"Kislev is land, land is Kislev."
- – Kislevan proverb
"WHEN THE WINGED HUSSARS ARRIVED!"
- – Sabaton
- – Archaon and a Kislev general trading barbs after the above line
Kislev is the northenmost civilized state in the Old world, and the first line of defense against the hordes of Chaos that regularly spill out of Norsca to the far north.
Historically, Kislev is the result of the inter-mingling of main tribal confederations; the native Ungols of the north, the Gospodars in the south, and the long dead Roppsmenn tribes. The former two are in fact the off-shoots of the Kurgan tribes of the northeast. To this day, the Ungols maintain good relationship with those Chaos marauders, who have such wonderfully well thought out names such as "Dolgan", "Khazag" and "Kul".
In case you can't tell, Kislev is like Tsarist Russia. But only in the weak, decadent south. In the strong, manly north, it actually turns into Mongolia, Poland and the Turkic countries (Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc). And the Kurgans who dwell east of the Norsemen are basically Siberians.
In essence, Kislev is a fantasy version of Russia with dollops of every other Eastern European country because normies can't tell the difference. It's also named after Kievan Rus, as in the old Russian kingdom and the current capital city of Ukraine, all GW did was tack on two letters in the middle of Kiev (actually, Kislev is a month in the Hebrew calendar, which makes sense, considering that millions of Ashkenazi Jews lived in Eastern Europe for centuries until WWII). In the 1980s when Kislev was created, Russia and Ukraine were both republics with the USSR.
Also, Kislev is no more according to the whole return of Nagash thing GW had planned. At last, Archaon has done that which Napoleon, Hitler, the USA and the EU could only dream of -- the annihilation of Russia.
During the reign of Katarina, they had a secret police called the Chekist (HURR DURR) who's job it was to root out, torture, and execute anyone with whiff of dissatisfaction or criticsm regarding the Tzarina's rule about them, often justifying it with 'muh Chaos cults'. So, that's fun.
History of Kislev
- – The extent of Kislevite diplomacy
Long before the Empire was founded, the Ungol people had populated the land that would be called Kislev. They lived alongside several other humans tribes in the area and held a border with the tribe to which Sigmar belonged to, the Teutogen. When Sigmar began his campaign to drive out the violent Norsii tribe and unite various people into his future Empire he inadvertently drove the Norsii toward Ungol territory. Not liking the Norsii the Ungols decided to aid Sigmar against them and they succeeded in driving the Norsii toward the land of Norsca where the violent tribe would settle down and give rise to the modern Norscan people. In the wake of this campaign, the Ungol and Sigmar’s fledgling nation would promised to help each other if one or the other was invaded which created a bond between the two lands which lasts till this day. Unfortunately for the Ungols their reign over the lands of Kislev was not to last.
In 1494 IC another tribe called the Gospodar lead by the Khan-Queen Miska the Slaughterer fled across the Eastern Steppes and away from the encroaching Chaos wastes at the beckoning of a spirit called the Ancient Widow. The native Ungol people tried to resist the newcomers but were no match for the wealth, arms, and magic of the Gospodar Tribe. The Ungols then tried to appeal to the Empire for aid but the Empire at this time was going through a civil war and could not help them. Without the aid of the Empire the invaders would conquer the Ungol settlement of Praag in 1497 IC and began to carve out a kingdom that grew in size as the Gospodars used the Lynsk river to launch incursions further into Ungol and later Imperial territory. Although Imperial forces eventually drove the Gospodar off Empire lands the tribe was successful in forcing the Ungol to accept Gospodar rule and would eventually agree to a defensive treaty with the Empire. Around 1524 IC Miska abruptly abdicated her position of leadership after receiving an apocalyptic vision of a future where she would once again be needed to lead her people to salvation. The infamous ice witch and queen would disappear into the North promising to return but not before passing her throne and magic blade fearfrost to her daughter. Under the leadership of Miska's daughter Shoika, the first true Tzarina, the Gospodar would then build themselves a new capital city for their kingdom called Kislev in 1527 IC which would eventually lend its name to all the kingdom's inhabitants. Following this, the Ungols would settle on the northern border of the modern-day Kislev nation where their people still reside and mainly serve as the kingdom's first line of defense against Chaos marauders. The south of Kislev is considered more civilized and even has some influence from the The Empire.
