There’s no need to be a Magnus Carlsen-level strategic genius to get a huge amount of enjoyment from these casual turn-based games.
The best casual turn-based games
- Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
- Into the Breach
- Civilization V
- Battle of Polytopia
Disclaimer: The focus below is on turn-based strategy. Yes, there are loads of great TBS games missing from this list – I tried to stick to games that are easiest for newcomers to the genre to pick up and play while also providing some challenge to seasoned players.
Read on below for my full list of casual turn-based game picks, or find more casual strategy games here.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle set a high bar for turn-based strategy featuring Nintendo’s flagship franchise, but Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope has still managed to make improvements in almost every area.
Most eye-catching is the total lack of a traditional TBS grid on which players can move. Instead, each movement is totally free within a character’s set range and even this range can be extended via certain unique abilities and perks (the Sparks).
The combat feels satisfying and while this is definitely a turn-based game, there are some real-time elements thrown into the mix, too.
If I could suggest any improvements, some character customizations – like the different outfits Mario can wear in Odyssey – would be fun.
The overworld between battles is fantastically colorful and downright fun to explore, with plenty of puzzles and unlockables to discover. If you have a Nintendo Switch, don’t miss this.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
The GBA is arguably the best (and definitely my favorite) platform for turn-based strategy.
The handheld form and cozy 16-bit visuals are just two of the many reasons that the GBA is great for casual gaming and there are few titles more suited to this list than Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
The storyline is charming and the level and character design are easy on the eye. It’s pretty easy for a first-time player to pick up and play, too.
It’s perfectly possible to sink hundreds of hours into this one without encountering any throw-the-console-at-the-wall moments of frustration or impossibly tricky tasks.
Into the Breach
In Into the Breach, players take charge of futuristic mechs to help save the world from an alien threat.
Nothing too original about that, but the premise doesn’t have to be original when the gameplay is so good.
It’s chalked up 9’s and 10’s across dozens of reviews, with the PC version earning a ‘must-play’ badge from Metacritic.
The replayability meter is off the charts thanks to customizable mechs and randomly generated levels. It’s fun, it’s quick to learn for casual players, and – warning – it’s addictive.
I personally think Into the Breach plays best on the Nintendo Switch and, with the digital version taking up only 464MB, there’s no need to archive or delete any of your other Switch games to make space for it.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a turn-based strategy on a much, much grander scale than all of my other picks on this list, but no need to be intimidated – it’s great for casual sessions.
Civilization VI is arguably more friendly to the absolute beginner, but Civ V is overall the most laid-back of all the games in the series. There’s way less micromanagement and the mechanics are a lot simpler than IV or VI.
Other than that, the art style and simplicity of play are, for me, the two main things that make Civ V more appealing for a casual player than Civ VI.
V and its expansions still have tons of active players and there are thriving online communities for multiplayer gameplay as well as some interesting mods:
If you’re a fan of slow-paced real-time strategy games but have yet to explore turn-based strategy, Civilization V is the perfect entry point.
Battle of Polytopia
Battle of Polytopia has been out for a few years now, but I’ve yet to play a better casual strategy game on Android.
It has impressive depth for a pick-up-and-play mobile game. Players take control of a polygonic tribe to explore, build, upgrade, and go to war in classic isometric top-down turn-based action.
The visual design is incredible. It’s colorful, smart, and charming.
Mobile is arguably the platform where developers have to do the most to differentiate their games from others visually, and Midjwan has truly delivered.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is another GBA classic for gamers looking for a casual yet rewarding experience.
With a charming art style, the story follows a loveable (and at times, goofy) cast of characters who set out to thwart the ambitions of the Grado Empire and save the Sacred Stones from destruction.
This is the third GBA installment in the Fire Emblem series (but only the second for the global market – The Binding Blade was a Japan-only release).
The first Fire Emblem GBA (The Blazing Blade) is also well worth your time, but I think The Sacred Stones is a more straightforward and accessible game than its predecessor.
Ganbare! Super Strikers
If you don’t like sports games then look away now. For those of you that are partial to that, the turn-based format applied to soccer on the Switch is a cool novelty.
It takes a while to level up your players and team to reach the same level and unlock the same abilities as your opponents can use from the get-go, but that’s all part of the fun.
There is plenty to keep track of during every game with things like weather affecting players’ stats. The AI is relatively predictable meaning this is a pretty beginner-friendly game.
There’s a (fairly average) story mode as well as an Arcade mode that supports multiplayer. Overall, I’d say it’s one of the best soccer games on Switch.
Halfway is a fun little indie game that you can pick up for just $10 on Steam.
You’ll get around 12 hours of charming pixel-art gameplay as you take control of a bunch of survivors hoping to regain control of a spaceship following an alien invasion.
Weapon upgrades are unlocked periodically and the simple combat mechanics make this a solid option for casual play.
You’ll need to think about which 4 squad members to deploy for each mission but even the greenest TBS player should be able to navigate Halfway without too much difficulty.
Advance Wars 2
Advance Wars is probably the unluckiest video game series of all time. The first game on Game Boy Advance was released in North America on September 10, 2001 (and then delayed elsewhere for obvious reasons).
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp – a Nintendo Switch reboot of the GBA titles – was then due to release in December 2021 but has been delayed due allegedly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In any case, make sure you pick up a copy of Advance Wars 2 because even if it’s not necessarily easy, it does hold your hand throughout the entire Orange Star campaign and there’s plenty of guidance in Blue Moon too.
If you want to improve at playing turn-based strategy games without pulling your hair out through stress, Advance Wars 2 is the best place to start. You’ll end up making much more advanced plays than you probably realized you were capable of.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, there’s a big chance you’ll enjoy Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark.
Fell Seal is not a clone of Tactics Advance (it has a decent story of its own) but it is clearly heavily inspired by it and in my opinion, that’s mostly a good thing.
There are more than 40 different encounters to get stuck into through the Fell Seal story plus 30 classes, 300 abilities, and 240+ equipment pieces.
The characters are memorable and the artwork is another standout feature. Once you start with this game, you might find it hard to stop.
The Nintendo Switch file size is relatively small, which is also nice for those of you that like to have digital copies of most of your games.
Casual turn-based games – conclusion
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is the best casual turn-based game out there today. I think Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Into the Breach are must-plays, and the rest of the games featured above are also well worth a try.
Some would say that real-time strategy is dead, but the options for turn-based strategy players have almost never been better.