The end is nigh! At least the end of another year. One more spent in the clutches of COVID. Stuck indoors. Shunning company, socialising and fresh air. All those things that make us… well human. It would have been perfect for us gamers who would not otherwise have seen the light of many days, playing our favourite games.
However it is fairly certain that even we gamers have lost loved ones since the pandemic began. Either directly or indirectly. To those of us unfortunate to have sadly lost friends and family it will take time to grieve. Process even. Time to find solace knowing that by keeping the departed close to our hearts and speaking of them regularly, we ensure memories of their time with us remain alive. Some of us may even turn to games as a coping mechanism. One day though we will re-find some joy in our hearts playing that newly released game, once more.
Speaking of which and the reason for this article – the customary list of games from this year. Soon to become part of gaming memory as 2022 rolls in. To say its been a pretty good year for games would be an obvious statement. With so many developers making games today, it was always going to be a good year. There will always be great games and there will always be bad ones. Thankfully most tend to fall in-between, with some measure of worthwhile gameplay. If nothing much else.
Since this is a site for turn-based games I’m going to let our patron have their turn, to make a short but important reminder: 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!
Back to the action – below I have listed my top five picks for turn-based games of 2021. Some of which I actually managed to play in-between grinding out leaderboard wins in Space Wolf 40K, a mobile part from the Warhammer universe that is a personal favourite of mine and Anti-Squad. Another mobile port with some very appealing tactical play. Without further babbling here they are in reverse order:
Top 5 Turn-Based Tactics Games of 2021
Developer: Toukana Interactive
Publisher: Toukana Interactive
We begin with something a little different from my usual fare. A game from March. Though I have yet to play it, Dorfromantik impressed me with its delicate gameplay and lack of violence. I will always be a sucker for games that attempt the unusual which is what made this stand out for me.
A more thoughtful game, essentially a combination pattern matching and Tetris style mechanics. The aim is to reach the highest score possible, while completing quests and making it through the stack of tiles. It retains a simplistic, minimalist style, possessing a subtle elegance in design that greatly impressed me.
4. Tactical Troops: Anthracite Shift
Developer: QED Games
Publisher: QED Games
Making four spot is a top-down, small-scale, turn-based tactical wargame with an eighties sci-fi vibe. A game released in April that I just agonisingly missed out on reviewing. TTAS allows players to command a small squad of troops which can be armed with an immense variety of weapons and equipment. Something that has the most appeal for me.
With an extensive campaign and good diversity for regular and boss enemies, it has all the makings for a great turn-based game that I know I would love playing. This despite some balancing and AI tactical issues. Still, I look forward to finally getting and playing this in the future.
3. Colony: Ship A post Earth
Developer: Iron Tower Studio
Publisher: Iron Tower Studio
Another released in April this year, The Colony is another game that presents a unique concept when it comes to turn-based games. Though I have little first-hand knowledge of it, it makes third place. The plot reminds me a somewhat of Battlestar Galactica – one of my favourite sci-fi franchises. That alone was be enough to pique my interest but the prospect of playing something akin to Fallout but on a space-ship is enough for me to rate this fairly highly on my list of preferred games.
Still in Early Access, The Colony still has a long ways to go for it to be completed. Though at least a promising roadmap has been published and my only concerns is that there may not be enough locations to make this a long enough experience. Fingers remain crossed it will exceed my expectations.
2. The Troop
Developer: Giant Flame
Publisher: PLA Studios
Just missing out on top spot is The Troop, a turn-based, platoon-level tactical game set in WW2. Literally released just before Christmas this game is exactly what I have been waiting for, for a long time. Something that reminds me of Panzerkorps and Panzer General 2, two of my all-time favourite turn-based wargames. Instead here the scale is more personal and the tactics play out on a smaller stage. Both of which make this an appetising prospect when I finally get my hands on a copy. Especially if it has a persistent army roster like the games previously mentioned.
Another game in Early Access, the Troop already looks feature complete and is just waiting on enough content to create a sizeable challenge for the player. Honestly if I had had this game for the same time as the top entry I would have had to put them in joint first place. As it is, I will just have to believe that the final version matches my hopes.
