Good turn-based strategy games exercise your mind and grow your tactical acumen while also providing a very unique brand of satisfaction. Unlike their real-time counterparts, turn-based strategy games give you plenty of time to calculate every possibility before you finally play your piece. And that’s one of the reasons these types of games cater to both hardcore and casual people.
Today, I shall review the top 40 turn-based strategy games of all time (PC, Android, Switch, PS). Some of these are battle tactics simulators while others are 4X grand strategy games involving everything from economy management to politics and diplomacy. Generally speaking, the best turn-based strategy games are found on PC and console, while more “casualized” affairs make their way to mobile devices.
Top 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games Of All Time For PC
Possibly one of the most tactically diverse and immersive strategy games ever designed, Civilization VI is a true masterpiece. Everything you do has lasting consequences down the road, and there are at least 2 or 3 paths to achieving any given objective. After all, this is a 4X grand strategy game.
You build up an empire from nothing, over the course of several millennia. There are various ways to become a superpower- rapid technological advancement, diplomatic relationships, militaristic expansion, etc. Civilization VI introduces the use of specialized districts that exist outside the central city, and technological trees that change depending on nearby terrain.
The first game showed an international united special forces org being formed to fight off invasive alien forces that were trying to take over Earth. XCOM 2 starts off by showing us that the aliens have won the war, and now humanity fights a guerilla war with a few remaining fighters. These resistance forces oppose the dictatorial rule established by an alien government, and enforced by their military.
XCOM 2 has slightly tighter pacing compared to its predecessor, thanks to the new time-gated objectives on each map. A new cover system combined with procedurally generated maps and mod support adds immense depth to the already excellent gameplay. The narrative has also been given higher emphasis this time, taking inspiration from sci-fi movies such as Oblivion and Elysium.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 35 MOBA Games Of All Time (Android, iOS, PC)
Total War: Warhammer II
A unique blend of turn-based and real-time strategy elements, Total War: Warhammer II is truly one of a kind. It tells an epic fantasy tale set in the Warhammer universe, allowing you to choose from 4 distinct races. Depending on which race you choose, your campaign narrative and tactical options will vary significantly from playthrough to playthrough.
Total War: Warhammer II utilizes turn-based control for empire building and army maneuvering on the world map. You forge alliances, conquer new territories, upgrade technology, and arm your best warriors with mythical gear in the turn-based campaign. But once you get into combat with thousands of troops fighting on gigantic battlefields, the action shifts to real-time.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
Possibly the best sci-fi strategy game you will ever play. Sid Mier’s Alpha Centauri is still excellent over 2 decades after its original release. It combines writing inspired by plots from Stanley Kubrick and Isaac Asimov with the gameplay from Civilization.
Conceived as a spiritual successor to Civilization, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri takes you into the 22nd century. A coalition of human space colonizers lands on a planet in the Alpha Centauri solar system. Only to discover that the planet is sentient, thanks to experiments in vast distributed nervous systems conducted by a race of aliens called the Progenitors.
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius- Relics of War
This one is particularly noteworthy because it’s the very first 4X grand strategy game to be set in the Warhammer universe. For those who aren’t acquainted with strategy game terminology, 4X stands for (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate). In 4X games, you expand your empire through both conquest and diplomacy (technological superiority also plays a hand).
The strategy in Warhammer 40k: Gladius unfolds over an extended period, rather than short individual battles. There are 4 playable factions with huge amounts of backstory attached for those who are interested in Warhammer lore. Compared to Civilization, Gladius places a lot more emphasis on unit placement and stats which makes micro-management on the battlefield feel way more impactful.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 40 Sandbox Games Of All Time (PC, PS, Android, Xbox)
Back in the 80s, BattleTech was the hottest sci-fi mech combat tabletop sensation. It has lore as deep and varied as Warhammer, with a legacy spanning several games and novels since the fast 3 decades. BattleTech even had an animated TV series back in the 90s and was quite popular in arcades.
This new BattleTech turn-based game then is a return to mech combat supremacy. If you want awesome mech action with a side of simulation and economy management, it’s hard to beat BattleTech 2018. From the excellent combat to the randomized dice rolls that decide which part of an enemy you hit; this is the closest you’ll get to tabletop BattleTech.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Much like other Total War games, Three Kingdoms features 2 different sides. One is the turn-based strategic planning phase in which you expand your empire by establishing diplomatic relationships and progressing technology. Then, there’s the real-time battlefield action phase in which you command a massive army with a general to demolish those who would oppose your kingdom.
