Another year has gone by and 2021 was a fine year for new games and I’ve been asked to jot down my own list of my top 5 turn-based games. I thought this sounded like fun so here we go!
The below list is my own personal choices of games that were released (or came out of early access) in 2021. This doesn’t reflect every major game released in 2021, so no Humankind as I’ve not played it yet. It also isn’t necessarily the top five games I’ve played as I have a tendency to go back and play older games a lot of the time! I’ve played a fair bit of Othercide, Phoenix Point, Suzerain and Football: Tactics and Glory this year!
Please consider supporting the website by clicking the affiliate links contained within the article. These allow TBL to earn a small amount of revenue used to support the website. If you buy something through one of these, you’ll really help us!
This list also is exclusively for turn-based games (as you would expect on TBL). So, here are my personal choices for the top 5 turn-based games of 2021
The Hand of Merlin
I’m a big fan of X-COM, which is to say, it’s pretty much my favourite turn-based game of all time. Any game that promises to be “something meets XCOM” always gets a look and more often than not gets added to the wishlist.
The Hand of Merlin is an Arthurian fantasy meets dark sci fi tale where the player guides a small group of heroes in a rogue-like / roguelite campaign to try and rid the lands of evil and corruption. IT’s a very hard game and you are expected to fail but then return and try again with new strategies and unlocked powers.
This game would likely be higher on my list if I’d picked it up sooner but it was an Xmas present to me (from me) and so I’m still getting to grips with it. Its combat reminds me a bit of Banner Saga as characters have armour and health but that’s quite a superficial read I think.
The Hand of Merlin is available at the moment and is even on sale….
As a huge fan of the Dune IP and the recent movie, Star Dynasties offers you a chance to create your own noble house and battle for control of various planets against nefarious enemies. Star Dynasties allows you to create your own noble house from scratch, allowing you to be noble or venal, kind or cruel, and to create a snazzy crest to go with your new family.
Once the game begins you’ll be dropped into a new setting, with a divided galaxy between you, your friends, your enemies and a bunch of neutrals you can try to persuade or conquer Each action requires a member of your household to perform it so you’ll send your wife to train your son in courtly manner or your brother to train your military.
You may go personally to carry out diplomacy with a stellar neighbor. You can sign marriage pacts and raise your kids to take over, its basically CK3 in space but not quite as detailed Stellar Dynasties is still a bit rough around the edges but has a lot of charm and is an exciting prospect of a game and is well worth a look.
Field of Glory 2: Medieval
I’m a huge fan of the FOG2 engine, which was primarily designed around “ancients” but can also be played up to the Dark Ages. Medieval does what you might imagine and moves the games army lists and some of its rules to the medieval age.
New army lists, army graphics, a nicer UI and new campaigns join some tweaks with fewer skirmisher and most units less manoeuvrable than they were in ancient times, with static lines more common. Cavalry tends to be heavier too as you may expect.
This game is also independent of the base game, so if you’re not into ancients but fancy the idea of Field of Glory, you can give it a go, which is a nice touch.
There are some good campaigns in here and even the option to play a sandbox campaign which will pick enemies and battles to suit your chosen army. An attractive price point makes this one a must-have for fans of the original or fans of the time-period.
Civilisation meets Crusader Kings is the TL:DR version. Reimagining many elements of the classic Civ design, Old World is quite a bit more granular and proceeds at a far slower pace, set purely in the ancient world.
Old World improves on Civ in a number of ways, with innovative orders system, a really good UI and more detailed and nuanced combat than the classic. In Old World you can play as the likes of Carthage, Greece or the Romans and whilst it’s not strictly historical, it has the right feel.
Of course, as this one doesn’t really move into a new “era”, then Old World could be said to be a bit simpler and less ambitious.
However, excellent emergent story-telling with your family trying to hang onto power and the drama of sending your heir to lead an army whilst your King is approaching the end can really add a lot of spice to a fine game. Solid graphics, music and a very user-friendly UI add up to a modern classic in the making.
I actually picked this one up very early in its development so I’ve been playing this one on and off for a year or two now. Wildermyth is one of the most charming, joy filled strategy/RPG games of all time.
The player will take control of three initial characters, who are defined by character class but also by their attitude, sexuality and then modified by you, the player. They’ll fight against evil on a node-based map, though there are no orks or kobolds in the Wildermyth. Instead, you may find evil dragon spirits trying to blind you or clockwork undead to battle with!
The games paper-doll graphics may not be for everyone but they are key to the games story-telling as characters age, lose limbs in battle or change into “fire people” or “bird-people”. Your characters arms and armour will adapt and this will also be reflected in their appearance.
Comic book style panels will illustrate story-beats between the simple but deep turn based combat where flanking and blocking can be vital skills. Your hunters can “ghost out” and then score ambush attacks, your mages will pull fire from a fireplace or throw objects at an enemy and your warriors will wear heavier armour and wield bigger weapons.
Add in campaigns that can last decades, where you’ll see the children and possibly even grand-children of your original heroes save the day and a robust “legacy” system that will allow you to bring back your beloved heroes from one run into another and you’ve got one of the best games I’ve ever played, let alone in 2021.
The dev team are constantly working on Wildermyth and you’ll see new updates on a fairly regular basis. There’s also strong modding support. Wildermyth is a joy to play and full of lovely, character moments that make the whole story feel rich and real.
So that was my top 5 Turn-Based RPGs & Strategy Games of 2021. I hope you had a great time playing turn-based games in 2021 and have lots of great new games to look forward to. Please feel free to share your own top five in the comments below!