Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Grand Cathay
Why Play Cathay
- Because Total War: Three Kingdoms didn't go hard enough into fantasy for you.
- These guys are finally being fleshed out (with the full blessings of our evil British overlords nonetheless) after years and you want to see what they come up with.
- You're into chinese history and mythology.
- You want to play a defensive gunline but don't want to play as boring white guys, short vengeful alcoholics or the bad guys from Pirates of the Caribbean
- You think it's extremely funny to watch Flamers of Tzeentch, Jezzails, and Artillery pieces nuke themselves when you use Mirror Missile on them.
- Designed for Total War: One thing we can say as an advantage for Cathay is unlike the other factions they will be designed from the ground up to be in a Total War game rather than trying to transition from a tabletop game into total war. This gives them the potential to be one of the best-designed races and balanced since they're not trying to fit a square Warhammer peg into a round Total War hole.
- Numbers: In lore, Cathay has the largest population of all the human nations, so they have bodies to spare. Don't expect Skaven numbers, but you'll have large armies compared to other good guy races.
- Range: As the oldest Human nation to have gotten gunpowder, it makes sense it plays a big role in your army. You have access to a ton of gunpowder units and artillery to blast the enemy apart. You also got some elite crossbows to play around with. The harmony system ensures that your ranged units have some of the higest reload skill in the entire game, which means... Well, you shoot a lot.
- Air Power: With your Longma, War Balloons and your Dragons you will be decently scary in the air. You won't be fast, and any opposing faction with decent air cavalry will likely threaten you, but you have some potent options.
- Harmony: Cathay has a solid combination of ranged and melee units that work together well in concert. Similarly, units can either be Yin or Yang aligned and having the two working together provides you with a bonus.
- Defensive: Cathay is built to last. Between your faction mechanics and selection of magical lores, Grand Cathay is built to hold the line. If you crave a faction with a strong, staunch line of spears to keep your enemies at bay, Cathay's going to be the faction for you.
- Magic: Cathay is actually able to keep up with the best of them when it comes to magic. Sure, you don't have the variety that High Elves or Empire have but with 4 lores you do have the most of the game 3 factions. Plus, with Mastery of the Elemental Winds, your spells do more damage the more mages you have in your army. Especially in campaign, Miao and Zhao can carry the army with their spells alone.
- Synergy: Due to the way Harmony works, you will NEED to keep units close to each other, otherwise individual units will underperform. As such, you will likely be locked into turtling in order to get your units close enough to get the buffs they might need in order to perform efficiently. On their own, your units actually have lower stats than their equivalent in other armies, only getting better when properly buffed.
- Slow: Cathay won't be winning many foot races compared to other factions. Though not as plodding as the dwarfs or lizardmen, you don't have much in the way of cavalry and your war balloons are pretty susceptible to air cav and missile fire.
- Bad Cavalry: Its a tossup on whether Cathay or Nurgle has the worst cav in the game. Jade Lancers are about equal to Empire Knights, Peasant Horsemen are about equal to mounted yeomen, and Longma Riders lack armor piercing and anti-large.
- Limited Skirmishers: No vanguard deployment, stalk, or cheap fast movers other than peasant horsemen. You're going to suck at harrying broken units off the map and hunting enemy skirmishers + war machines.
- AoE Susceptible: A core mechanic of Cathay units is that they gain bonuses when in close proximity with each other. While this can be great for holding the line, it also makes your forces more vulnerable to vortex or wind spells. You'll have to keep an eye out for enemy wizards.
- No Melee Expert Non-Legendary Lords or Heroes: None of your non-LL and Heroes are really that good in melee combat or can serve as a tank. I know what you're thinking "But the Dragon Siblings!" but they won't be leading all your armies in campaign and they are expensive in multiplayer. 3 out of 4 of your Lords and Heroes are Mages and the one that isn't, the Lord Magistrate, is a support buffing character rather than a melee duelist or a tank. Shugengan lords are stated to be decent in melee but trust me, that's only by Mage Lord standards. You won't have many characters that can be safely thrown into melee combat. The closest Melee Lord and Hero Cathay may get before their DLCs are Gotrek & Felix, and that's just assuming that CA will even allow Cathay to recruit them. Concept art was found for a "Gate Master" hero, which will likely serve as the Cathayan equivalent of the Empire Captain or High Elf Noble, so this issue will probably be fixed with DLC.
