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Turn Based Tactics is a specialized subgenre of Turn-Based Strategy. What makes Tactical games different is their scope; While strategic games (like Risk or Civilization) revolve around the abstract mechanics of efficiently waging war, exploiting resources and controlling huge groups of combatants all at once (whether or not it's readily apparent), tactical games focus on controlling individual soldiers or vehicles. Due to this constricted scope, recruitment and construction take place outside of combat, if they even factor into the game at all.
TBT games tend to place a higher worth on individual Mooks. To accommodate this, detailed grid maps, status rules like stance or facing and a spot high up the Sliding Scale of Turn Realism are common. Backing this up, the combatants themselves tend to be modeled in greater statistical detail, with their load-outs, Subsystem Damage and morale. Unlike Grand Strategy games, Tactical games often put a hard limit the number of units that can be fielded, meaning that if one is lost it can never be replaced.
As with Turn-Based Strategy games, gameplay alternates between players: Each player has the time to contemplate their next move and execute it, before relinquishing control to the next player. There are some exceptions to this, primarily the Simultaneous Turn Resolution (aka "WEGO”) model, in which players formulate and submit their orders for the turn at the same time, and then all soldiers act simultaneously on those orders.
Where Tactical games overlap with Role Playing Games, several other similarities may be involved. In particular, the ability to alter units' equipment and to gain experience (thereby making units stronger as the game progresses).
Some TBT games are self-contained: each match or mission is a singular experience, having no influence on subsequent matches. Most however have a Grand Strategy or Adventure portion that serves to "tie" the matches together, with some large-scale goal to strive towards. Even so, the focus is always on the player's performance in each match. Therefore, Strategic success in such games stems from repeated Tactical success, not the other way around. For example, losing an important territory early on in the Strategic portion of the game may make future Tactical matches a little harder, but failing a single Tactical match may cost you the entire game. This is the opposite of Grand Strategy, where one lost battle rarely means Game Over.
Since the start of the 21st century, TBT games have been in recession in what was their strongest market: the personal computer. The appearance of computers that could easily process gameplay in Real Time attracted a large portion of Strategy Game fans towards Real Time Strategy in one direction, and towards Tactical Shooters in the other direction. Recent attempts to make TBT games have been based primarily around free online casual matches. Nonetheless, yesterday's TBT games continue to maintain hard-core supporters who refuse to give up easily. The result is that some of these games are still being played long after they've been abandoned by the mainstream fans. Some even continue to top the all-time-favorite videogame lists, year after year.
Compare Strategy RPG.
- Abomination: The Nemesis Project
- Artillery and its clones — although the physics-based system, lack of a grid, and the equal importance of tactics and skill make such titles almost more of a turn-based Action Game.
- Some sections of games in the Battle Isle series, like Incubation: Time is Running Out and The Andosia War.
- The Combat Mission series (uses Simultaneous Turn Resolution).
- The Cyberstorm series
- Eternal Eyes
- Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout: Tactics. In the latter, turn-based mechanics were optional, and could be freely alternated with real-time mechanics.
- Fire Emblem
- Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars
- Heroic Armies Marching, which also combines elements of a card game.
- Jagged Alliance and its sequels. Most of them had plenty of highly-details grand-strategy and role-playing elements woven in.
- Odium/Gorky 17
- Silent Storm
- Space Rangers, during the space-flight portion of the game (and using simultaneous turn resolution).
- Steel Panthers. The third game in the series depicts individual units as platoons (4 tanks or 20-something soldiers) instead of seperate squads and vehicles.
- A number of WH40k games, like Space Crusade, Chaos Gate, and Squad Command.
- X-COM (except Enforcer, Interceptor, and 2K Marin's XCOM)