Tips For Getting Started In Total War: Warhammer

Back in 2012, Sega and Games Workshop announced a partnership allowing for the creation of multiple Warhammer games. Creative Assembly was tasked with the job, and this week gamers got a taste of a collaboration between the fantasy franchise and the British studio’s main legacy.

But Total War: Warhammer is not the simplest of strategy games. So if you’re going to repel the hordes of Chaos and lay wastes to your enemies, you’ll need a little advice. Here’s a good place to start.

Play to your racial strengths. Perhaps more so than any other Total War game, each of the Warhammer races have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Dwarfs are incredibly durable, for instance, but their lack of agility means they can do little to prevent enemy units from disengaging and attacking at a more opportune angle.

Dwarfs have an incredible bevy of artillery and ranged units, so it’s senseless to charge and be aggressive on the battlefield. Use range to your advantage, and draw the enemy in. But don’t be completely static: if you don’t have a good shot, maneuver your troops around until they have something better.

For forces like the Vampire Counts with no ranged units, you want to maximise their strengths as much as possible. One of Mannfred von Carstein’s starting units is the monstrous Vargulf, which comes with regeneration. With its fast speed and the power of your spellcasting, you can fight early battles by charging and then kiting weaker infantry units. But such a strategy requires patience, which leads into the next point.

Patience is a virtue. It can be tempting to auto-resolve every battle or just charge mindlessly into enemy forces, but it’s inefficient and will just result in wasteful losses. Similarly, don’t end battles the second you have the option to do so — it’s always worth spending an extra few minutes cleaning up units before they can flee the battlefield. Your units will get more experience for the kills, which is always helpful.

That applies to campaign map strategy as well. It makes sense for the Vampire Counts, for instance, to encourage your neighbours to wage war against each other — because you can then use your necromancy of the race to raise a more powerful army from the ashes.

Speaking of the battlefield …

Some basic shortcuts can go a long way. If you want to move your entire army while it’s in formation, hold down ALT, left-click, let go of ALT and then just move the mouse forwards and backwards. Want to know where your army’s moving to? Press SPACE.

There’s also the Total War basics when it comes to infantry types. Cavalry and mounted units generally beat ranged troops. Soldiers with spears will counter those on horses (although you’ll want to make sure they’re not attacked in the side or rear), while troops with swords are well matched against their spear-wielding foes.

Your heroes can be pretty powerful fighters. Recent Total War games saw your generals largely provide bonuses or buffs, entering the fray when only truly necessary. There was always a downside — if they died, your forces were more likely to rout. And that’s still the case in Total Warhammer, even more so with troops like Vargulfs that have low starting leadership values.

But in Warhammer, your heroes are far more versatile warriors. And there are plenty of spells to further press your advantage, ranging from the supremely useful Invocation of Nehek for Vampire Counts (which raises fallen allies and restores HP) or the incredibly handy Raise Dead, which lets you spawn a unit of zombies on the battlefield.

You’re better off making your heroes good commanders first than good fighters. There are plenty of abilities you can research that improves to your units attack, armour, defense, charge bonuses and other basic attributes that have a far greater impact early on.

The same applies to your research. What paths you venture down undoubtedly depends on your playstyle. Vampire Counts, for instance, have some of the best air units in the game. But you can also adopt a cheesy strategy where you lean on your starting game monsters and the spell damage of your heroes.

As a result, you don’t have any real need to upgrade your Fell Bats, the Counts’ starting air units. And by making that decision, you can actively redirect your research and time into more beneficial avenues. Pick a strategy and plan accordingly!

But no matter what playstyle you adopt, you’ll want to make the end game easier. And to do that, you’ll need to get your heroes in the fray early. A lot of the more powerful spells and upgrades require a good deal of experience before they can be unlocked, experience that you only gain on the battlefield. It’s also easier to take the castles and settlements early on before garrisons and walls can be built up, and you can’t issue edicts for an entire province until you’ve colonised or captured every settlement within.

Speaking of experience, you’ll need it to deal with the Chaos at the end of the game. The enemy AI has a penchant for taking heroes and sabotaging your armies and settlements, and without a massive amount of experience you won’t even have the opportunity to impede or assassinate them.

Some heroes can guard settlements and armies to reduce the potential for misfortune, but then you’ll still have to deal with the passive chaos corruption they harbour. Chaos corruption reduces public order in cities, can induce attrition, rioting and can generally be a pain in the arse. It’s therefore better to deal with the Chaos threat straight away, but your empire management will need to be on point before that can happen.

Regarding settlements:

Don’t be afraid to burn them to the ground. Sacking settlements is a solid source of income throughout the campaign, and it’s a far more practical form of empire management than trying to colonise every town in sight. That’s especially the case for Greenskins, who don’t generate a great deal of base income to begin with.

Don’t double up buildings in a province either! The game has a handy tooltip letting you know if you’re about to construct a duplicate of something already built in another settlement. Only the main settlement in each province can construct level 5 upgrades as well, and with a limited of construction slots it makes sense to have minor towns prioritise income generating structures.

You’ll want to upgrade the core structure in your settlements as fast as possible, and to do that you’ll need to focus on population growth. There are research options and hero upgrades that can help accelerate the process, and you can also deploy individual heroes within provinces to ramp up growth. Other heroes can also reduce the cost of upgrades within provinces, although you have to weigh the value of devoting a hero to infrastructure versus being able to sabotage enemy settlements, armies and their usefulness in combat.

Don’t forget to factor in the Chaos charge, too. The Chaos will always roll in from the north of the map, and you’ll need to strategise accordingly. Vampire Counts will need to control the north of their borders so they can effectively battle back the influence of the Chaos corruption. Dwarfs, meanwhile, will put aside their past differences with Human and Dwarfs to combat the Chaos once the invasion starts.

Keeping that in consideration can be handy when it comes to attacking neighbouring factions and armies; unless you’re the Greenskins, whose troops directly benefit from constant raiding and warmongering, you’ll want to keep the amount of wars to a minimum once the Chaos rolls in.

That’s some basic advice for getting started with Total War: Warhammer. Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments below!

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