Developer: Worldwalker Games LLC
Publisher: Worldwalker Games LLC, Whisper Games
Without a doubt Wildermyth has to be my most favourite game of the year. One I was fortunate enough to be asked to review for Turn-Based Lovers. A table-top cRPG with a structure to match its pen & paper cousins. Possessing an amazing artisanal quality that transcends its digital nature and gameplay that encouraged me to keep spending my limited time within its transfixing visuals. Its range of powerful, if unusual features raised it squarely above any competitors.
If you are one to enjoy adventures undertaken by deeply detailed characters, taking their own personal journeys in a Farie-tale styled world. Characters that formed part of a pantheon when their adventures ended. Sometimes being survived by children if they were fortunate enough to marry and procreate. With balanced turn-based combat, unusual archetypes, solid mechanics and beautiful visuals ensure its emphatic victory at the time of writing.
All of these features set Wildermyth apart from ther other games in this list. It is the title I would play if I were limited to play only one game from this year.
Honourable mentions for games that did not make the list but were not far off are: Hextaria, Encased: A Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Evil Genius 2, Jupiter Hell and Fights in Tight Spaces. One more that would have otherwise been on top of anyone’s list is Gloomhaven. A magnificent digital board game adaptation that would have made my top five, but for my personal preferences. Maybe next year I should write a top ten instead.
So, uh, you only played one of these games? Woof.
Thank you, I was thinking the same thing.
Thank you, I was thinking the same thing.
Dorfromantik looks like Carcassonne as a single player computer game. That’s really cool but I didn’t see turns or tactics in the
gameplay video. It’s beautiful and pleasant, but not sure why it’s on this specific list.
Colony was a terribly misbalanced game with awful pacing and akward mechanics when it entered Early Access. Now it is in active development so maybe it’s improved signficantly over the last months – I haven’t circled back – but really an odd inclusion given it’s in Early Access and you didn’t play it.
I absolutely agree on Wildermyth great game. Definitely my Game of the Year.
Personally, I would have thrown in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous.
Unfortunately so. I spent most of my time reviewing other games, mostly small Indie titles. So my list is more a top five of the games I would like to play, favourite games from this year I would choose to play if I had the time to do so. If it makes a difference I spent a good number of hours looking at gameplay and reviews for each of these games. Which are top of my list to purchase. If I ever get the free time.
I’m not sure I can trust your judgment regarding this list of top games of the year when you admit you haven’t even played most of them. If you had another title, something more like “top five game of the year I want to play” I’d be more likely to appreciate your opinion but that title just doesn’t really fit considering you have no personal experience to base your judgment on…
I can vouch for Dorfromantik, Encased and Wildermyth. I won’t do the same for Colony Ship as I feel I need more time in the game. But I can say this much. Based on what I’ve seen of Colony Ship it delivers more and performs better than many games in the genre.
Colony Ship is solid: Definitely a large playing area, grimdark-level combat challenges (eff you, psychic toads and eff you doubly to shootouts in cramped shipping containers!), and excellent lore. My 2 new years cents for y’all.
@Eric As you wish. If this was an article written as an editorial or something of that nature, then I would agree with you myself. However it is an opinion piece. That is all. Based on my experience as a strategy gamer. If I were to give you a top five of TBT games I played and reviewed this year, then Gloomhaven would be 2nd followed by games such as those from the Strategic Mind series, Gamedec, Dungeoneers, Fort Triumph and Insurmountable.
All of which varied from great to okay (I did not mention other games that failed to impress me). Though none of them impressed me as much as those on my list after spending copious amounts of time researching them and working with other reviewers on another curator who did play some of those games I chose. Games I am looking forward to trying out this coming year. Unfortunately for me I do not get to choose every game I would prefer to play, nor have the time to test and review every TBT game released in 2021. 🙂
@Justin, a fellow reviewer from a curator associated with TBL agreed with you. Im really hoping for something special with the lore and setting from this game. (Colony)
@Kaihaku Dorfromantik becomes a LOT more of a thinker when/if you strive for ‘perfect’ tiles (when ever single side of the tile is matched up with the same matching terrain) this scores you more points and you are rewarded with an extra tile to the draw pile
The beauty of this game is that you can still have a completely fulfilling time without even using that tactic.