Top 10 Best Turn-Based Strategy Games for PC

The turn-based strategy genre may be all but dead on the PC but the games that were released remain absolutely timeless. Here are ten of the best turn-based strategy titles of all time.

by on 4th May, 2015

Turn-based strategy games have often been dismissed by somewhat closed-minded fans of real-time strategy games as being too slow, arduous and boring. On the contrary, turn-based games can be even more suspenseful than their real-time counterparts. To put it simply, when you know that you're going to die in 10 turns unless you pull off some feat of skill, you're going to do everything you can to change the outcome. Sounds pretty exciting to me. 

This list has been updated with the addition of Civilization: Beyond Earth, Endless Legend and Age of Wonders 3.

2015 Entry - Age of Wonders 3 (with Eternal Lords and Golden Realms expansions)

Age of Wonders 3 is the latest title in the long-running series of games from Triumph (the first of which is already on this list). It represents the latest generation of fantasy-themed turn-based strategy games, offering great strategic as well as tactical gameplay with its overland and battle screen modes, respectively. 

The addition of its two released expansion packs: Golden Realms and Eternal Lords brings massive improvements to the base game. 

Late 2014 Entry - Endless Legend

Amplitude's Endless Legend is a game that definitely deserves a spot on this list. Released in 2014, it remains to this date a deeply engaging turn-based strategy title. Strategy in the game manifests through the myriad of diverse factions, all of which play differently from one another, with different gameplay styles and end-goals. Culture has never been more complicated (and enjoyable) in a strategy game as with Endless Legend. 

Late 2014 Entry - Civilization: Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth is easily one of the best turn-based strategy games in recent years. The various factions and Affinities will ensure multiple, robust playthroughs, each presenting unique scenarios that will encourage the player to strategize in challenging new ways with each file. 


XCOM: Enemy Unknown

xcom enemy unknown

Firaxis's XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a worthy successor to the turn-based strategy game series by Microprose—classics from almost two decades ago. It's been a long time coming, and Firaxis put their best foot forward in re-creating the spirit of the original game.

Revived by the makers of Civilization, the new XCOM streamlines everything that made the original title a little annoying to play through and improves upon all of its best qualities for a modern, turn-based strategy game that's like no other.

XCOM's popularity and success is proof of the strength of turn-based strategy games, which have stood the test of time despite being declared 'dead' a million times over.

X-Com: UFO Defense

xcom ufo defence

X-Com: UFO Defense isn't one of the earliest turn-based strategy games, but it's certainly one of the best. As aliens from Mars invade the earth, an international task force called X-Com is formed to counter the threat with funding from the world's various governments. As leader of X-Com, you have to invest in bases to recruit and train military personnel, purchase and manufacture equipment, and research material collected from the field to improve your odds against the xenos. 

While the game allows you to manage your bases, the game's meat and bones are in the combat missions. As time progresses, the aliens carry out sporadic terrorist attacks on civilian populations and it becomes your job to send out a team to deal with them. In the field, you're in control of an entire squad of operatives. The game is notable for its high tension missions, where your soldiers go up against forces unknown who can attack you from out of sight. Careful planning, reconnaissance and proper use of your soldiers goes a long way to ensuring success.

Master of Magic 

master of magic

Master of Magic looks like the child of Civilization and Lord of the Rings. But it's more than just Fantasy Civilization. Released in 1995 and created by the now defunct Simtex, Master of Magic was the first game of its kind to feature both empire building and a tactical turn-based battles. 

As an archmage vying for dominion over the land against other powerful wizards, you had to first choose a patron race, which provided you with a myriad of bonuses, penalties and special abilities. One of the races even began in the mirror world of Myrran, which was a reflection of the real world, replete with its own set of heroes, cities, resources and dungeons. You had to also choose spellbooks, which allowed you to cast a variety of spells based on the schools of magic that you picked. 

While much of the game consists of building up your empire, the turn-based battles are just as much a part of the Master of Magic experience. You can recruit heroes who approach you seeking service in exchange for payment and use them to lead your armies to conquest. Battles are played out in an isometric map similar to Final Fantasy Tactics and your actions determine your victory or failure. 

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