The game itself is set within the world of a 14th-century Chinese novel called “Romance of Three Kingdoms”. It depicts a phase in early Chinese history when the land was ruled by warlords constantly in battle with each other (much like Feudal Japan). Your goal is to choose from one of 12 warlords and unite the nation, both through alliances and conquests.
Humankind is a game set in a “what if?” alternate universe where you get to change the course of history. The game is a 4X strategy similar to Civilization, but with a few unique additions of its own. For instance, there is the fame system that decides the winner at the end of a game run.
You go through various ages, do missions (like going to Mars), and complete achievements on the technological tree. Each world at the start of a run is randomly generated, and you choose from one many historical civilization templates. After this, you go through different phases (neolithic, medieval, industrial) while mixing and matching cultures as you please to create unique civilizations.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 30 RTS Games Of All Time That You Must Play
Set in a medieval fantasy world complete with dragons and dwarfs, Battle Brothers is one of the most fun experiences you’ll have with a turn-based game. You lead your very own mercenary company in a procedurally generated world with an open map that lets you go anywhere and do anything. While you can recruit new warriors along the way and train existing ones to make them better, beware of permadeath.
Battle Brothers can feel like a roguelike at times because of the procedural world and permadeath mechanics (not to mention the turn-based gameplay). You can shape each character into whichever role you want as they gain experience since there is no rigid class system. Weapon selection actually matters because they grant different effects during battle (axes split shields, maces stun, etc.).
Panzer Corps 2
If you liked the WW2 setting of Company of Heroes and the attention to detail in armor vehicles sims, you’re going to love this game. Panzer Corps 2 puts you in charge of a Wehrmacht panzer formation. You must make tactical decisions on the fly to keep your tanks and crews alive on the battlefield while progressing from one theater of war to another.
The game lets you play as every major European power in WW2. And you have an arsenal of over 1000 units that are meticulously modeled to be historically accurate. Weather, positioning, terrain, weapon selection, armor composition, spotting, and other mechanics turn each fight into a complex game of tactical outmaneuvering.
Top 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games Of All Time For Android
Rome: Total War
Like other Total War games, this one uses a mix of real-time strategy and turn-based tactics. It is set between 270BC and 14AD, towards the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Imperial Period. You can choose from one of three Roman families at the start, with non-Roman playable parties unlocked later in the game.
You have an extremely large empire to govern and expand. This includes much of Europe, North Africa, and parts of West Asia. Battle objectives can vary, although most of the time you are tasked with eliminating all enemy forces/ sieging a fortified position.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 40 Roguelike Games Of All Time (Android, Switch, PC, PS)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf
Most mobile card games are colorful and cartoony, targeted at kids and teenagers. But this game is a grimdark epic tale full of conflict and morally grey paradigms in which you command your very own Space Wolf team. The setting is in a sci-fi universe where you lead a team of elite warriors on a distant volcano planet against barbarian forces.
The branching storyline of this game makes for some interesting moral choices along the way, almost like an RPG. Combat feels very satisfying thanks to the massive weapon variety combined with an excellent squad customization system. Along the way, you gain new cards and upgrade your warriors.
The Battle for Polytopia
Set in the fictional world of Polytopia, you play as one of 16 tribes to see who becomes the greatest power. The cute, pixelated graphics and bright colors hide a deeply immersive 4X strategy game. It’s not as open-ended as Civilization, nor does it have a map as large as any of the Total War games.
Still, for mobile devices, this game is easily one of the best turn-based strategies that can be enjoyed anywhere at any time. You explore the world, meet new tribes, establish diplomatic relations, train soldiers, and participate in battles against rival tribes. The game has both offline single-player and online multiplayer, with 3 different game modes.
Fire Emblem Heroes
This is a Fire Emblem tactical RPG developed specifically for mobile devices. The gameplay is like a mix of chess and an action JRPG, with a team of heroes fighting each other on an 8×6 grid. The terrain type of each tile decides where you can move your unit, plus the movement range for units can vary.
For instance, cavalry can move further than heavy infantry but it can’t go into forests. Then, you have flying units that can go anywhere. The game uses a rock paper scissors system to decide how much damage one unit does against another, based on their inherent strengths and weaknesses.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 40 JRPG Games Of All Time (PC, PS, PSP, Switch)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
In 2012, Firaxis rebooted the dormant X-COM sci-fi strategy series that had been lying dormant since the 1990s. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you fight a multi-faceted war against invading alien forces. All the top powers from across the globe have united to create a paramilitary force called XCOM.