- Cathay Not Numbah Wan: As of mid March, Cathay only has a 38% win rate in multiplayer, and recent balance changes really didn't help you out too much. You have no real way to play aggressive in Domination and can't force people off of points. If you only care about winning through OP ways, don't play Cathay until the next major balance patch or DLC.
- Note that this only applies to multiplayer, specifically Domination. Cathay is plenty strong in campaign with a good economy and an easily defensibly homeland, and you are way better in Land Battles where you can keep your forces together and lock down an area.
- DLC: There are three guarantees in life. Death, Taxes, and Core Races getting units withheld for DLC. There is already a notable lack of monkey in the Cathay roster. Sorry Cathay, don't expect to be different. (Though in this case, I guess it's less "units being held back" and more "CA and GW making up more shit later.")
- Note that we can generally predict 2-3 lord packs for Carthay. In Mythology china gave each of the 4 cardinal direction's there own set of associations, beast, element, god so on, and with two lords already claiming two of those directions, 2 more for the other two compass points and a possible 5th for the center seems likely.
- Battle Harmony: Shared by all non-character Cathay units. Melee units are marked as "Yang", while ranged units are "Yin"; these units gain bonuses when near a unit of the opposite type: leadership and melee defence for melee Yang units, and leadership and reload speed for ranged Yin units. Characters multiply these bonuses for nearby units.
- Mastery of the Elemental Winds: Shared by all Cathayan spellcasters, this ability enhances their spells for each spellcaster present in the army. This encourages taking multiple spellcasters, something not usually done in other factions.
- Formation Attack: A trait that makes the unit try to stay in formation, even when in combat. Presumably, this makes holding chokepoints and positions easier to do.
We finally got the names of the two legendary lords, and they turn out to be new characters. The children of the Dragon Emperor and the Moon Empress, they rule in his stead over the various provinces of Cathay.
- Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, ruler of the Northern Provinces and Commander of the Great Bastion.: Daughter of the Dragon Emperor. Miss Cold and Aloof. She is in the north and is daddy's favourite. Can transform between human form where she buffs harmony and a big dragon to melee it up in battle. She will be able to use a hybrid of Life and Yin Magic: Including Earth Blood, Storm of Shadows, Flesh to Stone, Missile Mirror, Regrowth and Talons of Night, with both Lore Traits of Lifebloom and Power of Yin. She has the Wrath of the Storm ability, which increases melee attack, makes attacks magical, and makes those affected immune to psychology. She also has the Disdain of Dragons ability, which lowers enemy melee attacks in a constant radius. She also has access to the Mirror Missile spell which is easily one of the most trollish spells in the entire game, you will never tire of watching the enemy's elite ranged units delete themselves when they fire with the hex activated.
- Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, ruler of the Western Provinces and Lord of Shang-Yang: Son of the Dragon Emperor, and a mama's boy. His faction is stated to focus on and specialize in Alchemists and Astronomers. Can transform between human form where he buffs harmony and a big dragon to melee it up in battle. He will be able to use a hybrid of Metal and Yang magic. He also has the Ward of Iron ability, a bound buff he can use to make a unit much harder to kill.
- Dragon-Blooded Shugengan Lord: Descended from when a human pulled a Donkey from Shrek with Cathay's rulers. Your Mage lord, they come with the lores of Yang or Yin and their mounts are Warhorse or Jade Longma for extra mobility. While they are slightly better than most mage lords in melee don't expect them to last long if a dedicated melee character gets a hold of them.
- Lord Magistrate: Your cheap normal frontline general. His lone gimmick is being able to further improve the harmony mechanic of his army, so extra incentive to form up in a sexy turtle. His mounts are Warhorse or Sky Lantern. Sadly he's garbage in melee, his mounts suck and pretty much anything he can do a Shugengan can do better. As such no real reason to nab him unless you want to hear his gloriously hammy voice acting. He's also unfortunately the only lord that will ever lead your caravans.
