running RPG series that borrows heavily from table top Role Playing Games, and the spin-off series, Heroes of Might and Magic moves the whole game into a strategy-based formula. In what is considered the pinnacle of the franchise, Heroes of Might and Magic 3 comes with diverse kingdoms to chose from, more units, bigger maps and the best scenario creation tools the franchise has ever seen. Perfecting both the grid-based tactical battles and the turn based over-world, Heroes 3 has all the diversity and excitement of the previous games. When you talk about exploring, building up your kingdom and epic turn-based strategy, heroes 3 takes home a lot of trophies, and left every future instalment with really big shoes to fill."

#5: “Rome: Total War” (2006)


Many strategy games focus on your ability to lead an army and let you micromanage. Rome: Total War’s slow turn-based strategy lets you build an army to your liking with tons of types of units and strategies to formulate around. Each and every move is important, and will have a lasting effect on the overall game. However, when it comes to combat, Total War puts you in a more realistic commander’s seat as the battle unfolds in real time on the field as you give directions to your troops. It’s incredible to see all those well planned steps you took before come together in the intense and sprawling battles Total War allows.

#4:“Final Fantasy Tactics” (1997)


What do you get when you take the most widely known JRPG series and put it in the strategy genre? Success. Final Fantasy Tactics takes everything players love about Final Fantasy and puts it into a game run on isometric grid-system based battles. Tactics was so popular as a spin off that it has spawned 2 sequels and remaster, and has kept its cult following all the while; the original was even recently ported to the iOS. The art direction for the series is phenomenal, and the strategy elements are well designed, leaving players feeling great after a hard battle, especially against a boss.

#3: “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” (2012)


With aliens attacking the Earth from all sides, the entire world needs someone to step up and defend it. That’s where you come in at the beginning of XCOM, as your ability to command the Earth’s forces is really put to the test here. Between managing time and resources outside of battle – it’s really, really hard – and managing your troops in battle, you’ll be needing every trick in the book, as well as a little creativity. With permanent unit deaths and tons of ways for your team to meet its end, XCOM really puts the pressure on in all the right ways.

#2:“Fire Emblem: Awakening” (2013)


Nintendo has a ton of series under their name, but only one appeals to the strategy crowd, and it’s one of the best out there. Despite Fire Emblem’s late journey to the West with the first released here being the 7th installment, the series found its place immediately. Having been followed vehemently since, the game’s signature weapon triangle and anime style has evolved from 2d sprites to 3d models and the gameplay is as tight as ever. With time travel shinanigans allowing for characters to form relationships and have kids that you can use in battle plus the ever looming threat of Perma-death, Fire Emblem stands at the top of console-based strategy games.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions.

“Pokemon Conquest” (2012)
“Age of Wonders 3” (2015)
“Endless Legend” (2014)
“Master of Orion” (1993)

#1:“Civilization V” (2010)


PCs are the home to games that take hours to complete, and it’s no surprise that the top turn-based strategy game is a long one. Cid Meier is the master of these, having created games like Alpha Centauri and Colonization. However, Civilization is the king among his games. Matches play out like a game of Risk, with a single match lasting for a long time, often 4 hours or longer. Regardless though, Civ features some of the most in depth and strategic gameplay around as well as tons of options on how to proceed in a given scenario, leaving players more options to play the way they want.

Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite thinking games? For more thought-provoking top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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