What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

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What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by Grendel13G » Wed May 10, 2017 9:12 pm

What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than the XCOM/Long War franchise?

I've long been a monogamous game player; once I find a game I love like XCOM, I play it almost exclusively. But occasionally it's nice to add a bit of variety in there. Here are my favorite turn-based tactical games that I've found between long bouts of XCOM/LW. They're all tactically lighter than vanilla XCOM 1/2 (let alone Long War 1/2), but they're still quite enjoyable.

Massive Chalice. This is basically XCOM with a medieval fantasy theme. The tactical layer is decent, but the strategic layer is very clever and very fun. A campaign spans something like 300 years of game time, so you have multiple generations of heroes that train, age, and die. You have to decide which heroes fight, which ones train other heroes or get shipped off to the sage guild as researchers, and, especially, which ones breed and raise the next generation of heroes. Hero traits are inherited from parents and trainers, and I found that trying to weed out weak traits and nurture strong ones over generations was super addictive.

Invisible Inc. If you like the stealth elements of LW2, you'll love Invisible Inc. Set in the not-too-distant future where corporations rule the world, most of the game is spent on tactical missions, sneaking about, subduing guards, stealing loot, and hacking with a varied suite of powers. One thing I really like about the game is that you only have one save per campaign, a la Ironman mode, but each difficulty level has a different (limited) number of actions you can rewind for a do-over. This gives the game most of the weight and tension of Ironman mode, but without the drawback of a single misclick ruining your entire campaign.

Valkyria Chronicles. A turn-based tactical game wrapped in a compelling story, set in a fictional world that resembles early-1900s Europe. The art design of the game is absolutely gorgeous, with a deliberate hand-drawn storybook theme to everything. The tactical missions, though fairly straightforward by XCOM standards, are engaging and varied. The main drawback I found is that this game isn't as replayable as the others, since it's a linear story with set missions, but I think it's absolutely worth a couple playthroughs.

Though it's not a turn-based tactical game (it's the paradigm example of a 4X game), I want to add a special shout-out to the Civilization franchise, which was my monogamous game of choice for decades before I found XCOM EU. For my money, I think Civilization IV is by far the best of the series; the newer games (Civ V, Beyond Earth, and Civ VI) moved to a one-unit-per-tile design, and while I appreciate the new tactical elements this provides (and I have a hardcore fetish for hex grids), on balance I think the design detracts more from the game experience than it adds. But YMMV.

What are your favorites?

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by FireWolf » Thu May 25, 2017 6:34 pm

Sadly there haven't been enough games like XCOM (UFO), but I can add to your list a game called Incubation: Time is Running Out/Wilderness Missions. It was a game about a squad fighting through a horde of aliens suddenly going berserk and swarming a human colony on a faraway planet.

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by virtualangel » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:26 pm

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action http://store.steampowered.com/app/25601 ... Flashback/
Jagged Alliance: Crossfire http://store.steampowered.com/app/20581 ... Crossfire/
Jagged Alliance: Flashback http://store.steampowered.com/app/25601 ... Flashback/
Hard West http://store.steampowered.com/app/307670/Hard_West/
Shadowrun Chronicles - Boston Lockdown http://store.steampowered.com/app/26775 ... _Lockdown/

Good Strat Games:

Total War Series
Endless Space 1 & 2
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
Master of Orion 3

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by Steve-O » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:52 pm

+1 for Invisible, Inc. Highly tactical, with a small amount of strategic-level thinking, planning out your next moves. Very much "feels like XCOM," only without the R&D part. The campaign is short and to the point, but that just ensures you don't get bored with any mid-late game grind. Procedurally generated maps and new agents unlocking each run through makes it highly replayable, too. Love that game.

Actually, I love all of Klei's games (that I've played), although this is the only one that's really "like XCOM," so far.

