Best 10 Turn-Based Strategy Games of the Last Two (And a Bit) Years

Written by VeryLowKi

Old World Pc Game

If you’re reading this article and visiting this site, then I probably don’t need to tell you how good a turn-based game is. From tactical RPGs to grand strategy, turn-based games have covered most genres, and most time periods and have been around since the days of DOS.

Turn-based games are still seen as somewhat “old school”, though the dark days of the early 00s when it seemed like every single new PC game was a real-time strategy are thankfully behind us. So what’s made them endure the changes in technology and habits in video games?

There are a lot of reasons to love turn-based.  The “slower” pace means that you have time to think about your move and that the outcome of the game isn’t based on the speed you can click or process instructions but on your planning and ability to parse the game into actions. There’s also the tension that comes from hitting “end turn” and seeing what your opponent, be they AI or biological, has in store for you!

Turn-based games can also be woven into games with a real-time overworld, like the one seen in Battle Brothers or Jagged Alliance, meaning that you don’t need to click “end turn” over and over while you wait to see what the next fight will be all about. Turn-based games tend to lend themselves to deeper, more cerebral strategy, witness the fact that in the Total War games, it’s the grand strategy that’s turn-based rather than the blood and thunder real-time tactical battles.

Turn-based has been making a long, slow comeback, and now it’s much less of a shock when a new game is released as a turn-based, though there are still more big AAA releases in real-time than turn-based. There’ve been some interesting recent trends too, with the surge in popularity of the Rogue-Like or Rogue-Lite games, where failure is a feature rather than a bug, offering unlocks and persistent rewards for playing multiple runs at the game.

Another popular trend has been the deck-builder, launched into popularity by “Slay the Spire” and used in many games since then with variable success. Deck-builders see players create an increasingly powerful deck of “cards” that represent soldiers or powers or spells and the player can swap out cards to make their “deck” more powerful.

Now the list below of the ten games released in the last two or so years is based purely on my own opinions and experience, so I’ll get out in front of some criticism and say that I don’t like deck-builders, so I don’t expect to see them in my list!

There’ll also be some games that have met huge critical acclaim that you won’t see here. So before you bombard the list with comments about “X is missing, the list is bad” remember this is purely based on my experience and I’m not including games I either don’t like or haven’t played.

Whilst the list is based on my opinion and experience, here are some criteria on which I judge a game:

  • Theme – the right theme will get me to buy in and the wrong one can really put me off
  • Crunch – the exact right level of complexity and nuance gets me into a game without bogging me down too much.
  • Customisability – whilst its not vital, I do love being able to customize my faction and units if I can.
  • Robust AI – the AI doesn’t have to be super smart but it needs to offer a challenge, preferably without cheating.
  • Solid UI – little puts me off a game more than a muddy or opaque interface.  I don’t want to spend my time battling to understand what I’m looking at when I could be battling the enemy!

So here’s the list, in no particular order:

Old World
May 2022 by Mohawk Games

Review Old World

A grand strategy game in the mould of the legendary Civ games, Old-World’s elevator pitch is essentially “What if Civ and Crusader Kings had a baby?”  In Old-World you’ll play a civilisation during the ancient era, playing as the Greeks, Carthaginians or Romans and specifically as the ruler of that particular people.

Each turn a year goes by and your ruler character, his or her court and their heirs all get older.  Characters gain experience, traits and suffer injuries, all the while forming a part of the wider picture of your Empire as you fight battles, build cities and conduct diplomacy.  Lots of major actions in game require a character to take part in them and the character can benefit or suffer as a result of the mission.

It really adds some sauce to a minor battle in the hills against barbarians when your heir is leading the troops or when your trusted Chancellor, a member of another faction, is becoming increasingly powerful.

Old World is not a simple game, with a lot of interlocking systems but it benefits from a lovely, easy to understand UI, clean graphics and strong gameplay.  Whilst it doesn’t cover the sweep of millenia the same way as Civ, I often felt far more connected to my Empire in Old-World than I ever did in Civ.

The Last Spell
March 2023 by Ishtar Games

The Last Spell

The Last Spell is a tactical RPG/Rogue Like that is punishingly hard and this is quite deliberate.  The player controls a small band of utterly outnumbered heroes defending a cauldron where an eponymous last spell is being prepared that will destroy the swarm of monsters gathering around the ruined town.

And boy are there a lot of them.  When each wave arrives, the player’s tiny band will be outnumbered hundreds to one and have to use the limited powers and resources to thin out the enemy numbers in a simple but brutal turn-based combat.