Despite this acrimonious beginning over the ensuing 750 years, the two people would basically intermingle to the point that now almost everyone sees themselves as people of Kislev first and whatever tribe they came from second.
For most of the nation's history, the Gospodar people held virtually all the power in the nation with almost all of the nobles being Gospodar and the Tzars and Tzarinas all being descended from the first Gospodar Khan-Queens. This began to change later on largely because the current Tzarina Katrarin Bohka began uplifting more and more Ungol men into leadership roles to further tighten her grip on the nation. Given her strength of character and the magic power she wields, some people have begun to whisper she may be Miska’s reincarnation.
According to various sources including 2nd ED of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the 15th issue of Games Workshop's citadel magazine, their military consisted of the following: On the magic front there are Ice witches, an exclusively female group that wields the power of...well ice magic...which interestingly does not draw power from the winds of magic and hag witches (another all-female group) who bind the spirits of the land to themselves rather than use the winds in order to cast curses, predict the future, cleanse stuff, banish malevolent spirits, and give themselves a melee combat boost by turning themselves into a monster called the Form of the Ancient Widow. Due to a legend dating back to the age of Tzarina Shoika stating that a male magic-user would appear and taint ice magic forever Kislev has banned male magic-users entirely. Any male magic-users discovered by the state are either killed, forced to undergo a ritual that removes their magic at the cost of turning them into a husk of their former selves, or forced to flee to the Colleges of Magic in the Empire. Meanwhile, on the conventional army side, Kislev's forces consist of: Kossars, the axemen-archer infantry of the standing army of Kislev recruited from any who can pass fitness and correspondingly has an excellent reputation on the field of battle along with a terrible one-off of it. Streltsi, an elite infantry subset of the Kossars first formed after a Kislev noble viewed the gunpowder portion of the Empire trifecta put a Chaos horde to rout and decided to ape their halberds and handgunners, Streltsi are literally just the real Russian Streltsy but with more brotherhood and loving their guns so much that it's said they might find someone sleeping with their wife to be less offensive than shooting their handgun without their permission. Ungol Horse Archers, auxiliaries from the northern tribes which are basically Huns or Mongols in their natural state for battle. Winged Lancers, which are totally the Polish Winged Hussars but based from their settlements rather than part of the standing army and wear wings on their back with the explanation of them causing an unnerving sound as they ride being adapted from a common theory to the real Winged Hussars. And finally the Gryphon Company, the most prominent and heaviest company of Winged Lancers ever which is comprised of noblemen who fletch their wings with Griffon feathers and commonly act as mercenaries while not defending Kislev from Chaos invasion. They come downright close to an actual Imperial Knight order. For extra firepower and to deal with enemy fortifications the army of Kislev has access to Mortars and Urugan cannons which are basically Kislev's version of the Empire's Great Cannons. Also adding a bit of extra cool factor to their army, at least one example of bear cavalry is canon according to WFRP, with the prior-to-current Tzar Boris Bokha riding into battle on a bear that was tamed after they defended one another from a wolf pack attacking them while Boris had tried to break and tame the bear more conventionally.
Interestingly the same Role playing book that introduced Bear Cavalry also confirmed the fact that Kislev was once ruled by a Lahmian vampire Tzarina named Kattarin the Bloody (no relation to the current Tzarina) around Magnus the Pius time until she was ousted by a mortal relative Tsarevich Pavel who got a vampire hunting group named after him for this feat. Prior to this more recent mention, the Vampire Tzarina thing had only been mentioned in the Vampire Genevieve books.
In order for the Warriors of Chaos to get to the Empire on foot they have to go through Kislev. So the horde that shows up in the empire is actually a hell of a lot smaller than when they marched out. Kislev has been on the forefront of the chaos wastes since its inception and not once has the nation fallen. That basically means these guys have balls of steel on par with the Imperial Guard. At least that's how it was until the End Times when Katarin got killed, Archaon’s troops destroyed all but one Kislev city and he then proceed to obliterate the whole world.
Geography of Kislev
Kislev, unlike the most WFB nations, is a pretty unified and centralized country. Most of it consists of pretty warm steppes in the south and cold wasteland tundras in the north, although forests are still present in some areas. Administratively, Kislev is divided into oblasts:
- Southern Oblast - the least hellhole-ish region of the country. It's the main farming area of Kislev, with many orchards and forests. In fact, some of the travellers can easily assume it's a part of The Empire without even knowing the truth. Ethnically almost all of the population here (if not all) is Gospodar.