Another one is Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate, if you can find a copy anywhere. Older game (1998) and graphics are obviously dated as such, but it had squad management and equipping soldiers, as well as our favourite kind of tactical layer turn-based combat. Campaign plot line was fairly straightforward 40k stuff. Say what you will about GW in general, but I've been generally impressed with the 40k games I've played. (I stick to the turn-based ones, mind you. Also, there seems to be a recent plethora of games with their IP that I haven't played, which may be watering things down.)

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by Zork » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:05 am

I - Favorite tactical combats
King's Bounty: The Legend (and only this one, not the series)
The strategy layout isn't great but the tactical combats are very deep and offer both real tactical abilities and ability to compute deep precise tactics, and also allow setup strategy plans on how you'll manage a combat.

Final Fantasy Tactics
I dislike a lot its design heavily based on grinding including a ton of grinding tricks during combats which is a boredom layout for me. Still from games I played it is unmatched for its tactical depth and its character building depth. The character building system is great but I don't see it works without a heavy grinding design, so myself I could do without it. The tactical combats could work without any grinding. The reason it has an unmatched tactical depth comes from ground non flat, heights definitely add a lot of depth, and from non realistic actions setup where rules are more important than realism. This non realistic approach makes combine tactics more doable, and by favoring rules over realism it helps add more depth to its design. Despite all the weird aspects, it's definitely a must play for squad combats tactical players. There's few clones, all I know are other console games, none match it in my opinion.

Invisible Inc.
It's a small indie game but it's also a unique tactical game vaguely inspired by XCOM and quite oriented to stealth (but you have some lethal tools too). A campaign is very short, the point is making multiple campaigns and explore different approaches. It's a great game but at end, after to have play plenty campaigns, it becomes a bit frustrating to not have a game with long campaigns. Alas I don't think such indie dev can setup such game which would imply a too high budget and would request too many sells, even less after to not have sell that well this game.

Massive Chalice
Firstly I don't like the strategy layout vaguely inspired by Crusader Kings II, too much random for my taste. Secondly it's another game suffering from a too small budget. For me that's the only game that really evokes XCOM 1&2 (and a little bit FFT too) and do it in a totally different context so it's not a dumb cloning, its design is Fantasy and more chess like or FFT like if you prefer. The combats are definitely fun, but after to have play some campaigns, it's clear it is missing more missions types, more maps layouts, more enemies, 3D maps with heights not just flat combats, more character builds. Still despite all the problems I warmly advise it for its tactical layout, it's definitely a game that setup new standards and has very fun combats, I hope some dev a day will try clone and develop this standard.

Shadowrun Dragonfall
It's firstly a great a bit short RPG, but on base of a solid combat system, almost all combats are tuned to offer diversity and depth, hence the tactical combats are among the best and among the best elements of the game.

Battle Worlds: Kronos
An attempt to make a modern game inspired by Battle Isle series (which became very hard to play because of an awful UI). Not at all a clone and it was the plan, thankfully Battle Isle fans are less stubborn than JA2 fans, and the game avoided some hate campaign because it wasn't cloning the original games. The point is it generates very tactical combats, much more than many more classic wargames that are often more at a strategy layout. And for that it's quite a success to make a modernized Battle Isle. It's a bit rude to enter the gameplay because you'll hardly get used to many aspects as its a game genre you never played much, and there's a learning curve at first. But past that, it's just great tactical combats and good strategy layout.

Wasteland 2 (Director's Cut version)
It's firstly a great RPG. But it has great combats too but this requires some explanations. The setup of the combats look rather close to a JA2 setup, but when you pick the list of features then WL2 is lacking a lot of features. That's right but it's not JA2 that will ever make Chess less deep or less tactical. There are rules and you adapt to them, add a features could just add a more efficient play removing plenty more that became less efficient because of the new features. The features list analysis is easy to do but very superficial and says nothing on the whole.

