-PC Only, Cross Platform Titles also accepted.
-No WEGO, SAS, or other hybrid systems.
-If the game has a mix of systems (for example, Strategic and Tactical) Tactical must be the main focus, and be fullyturn based.
-No Browser/Flash games; Free games are allowed at my discretion.
For sake of time and to reduce criticism, here are the games that may be on other lists that I have not played:
Earlier Heroes of Might and Magic games, the Age of Wonders games, Temple of Elemental Evil, Master of Magic, and that's all I can think of currently. As another side note, while 4X games are the cousin genre of TBT, they won't be included for sake of rule four. Remember this is my opinion. Feel free to suggest additions. I am not beyond revising my opinions. Follow the rules however.
BTW, I may add images later, if I get the time.
10. Battle for Wesnoth
A free game that's gotten quite good over the years. The way I think of it is Fire Emblem with hexes. For a free game it's bursting with content with no less than 213 missions spread across 15 campaigns. And then there's multiplayer. As is to be expected from a free game though, the quality of the missions isn't always consistent, but for the most part they're solid. The game sports 2D graphics which while nice, can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it.
9. Elven Legacy
It's essentially Battle for Wesnoth Retail. There's over a hundred units, 66 scenarios, and over five factions (counting all expansions). Combat is hex-based and has a substantial focus on heroes. Moving the grunts around and supporting them with spells is a great formula. Turn limits also put pressure on the player (good imho, but debatable), and offer rewards for finishing early. Story isn't too shabby either. If you want a hex-based fantasy tactics game, but with better graphics than Battle for Wesnoth, try Elven Legacy.
8. UFO: Alien Invasion
This is a free, 3D reimagining of X-Com UFO Defense. I say that, because there are quite a few changes and tweaks, rather than a straight remake. The Geoscape is alot flashier, with helpful radar and country overlays. You can now build more buildings directly on top the map, such as radar towers or SAM's. There's even more variety in your aircraft besides just interceptors. As for the Battlescape, rotation makes combat alot easier, and the maps are denser and more vertical to boot. There are problems though. The interface is an awful mess, performance issues can crop up, and there's a limited selcetion of maps; which leads to repeats. Still, it's fre and worth checking out for those who passed on X-Com.
7. Fallout Tactics
While technically a hybrid, the game can be played in full turn-based mode which allows the game to squeeze onto this list. Carrying on the roleplaying elements and atmosphere from previous Fallout games, Tactics marries them to the squad based tactics formula. The end result is an enjoyable, if slightly problematic experience. CTB mode is too clunky, and traditional turn based too slow. The AI is about as smart as rocks as well.
6. Jagged Alliance 2
I know some people will be upset with how low this game got, but it never really clicked for me. It's got a great cast, exciting combat, and an interesting strategic layer. Unfortunately the myriad of issues; poor graphics, simplistic AI, formulaic gameplay, no hit probability indicator, incredible difficulty, and much more keep it from it's full potential. If you try it out, make sure you use some mods or skip straight to Wildfire.
5. Hammer and Sickle
Using the famed Silent Storm engine, Hammer and Sickle builds upon it to create something along the lines of a tactical rpg. The branching storyline is strong, with the best characters in an S2 engine game so far. Characters also have brilliant incompatibilities, many ending in "either, or" confrontations. For example one character is a Israeli, and another a former-SS officer. Absolutely brilliant. Also, being that you're deep behind enemy lines, stealth and diplomacy play a larger role than past S2 engine games.
4. Heroes of Might and Magic V
It was a struggle between this and King's Bounty, but overall I have to give credit to Nival's game. The easiest way to think of it is like Disciples on a larger scale, assuming you're not familiar with previous HoMM games. The game is split between a strategic map and tactical combat, with strategy focusing on amassing a balanced army and running your town, while the tactics focuses on using that army to devastating effect. Battles are a bit abstract, and simplistic but it gets better the further you go.
3. Disciples Sacred Lands
This was a very fun game that focused on a small party of heroes you cobbled together in their battle against each other. Very similar to HoMM but on a smaller scale, in Disciples you'll also run a town and slowly expand your territory accomplishing various goals. There are a total of four factions; The Legions of the Damned, The Undead Horde, The Mountain Clans, and the Empire.
