When the turn order in a video game, usually strategy or RPG, is shown in a way that tells the player the next several turns of (usually) everyone involved in a battle or challenge. The form is usually a stack or line of headshots of the characters and enemies.
Thus if Alice and Bob are at the first and second positions respectively, and the Blob Monster they are fighting is third, then Alice will get the first move, Bob will get the second, and the blob will go third.
This can have a number of effects:
- One is letting the player(s) plan out the next few rounds instead of one round at a time.
- Another is that someone's speed stat tends to become the One Stat to Rule Them All, as not only will faster characters get turns sooner, but can often get multiple turns within a round.
- So with this trope, spells that speed up and slow characters can turn a battle far more than other tactics.
Some games, at certain times, will even let you preview how turn order will be changed. Say if you select an action, but have not confirmed it, the queue will change order to show what will happen.
These can involve various amounts of Real-Time with Pause.
- Final Fantasy X uses a vertical bar to show turn order for everyone on the battlefield. When selecting a command, it also shows how much of a delay that move is going to cause. Limit Breaks, for instance, carry a penalty of a few turns to balance their powerful effects.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia uses a horizontal bar to similar effect, manipulating turn order using the "break" mechanic is an important consideration in choosing targets and defending.
- Nostalgia uses a vertical bar on the lower screen.note
- Shadow Hearts does this from Covenant on, very useful in exploiting the boost system and knowing who to boost above enemy turns in the third game.
- Atelier (and just about every modern Gust Corporation game):
- Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny This concept is implemented at a bar with pointers siding along the bar indicating the action order. This was also the first game in the series to use the concept.
- Atelier Iris 3 Uses a queue of "action cards" rather than the bar from the previous game.
- Ar tonelico Classic horizontal cards in the top left of the battle screen featured in most Gust Corporation games.
- Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis 16 horizontal cards at the top left of the battle screen.
- Interestingly, Roxis has a few abilities that target and manipulate these cards, and it is possible to insert cards that take preset actions automatically.
- Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy Uses a rotating ring of bubbles.
- Atelier Totori
- Atelier Meruru
- Hexyz Force uses a vertcial bar.
- The Xenosaga trilogy. This had the added twist of having certain turns on the turn wheel grant special effects, such as double experience if you defeated an enemy that turn. It also had a Boost mechanic that would allow a character to "cut" in line and take their turn next.
- Radiant Historia uses the top screen to list the next 9 moves. After a little bit, you can even swap any two turns (hero or monster) to extend chains.
- Wild ARMs uses this for certain fights:
- Sands of Destruction for the DS puts the character portraits of the party and enemies in order of their turn, but since most bosses can get multiple turns without the queue reacting to it until it's actually their turn and because the party members' ridiculously lenghty attack combos only count as a single turn, it tends to serve very little purpose in battles where it might actually be important.
- In Blue Dragon, the top of the screen tells the turns of the player and the monster.
- Persona 3 and Persona 4 both let you view the order of turns by pressing a button. It then shows an overhead view of the battle, with whose turn is when displayed above the figure. However, while Persona 3 and Persona 3 FES would display the order of the next complete turn of actions, Persona 4 and Persona 3 Portable only show the immediate next character to act.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has a stack showing everyone's turn order for (depending on how many enemies are present) two or three 'rounds', and highlights where a character's next action will be after taking their turn (which varies depending on what they do). It also has icons next to some turns indicating that whoever acts then will get a bonus effect, such as a STR boost or guaranteed Critical Hit. Since the Limit Break style attack can be triggered at any time and allow the user to act immediately, it's useful to deny an enemy such a bonus and make use of it yourself. This was also carried forward into The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
- Arc Rise Fantasia features a downplayed form of this. Small icons on the bottom right of the screen to reflect action point decisions and give you an idea of how the battle will play out before you commit to the round, but you otherwise can't plan out the battle in other forms of this trope.
- Skies of Arcadia, this happens with guns during ship battles, sort of. Whose action goes when is visible, and select-able, but you can't tell whether the opposition or you will go first in any given turn.
- MARDEK uses this trope as well, displaying several turns worth at the top of the screen at a time.
- In Mega Man Battle Network, the Chip Challenge is built on this idea.
- This feature is also in Mega Man X: Command Mission, aligned along the bottom of the screen. It doubles as a quick-glance health bar for each unit.
- Grandia has the "Action Bar", wherein characters' icons slide across said bar in the bottom right corner of the screen until they reach the right end that's marked with ACT, at which point they, well, act and their icon is reset to the left end. When a party member's icon reaches the COM mark about 2/3 way to the right, the game pauses, letting you select the action to be carried out when it reaches the right end. If you use a special attack with a "Cancel" property on an enemy whose icon is between COM and ACT, you cancel their turn entirely.
- Child of Light also features a similar action bar to Grandia, with a "Wait" phase and a "Cast" phase. If a character is damaged during the "Cast" phase, their attack is interrupted entirely. There are also certain statuses that slow characters on the "Wait" phase, stop them temporarily, or push them back on the "Wait" phase. The player can also use a firefly to blind foes, which slows them on both the "Wait" and "Cast" phases.
- Omega Quintet uses a bar at the side of the screen to display upcoming turn order. It also shows the "empty" turns where nobody's ready to act yet, which is important because Harmonics "consecutive turns" strictly means "one beat after the next".
- Evolution: The World of Sacred Device and its sequel Evolution 2: Far Off Promise has a vertical totem in the upper right-hand corner with the party represented by mugshots and enemies represented via a generic icon. In the sequel, it plays a secondary function of alerting the player to when a party member or an enemy is low on health or has a status effect such as poison.
- Octopath Traveler has one of these at the top of the screen that shows the turn order for the current round as well as the next. When a party member uses a Skill that makes them go earlier or forces an enemy to go last, the queue changes to reflect the new order.
- Mobile game Alchemist Code runs on this system, with the next five turns visible to the player on the top left corner of the in-game battle UI.
- Phantom Brave uses a vertical bar.
- In the Final Fantasy Tactics series, pushing a button allows the player to see a list displaying the order the units will take their turn as well as when charged abilities like spells will go off.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2 uses the DS's secondary screen to show the turn order.
- Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2
- Monsters Den Book of Dread shows the queue with text instead of headshots◊. Monster's Den Chronicles shows the queue with headshots.
- Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth
- Gungnir. Though it's unique in that there's only one icon for the player (who can choose which unit to move and/or attack, instead of being forced to use only one) and that all player-controlled units have their own icon that says how long they have until the act again. Though the player can move anyone before the icon lights back up again, it reduces vitality temporarily.
- Project X Zone displays a lineup of units whose turns are coming up on the 3DS's bottom screen. In addition, each unit has a number over its head indicating its position in the queue.
- Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark displays the turn order as a line of portraits along the top edge of the screen.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age: The turn order is represented by headshots of the party stacked on top of each other.
- Penny Arcade Adventures 3 and 4 has a variation where every character's icon runs along the top of the screen and they get to go once they reach the edge (being turn based, everyone else freezes until that character makes a move). Speedier characters move through this queue faster and can overtake slower characters, so it's not always easy to eyeball who will be next.
- Temple of Elemental Evil
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance
- "Virtual tabletops" such as Roll20 tend to add this feature to the typical tabletop RPG, making it easier for the GM and players to keep track of the turn order.
- Mice and Mystics: When the heroes first enter a map region, they and the enemies present there have their initiative cards shuffled and laid out to determine the order of combat. Any enemies who might arrive later are added to the bottom of the queue, and some hero and enemy abilities let them modify the queue mid-fight.