Tactical RPG Systems

I'm itching to run a tactical RPG and I want it gamey as frick. I want grids, I status effects and crowd control and I want players to have to manage their resources in combat and figure out how to best use their abilities.
In essence, I want something like DnD 4e. I could just go for 4e, but I'd like to know if there's anything with a comparable style of play and decent amount of content that has come around in the meantime. The only thing I've seen people talk about is PF2e, but people seem split over whether or not it's like 4e. Outside of that, only Savage Worlds sort of comes to mind and its combat is pretty bland in actual play, so are there any other alternatives by now or should I just hunt down 4e books, which is a pain in the ass around these parts?

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    4E is better than PF2 for this.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >getting punched in the balls is better than getting kicked in the balls
      have you tried not getting hit in the balls?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I'm specifically asking to get punched in the balls. Go be a homosexual somewhere else.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I like the resource management in Pathfinder 2E
      I'm making a grappler for the next game.
      Rogue and Monk with the Wrestler Archetype

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        4e does resource management better. That's the entire mechanic, actually. But anyway the correct answer is Icon, from the makers of Lancer.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >I want to play an RPG except I don't want it to be an RPG at all.
      Just play Descent 2nd Ed., anon. It's great and you'll seem less moronic.

      Too bad both are shit. That said, 4e could've been a good modular boardgame if it'd have leaned into that.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Genuine question, what's the appeal of this style of RPG vs just playing a wargame or tactical videogame? You're going to spend the majority of your time just grinding away at tactical combats, which can be fun, but at that point why not just play Gloomhaven or HeroQuest or Necromunda etc since you're not doing any actual roleplaying, or exploring within the game just endless tactical combat.

        What’s it with people always showing up in tactical rpg threads trying to gaslight people into playing crap they didn’t ask for.
        No, wargames are nothing like TRPGs, no, boardgames that don’t even have custom characters are nothing like them either.
        Is it just 3.5 brainrot? It doesn’t „feel like dnd“?
        Can you actually not conceive that someone wants to play an RPG and actually be engaged also when combat starts? It’s not like non OSR dnd combat is any faster, it’s just worse
        >b-but not dnd
        I’m sure GURPS is lightning fast…

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          I guess the specific brand of going hard on the GAME side of RPG triggers the skub-autism of people. In this shitshow of an age, people also feel like everything they do is an expression of their deepest self and needs to be true and correct forever. As if you can't play 4e, GURPS, Burning Wheel and vampire and whatever the frick else and cycle between them. People feel like they have to be married to one singular system and style of play.

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Literally Strike!
    Its 4e generic for what you want.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Fabula Ultima is super gamey, and is aiming for a JRPG feel, so maybe try that? I'm not sure how tactical it is

      Alright, I'll check these out, thanks. I even remember the guy shilling Strike! back in the day, I wonder if he's still around.

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Fabula Ultima is super gamey, and is aiming for a JRPG feel, so maybe try that? I'm not sure how tactical it is

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      FU is rules lite as frick

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      [...]
      Alright, I'll check these out, thanks. I even remember the guy shilling Strike! back in the day, I wonder if he's still around.

      Fabula Ultima doesn't have movement or attack ranges, let alone grid combat

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        When I skimmed Fabula Ultima, it looked like lipstick on a pig. Pretty art and layout trying to disguise a thrown-together pile of mechanics and mush. Has anyone interrogated the system yet, or is it just a recommendation people put out there because it looks pretty?

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Fabula Ultima is not a tactics game.

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Honestly, 4e is what you want. Nothing since has had the same amount of content put out. We clown on 4e for being 4e, but it had years of support, development, and analysis.
    If you're willing to put in the work, homebrewing or tweaking 4e is easier since there are still archives of the charop of days past available, as well as online resources and the ability to run the full 4e character builder on a PC.

    You may have some success by giving players limited options. Work out what they want, and then give them a small selection you have already got tucked away. Look at the full breadth of what is available, then present the two or three options that fit the character, rather than saying "Now you've all levelled up, please pick from the analysis paralysis engine's many options"

  5. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I cannot recommend lancer highly enough for this exact situation if you’re open to mecha at all

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I wasn't thinking about mechs, but I'll check it out anyway. Beggers can't be choosers in this climate.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        How can he bend with metal joints?

