11 Best Turn-Based Strategy Games in 2015

These XCOM aliens definitely do not come in peace.

If being tactical appeals to you, then you will love these games!

Strategy games make up the true player-choice genre; player’s decisions and reactions to the situations they are faced with entirely determine the outcome of their game. They require meticulous thought and action, particularly in the case of turn-based strategy games. 

Over the duration of each turn, players take the time to consider their options and, hopefully, choose the best one suited to what is in front of them. This is different from real-time strategy games, another amazing genre, because there is a significant amount of time allotted for the player to analyze the actions they can take, rather than being stuck in a split-second decision. 

Here are eleven of the best turn-based strategy games you’ll want to take the time to think about – and play! These games are not only fun, they are a rewarding massage for your brain! 

11. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

An interactive trailer for Enemy Unknown 

Let’s start with what is undoubtedly one of the best games of all time. At its release, XCOM: Enemy Unknown revived the turn-based strategy video game genre through its beautiful story-telling and contemporary style. It brought tactics into an incomparably breath-taking modern environment. 

In Enemy Unknown, players control a commander and get to know their soldiers by directing them through an alien invasion. These characters depend on player choices and are not infallible; there is even a memorial wall in the game specifically to honor your fallen soldiers. 
Missions take a turn-based format, and players can also control resources, research projects, and manage other jobs in between their intense battles. 

Strategy is the main component of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Because each decision made in a turn matters so much, the game is a potentially perfect candidate to replay over and over; you never know how a different approach to both combat and non-combat situations could affect your endgame! 

10. XCOM: Enemy Within

The intense Enemy Within trailer

XCOM: Enemy Within is an expansion of the beloved XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It features all of the core gameplay elements of Enemy Unknown, but adds several interesting elements that change the game for the better!

One example is a new resource called Meld, which is pivotal to the extra content and story added by Enemy Within. There is the new concept of being superhuman-like, and Meld allows players to earn those technologies so their characters may reach their full potential. 

Enemy Within continues to expand Enemy Unknown by including new maps and abilities, as well as a new class and faction. If you are planning to try out XCOM: Enemy Unknown, definitely get your hands on the Enemy Without expansion as well!

9. Shadowrun: Dragonfall

A flashy trailer for this masterpiece 

Shadowrun: Dragonfall welcomes players into its enticing, cyber-punk universe with gorgeous prose and decisions that matter on every turn. Furthermore, the world’s technological innovations beg the question of what it means to be human – or, conversely, what it means to be a robot. A diverse group of teammates will also test your humanity.

The strategic combat in Shadowrun: Dragonfall is interesting and enormous. There are hundreds of weapons and spells each team member can use against the mystical enemies that act under Great Dragon Feuerschwinge’s control. Players must think hard about each choice they make, whether that means expansive magic attacks, quick melee whacks, or even going into hiding to prevent further damage! 

Shadowrun: Dragonfall is perfect for players who like having plenty of options for combat and enjoy an immersive environment that features both fantastical and sci-fi elements! 

8. Shadowrun: Hong Kong

The latest in Shadowrun fun!

While Shadowrun: Dragonfall takes place in an anarchic Germany, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, as one might expect, is based in Hong Kong. It expands on the concept of Dragonfall, but with key improvements and in yet another outstanding environment.

The UI has been revamped for better, more intuitive gameplay. The characters are even more beloved. The amazing world is still amazing. 

Everything about Shadowrun: Hong Kong is an evolution of Shadowrun: Dragonfall, and both are incredible turn-based strategy games worth playing in 2015! 

7. Civilization V

Show-stopping E3 trailer for Civilization V!

Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a gargantuan turn-based strategy game that allows players to control civilizations that expand throughout the course of the game. Every turn affects your civilization, whether that means starting a war, building a zoo, forming a religion, or crossing an ocean to settle a new city. After your civilization’s turn, other civilizations, which can be played by both real players or AI, and city-states take their own turn in response to yours.

The possibilities for a civilization are limitless. One could be focused on militaristic goals, another could want to spread their religion throughout the entire world, and yet another could simply want nice, diplomatic relationships with their neighbors. 

It is important to make decisions tactically, as resources, such as food, horses, and gems, play a big part in the success of a city. You want to choose a bountiful area or else your citizens may just starve – or at least never multiply. All leaders have certain bonuses to look out for, and should be chosen wisely to suit your play style at the beginning of the game.

