It was clear from a preview occasion in December that the Tomb Kings would rewrite Total War’s basic guidelines. What was not clear was how profitable this could be over the course of a full marketing campaign. Having now seized Nehekhara as Arkhan the Black, I can say extra about what it has been wish to play with this revision – Total War traditionalists might wish to look away now.
We spoke to Creative Assembly to seek out out what is coming to Total War: Warhammer II next.
There is loads of preventing within the Tomb Kings’ marketing campaign, however theirs will not be a warfare of conquest. Though the 4 vanilla races are vying just for management of Ulthuan’s Great Vortex, this nonetheless entails taking a number of territory – most notably, the scattered settlements that present a relentless drip of magical tokens. Incidentally, the vanilla races could be seen conducting Vortex rituals in the course of the Tomb Kings’ marketing campaign, and can even ship interventions towards one another.
But the Tomb Kings don’t care about all that. Indeed, when hailed by a High Elf within the diplomacy display, Arkhan says it explicitly: the issues of Ulthuan will not be the issues of Nehekhara. Their goal is the Black Pyramid of Nagash, a magical superweapon constructed by the Warhammer world’s first Necromancer. To declare victory, every Tomb King faction should management the Pyramid straight, in addition to 5 of Nagash’s 9 books.
These are carried by highly effective rogue armies or held in settlements around the globe, however after getting scored only one victory over the foe, the ebook is yours. So, not like the Vortex forex settlements, you don’t have any want to carry the territory you conquer. It has by no means been a rule that the winner of a Total War marketing campaign should even be the most important empire, but it surely tends to occur as a rule. Now, for arguably the primary time within the sequence, you do not want anyplace close to that a lot territory to win. Total War might have simply acquired its first ‘tall’ slightly than ‘wide’ playstyle.
Another purpose for that is that Tomb King troops value nothing to recruit and nothing to take care of. Instead, there’s a arduous cap on the quantity you’ll be able to subject in your armies directly. This lends a way of status to the top models – the Hierotitan and Necrosphinx dwellings can solely be constructed at settlement tier 5, value 12,000 gold every, and solely elevate their unit cap by one.
That is a hell of an funding to subject a single unit, particularly when different races will not be restricted in the identical means. As satisfying as it’s to subject a Carnosaur or a Star Dragon, the Tomb Kings’ status models retain their lustre higher when they’re so arduous to recruit. Ever since bringing my first Black Dragons on-stream in Heroes of Might and Magic II, I’ve cherished that specific flutter of satisfaction one will get from incomes after which unleashing a technique recreation’s strongest toys, and the Tomb Kings ship it in an enormous means.
Far from the leafy heights of the tech tree are trash-tier skeleton infantry, that are uncapped. This means all that forestalls you from operating a 20-stack instantly is recruitment time. As Settra or Arkhan, you’ll in all probability struggle a rival Tomb King in the end, which implies you might be assured to run into one other 20-stack of undead. This lends a grindy, attritional really feel to these early battles; enemies don’t run and have to be worn down.
To compensate for limitless models, you solely get one military till techs unlock others. Your financial system additionally begins small – gold earnings can be in three figures for some time. Since your infrastructure prices virtually as a lot as anybody else’s, it is a drawback: your models could also be free, however the buildings that produce them will not be, so you want to get cash from someplace. That someplace is post-battle loot. Tomb Kings can earn 1000’s from a single struggle, and their characters have loads of abilities to make raiding and sacking cities much more profitable.
This provides you a powerful incentive to be on the warpath early on however, finally, buffs granted by techs and buildings will stack, such that your financial system turns into aggressive with different races. With so few overheads, the Tomb Kings don’t must stress over their funds previous a sure level within the marketing campaign. Where the vicissitudes of unit recruitment and income progress will make different races’ steadiness sheets learn like a zigzagging coronary heart monitor, the Tomb Kings’ is a easy curve, steepening towards the endgame: as Arkhan, I used to be pulling in 10,000 per flip with 5 full armies (‘normal’ issue) by the point I completed.