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          His arms and legs are probably cables hidden under the cloth stuff, so that's what bends and not the armored parts.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >ywn never earn 15 silver points

  6. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    13th Age is 4e but "better". Keep in mind that it does away with the grid though.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Is it theatre of the mind, or does it use rulers like a wargame?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Theater of the mind, though uses a nearby/close/far system for targeting and relative positioning. AoEs are "1d4+1 enemies in a group" and such with the call on who qualifies as being close enough as GM fiat, encouraged to rule in favor of players

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          if the OP wants grids, why are you suggesting a gridless system?

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            13th Age satisfies everything on OPs list except grids. I thought it was worth a mention as an alternative to 4e because that is what it is. A pretty decent one at that.

            • 3 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Yeah it's not even close. People keep saying this but while it tries to add some things close to it it really isn't as good tactically as anything else.

            • 3 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              No, that's stupid. I know that 13th Age nabbed a bunch of 4e elements, but it's never been a particularly tactical system and your positioning + teamwork is about as relevant in as in 5e. It doesn't actually "feel" anything like 4e in play.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >it’s 4e but better
      >by removing the best part of 4e
      No amount of „but the range system just works“ will convince me that this isn’t the same
      >but it doesn’t FEEL like DnD
      Brainrot that gave us 5e

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >it’s 4e but "better"
        >by removing the "best" part of 4e
        Yes.

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Go appeal to the hivemind somewhere else.
          OP explicitly asked for a grid based game and nobody fricking plays 13th age precisely because it’s not what anyone wants.
          The people that want tactical combat want grid based combat. That’s why games like lancer and icon are beeing made.
          Theatre kids and powergamers don’t care about whatever 4e elements 13th age lifted.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      4e is literally nothing like 13th Age, you drooling moron.
      No one who liked 4e will like 13th Age
      You have never played either system. You have probably never read either system.
      Stop repeating this fricking wrong opinion just because some of the same people worked on it.

  7. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    https://preview.drivethrurpg.com/en/product/151897/Les-Terres-dAmarande--Le-Guide-et-Compagnon

    unfortunately in french but its literally final fantasy tactic with some ogre battle flavor in it.
    96 classes, 10 races.

    dev is slowly making a second edition in english.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Pure Desire
      Want. There's a FF Pathfinder but it doesn't scratch the same itch.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I could run it through an AI translator I guess. Thanks for the suggestion.

        From the suggestions in the thread, I'll also look at Icon, Lancer and Strike!, as well as 13th Age and see if any of those hit what I want. These are more suggestions than I expected, so thanks for these.

        [...]
        This isn't my usual style of play, and I play both wargames and dungeon crawler boardgames. A gamey tactical RPG just hits a specific niche of fricking around cooperatively with your buddies, doing some roleplaying that matters enough to care but not enough to spend the majority of the time on it, character progression and as a GM it goes hand in hand with having to prepare a lot less, because I can just browse through a Monster Manual or equivalent and there we go. Props like minis, a 3D grid and terrain are also fun to fiddle with.

        >Why not a wargame?
        Because I want to play with a group of friends and I want a bit of roleplay to spice it up.

        >Why not a video game?
        Because I want to play with real people, sitting around a table, preferrably using books and dice.

        >Why not a boardgame
        Because I want more options and a higher degree of freedom.

        >Not doing any exploring
        Dungeon Turns are a thing and fun to play with. Tracking stamina, food and light, as well the map can be fun and engaging.

        sneak peak of the english version.
        its the soldier basic class.

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Bit basic as its a basic class, but I'll have to see the rules before I judge.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I could run it through an AI translator I guess. Thanks for the suggestion.

      From the suggestions in the thread, I'll also look at Icon, Lancer and Strike!, as well as 13th Age and see if any of those hit what I want. These are more suggestions than I expected, so thanks for these.

      Genuine question, what's the appeal of this style of RPG vs just playing a wargame or tactical videogame? You're going to spend the majority of your time just grinding away at tactical combats, which can be fun, but at that point why not just play Gloomhaven or HeroQuest or Necromunda etc since you're not doing any actual roleplaying, or exploring within the game just endless tactical combat.

      This isn't my usual style of play, and I play both wargames and dungeon crawler boardgames. A gamey tactical RPG just hits a specific niche of fricking around cooperatively with your buddies, doing some roleplaying that matters enough to care but not enough to spend the majority of the time on it, character progression and as a GM it goes hand in hand with having to prepare a lot less, because I can just browse through a Monster Manual or equivalent and there we go. Props like minis, a 3D grid and terrain are also fun to fiddle with.

