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Top 10 Fantasy Strategy Games

VO: Dan Paradis

Script written by Matthew Manouli

Let’s check out the very best strategy games – turn based and real time – that feature fantasy or fantastical elements. Swords and Sorcery, Dungeons and Dragons, Gods and Monsters – these are the tools of the trade in these favorites of the genre from Mac, PC and consoles. Warcraft, Greek Gods and the Lord of the Rings: they’re all here – so come on and help us count down to our favorite.

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Transcript
Script written by Matthew Manouli

Top 10 Fantasy Strategy Games


Prefer to dispatch opponents with mystical fireballs and gargoyles instead of mundane horse archers or M-16s? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down the Top 10 Fantasy Strategy Games.

For this list, we're looking at strategy games which predominantly take place in worlds of sword and sorcery. As usual, there will be only one entry per franchise, and we’re excluding MOBA’s, as those are a completely different genre of game, that deserves its own list. That will come out when Dota 2 and League of Legends fans make peace.

#10: “The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II” (2006)


No fantasy list would be complete without mentioning what is considered the most popular fantasy setting of all time. This second instalment to the RTS PC series introduces new factions such as Dwarves and Elves, adding to the already existing human and orcish races. Elven archers and ents can clash with defensive Dwarven pikemen, and tawdry priced goblins while attempting to eliminate all other factions. While based on Tolkien's War of the North from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the does take some liberties with the plot. But that shouldn't stop hardcore LOTR fans from enjoying this fantasyfilled entry.

#9: “Age of Mythology” (2002)


This RTS PC game was a spinoff of the wildly popular Age of Empires series, but instead of sending paladins after your enemies, players get to use the powers of the gods to rain down death and destruction on their foes. While there are only three playable races, the Greeks, the Norse, and the Egyptians, each led by their own major god, like Zeus, you are allowed to choose a minor god each time you advance through to the next age. There is one campaign, but at a whopping 32 scenarios long, it is sure to keep you engaged for ages, literally.

#8: “Shining Force” (1992)


Enter the world of Guardania, and take the role of Max, who forms a group of friends in order to stop the antagonist Kane from opening up the Shining Path to resurrect and unleash the Dark Dragon on the land. A tactical turn based RPG for the Genesis, you fight enemies on a square grid, gaining experience points to level up and gain promotions by performing different kinds of actions. Despite a major part of the plot being lost in translation upon its first North American release, the game's initial success saw it ported to numerous other consoles, including the Wii Virtual Console, and a remake on the Gameboy Advance.


#7: “Total War: Warhammer” (2016)


The Total War series has featured some of the largest tactical battles ever on PC, ranging from settings in historical Shogun Japan, to ancient Rome, to medieval Europe. But don't fret, fantasy fans, because this instalment in the series takes place in the fantasy world of Warhammer. You can play as four factions, including the Empire, which is the human faction, and the Greenskins, which employ giants and trolls. Developers took a big risk creating a fantasy game in a series that has usually tried to be as historically accurate as possible, but diehard fans have learned to appreciate this entry as well.

#6: “Black and White” (2001)


Ever wanted to be a god? Based on the timeless concept of Good vs. Evil, Black and White allows you to decide the fate of numerous tribes on an island by acting as their god. While Peter Molyneux's Populous is accepted to be the first god game, Black and White offers a more polished and updated experience. Each action or inaction you take will be deemed good or evil and contribute to your image in the eyes of the villagers. A pretty cool feature is the inclusion of a pet creature. This pet cannot be controlled directly, but can be taught to do certain tasks using a reinforcement system. If you think you're a saint, this game might tell you who you really are.

#5: “Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne” (2002)


Building on the success of the original Age of Wonders, Age of Wonders 2 has the player take control of an immortal wizard and fight through the different spheres of Water, Fire, Earth, Air, Life, Death, and Cosmos. Spells can only be used within a certain domain, so don't think you can just take overpowered spells and rush into enemy territory. Part of the reason for this game's success was that the Dutch developers took to the online strategy community to help with the making of the game. Good job Internet.

#4: “Final Fantasy Tactics” (1997)


On the heels of the wildly popular Final Fantasy VII, a paragon of RPG gaming, Final Fantasy took a more tactical approach to combat with this Playstation game. Battles were set on an isometric map, giving you more freedom in deciding where to place your party, in contrast to the 2D games. Much like FF5, characters can choose from a list of jobs, such as Squire, or Monk. Even monsters are available to join the your party. Fans at the time would also be able to see FF7's protagonist Cloud, as he makes an appearance in this game as a playable character.

#3: “Heroes of Might and Magic III” (1999)


While video game spin offs often fail to impress, Heroes of Might and Magic series surpassed its original RPG series, Might and Magic, by miles. Heroes II was acclaimed as a masterpiece, but Heroes III improved upon it in most ways. Heroes still had secondary skills, but now had unique specialties, along with tons of new artifacts and creatures to recruit from 8 different town types. The introduction of the Wait command in battle, as well as numerous new creature abilities, added depth to the strategy of this turn based game. With a stunning soundtrack composed by Paul Romero, and loads of environmental sound effects, this game will fully immerse you into a land of fantasy and lore.

#2: “Fire Emblem Awakening” (2013)


This tactical turn based RPG on the 3DS has you control an amnesiac soldier working for Prince Chrom of Ylisse. Old Fire Emblem fans would be right at home with this entry in the series, and the new option of playing without permadeath makes the game accessible to newcomers as well. The game is highly customizable and the RPG elements are extremely deep, with 40 character classes to choose from. Battles take place on a squared grid, with environmental obstacles. Relationships between characters can also be built, making them friends, and even lovers. Originally created to be the final game in the Fire Emblem series, its success kept the franchise alive, spawning at least another game, which was unfortunately split into 3 games.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Spellforce 2” (2006)
“Warhammer: Mark of Chaos” (2006)
“Rise of Legends” (2006)
“Master of Magic” (1994)

#1: “Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness” (1995)


When talking about strategy games that were seminal to the genre, perhaps nothing had a bigger impact that Tides of Darkness. Everything we know and love about Blizzard’s strategy games took shape in this decades old title: the isometric perspective, the vibrant art style, the quirky unit banter – you could find it all here. Regardless of whether or not it ripped off a certain lord of a certain set of rings, the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance made gaming history. Blizzard took the strategy genre and showed the world how it was done. Zug Zug.

Do you agree with our list? What are some of the best fantasy strategy games you've had the privilege of playing? For more Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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