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Turn-Based Tactics

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Turn Based Tactics is a specialized subgenre of Turn-Based Strategy. What makes Tactical games different is their scope: While strategic games (like Risk or Civilization) revolve around the abstract mechanics of efficiently waging war, exploiting resources and controlling huge groups of combatants all at once (whether or not it's readily apparent), tactical games focus on controlling individual soldiers or vehicles. Due to this constricted scope, recruitment and construction take place outside of combat, if they even factor into the game at all.

TBT games tend to place a higher worth on individual units. To accommodate this, detailed grid maps, status rules like stance or facing and a spot high up the Sliding Scale of Turn Realism are common. Backing this up, the combatants themselves tend to be modeled in greater statistical detail, with their load-outs, RPG Elements, Subsystem Damage and morale. Unlike Grand Strategy games, Tactical games often put a hard limit the number of units that can be fielded, meaning that if one is lost it can never be replaced.

As with all Turn-Based Combat games, gameplay alternates between players: Each player has the time to contemplate their next move and execute it, before relinquishing control to the next player. There are some exceptions to this, primarily the Simultaneous Turn Resolution (aka "WEGO") model, in which players formulate and submit their orders for the turn at the same time, and then all soldiers act simultaneously on those orders.

Where Tactical games overlap with Role Playing Games, several other similarities may be involved. In particular, the ability to alter units' equipment and to gain experience (thereby making units stronger as the game progresses).

Some TBT games are self-contained: each match or mission is a singular experience, having no influence on subsequent matches. Most however have a Grand Strategy or Adventure portion that serves to "tie" the matches together, with some large-scale goal to strive towards. Even so, the focus is always on the player's performance in each match. Therefore, Strategic success in such games stems from repeated Tactical success, not the other way around. For example, losing an important territory early on in the Strategic portion of the game may make future Tactical matches a little harder, but failing a single Tactical match may cost you the entire game. This is the opposite of Grand Strategy, where one lost battle rarely means Game Over.

Since the start of the 21st century, TBT games have been in recession in what was their strongest market: the personal computer. The appearance of computers that could easily process gameplay in Real Time attracted a large portion of Strategy Game fans towards Real-Time Strategy in one direction, and towards Tactical Shooters in the other direction. Recent attempts to make TBT games have been based primarily around free online casual matches. Nonetheless, yesterday's TBT games continue to maintain hard-core supporters who refuse to give up easily. The result is that some of these games are still being played long after they've been abandoned by the mainstream fans. Some even continue to top the all-time-favorite videogame lists, year after year.

Compare Strategy RPG. See also Common Tactical Gameplay Elements.

Note that Turn-Based Tactics is a genre. Games where tactical Turn-Based Combat does not form the central gameplay core (such as RPGs) should go under that trope's examples instead.


Alternative Title(s): TBT, Tactical Turn Based