A second problem is you can setup your party in many ways involving rather different gameplay for combats. And alas the long range and static setup has been favored without to mention that it's easier to play (static so less positioning choices to do and adapt to combat evolution, longer range so easier and simpler approach of minimizing risks). So when you setup a party mainly organized around sniper rifle and assault riffle, the combats gameplay is good but isn't at its best. At reverse build a party for more diversified ranges (not including close range which has a too basic design) and you magnify the quality of combats, with a lot of positioning gameplay, many combats areas exploiting well true 3D with real heights, and an excellent combats diversity. Played that way it's definitely among the best tactical combats I played despite the list of features is more limited than in some other games.

Divinity Original Sin
It has a very interesting combat system but there's 2 aspects to quote. Firstly it definitely let open on purpose various OP holes, so you can easily screw up yourself many combats by exploiting the big holes on many combats and then get a feeling that it's too easy and too repetitive. Another aspect to quote is quality of combats isn't just the combat system but also the design of each combat. And on that last aspect the game has weaknesses. It's still a marking tactical experience, but certainly more a marking as a special RPG.

Temple of Elemental Evil
That's a weak RPG but it has great combats based of some older version of Dungeon & Dragon rules, so at end it's a good pick for a fan of squad tactical combats.

Age of Wonders III
It's a 4X series and it could not be the best of the series, but it has from far the best tactical combats of this series, that's why I add it in such list. At the end, it generates too many combats, and the 4X layout has enough depth to play it with automatic combats. During my last replays I definitely played most combats with automatic resolution to focus more on pure 4X gameplay. Still it's great combats with a very interesting AI, and good amount of variations and depth of the combats and enemies.

Might & Magic X - Legacy
The game suffers a bit of a too low budget and the comparison with the previous huge releases of older games of the series, mainly Might & Magic III-V because others are either a different genre, either too outdated. So it's no way the massive amount of contents of the old games, but the game has its merits. The setup of those combats isn't on a grid so it's a very specific sub genre. But a key aspect is despite its a combat system that seem push to front to front combats, it has a large amounts of combats involving ambushes and combats on multiple fronts, and this add a lot of fun and depth to this combat genre.

Steam Marines
It's a small roguelike, but party based which is rather uncommon. It captures increadibly well a mood of Spae Hulk without cloning anything. At some level of play, not too high, it genrates a facinating and quite fun gameplay that can be heavily based on Overwatch. At highest difficulty or highest level of expertise it relies too much on exploiting simple crowd control elements. I never bothered evolve my play up to expertise but I had a lot of fun to stick at a lower level with a lot of overwatch tactics.

Dragon Age Origin
NOT Turn based, but real time with pause system. I quote it anyway because it highlights how combats aren't just a system but as much important a design of each combat. The key point is every single combat of the game has been highly tuned to creates a high level of tactical depth and combats diversity. In my opinion combats quality, depth and diversity easily challenge any turn based tactical squad combats game, alas it's not turn based.

II - Few others that I advise with a lot more reserve, but still want highlight
This game is designed around the original X-Com blueprint, not XCOM 1&2. It could be objectively less good than the original game, it's still a solid game, for me more fun to play than original, because of UI, Graphics, more modern design. But if you want play it safe, perhaps you can wait Xenonauts 2 release that will come.

Jagged Alliance Flashback
This game suffered the problem of license reuse, the original design has many shift with the original game, and fans of IP wanted a clone. It's a case where players feedback hurt more the game than help it. For me it's one of the intermediate version that was the best, further updates only destroyed the original design and never reach a state of JA2 cloning. One example, there wasn't really stealth and for good to keep the gameplay coherent, when they added stealth they only succeed add easy stealth exploit, broke the dynamism of missions, generate boredom slow stealth gameplay with no stealth gameplay depth. So why bother quote it, it's still fun to discover this variation and it has some gameplay design element very well done like the sights management much better done than in XCOM 1&2.

Heroes of Steel RPG
This is overall a weak RPG with weak UI, and it is a lot too huge and its enormous size just make it not enough diversified/too repetitive. I would still advise play the prologue+episode 1, eventually for RPG aspects but also a lot because of combats. they have a good depth, and some unique ideas and succeed capture some aspect of Pool of Radiance combats, where mildly static positioning can be a powerful tool (you build/setup a strong position from where you do the core of the combat or at least a phase of it.