You take your squad of specialists into battle against alien forces across various urban environments. On the side, you also have to manage your organization’s economy by allocating funds and time towards the research of captured alien tech. Combat features the use of active camouflage and cover systems.
Warhammer 40,000: Regicide
Despite its lukewarm commercial success and mixed reviews, Warhammer 40K: Regicide is a brilliant strategy game with a rich narrative and immersive gameplay. You can choose from 2 factions- Space Marines or Ork Clans. And there are over 50 single-player campaign missions that are each fully voiced, alongside two game modes.
In Regicide mode, you have multiple phases per turn to plan out your moves on a grid. In Classic mode, you follow regular Chess rules. The game has both single and multiplayer modes, with a global leaderboard.
Civilization Revolution 2
Revolution is a stripped-down version of the regular Civilization game, designed for mobile users (still designed by Sid Meier). This is the 2nd Revolution game, and it improves upon a lot of the concepts established by its predecessor while also adding some cool new stuff. In Revolution 2, you can choose from one of several leaders and build a prefabbed empire.
Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, etc. are all returning leaders from the previous revolution game. You get to choose between America, Russia, Japan, Britain, etc. for your empire, which you build up into the world’s strongest power. You can win the game by capturing enemy capitals, controlling the global bank system, imposing your own culture on other nations, or making extreme advancements in science.
The Banner Saga 2
A Viking interactive animated series mixed with a turn-based RPG, that’s The Banner Saga 2 in a nutshell. It builds on the story of its predecessor while also introducing new playable units, enemies, and objectives. If you have the first game installed (and completed), your choices carry over to this one as well.
The original game was criticized by many for lacking diversity in unit types and win conditions, which the developers made sure to fix with this one. And a branching narrative driven by player choice ensures you’ll come back for multiple playthroughs. It isn’t just the combat that makes this game so good, but the management stuff you do behind the scenes to grow your forces and make them stronger.
It’s a turn-based strategy RPG with roguelike elements. And yes, I know- that’s a whole lot of genres mashed into one mobile game with SNES era graphics. But don’t worry, Hoplite is actually a very enjoyable tactics simulator that’s both mentally stimulating and easy to pick up.
You start with a limited number of lives on a procedurally generated map with hexagonal grids. There are enemies, traps, and treasures scattered across each level. But you have to plan your moves carefully otherwise you might end up dying which means losing all your upgrades and money.
It’s like Company of Heroes, but set in a futuristic sci-fi universe (and playable on your mobile device). While Company of Heroes is real-time, this is a turn-based strategy that uses hexagonal grid maps. However, many of the concepts are similar.
You have multiple warring factions trying to take control of each other’s territory. You capture bases, gain resources, and use those resources to produce more units. There are 3 playable races, each with 8 basic and 3 unlockable unit types.
Top 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games Of All Time For Switch
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Derived from the Mutant series of Swedish tabletop RPGs, Road to Eden is a fascinating turn-based strategy. It isn’t set in some high fantasy lands like Dungeons & Dragons, but in an apocalyptic world populated by mutants. There are humans with special powers and mutated animals, who have created factions and are constantly engaged in battle.
The combat system of this game is truly amazing. It manages to combine stealth movement with modern weaponry and cover systems in a way that reminds me of XCOM. The narrative is set in a post-human world that was destroyed by global conflict and pandemics, featuring some pretty interesting characters.
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock
A turn-based strategy in which you control your very own fleet of giant galaxy traveling spaceships, fighting for the Colonial Fleet. There are several different ship classes with each fulfilling a unique role thanks to their differences in speed, armor, weaponry, etc. You can deploy your fleet of battleships from a mobile shipyard the size of an entire city.
Apart from all these battles between organized factions, you also have to deal with backroom politics and pirate attacks in space. You can also recruit new officers to manage your fleet of ships on the battlefield, and manage alliances with other colonies in space.
The Banner Saga 3
The 3rd part of an epic Viking tale, this game is the successor to The Banner Saga 2 which is one of my top turn-based Android strategy games. The Banner Saga 3 is a mix of story-driven role-playing and tactical combat featuring fantasy characters from Norse mythology. Of course, your choices carry over from the first two games if you have them installed.
