Probably the oldest type of game, Turn-Based Strategy games are a type of Strategy Game
which are generally wholly abstract, or a kind of military simulator. The players take command of a number of pieces or units, and then take turns manipulating them over a playing area usually marked with a rectangular or hexagonal grid. In each turn, player actions typically consist of some combination of moving a unit, attacking an enemy unit
, or exploiting natural resources, most often by recruiting more units or building more fixed facilities. Typically, each unit can move, then undergo one other action per turn. Play typically concludes when some specific objective has been reached, especially the destruction of all enemy units (or all enemy structures,) though timed games are also common.
TBS games derive from traditional board games, tabletop wargames
, and the miniature tabletop battles used by real generals and historians to practice and conduct actual wars for millennia. Many computer TBS titles use similar grid maps, hit and damage systems, and unit balance concepts to their earlier dice-and-paper equivalents. Recreational miniature wargaming is, however, Older Than They Think
, with an early set of rules invented by H. G. Wells
for tin soldiers in 1900! Many ancient boardgames, including Chess
, are predecessors of this genre, making it at least Older Than Feudalism
, possibly Older Than Dirt
Today, TBS has lost popularity to Real-Time Strategy
, which is essentially the same style of play without the turn structure, its main advantage being the ability to handle larger number of players and units without increasing the duration of any given match. Nonetheless, some players still prefer the turn-based structure (even if only for single-player games) because of its greater allowance for long-term strategizing and precise execution. A huge difference between the style of play in a Real-Time Strategy
is that you have to think on your feet as much as you have to think ahead. In a Turn-Based Strategy
, more emphasis is on thinking ahead and taking time to plot your moves and consider other possibilities.
One compromise between TBS and RTS games is Pausable Realtime
, although it's still impractical in multiplayer. Another compromise is Simultaneous Turn Resolution, aka "WEGO", in which players formulate and submit their orders for the turn at the same time, then all are resolved (executed) at the same time — this gives more or less Real Time with Pause
where pauses are fixed. Another compromise is Turn-Based Strategy, Real Time Combat
, where strategic gameplay is turn-based, but tactical engagements take place in Real Time
TBS games are also more common on handhelds than on set-tops. In fact, some normally realtime series have been converted to this genre for handheld installments. Turn based strategy stands up especially well to the limited computational muscle and controls of handhelds, not to mention that turns are suitable to spurts of frequently interrupted casual play
The major variation between sub-genres in TBS is the scale of its action, which spans everything from squad-level individual combat (which, owing to the lack or greatly simplified resource management and production, is known as Turn-Based Tactics
) through international conflicts all the way up to controlling whole worlds or galaxies. Larger-scale games often devolve from violent conflict into general competitive empire-building simulations with the possibility for non-violent victory, at which point they become so-called "4X
" (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) or “Grand Strategy” games.
For tropes common to all strategy genres as a whole, see Strategy Game Tropes
Compare Strategy RPG
, which is this genre crossed with the Eastern RPG
- Advanced Strategic Command
- Age of Empires on the Nintendo DS, unlike the main RTS series on PC.
- Age of Wonders (1, 2, and Shadow Magic)
- Age Of Wonders 3
- Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
- Archon has its turn-based portion serve as the frame to a series of arcade-style battles.
- Battle Chess
- Battle for Wesnoth
- Bionic Dues
- Block Five
- Buzz Aldrin Race Into Space.
- Call to Power
- Civilization: Beyond Earth
- Civil War Generals
- Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator
- Conquest Of Elysium 2
- Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!
- Delve Deeper
- Elemental - War of Magic, intended partially as a Spiritual Successor to Master of Magic.
- Walter Bright's 1978 Empire series is quite possibly the first TBS game, influencing the entire genre.
- Endless Legend
- Endless Space
- End War on handhelds, unlike it's Console/PC counterpart.
- Fallen Haven
- Fate Of The World
- Galactic Civilizations
- Graviteam Tactics
- Heroes of Might and Magic
- Heroic Armies Marching
- Jones In The Fast Lane
- King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame has a World Map where manual combat is realtime.
- King's Bounty
- League Of Angels
- Making History, which combines this with Grand Strategy.
- Master of Magic (spinoff of the 4X Master of Orion series)
- Lords Of Magic
- March Of War
- Massive Chalice
- Master Of Monsters
- M.A.X.: Mechanized Assault & Exploration
- MoonBase Commander
- Mother Of All Battles
- The Perfect General series
- The Panzer General series (plus spinoffs like Allied, Star, etc…)
- SSI's first and third Warhammer 40,000 games, (Final Liberation & Rites of War) made using the same engines as the Panzer General series.
- Rise of Nations: The campaign mode's "Risk"-Style Map works this way, switching to Real-Time Strategy when battle is joined.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- Shattered Union
- Solium Infernum
- Space Empires
- Spaceward Ho!
- Star Control (the first game's Full Game mode)
- Sid Meiers Starships
- The Star Trek Text Game, possibly the first, from 1971.
- Sword of the Stars
- Ten Minute Space Strategy
- The Last Federation: Its combat is turn based and the real time portion works like a turn based one.
- Total War: An interesting hybrid, with a continent-scale strategic turn-based game that jumps to Pausable Realtime battles for resolving conflicts between opposing armies.
- Unity Of Command
- Wing Commander Armada, which combined this with simulated space combat.