- Alchemist: Mages who fight with vials and magic that looks like Chinese calligraphy. Lore of Metal user with some extra bound buffs to armour, melee attack and magic damage with armour piecing. Can mount a warhorse.
- Astromancer: Your lore of heavens caster. His mounts are a Warhorse for mobility or a Wu Xing War Compass which seems as though it will boost his magic output considerably.
- Peasant Long Spearmen: Your early chaff unit that's literally expected to run away once things get hairy. The unexpected MVP of the roster (at least until DLCs give you something better). They come with Expendable and Expert Charge Defense, which is a rarity for tier 1 units.
- Rather than treating them like Skavenslaves, they're a lot more like TK skeleton spearmen without the shields: a really good screen with lots of bodies, relatively high health compared to the rest of your infantry, and high model count that can absorb losses. They're still expendable chaff, and you take them to die in place of your Jade warriors or Celestial Guard.
- Really fucking good for how easy and cheap they are. With the harmony buff, the Peasant Long Spearmen have stats higher than state troops, and function very well as a front line against everything. They are vulnerable to missiles, but you should have outshooting your opponents anyway.
- The Terracotta sentinel is very vulnerable to tarpitting, Peasant Long Spears are mobile and numerous enough to keep some of that pressure off them. They wont provide any harmony benefits though.
- Can tank for ages against pretty much anything with the jade shield 44% ward save buff from the lore of yang. Perfect for sacrificial screening, especially since lore of yang also has really powerful AOE spells you can drop on units getting traffic jammed by the peasants.
- Significantly better in Campaign. By the late game, it wouldn't be hard to produce them at tier 7, and their morale gets significantly better with technology and building upgrades, and can lead to hilarious situations where a single unit of Peasants holds off a band of Chosen on its own. They wont do any damage, of course, but that's why you drop a vortex or airship bomb on them.
- Jade Warriors: Your mid-tier unit and your bread and butter until you can afford Celestial Dragon Guard. Have a unique mechanic where the longer they sit still and brace, the more bonuses they get, gaining higher charge resistance and armour. Make the Dragon Empire into the Turtle Empire with these guys. Just keep in mind that like turtles, they don't move very fast or hit very hard.
- The Sword and Shield combo, when combined with Harmony and their own innate stationary buff, they are very tough and can still find a use to tank hits for the Dragon Guard in the late-game. Excellent front line unit with good missile block chance and armor.
- The Halberd has better melee attack and armor piercing, so theyre like the Wardancers in that even when fighting against heavy infantry, it might be useful to take them to do some damage. Still more of a holding force than an aggressive force.
- Celestial Dragon Guard: Your elite, end-game unit, taking the best from both Jade Warriors since they're all armed with Halberds and Shields. They have expert charge defense, AP, and dont get bonuses/lose nothing from moving, meaning you could move them to where they're needed most, or even have them charge though Peasant chaff, foregoing the low charge bonus to keep models alive given the low-model count typical of Elite Infantry.
- Dune Dragons - Dragon Guard with Magic Attacks, Magic Resist, Immune to Psych and Encourage. These guys are pretty much designed to be a middle finger to large Daemons as they can punch through their physical resist and not get terror routed.
- Peasant Archers: Like your peasant infantry, but with a bow and arrow. Cheap and expendable, potentially valuable if you need a relatively disposable unit to provide a small amount of ranged support and trigger the yin/yang buff where needed. Has no AP, but that shouldn't be a problem in campaign where the majority of your chaos, norsca, and ogre enemies don't have much armor.
- Very cost effective, especially with the harmony buffs. Can put down a significant amount of fire with their reload skill buffs.
- Jade Warrior Crossbowmen: Jade Warriors with crossbows (in case you couldn't have told from their name). Armoured and with a shielded variant, they sit in-between Empire Crossbowmen and Dwarf Quarrelers in terms of durability and power; they still have the same "hunker-down" ability as regular JW, so you'll probably want to move them in position behind Long Spears and refrain from moving them to keep those bonuses.
