Top 10 TBS Games [Best Recommendations]

TBS games are the ultimate challenge for lovers of strategy. They force people to control entire armies, if not an entire empire. They challenge you to keep track of numerous aspects from your own resources to the diplomatic relationships between NPCs. The beauty for such games is that each match can feel extremely different, depending on how you adjust the settings. The one and only issue is that you need to be willing to dedicate time. Though you can play in a mode that reduces the time of most actions, games can easily last up to 30 hours. Still, the time put in can make victory much sweeter. So, here are our top 10 TBS games!

10. Atlas Reactor

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Trion Worlds
  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Release Date: Oct. 4, 2016

In this TBS game, you become a Freelancer in the city of Atlas, which is comprised of humans, hybrids, and robots. The job of a Freelancer is to complete contracts for their trusts (power that controls the robots) to keep control over the Atlas Reactor. You see, there used to be 13 reactors and everyone was able to live in harmony. They were even able to nullify death. Well, most of those reactors disappeared and so war broke out and now freelancers battle for control.

Atlas Reactor is an interesting mix of TBS and PVP. You are generally in battles of four-on-four and you have 20 seconds to coordinate an attack during the Decision Mode and then watch how things turn out in the Resolution Mode. This mix leads to extremely interesting matches that really test your ability to coordinate with others as well as plan out the other team’s strategy. Its PVP status keeps you consistently on your feet it is one of the best games of last year.


9. Panzer General

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: SSI
  • Developer: SSI
  • Release Date: 1994

Panzer General is one of those TBS games from an earlier generation. It might be a little outdated, but it did a lot for the genre as a whole as it put players through 38 unique scenarios based on real or fictitious battles from World War II.

As an older model (the gamed debuted in 1994), Panzer General has players try to capture cities in a set amount of turns. You play as Germany and start in five major areas: Poland, North Africa, Barbarossa, Husky, and Kharkov. As an early progenitor we get units that generally have one class that they are powerful against and one they are weak against. Strategy might not be as complex as systems nowadays, but it’s a classic worth your time.


8. Heroes of Might & Magic III

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: 3DO
  • Developer: New World Computing
  • Release Date: Feb. 28, 1999

Heroes of Might & Magic III has us take on seven campaigns across the continent of Antagarich. The campaigns show us the viewpoints of the main districts that comprise the continent and let us see the ways that major political events affect the major cities. For example, we experience how Erathia falls to the forces of Nighon and Eeofol, which forces Queen Catherine to return to Antagarich in hopes of rallying her people.

Heroes of Might & Magic III is one of those classic TBS games that you just have to play. Commanding a number of heroes, who themselves command armies of figures and creatures inspired by myths, you travel and conquer forces of evil. With the experience that your hero gathers, the game progresses much like a traditional RPG with a lot of item customization. For a game from the 90s, there really are a lot of options for you to create a truly special character.


7. Banner Saga

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Versus Evil
  • Developer: Stoic
  • Release Date: Jan. 1, 2014

Banner Sages holds its spotlight on a Viking-inspired world that is primarily inhabited by humans and giant-like creatures. In this universe, the sun has stopped moving and an ancient race, the Dredge, bent on killing everyone else has popped up. That is the setting that the two starting players we can choose from have to deal with.

Once we pick our character, we are off on our own story, making unique relationships and pushing events through dialogue. One of the top aspects of this game happens to be its unique story, which is as beautiful as it is terrifying. In terms of plot it holds a vibe that is extremely similar with Game of Thrones. Even though the story is where it’s at, the art and gameplay are both top notch. The main difficulty about the game is picking up the multiplayer now. It is a rather lopsided environment for beginners.


6. Total War: Warhammer

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Creative Assembly
  • Release Date: May. 24, 2016

Total War: Warhammer combines TBS with one of the richest fantasy worlds out there. You set out on an intense campaign that will have you taking control of four different races: the Empire, the Dwarfs, the Vampire Counts, and the Greenskins. Each of these races has a unique build and battle traits that allow for some nuanced gameplay. On top of that you get to lead your forces with one of the eight Legendary Lords from the Warhammer Fantasy Battles World.

The gameplay definitely requires strategy and it will test you consistently. However, the real beauty is just how well the game mixes fantasy with the mechanics of TBS games. There’s a lot of Warhammer lore for community fans to dig in and enough options in gameplay for people to play in extremely unique and innovative ways.


