I’ve spoken about a lot of genres and aspects of games I’m not fond of. Story-rich games, Roguelikes/Roguelites, and everything in between. At this point, you would think I just hate video games. But despite that, there is always some in a genre that even I find enjoyable or just downright awesome. So, this time I thought I’d tackle tactical games. These are my picks for 5 tactical games you should play, even if you hate the genre.
These are in no particular order, and If you think I missed one, feel free to comment below and let me know!
5. Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos
Imagine Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a game, then you have Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos.
In this tactical RPG, players take control of a band of unlikely heroes who must journey and battle through a sprawling multi-floor dungeon on an adventure filled with rude, crude and satirical humour and charm. You’ll get to explore a surprisingly varied world, level up and equip your heroes, and engage in dialogue with some of the weirdest characters you can think of.
Where Dungeon of Naheulbeuk shines best is in its aesthetic. The game makes no secret that it’s a huge parody, with each of the party members representing all the best and worst of stereotypical fantasy and tabletop characters. From a dwarf whose every other word is expletives, a ditsy elf, and a meathead barbarian, it’s a humour-filled riot from beginning to end with some witty and clever writing. On top of that, it’s a pretty solid tactical RPG, with loot to find, skill trees to upgrade your heroes, a ton of variation in gameplay, and secrets and puzzles to find.
So if you fancy top-notch satire, with some great tactical gameplay sprinkled in, Dungeon of Naheulbeuk should be top of your list.
4. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
On paper, this combination of Super Mario, the Rabbids, and the tactical genre shouldn’t work. Yet somehow it does, and it makes for a truly special and unique game.
You play as the famous moustached plumber in a distorted version of the Mushroom Kingdom. After the Rabbids appear in the Mario world and begin to cause havoc, it’s up to Mario and his friends to journey across this weirdly wonderful world to undo the Rabbids’ damage. You’ll level and equip your team, meet old favourites and interesting new characters, and get to enjoy a fun and completely fresh take on the Mario world.
This is a game that came out of left field and took everyone by surprise on its release. Somehow, the game managed to blend new ideas into the tried and true formula of the tactical game. Aside from the usual cover systems and weapon stats and effects, you have sliding attacks and Mario jumps that let you traverse the field with more verticality and options.
Characters had an array of unique abilities they could use and there are a ton of weapons to unlock. All coming together, it gives an uprising amount of choice, variety, and nuance to the gameplay that makes for an engaging experience. Even for younger players, you have tools to make the experience easier so anyone can enjoy it. Aside from the fact it’s Super Mario and Rabbids, a combination I never knew I wanted.
It’s well worth your time if you own a Nintendo Switch, and is one of the console’s best offerings, and with a sequel on the way you can bet we will be in for another weird adventure with our favourite plumber and the nutty Rabbids.
3. Blood Bowl 2
Now we come to Fantasy football. Quite literally.
Based on the tabletop game by Games Workshop, Blood Bowl 2 is part strategy game, part tactical gameplay, and part sports simulation. You take control of a football team made up of the many races of the Warhammer world and using a mixture of team management and strategy play some simple games of football. But expect far fewer rules, much more carnage, and a few unique twists that can make it a literal blood bowl.
Warhammer games tend to be hit and miss for me. In this case, Blood Bowl 2 is one of the better uses of the Warhammer IP. Managing your team with different players, coaches, skills and tactics requires time and careful planning to best use your team and compliment your playstyle. It makes for some layered, deep, and rewarding gameplay that is a near-perfect replication of the tabletop game into video game form. Matches can be intense and challenging, with every decision making a difference in the flow of the game. And to top it off, you have great customisation, single-player and multiplayer modes, and an incredible setting.
2. Valkyria Chronicles 4
We had to get one anime game here, but it’s a stellar entry to this list.
Set during a brutal war across their home continent, you take control of Claude Wallace. You’ll lead squad E in this mishmash of tactical gameplay, first-person shooter, RPG, and top-down strategy. You’ll use a variety of classes to gain the upper hand in battle, make tactical decisions, upgrade units and equipment, all whilst taking place in an interesting story about the realities of war and coming of age.
Valkyria has quite a few selling points that make this a particular standout on this list. It’s got an incredible aesthetic thanks to its CANVAS graphics engine. This watercolour like art style blends with anime visuals into a visually stunning experience. The BLiTZ Battle system creates layers upon layers of great gameplay. You’ll get to plan out unit movements, survey battlefield maps, take precise aim in first person, and adapt to dynamic situations on the battlefield. Topped with R&D to create new equipment and a slew of ways to customize, there are a ton of upgrades for your troops with abilities and skills and weapons that constantly evolve throughout the game.
It’s got depth, deep gameplay mechanics, and a fresh take on the genre. What more do you need?
1. Warhammer 40k: Mechanicus
It’s another trip to the world of Warhammer, only this time we head to the grim, dark future.
This entry takes place in the world of Warhammer 40k. Players take control of a group of tech-priests, a faction machine worshipping humans. You must command a squad of tech-priests and lead expeditions on the planet Silva Tenebris, a planet overrun with the hush like Machines, the Necrons.
Warhammer 40k: Mechanicus shines when it comes to player choice. Aside from missions that give you options on how to tackle situations, you also get some of the most robust customization options I’ve seen in a tactics game. Units can equip all manner of weapons and abilities in any combination you can think of. You could have a heavy gunner carrying 4 plasma cannons on its robotic arms. Maybe a melee fighter with a giant axe and shotguns on either side. It’s quite crazy the kinds of units you can create. Along with a ton of abilities, it makes for a game with great replayability and a ton of freedom.
Think I missed any? Any other tactical games you like despite hating them? Let me know in the comments below!