- Kislev - large and prosperous capital of the realm, situated on the banks of River Urskoy. This city is youngest of main three Kislevite cities, as it was built by Tzarina Shoika less than thousand years before the End Times. It is a residence of Tzar that has never been taken by enemies, even in Great War Against Chaos. Kislev City sits in the middle of the trade routs from Old World to Eastern Lands, and is very influenced by other cultures, especially Imperial.
- Western Oblast - the heart of Kislevite trade. It's not as developed as its southern neighbour oblast, and has to deal with Chaos invasions sometimes. Most of it is a steppe. Ungols are a minority here.
- Erengrad - the main port of Kislev which in Old Worlder trade is second only to Marienburg. Was Ungol capital before the arrival of Gospodars. It sits in the delta of River Lynsk, and, unlike rich capital with enormous stone walls, is built with wood and has two-stories buildings at best. Quite obviously based on St. Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad.
- Eastern Oblast - pretty similar to a previous one, with steppes dominating the landscape. However, it's much more dangerous to live there, as Greenskins and Chaos marauders are raiding the land constantly. It's also a fairly mixed region, with Gospodars and Ungols being equal in population, and even having some Ungol-dominated cities.
- Praag - the northernmost main Kislevite city, that is also the most defended against Chaos. It is also the oldest one, surpassing Erengrad and Kislev in age. It was badly ravaged in Great War and had to be rebuilt from scratch while also combating Chaos taint. Pretty much the shittiest main city to live (which is why all of the population are badass Ungols) - while it is defended well from the outside threats, Chaotic mutations and Vampiric families deal on the inside.
- Northern Oblast - the most brutal region. It has almost no agriculture due to a constant raids from Troll Country, and is entirely covered in cold steppes and icy wastelands. Settlements here are pretty rare, with no big towns at all. Ungols are a majority.
Politics of Kislev
Like it's inspiration, Kislev is an authoritarian Absolute Monarchy. That said, it fortunately has more of Peter and Catharine the Great than Nicholas II.
Starting with the reign of Tzar Boris Bokha, Kislev went through a major political and religious reformation, which is still ongoing even after his death and the coronation of his daughter. In those reforms the Tzar's power, which was severely weakened after the Great War Against Chaos, was restored, turning the country into an absolute monarchy (which is quite impressive, seeing how most of the southerners are still stuck in feudalism). Also The Great Orthodoxy was introduced, which we'll get to later.
Katarin's Kislev, however, went into a different direction. She started promoting Ice Witches into power, severely downplaying the role of the religion, and also began uplifting more and more Ungol men into leadership roles originally meant for Gospodar to further tighten her grip on the nation. Due to that current Patriarch Kostaltyn, who like most other Kislevite priests hates magic and considers it abomination of Chaos, isn't quite happy, and if Kislev didn't have a bigger threat, it would collapse in a civil war.
Thankfully, they're both not idiots and can set aside their differences to protect Kislev from daemon vikings. Not Daemon Huns though, as the End Times showed.
Religion in Kislev
"They'd call me a heretic for saying it, but the Great Orthodoxy isn't about gods any longer! Yes, they perform the rituals and lead the services to Ursun, Dazh and Tor... but why do you think Father Bear has gone silent? They only care about power, and cloak that ambition in faith."
- – Unknown heretic, not long before being blammed by the Kislevite secret police
Like the Empire to the south the people of Kislev have multiple deities with the main one being the Cult of Ursun the Father of Bears. There's also the Ancient Widow an ancient spirit imprisoned by Chaos (which some speculate is the same as the law goddess Arianka). It was she who first drew the Gospodars to Kislev and helps the Ice Witches with their ice magic. Other common gods in Kislev are Dazh the god of fire and the sun, Dazh's underling Kalita the god of merchants, Tor the axe-wielding god of warriors and lightning (and ALMOST blatant Thor ripoff), Salyak the goddess of healing (basically a more stern motherly version of Shallya), and the more well-known gods Taal and Ulric.
Remote settlements in the extreme north like Tungask worship the Kislevite pantheon plus some gods who may or may not be facsimiles of the Chaos Gods, as a result of Norse and Kurgan influence that far north.