2. Silent Storm
This is actually my all-time favorite Turn Based Strategy game. It loses out to X-Com though due to honorary purposes. It took the best of other TBT games, Jagged Alliance's shooting mechanics and realism, X-Com's controls and destructible environments, and Fallout Tactics skills and perks, and then improved on them. The result is the most visceral TBT game you can get. The expansion Sentinels, adds a money system and an improved strategic map; unfortunately it had rabid difficulty and balance issues, and neither of the "improvements" added much to the experience, imho. It can be extremely hard to get a hold of a copy of S2, especially the Gold Edition, so you'll probably only get to play it's add-on unless you don't mind forking out a minimum of 100$.
1. X-Com UFO Defense
Yep, X-Com. Seamlessly combined two distinct gameplay types (Tactical and Strategic), with incredible depth and replay value to create an extremely innovative game at the time. Everything about this game is perfect. Balance is air-tight, combat is fun, random map generation with varied environments, interesting story and enemy design, etc. The only flaws with the game to date is it's completed antiquated graphics technology,but if you can get around that hurdle, go for it. As cpugamer.com says...
"Like fine-aged wine, the most remarkable thing about X-COM is how well it has aged compared to similar landmark games in other genres. X-COM more or less invented tactical turn-based combat, just like Westwood's Dune II more or less invented real-time strategy, and just like Wolfenstein 3D came up with first-person shooters. Now, be honest: Is Dune II really better than newer games like Rome : Total War or StarCraft, or even oldies like Warcraft II and Command & Conquer? How about Wolfenstein 3D compared to Half-Life or Half-Life 2? That's what I thought. But X-COM: UFO Defense is still truly unsurpassed in its genre, despite its inferior technology and numerous sequels. And that makes it an absolute homerun of a game"
Good looking games that I haven't played:
Firstly, you may want to check other games in the various series's as well as games on the same engine (Silent Storm Engine powers Hammer and Sickle, Night/Daywatch, and Heroes of Might and Magic V). That aside here's a list of games that look good, but I haven't played.
Disciples 3. I've played both earlier games, but haven't gotten around to the third. The graphics are pretty incredible and the gameplay seems similar, but I haven't researched it much.
King's Bounty expansions. Haven't played them, but I enjoyed Legends, which is similar to HoMM or Disciples.
Other Heroes game's. Heard that three's the best, but I haven't played them. I also haven't played HoMMV's expansions, only the base game.
Jagged Alliance 1, and it's expansion Deadly Games. I've played all the second games, including Wildfire, but I never touched the first. Look's like it could be worth a look. They also made a DS remake.
Future Tactics. It's made by JoWood, publishers of the excellent Silent Storm, and it even has destructible environments. It seems cartoonish, but we'll see.
Lastly is Fantasy Wars, the prequel to Elven Legacy. It appears to be a carbon copy of it so if you liked Elven Legacy you should grab it.
Recommend Games I Have Played:
The UFO Series: Despite what reviewers say, the series is quite good! If you can get around the real-time pausable system, then you'll probably enjoy it. That being said, the games are slow-paced and rather difficult, making them like it hate it games. If you don't mind putting some effort into thm though, they'll pay you pack with some fun gameplay. Aftershock is the best one, but Aftermath and Afterlight are very good.
The other X-Com games. Stay away from Interceptor and Enforcer, they're action games, though Interceptor keeps some strategy elements. Terror from the Deep moves UFO Defense underwater, with much better art and alien design, but identical gameplay. Apocalypse is also decent, but quite different, seeing what it would be like to be an X-Com agent in charge of only a single city.
Other Silent Storm Engine games. Hammer and Sickle and Silent Storm are both on the list, but there's some other games on the same engine and thus very similar. Silent Storm Sentinels is an standalone add-on to S2, but be warned that it is brutally hard. Nightwatch and Daywatch are two modern fantasy tactical rpgs using the same system. They have some cool stories and the same great combat, but are far too easy. Still worth checking all of them out though.
Hired Guns The Jagged Edge. It gets a lot of flak but it's decent enough to check out. They're aren't that many TBT games so you can't be too picky. Besides it's enjoyable, and a lot better than Brigade E5/ 7.62mm.
Fallout 1&2. Oldies that are definitely worth checking out, though they're more RPG than TBT. Fallout 1 is waaay better than Fallout 2, which was kind of long and monotonous.
Lastly, here's a link to a list of free turn based games. Not all of them are tactics, and some good ones are missing but have a look: Overview of Freeware Turn-Based Strategy/Wargames While they're not allowed on this list, I'm sure there's some good flash games out there as well.
Anyway, that's the list. Feedback is appreciated.