      >Why not a wargame?
      Because I want to play with a group of friends and I want a bit of roleplay to spice it up.

      >Why not a video game?
      Because I want to play with real people, sitting around a table, preferrably using books and dice.

      >Why not a boardgame
      Because I want more options and a higher degree of freedom.

      >Not doing any exploring
      Dungeon Turns are a thing and fun to play with. Tracking stamina, food and light, as well the map can be fun and engaging.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      This sounds amazing but I’ve never heard of it before. A translation would be great

  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Genuine question, what's the appeal of this style of RPG vs just playing a wargame or tactical videogame? You're going to spend the majority of your time just grinding away at tactical combats, which can be fun, but at that point why not just play Gloomhaven or HeroQuest or Necromunda etc since you're not doing any actual roleplaying, or exploring within the game just endless tactical combat.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Dumb question.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      NTA.

      I personally find it scratches a bit of an itch that those games you mention don't fulfill. I get it mainly through Battletech though which is unironically narrative heavy in our campaigns despite every game being the same lances.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >since you're not doing any actual roleplaying, or exploring within the game just endless tactical combat.
      Anon, 4e's DMG has more roleplaying rules/advice than 5e ever got. People tend to use complain about Skill Challenges replacing all RP, but it's on the GM to decide how much of the RP challenge he wants to reduce to mechanical rolling and SCs are still open-ended enough to allow improvisation and RP-heavy solutions to problems. Literally only way in which 4e is more roleplay-restricted than 5e is all the non-combat spells being rituals.

      Also most RP-"focused" RPGs don't usually any mechanics for exploration anyway, so it's a complete non-argument against tactical skirmish games.

  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Icon or lancer , or strike! For diet 4e.
    But mostly just play 4e.
    Get some decent terrain and you’re golden.

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Gamma world 7th edition is based on 4e so try that.

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I saw a game literally called Dungeon Tactics. Can't get more tactical than that.

  12. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    This thread is relevant to my interests as I'm homebrewing a lite system for running the campaign of FF1 and I want to capture some of the JRPGness of general FF and DQ.

  13. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Aside from D&D 4e, my favorite grid-based tactical games nowadays are ICON 1.5 (soon to be 1.6), Tailfeathers/Kazzam, and Tacticians of Ahm. I have played all of these, and found them reasonably engaging.

    The lattermost of these, Tacticians of Ahm, is notable for having randomizerless combat.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I'm a big fan of Icon and 4e, but haven't heard of those two. What do they do well/differently that's good?

  14. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Icon and Strike have already been mentioned, but check out Gubat Banwa for something similar with strong flavour and some neat innovations.

  15. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    What are some good games that have a tactical feel that are somewhat rules light? I'm sure that one could make a light tactical game with abstractions and thoughtful choices in mechanics. You know, kind of like how chess is complex while being relatively rules light.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Chess is extremely rules heavy and you're moronic or don't know what rules-light means.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >thinking chess is extremely rules heavy
        Imagine telling on yourself like this.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Princess Wing.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Strike!
      It's probably the best balance you are going to find.

  16. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Use 4e. The whole thing is based in world of warcaft.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Ha! You thought this was an angry reply but it was merely a (you)

  17. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Why not just play a skirmish game at that point?

  18. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >I'm itching to run a tactical RPG and I want it gamey as frick. I want grids, I status effects and crowd control and I want players to have to manage their resources in combat and figure out how to best use their abilities.
    thats just D&D, Black person

  19. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Another good fit for what you are looking for that hasn't been mentionned is Pokemon Tabletop United (PTU) You have to like, or at least not hate, pokemon. It is grid based and has a ton of status effects and the like being thrown around.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Isn't PTU borderline impossible to run without tools because they went above and beyond on autism?

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        I don't know, I only ever played in it. I do know that all the other players used tools to manage thier parties and leveling up. I just used a stack of character sheets and the books, so I do know as a player you can play it toolless. Were I to GM it the only place where I would want any tools is for randomizing wild pokemon so that they would have minor variation between them. I could probably just use some dice to do so but a random pokemon generator would save a ton of time. Other than that it's very playable without tools.

  20. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Ctrl+F
    No DragonQuest (Talking about the game released by SPI not the Japanese video game company)
    *sigh* This board truly has changed for the worst

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