Assuming the player can survive, then they can spend the downtime between battles building defences to funnel, slow down or even kill the enemy before they reach their tiny band.  You will also spend resources to upgrade buildings to boost your economy to give yourself more of a chance in the war.

But you’ll likely have to fail a lot before you succeed and the Last Spell weaves that into the game play in classic Rogue Like ways.  The graphics are a clean, modern pixel style and the UI is crisp and clear.  The game oozes theme and despite its high difficulty level, you’ll keep coming back for another try and another strategy and when you pull it off, you’ll feel like you’ve done the impossible!

June 2021 by Beetlewing Games


There are some real question marks over whether Slipways is truly a strategy game or just a puzzle game. But sometimes, like the iconic classic “Into the Breach”, the dividing line between the two is vague and I often think of Slipways as being like a Sci-fi 4X minus any combat (or diplomacy!)

In Slipways you need to build a network of connected worlds that will provide goods that are needed on other worlds. As the connections build up, you’ll try to knit together the needs of various planets and their populations with other worlds.  You can also build stations and other cool little things that can add to your network.

You’ll also unlock new technologies and tools by completing quests for your patron races, ancient races that grant you bonuses.  Eventually your network will get stretched too thin and things fall apart but when you find a way to balance several needs in your developing Empire at the same time, it feels like such a big win.

Slipways is a nice, calm game that has a strong UI and neat graphics, as well as a nice thematic soundtrack.

Age of Wonders 4
May 2023 by Paradox Games / Triumph Studios

Age of Wonders 4

The high fantasy Empire builder is back with the 4th part of the Age of Wonders series.  In the latest incarnation, returned to its high fantasy roots from the sci-fi madcap adventures of Planetfall, Age of Wonders 4 ties things together with the Godir, god-like wizard-Kings who seek to dominate various worlds and form a part of a dominant pantheon.

Age of Wonders 4 feels like the recipe that made Age of Wonders 3 and Planetfall so much fun has been refined to the point of being super charged.  It retains all the strangeness and charm that made the other games so good but has so many little fixes and tweaks that it just works a lot better.

The game has a strong UI, though I still find the maps somewhat messy to look at and would prefer them to be a cleaner and easier to parse.  The in game graphics aren’t spectacular but there’s a lot of charm and appeal of the various unit types modified by the race.  Seeing my little Toad-Kin knights and pikeneers was a lot of fun!

The game also has a very powerful faction builder that will allow you to craft various races, either to try and find the perfect Min/Max uber-blend for a competitive game or just create a mad race of spider riding cat people who like fire magic just for the fun of it.

Age of Wonders 4 is a Paradox game so is of course a platform for DLC, witness the season pass.  But out of the box Age of Wonders 4 plays great and hopefully the DLC will only add richness to the game.

Kaiju Wars
April 2022 by Foolish Mortals Games

Kaiju Wras on Switch

On the surface, looking at Kaiju Wars, you might have been expecting to see Into the Breach again but this game is very different.

This time around, the Kaiju are essentially invulnerable and can only be slowed down (or forced to withdraw).  You’ll use tanks, aircraft and other conventional forces to try and slow them down whilst your scientists work on ways to save the day or to evacuate the city.

The games deliberately garish pixel graphics add a lot of style points and the UI is reasonably easy to follow, though the tutorial isn’t the best in the world.

The game has a huge variety of modes, with a really solid campaign game that allows you to discover the origins of the Kaiju, each of whom offers a different threat to you and your city.

Kaiju movement is “predictable”, which does feel a bit like Into the Breach but this game is a lot more forgiving and doesn’t feel like the super balanced game of chess, with giant robots, that Into the Breach was.

Hugely customisable, with a robust versus mode and scenario creator, Kaiju Wars is well worth a look.

May 2022 by Aftershock Studio

Cantata - Pc Strategy Games

Another indie tactical game with a garish colour scheme, Cantata is a very strange game that features a deep and rather odd sci-fi story in its expansive campaign.

You’ll play as all three major factions and explore and uncover the reasons behind the conflict.  Cantata has a truly unique visual style that feels strongly influenced by classic French sci-fi comics and movies, with a decent amount of Moebius in there.

The game play offers a mix of classic 4X base building along with small scale combat and tactics but there’s a deep well of logistics required to be truly good at Cantata.

The game’s tutorial could be better and the UI can be a bit obscure at times but the core gameplay is very strong and there is a really good story to uncover, albeit it a really bizarre one!