- Celestial Dragon Guard Crossbowmen: Jade Warriors on steroids, once again. Shielded, heavily armoured and with armour-piercing bolts, they're durable archers that can trade shots with the enemy's best.
- On paper, their bolts have more strength than the Sisters of Avelorn, but it's mundane AP versus the Fire/Magic combo that lets the Sisters put in work against pretty much anything. Celestial Crossbowmen have better DPS when buffed, though.
- Desperate and in a pinch? Castle too tight for shooting? Well, they're still Celestial Guard, and so are decent in melee, minus the AP or anti-large bonus. They still give Harmony when in melee.
- Iron Hail Gunners: A living version of the Zombie Handcannons from the Pirate coast, these ladies massacre armoured infantry with their high-AP shotguns. With the Harmony system, being able to keep them closer to your melee units will make them into machinegunning shotgunners. Can fire in melee if the enemy makes contact without breaking through the first rank.
- Unlike your Crossbowmen or Crane gunners, they lack shields or armor, but are much more mobile. You can flank with them to outright delete elite infantry, but even having them shoot through gaps in your formation is also helpful, because they're Cathayan shotguns.
- Considering how quickly you can get these ladies in the Campaign, they're instrumental damage dealers from early to mid.
- Be cautious about using them against the ogres because they will literally just run through your front line, because hurr durr pull through. In campaign, best employed against all chaos factions other than Tzeentch, whose basic units will fucking slaughter the gunners with their ranged attacks, because fuck you I guess.
- Crane Gunners: Human Skaven Jezzails. Much like their rat counterparts, these gunners excel at long-ranged sniping with their second-only-to-artillery range and will likely form a core part of your backline while you make the enemy come to you. They come with shields, which should give them some missile resistance to weather counter-fire and kill those jezzails. You're probably better off going for grand cannons in most match ups though. Grand cannons have better all around combat stats and the exact same movement speed; the only advantages crane gunners have over them is the ability to hide in treelines and hit slippery targets like fliers and heavy cavalry.
- Peasant Horseman: The fastest thing in your army that can't fly. Probably based on the herdsmen levies that numerous Chinese dynasties employed as scouts and light cav. With an almost identical statline to Brettonian mounted yeomen, the only reason to get peasant horsemen is because Cathay has no alternatives other than Jade Lancers and Longmas who are simply too expensive to waste chasing down routing units + artillery crews. You'll want to grab a few of these guys in Multiplayer and early campaign, but hopefully we'll get better alternatives with future DLC.
- Jade Lancers: Jade warriors on horseback. More defensive than other factions cavalry. More suited defending your flank than running in to attack the enemy. Fucking awful other than their mediocre armor and their shields, ineffective in melee, incredibly slow. Can't even run down enemies because of their glacial speeds. In campaign, consider using the Iron Hail gunners/Jade Crossbows/etc. if you want a flanking unit, who will actually kill the units they are supposed to kill, or just peasant horsemen if you want to run down routing enemies.
- Great Jade Longma Riders: Your versions of pegasus knights, except instead of a rich noble who sneers at peasants, you get a rich noble whose great-great-great-grandad got busy with a dragon. Also comes with Fear, possibly making them an expensive option to spook away and chase routing units. Their true strength will be as a bodyguard unit for your squishy balloons against enemy air forces, and being a hammer to the rest of your rosters anvil.
- Stats wise, they're roughly between pegasus and royal pegasus knights that traded away their Anti-Large bonus in exchange for 30 more armour (110 total), higher weapon strength, and charge bonus. As such, they're better at dealing with multiple different types of opponents but aren't quite as good at dealing with large units and other cav.
- Wu-Xing War Compass: A big ol' magical battery that boosts Harmony and counts towards Mastery of Elemental Winds increase the power of your spells. Can cast Urannons Thunderbolt and Comet of Casanodora; the Compass has been buffed in 1.2 to give you 2 free casts of each power without costing WoM, but their Celestial Comet is half as strong (but also twice as fast) to compensate.
- Also ok in melee as a ...cart. It moves as fast as infantry, literally anyone who gets run over by this thing deserves to die under the hooves of plain old cows dragging a heavy fucking magic compass.