And like previous Banner Saga titles, this one also has branching storylines. Except, everything is larger and more epic. There are new allies, enemies, playable heroes, etc. for you to have fun with on the battlefield.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Disgaea is a game series known for its quirky anime characters comprised of antiheroes working in conjunction with heroic characters who act as foils for your playable characters. What really makes Disgaea stand out from other tactical RPGs is its focus on advanced combat mechanics. You fight AI-driven foes on a grid-based battlefield with multiple levels of elevation.
Characters are summoned in by the party leader, and these “heroes” can execute a wide variety of offensive/ defensive maneuvers. If you are standing next to a character, both of you have a randomized chance to execute a combo-attack on the enemy. Certain characters act like springboards, throwing their party members into parts of the map they wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
Its turn-based strategic battles aren’t anything to write home about, but Wargroove excels by combining a good story with game mechanics that are easy to understand. This makes this one of the most accessible turn-based tactics simulators for anyone who is new to the genre. Plus, there is endless room for replayability thanks to the overworld editor that lets you link maps together and modify the narrative paths.
At the start, you select 1 playable hero character out of 15. Depending on which character you select, you will have different objectives in the campaign. Each hero has different personal motivations and personalities which lends itself to wildly different mission objectives and dialogue.
Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle
The mushroom kingdom has been attacked by a new evil, so Mario and his gang of colorful heroes must rise to the occasion. This time, it’s the Rabbids- a family of mischievous little devils who look like mutated rabbits. These guys are from the Raving Rabbids game franchise created by Ubisoft, brought into a crossover with the Mario universe.
It plays like a Mario World game but uses turn-based tactics instead of platforming. There are multiple levels, each hiding a boss and several treasures in the overworld. You control Mario and the gang, capable of executing up to 3 commands in each turn.
It’s a roguelike deck builder with basic yet engaging turn-based strategic combat. You are a prophet guiding social outcasts throw an uncharted land filled with all kinds of monsters. Each time you play through the game, it gives you a different world map because of procedural generation.
Combat is done via cards that contain all your skills and stats. Your team of outcasts can also get in on the action, and their skills are also represented by cards. Along the way you gain new cards as you beat enemies which you can use to adjust your deck to deal with more powerful enemies.
A turn-based strategy that tells the story of a doomed space mission. Tharsis is a region on Mars, and one day we get a cryptic signal that prompts an excursion to investigate it. What we looked forward to as the first manned Mars mission quickly turned into a horrific disaster.
The spaceship got caught up in a meteor storm on its way to Mars, and two astronauts were killed as a result of the damage. Your goal is to get to Mars by managing ship repairs, crew health, etc. while also trying to maintain your sanity. This is a survival strategy game about making do on extremely limited resources.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The only Switch exclusive on this list, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is set in a fantasy land ruled with 3 mega kingdoms. Each kingdom is governed by a ruling house, all of whom are at peace with each other. You play a mysterious professor who teaches students the art of fighting in a monastery.
You choose one of the three houses to be your students, and the narrative changes depending on the house you select. The three houses engage in military drills with each other, which take place via turn-based combat on grids. You can build relationships with your students and do extracurricular activities.
Possibly the least “grindy” card game out there, Faeria uses a living board in all of its battles. Basically, there are 4 mana wells on each of the 4 corners as you start the match. Matches are played 1 v 1 with a variety of creatures on the board.
The board itself is divided into various tiles that belong to unique biomes. You can place a tile card on the board to modify the nature of the terrain. There are forests, lakes, mountains, plains, deserts, etc.
Top 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games Of All Time For PS(PlayStation)
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
You control the Arbiter Kyrie in a steampunk fantasy world full of warring kingdoms. There is a class system with 30 choices and 300 unique abilities for you to play with. You can mix and match items to create the fighter of your choice- whether it be a spell casting tank or an assassin mage.
The story is nothing special, but it does introduce you to some really well-designed campaign levels. Plus, you get a bunch of loot as you progress through the story, allowing you to customize your team even further.
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fight a blitzkrieg war in the 41st century with space marines, fighter jets, robots, and tanks? Wonder no more because Warhammer 40K: Battlesector is here to scratch that itch. It introduces several amazing mechanics like the Surge system and the ability to call in air support.
The weapons and abilities in this game are almost as varied as the units themselves. From missile boats to mechanized infantry, this game has it all. Each faction gets access to a unique set of military units, meaning that no two battles will ever be the same.