There’s also strong support for multi-player and creating your own scenarios here, making Cantata a really intriguing bag of toys to unbox and play with!

King of the Castle
March 2023 by Tributary Games

King of the Castle is a blend of turn based strategy and classic party-games, with a dab of roleplaying thrown in.  The game casts one player as the eponymous King or Queen of the realm, who must try to rule over a fractious band of nobles and powerful magnates (the other players).

Each turn will see decisions come up to be decided on, usually by a vote in Council by the nobles.  These votes will potentially change the various metrics within the Kingdom, raising or lowering the stability of the Kingdom, the authority of the Crown or even just taking money out of the Royal Treasury.

Each region, home to a group of players, will also have its own metrics which are affected by in game decisions and will open up opportunities for the regions nobles to advance their own plots to replace the King with a pretender of their own region, which is a win for that faction.

Of course, only one rebel faction can win the game so there’s competition between the various factions to see who will bring down the King and get their pretender in place first!

The game has a fun sense of humour, a cool visual style and a clean UI.  It’s also cheap as chips, with only one player required to own a copy (though there are benefits to multiple players owning copies but this isn’t required).  King of the Castle is a great way to spend an hour or two playing with a big group of your friends!

December 2021 by Giant Flame

The Troop

A much more traditional turn based tactical game, The Troop casts you as the commander of a small force of British or German (so far) troops in various battles across Normandy in 1944.

The Troop is generally scaled quite small, with individual vehicles and squads of soldiers modelled on screen.  Its level of detail is pitched probably below something like Combat Mission but certainly is a bit more in depth than many other games, with facing, type of weapon and armour penetration critical decisions.

More than anything else, the Troop is often about spotting and staying hidden.  Armour battles are often won by the one who strikes first and keeping your units hidden while the enemy rolls towards you can be nerve wracking, in a good way.

The games UI is clean though at times the graphics can feel a bit muddy.  There are also some slowdowns on loading which can tax a player’s patience.  It’s also safe to say that the AI opponent sometimes does appear to cheat a bit and with no multiplayer, there’s no way to really test this theory.

Still there’s lots of scenarios, a really strong skirmish system and constant support going forward for the game.

October 2022 by the Secret Games Company


Another game that tests the dividing lines between strategy game and puzzle game, Ozymandias is very much what would happen if you stripped a game like Civ down to its more core, essential elements.

Ozymandias casts you as the leader of a bronze age civilisation but in a much more abstract way.  Each turn you’ll expand your Empire, gain new resources and improve your technology but in far less granular way than before.

Don’t expect to see buildings in your cities or units in your armies, everything in Ozymandias is deliberately high level and simplistic, to allow a player to concentrate on the big picture.  It’s also possible to complete a full game of Ozymandias in an hour or two, depending on the scenario.

The UI is pretty good and the graphics, whilst unimpressive, are clean and easy to figure out.

Some players may find that Ozymandias doesn’t realty scratch the itch for them but its certainly worth a look.

Strategic Command:  American Civil War
July 2022 By Fury Software

Strategic Command

Now I’ll preface this write up by stating that this is probably not a great game.  However, it is a turn based strategic game of the American Civil War, a period that I find very interesting and I did enjoy my full campaign of the American Civil War.

As you might expect from the title, this game allows a player to refight the entire American Civil War, in both major theatres (and beyond potentially) with economics, politics and sea-borne warfare all a part of the game.

Players will have to balance supporting various armies and fleets as they try to keep their faction’s willpower up and avoid losing the war.  Intervention is possible but very difficult to achieve, thogh the Confederate player could conceivably get Britain or France to intervene on their behalf, essentially ending the war.

The game has a lot of ambition and scope as well as a huge number of buildable units and recruitable generals but as with most games in this series, everything is quite soft-focus and the model of the game doesn’t really suit American Civil War style combat, with the game often seeing multiple battles fought turn after turn rather than the brief flurries of violence followed by manoeuvre.

The game also has a drab graphics set which is functional but not very interesting and a clunky, old school UI.  There’s a good editor to allow you to make the game your own and some decent scenarios to play out there already.  But I can only really recommend this for the true fanatics for the period and game-style.


So there you have my list of the top ten turn-based games of the last couple of years.  I’m well aware that there are some big gaps, with no War-Tales as the most glaring omission but I’m afraid I just haven’t played this one yet.

Turn based games still have a lot of life left in them and with a great slate of new games to come, I look forward to writing another article in 2025 with another slate of exciting games!

Crossing my fingers for XCOM3!