- Terracotta Sentinel: Take the standard Terracotta soldier from China, make it really big and teach it kung fu and you have this thing. Possible doomstack material. They are unbreakable and hit like a truck, making them good at both clearing chaff and 1v1ing monsters. Don't leave them unsupported against missile units or anti-large elites, as they'll still break down to concentrated AP and missiles. Causes Terror for understandable reasons.
- If you've played Tomb Kings, you know what to expect: keep them away from Halberd tarpits and anti-large monstrous infantry, and if you can't, give them a screen, like Peasant spears or Jade cavalry.
- It's also the best monster in the entire game right now. Like seriously, this thing can beat a Bloodthirster one on one. It's also the cheapest big single entity monster in the entire game as well. Yeah these things are a little bullshit. Given that Cathay is viewed as a little subpar it's nice that they have at least one unit that is really strong, but expect CA to whack these guys with the nerf bat eventually.
- Grand Cannon: Pulled by oxen making surprisingly mobile, your normal cannon unit. Unlike other factions cannon units, also comes with flaming attacks by default, making it slightly better at burning up trees and mummies, and cutting through regeneration. It is roughly as fast as a standard infantry unit, which is actually a big deal because it will be able to keep up with your main army and rearrange itself much easier than a normal cannon.
- Extremely strong basic artillery unit, which, with the harmony bonuses, can and will kill large units very fucking quickly with their reload bonuses. Always nice to swat Fateweaver out of the sky even before the shit starts spamming searing doom/various fires over your lines.
- Fire Rain Rocket: Imagine a hellstorm rocket battery that fires even faster due to the Harmony mechanic. Terrifying. Aim for big blobs of enemies and watch as they become chunky salsa. Compared to the normal Hellstorm it does more missile damage, but the majority of it isn't actually AP. So while you still want to aim for blobs, those blobs should be of less armoured infantry rather than heavily armoured stuff.
- Kongming Sky Lantern: The smaller of the two airship units with Crane Gunners, and dedicated support. It provides a morale boost to your infantry on top of Harmony, so even your Peasants will hold the line for as long as they humanly can. They also grant vision on units that are hiding in foliage, which can help thwart ambushes. They don't reveal Stalk, though.
- It can fire while moving and line of sight isn't much of a problem, so as long as it doesn't get attacked, it can take potshots at the enemy. It's slow as balls though, so any decent flying unit that gets its hands on it will be able to tear it to pieces.
- Almost useless, if it wasn't for the harmony mechanic + its encouragement buff, you probably wouldn't ever take them. As a flying unit, it can provide a source of Harmony that the enemy cant touch unless they devote their other flyers or ranged units on it.
- Offensively, though, their crane guns are like the stormbolter on a Rhino: they just dont shoot enough to actually be dangerous, and don't have the bombs that would otherwise make them useful. You may as well take the Crane Guns on infantry if you want sniper fire, or the Sky Junk for Guns, Bombs, and Rockets.
- Kongming Sky-junks: The heavier of the two airship units that acts as a flying Helstorm Rocket Battery. Can also drop bombs gyrocopter style, and has high armour against missile units. Unlike most other flying units, it can't toggle landing, so try to protect it against flying cav with missile units. It is slow as fuck and will be pretty much useless once it runs out of ammo, but it will hopefully do some devastating damage before that happens.
- Tanky enough to take hits from Furies and other flying beasties that lack AP, they are a nice flying Distraction Carnifex until they run out of ammo. And even when they do, they're a nice flying anvil to hold flyers in place while your Longma riders hammer them.
- They do have an edge against ground artillery, as even if theyre focused down by other artilery pieces, you can expect them to miss more often than not because you're flying, just put them far away enough that those missed shots dont hit your castles infantrybl instead.
- Much more effective when you fire very closely downwards, otherwise, just a shitty fire rain launcher.
- Oddly enough, they can be healed mid-battle with Miao Ying or a dragon blooded lord with bound lore of life spells.