According to the new Total War: WARHAMMER lore, now the worship in Kislev is regulated by the institute known as The Great Orthodoxy, which was founded by Tzar Boris himself. His motivation to create it was to help in the reunification of the country after the Great War Against Chaos and to prevent some tribes and/or more civilised villages from worshipping Chaos. The Orthodoxy, as the Kislev mechanics post shows, recognises Ursun, Dazh, Tor and Salyak, with Ursun priests being quite obviously at the top of their hierarchy. In theory, the Orthodoxy was created to help consolidate and centralize the influence and authority of Kislev's various religious sects, thus theoretically being even more unified than the Empire's competing cults.
During 6th Kislev got hold of it's own mini-army book that was designed to be used in tandem with other armies such as the Empire and Bretonnia. As a result there were only 7 units available in the army, with 2 of them being Special characters, 1 being a generic Hero and 3 generic units being Cavalry, leaving Kossars as the only Core infantry unit available. In addition to this there were no real army special rules, since each unit has a specific special rule that applied to that unit, such as Kossars Steady in the Ranks and Winged Lancers Glorious Charge. Overall the Kislev army relied heavily of Cavalry to be the hammer and skirmishers, while the relatively flexible, but lightly armoured (read; No armour) Kossars acting as both ranged and front line units, and while the lack of any artillery units, heavy infantry or magic users outside of Katarin meant that Kislev was ill-equipped to deal with most other armies, these rules were designed to be used as an allied contingent to an army like the Empire, which could bring all the cannons and Full-plate you could want.
You would think that getting the beginnings of an army and models would be a good reason for Kislev to be turned into a fully fledged army, but apparently GW was more busy making terrible Space Marine kits and giving Thorpe and Ward free reign to fuck up the rules and fluff, so this never happened and Kislev remained as a weird 1/4 army for the rest of Warhammer Fantasy's existence with no hope of actually being recognised as a full faction.
At least until...
Announced in early 2020 it was confirmed Kislev is returning in Warhammer: The Old World as one of the playable factions, meaning it took two and a half editions and the death and reincarnation of Warhammer Fantasy for them to get fleshed out into a full army. So far most of the stuff we've seen has come from Total Warhammer 3 (which GW has confirmed to be showing off stuff that they plan to be in the Old World) and concept art which shows that Kislev seems to be undergoing a bit of a redo and re-establishment as some of the older fluff from old editions, Warmaster and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay seems to be at least getting partially retconned or reworked. For example the old War Wagons seem to have been replaced by War Sleds which are pulled by bears instead of horses and the addition of the Ice Guard who are and order of Ice Maidens that serve as body guards for the Ice Witches being new and reworked concepts of older fluff. In addition the Russian-ness of Kislev has been thrown a bit into overdrive with Bears and Ice being pushed a bit hard for some peoples likes stating that it's flanderising the faction a bit with things like the War Sled and the Elemental Bear being the things people point at as being a bit too over the top with the Bear and Ice stuff. They have bear pulled artillery!
While there is a small division between how people feel about this new Kislev, most people find the more grounded additions such as the Tzar Guard and the updates to the Winged Lancers as more faithful updates to what Kislev should be and GW does have time to bring the other things more in line with what people want (though expecting good things out of GW, and for the Warhammer fanbase to agree on anything in even minute details, or just not go into inane arguments at all, is a bit like expecting it to rain upwards). Also, this is Warhammer where realism is supposed to give way to rule of cool. If someone complains about bears pulling artillery on ice sleds, then they are clearly and obviously in the wrong.
As of February Third, Kislev has been confirmed to be one of the Core Races in Warhammer 3. The announcement has come after a series of teasers hinting at the coming of the 4 Chaos Gods, and saying that only the Bear God Ursun can save the world now. An image leak also shows what appears to be a Kislev army fighting a Khornate horde. The first game trailer for Warhammer 3 revealed Kislev as one of the main factions. This suggests that once again Kislev will have to do all the heavy lifting in saving the Warhammer World. (Cathay will be helping. Which is not a criticism.)
In fact, the whole having to act as a bulwark for the world thing is a plot point, at least in the Kislev campaign, as according to a new cinematic trailer one Kislevite Boyar by the name of Slavin Kurnz apparently got sick of having to protect the world and went full-blown Heretic by joining up with Khorne's forces. The new gameplay trailer has shown off a LOT more bear cavalry with a bear riding patriarch of Ursun, a giant Ice Bear Elemental, a cannon called Little Grom being pulled on magically summoned ice by two ice bears (I'm sensing a theme here hbu?) shown off.