Civilization V is definitely among the best turn-based strategy games. Anyone who is interested in the genre should know this gem, where there is something exciting for every type of player. 

6. Armello

The cute launch trailer for Armello

Armello is a brand new release, which received a little help from a Kickstarter project and lots of influence from physical board games. Up to four players can play together in hopes to fulfill a single, simple quest – to become the king or queen of their kingdom. Cards and dice are implemented for a genuine-feeling, turn-based experience, but as a video game, Armello utilizes randomly-generated elements to keep each experience fresh.

Another modern feature of Armello is its day-night cycle – something that very obviously could not exist in pre-computer board games. It is dynamic, things changing depending on the apparent time of day. 

Armello also features an animal-only cast of characters, so it is lots of cute fun. Give this little game a shot! Armello is a nice new addition to turn-based strategy games in 2015. 

5. Alpha Centauri

The official Alpha Centauri trailer 

Alpha Centauri, like Civilization V, is a turn-based strategy game by Sid Meier. They are considered to be cousins, in a sense, as part of the same series despite the fact that Alpha Centauri does not technically bear the Civilization namesake. 

The science-fiction story of Alpha Centauri somehow blends seamlessly with its tactical gameplay. It is different than Civilization in that respect; Civilization works from the beginning of time, forward to the future, while Alpha Centauri is an already-established future that players develop further. Besides that, they are similar in exploring, combat, building, the need for resources, and even how success can be achieved. 

Released in 1999, Alpha Centauri remains a pivotal turn-based strategy game even in 2015. Critics and fans alike are head over heels in love with this game, and rightfully so! 

4. Worms 

The 1995 Worms trailer – what a classic!

Worms is a quirky turn-based strategy game with both military and comedic components. Essentially, players control worms that are at war with each other and need carefully considered tactics to reach victory. Victory means being the last worm standing. 

Not only is the concept appealing, the gameplay is absolutely addicting and fun! You will not be able to play enough. 

The first Worms game may have been released in 1995, but the series continues to live on even today with the latest released this year. It is one of the best turn-based strategy game series to play whether it is the year 2000 or 2015. 

3. Shogun: Total War

A peek back in time at the first Total War game

Shogun: Total War is another turn-based strategy game that is the start of an amazing, long-lasting series. Like the Worms series, Total War games are still being released to date, with the newest one being announced just a few months back.

Shogun has the historical elements of Civilization games, but instead focuses solely on samurai from 15th Century to 17th Century Japan. Players choose a clan rather than a civilization. The concepts of religion, diplomacy, and military action remain true, however. 

Total War is both a turn-based strategy game and a real-time strategy game, which means that player decisions are especially important. This unique format is more than worth playing, particularly with the new Total War game on the horizon! 

2. Frozen Synapse 

Check out the amazing style of Frozen Synapse

Frozen Synapse is a hit independent turn-based strategy game. Players control soldiers in a threatening, cyberpunk future with the intention of eliminating the ‘bad guys.’ 

There are multiple modes in Frozen Synapse, which gives it a unique edge over other games in the genre. Mission types include escorts, protecting or taking hostages, a simple deathmatch, and even more as established through downloadable content. Moreover, Frozen Synapse has a multiplayer mode as well as a single-player mode.

Every turn is important because there are many intricacies of what players can instruct a soldier to do. Even their speed and direction-facing are controllable. 

Indie turn-based strategy games are almost a genre all their own, and in 2015, it’s time gamers embrace that! Frozen Synapse is a great way to start. 

1. Heroes of Might and Magic III

Trailer for the recent HD remake of this classic game! 

Heroes of Might and Magic III is a fan favorite of the Heroes of Might and Magic series, which boasts incredible games from the mid-nineties all the way to modern days. 

Fantasy runs strong in HoMM3. Every creature in the game (and series as a whole) is based in myth and legend! Naturally, exploration is a big deal in such a setting, and the two levels of environment (above and below ground) make that especially true. 

Upon levelling up a character in HoMM3, careful decisions about what skills to give them must be made. It will impact the entirety of the game. Combat is another leading factor of whether your HoMM3 run will be a success.

Everybody loves Heroes of Might and Magic for its out of this world depth and grandeur. It is never too late to get into this turn-based strategy game series! 

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