Ruined King: A League Of Legends Story
You might have heard about League of Legends, it’s the most popular MOBA game out there. Recently, Riot even released an excellent anime called Arcane that takes you deeper into the lore of League. For those of you who are more interested in the story side of things, meet Ruined King- an excellent turn-based tactical RPG.
Ruined King uses a unique initiative system derived from the concept of lanes in MOBA games. This decides who gets to act first and in which order. You have 6 familiar champions from League, coming together in a quest to seek the origins of the Black Mist.
A game about James Bond wannabes doing corporate espionage for a secret org. They sneak around, infiltrating top security facilities sporting security measures that wouldn’t look out of place in an Ocean’s movie. You can recruit specialists from all over the world, each with a unique set of skills that help you infiltrate certain enemy bases.
But be careful, because getting caught in a trap or firefight could cost the life of your precious agents. Of course, you can always recruit more. But mission levels are procedurally generated, so you’ll be going in blind with a rookie agent.
Star Renegades is a game that forces you to make tough tactical choices on the battlefield, and you live with the consequences till the end. For instance, enemy officers who survive in battles with you will gain experience and move up in ranks. If you fall in battle, you can send a message to other universes warning them of the incoming enemy invasion.
Each universe is procedurally generated to be unique, so your battle tactics will vary significantly from one playthrough to the next. There is a randomized AI mechanic called Adversary which automatically evolves bosses and enemy units as you fight them. Not only do you have to change strategies from one universe to another, but also in your current one as enemies become smarter and more capable.
A game that puts you in charge of a global spy ring, taking upon one dangerous mission after another. And the stakes are quite high because failure could result in a catastrophic military conflict between the world’s two biggest superpowers. Phantom Doctrine is set in 1983, during the height of the Cold War.
You aren’t picking sides because you run spies for both nations (KGB and CIA). Each turn must be calculated with consideration for your environment because getting caught is not an option. You have a mix of detective and stealth elements in this game as you piece together information from several missions to get answers.
Space Hulk: Tactics
Based on the Space Hulk board game within Warhammer 40K, this game lets you choose between two different factions. You can play as Space Marines or Genestealers, fighting within a Space Hulk (giant mass of asteroids and space stations). You have two campaign scenarios for Blood Angels and one where you play as the Genestealer aliens.
You can build a custom squad with mixed units from 4 different Space Marine chapters. There is multiplayer and a map-creation/ editor tool to customize levels and create your own. A card system has been integrated to spice up gameplay by providing boosts and new abilities at key points in battle.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus
Mechanicus is a game that lets you play the most technologically advanced faction in the Imperium. Known as the Adeptus Mechanicus, their tech-priests bless soldiers with divine technology to use against any who stand in their way. Over time, you gather new technology and upgrade your tech priests’ bodies.
Within various levels, you can find power-ups and other bonus items to improve your performance in battle. And there are character classes, each bringing unique abilities onto the field that encourage you to switch up your tactics.
A side scroller sci-fi shooter in which you control steampunk pirate robots who hijack enemy spaceships filled with more robots. Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense but the gameplay is quite engaging. Plus, it’s really easy to pick up and play- you’ll learn all the basic game mechanics within mere minutes.
This isn’t some grand 4X strategy, nor is it a tabletop-inspired RPG predicated on chance. In SteamWorld Heist your skill determines how many enemies you kill. There are specialized weapons that scatter and bounce their projectiles, plus you can upgrade these weapons with attachments to add new capabilities.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
It’s like Civilization in space, with all the intricate politics and empire-building. However, there is a lot more focus on action elements which is evident from the wide variety of weapon types and units. Two of the playable factions are dinosaur-riding Amazons and cyborg-zombies, so imagine what kind of weaponry this game has.
One thing that makes this game so visually appealing is the wide variety of environments. From lush plains to rainforests and futuristic megacities, Age of Wonders: Planetfall has it all.
Turn-based strategy games come in many forms- deck builders, action, space sim, etc. No matter which type of subgenre you prefer, there is guaranteed to be a game in this list that interests you. Because of how turn-based games work, you can stream them and have a chat with your audience without disrupting your actions.
Turn-based games are also great for people with kids because every turn precedes a natural pause in the flow of gameplay. You can easily play a turn-based strategy while drinking some coffee and browsing your phone. By design, they are more relaxing and slower-paced compared to real-time strategy games.