Katarin was also shown along with the Tzar guard, Kossars with a new pike variant, Ungol horse archers, the winged lancers and the gryphon legion, the ice guard, and the Streltsi who wield GUN-AXES now instead of their old axe and handgun combo like the real world counter parts. Later after release we discovered they also had two kinds of gun armed war sleds pulled by bears, a magical snow leopard, and a new cavalry unit in the form of the Sabre wielding Kossovite Dervishes…which is an incredibly stupid name for a unit that’s from a faction based on Russia instead of say…I don’t know…Araby!
Also it turns out Kislev is even more important to the plot than even the trailers let on. Seems everything got started when Ursun got kidnapped by Be'lakor after a battle 7 years prior to the game’s start. Without his roar to break the ice and usher in spring Kislev starts to starve and dissent begins to break out throughout the kingdom. In desperation the Tzarina sends out the Ungol descended Prince Yuri Barkov…who according to a short story is actually both her childhood friend and her secret lover (certainly explains why she started to let the Ungols into the nobility). Yuri sets out to find Ursun accompanied by his brother Gerik and some forces and guided by a voice he thinks is Ursun’s. However after picking up some cursed artifacts from some chaos warriors and getting mind warped by some chaotic knowledge Yuri goes mad with power and kills his own brother so as to summon some Khornate demon to aid him in killing a traitorous boyar and opening a path to Ursun. After reaching the forge of souls Yuri discovers a captive Ursun…but also learns the voice that lead him here was not Ursun but Be'lakor whose been living as an incorporeal shadow since he pissed off the chaos gods. The first demon Prince then proceeds to goad Yuri into wounding Ursun with the demon pistol Yuri took from the dead Boyar. Be'lakor then uses the blood from Ursun’s wound to regain a physical form, Yuri after nearly dying gets turned into a Demon Prince called God-Slayer by the chaos gods, a massive storm of magic breaks out throughout the world and now all the various in game factions are rushing (for one reason or another) to get to Ursun before Be'lakor can use the power from the bear’s imminent death to become a chaos god of shadows.
So grab your Vodka, mount your Bears (Not like that Boris!) and start blaring Sabaton on full blast, KISLEV HAS ARRIVED!
In Warmaster, Kislev used to have both an official army list and a nice line of miniatures. In WHFB, things are a little more complicated. While there is no official army book for them, aside their supplements in the 4th and 6º edition, there is also the Warhammer Fantasy roleplay book "Realm of the Ice Queen". There are good fan made ones which do include Bear Cavalry which in turn makes all other human armies seem pathetic (except for the Warriors of Chaos, who are motherfucking Vikings). (Honestly that's easily debatable. These manly fuckers fight giant chaos monsters with a bow, rocks, and an axe. And you think they ask for help?) There are even a few official models made for them and a small White Dwarf list for them but that is out of date. Additionally, the Privateer Press line of Khador models for Warmachine give off the nice fantasy/russian look, if going only for infantry, with the Doom Reavers, Kossite Woodsmen, and Greylord models. If you need bears, you can grab their Brun and Lug set. Actual Winged Hussars models are also hardly rare from other historically-based games.
With Kislev's roster being fleshed out between the collaborative efforts of GW and CA for Total War: Warhammer and the upcoming Old World tabletop revival, Kislev will officially have tabletop representation in the coming years. If you don't mind GW's undoubtedly steep prices, of course.
- Here is a link to the current fandex 
- Good video for modelling Kislev armies from 
- "Kislev.", recorded for posterity.
|Regions and Areas of the Warhammer World|
|Areas of The Old World:||The Empire of Man - Bretonnia - Albion - Estalia - Tilea - Kislev - Norsca - Border Princes - Worlds Edge Mountains - Karak Eight-Peaks|
|Areas of The New World:||Naggaroth - Lustria|
|Areas of The Eastern Lands:||Cathay - Nippon - Ogre Kingdoms - Dark Lands - Kingdoms of Ind - Khuresh - Eastern Steppes|
|Areas of The Southlands:||Nehekhara - Araby - Badlands - Marshes of Madness|
|Other Areas of the world:||Ulthuan - Athel Loren - Chaos Wastes - Skavenblight - Lost Isles of Elithis|
|Main bodies of Water:||The Great Ocean - The Far Sea - The Sea of Dread - Inner Sea of Ulthuan|