5. Rome: Total War

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Creative Assembly
  • Release Date: Sep. 22, 2004

Featuring a campaign that takes place in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire, you are the acting head of one of three Roman families: Julii, Brutii, or Scipii (others unlockable). From there your job is to beat the other families into submission.

The main thing that Rome Total War does right is force you to manage everything on a constant basis. You need to handle diplomacy, infrastructure, and your army very carefully. You also need to make sure your citizens are happy through policies and gladiatorial events. The system is taxing but it is extremely rewarding to take on all the different aspects and come out on top. Oh, and it gets bonus points for presenting a pretty deep look a history.


4. Endless Legend

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
  • Developer: Amplitude Studios
  • Release Date: Apr. 24, 2014

Endless Legend is one of the best 4x TBS games that is infused with fantasy elements. Each match takes place in the world of Auriga, where you will be one of eleven races/factions whose goal is to conquer the world. The races include Wild Walkers, Broken Lords, Vaulters, Mezari, Necrophages, Ardent Mages, Roving Clans, Drakken, Cult of the Eternal End, Forgotten, Allayi, and Morgawr. Each of these races has unique builds and characteristics to play around with.

Altogether the game has a lot of similarities with the Civilization series, but brings in a healthy dose of extraordinary beasts, interesting visuals, and unique quests that can be taken on during a game. These aspects come together to give Endless Legends enough character to stand apart from other series.


3. AGE OF WONDERS III

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: Triumph Studios
  • Developer: Triumph Studios
  • Release Date: Mar. 31, 2014

It took a long time for the series to get its third installation, but it was definitely worth the wait. Age of Wonders III takes place before the events of the first game. The elven court was destroyed by humans, who at this point were recent settlers who overran the Blessed Continent. The elves split into two factions as the humans switched from destruction to commercial imperialism. The elven court, however, is not going down easily and wants to rally the ancient races to rebel.

Age of Wonders III is another one of the top 4X TBS games to be introduced to gamers. Like any 4X strategy game, you will be required to slowly expand your empire through warfare and diplomacy with other world powers. However, this one implements fantasy in one of the most exceptional ways.

First off, you get to choose between six races: human, high elves, orcs, dwarves, goblins, and draconians, each having specialized abilities. The skill sets that you choose will also have a lot of impact on the way you build your empire as perks can change the flow of unit creation by a lot. In these ways, traditional RPG elements are seamlessly put into the game.


2. XCOM 2

  • Platform: PC, PS4, XONE
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Developer: Firaxis Studios
  • Release Date: Feb. 5, 2016

The XCOM series provides a TBS experience unlike any other. Continuing off the older entries, XCOM 2 puts us in the role of commander of an eponymous military organization, which at that outset of this game is a minimal resistance force. Our goal is to weaken the hold and ultimately get rid of the alien invaders, as we control squad members during missions and choose specific research routes to assist our team.

To put it simply, XCOM is one of the best TBS games out there. It terms of challenge, few can beat it. It pushes players to be ridiculously cunning with every choice that they make. When compared with the older games of the series, XCOM 2 really goes above and beyond in terms of difficulty. The additions of a concealment system added a new layer of depth while the procedural generation of maps kept people from getting comfy with a certain strategy.


1. Civilization 6

  • Platform: PC
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Release Date: Oct. 21, 2016

The Civilization series is one of the longest running and most well-respected TBS games out there. It throws us onto random maps against well-known historical figures either in traditional play or in recreations of historical battles.

Did you expect any other TBS game to grace the number one position on this list? Civilization has been one of the greatest world-building games out there with the routes one can take to victory and the ways you are able to interact with the NPCs. Set out on different randomized maps against historical figures who in their time raised empires. Bonus points granted for being one of the longest running series out there.

The amount of technical detail that is put into the benefits of each building and unit are reflected in how intricately every single move affects the other. Deciding how to play; figuring out allies, treaties, enemies; focusing on production, gold, science, faith, building units; mapping out your civilization must be considered with every turn and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of possibilities. In truth, it is very easy to be defeated by the game and that’s part of the joy.


Final Thoughts

There you have it. Those are some of the most intricately designed video games that are meant to test your ability to strategize. Each of these games ask you how many ways can you win, how quickly can you win, who can you win as? For many, answering those questions proves to be a lot of fun and that’s why TBS games are thriving.

Yoko Dev

Writer

Author: Yoko Dev

Hello, my anime peers. I’m from the states, but have taken an indefinite leave to travel while freelancing. Outside of a deep admiration for anime that started long ago, I love to read, write, and play video games. The main issue of traveling so far has been not having a console.

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