For different races to match that form of money with that form of army, they would want a sprawling empire with a well-developed infrastructure, however I by no means set foot outdoors of the Tomb Kings’ homeland. Even the Mortuary Cult, the place you’ll be able to craft magic objects and highly effective distinctive models, appears designed to encourage this nativism. Everything however elevating your military cap prices commerce assets, of which the UI will level you in the direction of the closest supply. I discovered the whole lot I wanted in Nehekhara or close by, and was capable of equip Arkhan with purple objects in all his slots – one thing you’d seldom see in some other race.
As a results of all this, I – in nice concordance with the lore – discovered that I misplaced curiosity in growth as soon as I had consolidated my maintain on Nehekhara (and Araby). A mixture of robust Lizardmen neighbours, unappealing climates, and the truth that I already had greater than sufficient army would possibly to chase my marketing campaign goals meant that I noticed no must push my borders any additional south than Ka-Sabar.
Perhaps this is the reason my marketing campaign as Arkhan the Black felt rather less epic than my different Total War: Warhammer II video games. Or maybe I imply ‘epic’ in a special sense: the Tomb Kings’ story is about searching for out forbidden information from internationally, slightly than forging an empire to span it. Again, traditionalists might balk, however having injected new life to the sequence by various strategic mechanics with such success, you’ll be able to see why Creative Assembly might really feel emboldened to re-imagine the everyday Total War marketing campaign. If additional justification is required, they’d be doing a disservice to the Warhammer licence by casting the Tomb Kings as world conquerors (with the attainable exception of Settra).
I encountered a few technical hitches. A Tomb King ceremony can summon a sandstorm over each area they personal, which thumped my body charge. I additionally acquired Arkhan’s victory notification and post-campaign rating display earlier than coming into the – sensible and dramatic – closing battle for the Black Pyramid, which is kind of clearly when it’s alleged to play.
Another attainable situation is pacing. I recorded the whole lot of Arkhan’s marketing campaign, and it clocks in at roughly ten hours. Though this consisted of a wholesome 150 turns, which compares properly to 146 turns as Tyrion or 177 as Mazdamundi, lots of Arkhan’s turns felt much less substantial on account of his needing to struggle fewer wars or fend off dozens of vortex-spawned Chaos stacks – although it is a headache I can not say I miss.
In equity, Arkhan’s marketing campaign might show to be the quickest. He begins with one Book of Nagash, so he solely has to seek out one other 4, and there are 4 on his beginning continent. I by no means needed to go away the Southlands. This isn’t essentially a criticism, only a marketing campaign with a special flavour, and there are many others on this DLC if Arkhan’s is to not your style.
Khalida begins within the Southlands, removed from Nehekhara, with a grudge towards the Vampire Coast. For a problem, Khatep begins in Naggaroth, surrounded by Dark Elves. Both should cross the size of the New World to gather the books they want, after which an ocean to retake the Black Pyramid. It is straightforward to see how taking part in as both of them would change the cadence of a marketing campaign – all this enterprise about consolidating Nehekhara is fairly redundant when you don’t begin there.
This is the worth that launching with 4 legendary lords and an (virtually) full military roster can supply. It comes on the expense of the mini-campaigns in earlier Total Warhammer race packs – these tried to dig into the lore behind every race, however had been poorly acquired by followers, and for my part the Tomb Kings DLC does simply nearly as good a job at telling their story. I do surprise if we are going to see the Necrolith Colossus (aka, Bone Giant) in future, however it’s nice to have all of the Tomb Kings’ different toys proper out of the field, and to wish to take one other Legendary Lord for a spin even after having completed Arkhan’s marketing campaign.
Creative Assembly are sometimes accused of milking gamers with Total War’s DLC mannequin. Let’s not get into that debate right here – the very least that may be stated is that Rise of the Tomb Kings is a a lot better format for including new races than the Wood Elves or the Beastmen DLCs had been. How a lot you worth your £13.99 (or $18.99) is basically as much as you and your circumstances, however in return, you’ll get a hefty chunk of DLC that provides what’s arguably Total War’s most ingenious race but, together with 4 alternative ways to play them.