III - A polemic anti courtesy section, some words on some big absents in my list:
Many console games:
If you want a pool of turn based tactical games you'll definitely get a much bigger pool through console games, and I tried many but couldn't stick long for any but FFT. Tactics Ogre, Fire Eblem, Disgaea, Advance Wars, Shining Force , Valkirie, more. They all have something I can't bear, from insupportable teens heroes and massive amount of clichés that I can't bear, to excess of grinding and repetitions.

Too heavy gameplay lacking of fluidity, awfully bad UI, crap AI, boredom flat maps and no some roofs solve nothing, boredom RPG layout. Lol ok I don't like it at all, but all of that is pure evidence. So yeah it's the champion of details and rules finesses, and certainly have a lot of depth, but many attempts to play it didn't change that it lacks of fun for my taste and it is too much a burden to play it.

X-Com original series:
I haven't yet succeed enjoy play any, in fact I had more fun with Xenonauts. Not sure why and I didn't bother analyze it, case not closed for me because I intend a day to give it another try (again with OpenXCOM that makes the UI less awful). No way XCOM replace it nor even LW2, and frankly I have a bigger faith on 4X layout keep light and extended on a base like LW2 than X-Com. But it's still a must play/must try, I can't advise it only because I failed have fun with it.

Play and Go (WEGO) games:
There are variations around the Play & Go system including some with real time aspects, but overall it's a very different genre. I have tried many as Frozen Synapse, Breach & Clear, Door Kickers (a real time aspect), Jagged Alliance : Back in Action (real time aspect), AntiSquad, some more. All failed grab my interest, there's something incompatible with me and this range of gameplay.

Then there's the half exception, Dominions series is a 4X series designed to be played multiplayer. It pushes the idea of Play and Go very far because you setup battles start, and sometimes with hundred of units and dozens of units types without to mention there are injured/cursed/sick units, and you watch the long battle without to do any interaction. It's definitely fascinating for me, alas the indie dev don't have the resources/skills to program an AI that cover even 20% of the rules of the game, hence past some plays you quickly discover how fake and incomplete is the single player gameplay, and for the multiplayer aspect it's too much about diplomacy with other players, and I never enjoyed play diplomacy games.

Various RPG and Roguelike with good turn based tactical combats:
Hard West, Blackguards 1&2, The Banner Saga, Avernum series, Avadon series, Chroma Squad, Lords of Xulima, Loren the Amazon Princess, Enemy, Bionic Dues, TOME, the Depths of Tolagal, some more. They are enjoyable games and I find some of them very fun. All have interesting turn based tactical combats. But for none of them I found the combats great/fun enough to push me quote them in a list dedicated to tactical games. For most I feel it's more my fault than the fault of the game, that's life. Still all of them have good tactical combats so if you are bored to replay LW2 you could give them a try.
NOT a tactical/strategy expert player, playing LW2 at Easy. Rather old so I appreciate not be bothered by excessive familiarity, I'm not your friend and will never be. Refuse to learn English well so don't attempt learn it to me, thank you. :-)

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by Kwic » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:25 pm

Well, I will say concerning my experience :

Divinity original Sin: one of the best. DoS 2 is set to September.

Might and Magic X - Legacy : I really loved the saga (especially the III and V).

Blackguards 1 & 2 : very good games too, but short lifetime too. ~ 100 hours play to finish. Not hard enough, even if the highest difficulty is interesting.

Darkest dungeon : very good game, pretty hard. Played it for ~ 350 hrs. The last level of difficulty is insane. Very good game.

Massive Chalice : a good game but with a really short lifetime. I finished the game in 19 hours. It is the game that made me discover XCom 2, which I played for now a bit more than 2600 hours..

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Re: What are your favorite turn-based tactical games other than XCOM/LW?

Post by Genius384 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:44 am

Final Fantasy Tactics has a fan made rebalance/patch called rebirth that is worth checking out: http://www.moddb.com/mods/final-fantasy-tactics-rebirth

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