You are what happens when the Empire, Dwarfs, and Skaven all have the world's weirdest threesome where lingering eye contact was held with the Vampire Coast; and they had a baby. Your themes revolve around plentiful, expendable infantry and strong missiles working in unison to bunker down an area and blast anything that comes at you straight to hell. Harmony is a double edge sword, as while it encourages you to pair units together and builds buffs, it also means units on their own aren't reaching their full potential. This is a quantity over quality faction with limited offensive options, as the closest thing you have to offensive infantry is sword and board Jade Warriors, and while they have cavalry, they're slow and limited compared to other factions.
Since the Cathayan army is so new, there's a massive lack of units for the army compared to all the other established factions, and in some ways, it almost feels unfinished. For example, your have no ranged cavalry options, which means your cavalry options won't be able to receive the Harmony benefit if they go too far (and the bubble is so small, you can lose Harmony just chasing after other cavalry). CA is definitely holding back options to make room for new DLC.
- Bretonnia: With more flavours of cavalry than you can comprehend, you'll need to set up extremely defensively and bring plenty of halberds to fend off all the armoured horse riders. Be sure to pepper them with your armour piecing missiles, and use peasant chaff to block charges and allow your actual hard hitters to stay in position to fire upon them. Don't bother bringing lanterns and longma riders, Bretonnias air forces are too scary and will easily win any aerial battle, and the lanterns and longma aren't going to be much help against cav and are wasted on peasant chaff.
Heavily armored barbarians are threatening Cathay's border, and it's up to hot dom dragon waifu and her warpdust snorting fuccboi brother to keep Cathay safe
WoC wants to get into melee as soon as they can, and their elite infantry will fuck yours since all your AP is on anti-large; at least your dudes will fuck over any Dragon Ogres, though. Anything bigger than a Dragon Ogre can be handled by the Sentinel
You outclass them in ranged combat with actual archers, guns, and artillery, WoC players will send Manticores and Cavalry after them, so keep some Halberds next to them (which you should be doing anyway for the Harmony mechanic.)
That being said, their lack of ranged weapons means that your Sky-Junks will have grand old time, and may be a better investment than ground-based Fire Rockets. Manticores will die to Longma Riders, so keeping them protected will not be an issue.
This will be tough for the same reason the Vampirates are bad in this matchup, they do your main tactic better than you do. They have a wider assortment of guns and artillery, and great ways to kill your large units. They have Catapults to fuck your formations, while your indirect artillery lacks AP to punch through thicc dwarf armor.
You will need to play offence against the Dwarfs which isn't great as you have no armour-piercing infantry that isn't bonus versus large, and your units only hit their peak efficiency when they're stationary and next to someone of the opposite type. They're also slow, not dwarf-slow, but slow enough that you'll take losses from Dwarf artillery, so it's a good idea to have at least a few peasants in front off your dudes to die for the Greater G--Harmony.
Your shielded crossbowmen are decent with good AP, get better when they're stationary, reload quicker with the Harmony mechanic; so long as their shields are faced where the shots are coming from, you can bounce some missiles off, too; Iron Hail gunners are much quicker than Jade Warriors or Dwarfs, and their shotguns pack a mean punch, especially when they're quick-firing with Harmony. They can be very good flankers when you pair them with Peasant Long Spears to guard their flanks and provide Harmony. Crane Gunners are like Skaven jezzails, use them to shoot down Gyrocopters to clear the skies and give your airships the ability to shoot from afar without being shot down. Speaking of airships, the Skyjunk is a better investment than the Fire Rain rocket; their weapons are similar, but the Skyjunk is harder to hit by enemy artillery, has much better angling, and when it runs out of ammo, can drop bombs that will be much more disruptive than the non-AP Fire Rain rockets.
Jade Warriors with shields will likely by your best melee infantry bet as they might be able to survive salvos as they hold against the dwarven line, but try screening them with Peasant Long Spears; they'll break, but when they regroup you can use them as Harmony buffers with your Iron Hail or Crane Guns. In terms of how to break the line, Ox Cannons are quite mobile for an artillery piece, and Crane Guns can provide covering fire from afar.
Your best lord option is a dragon blooded lore of yin caster on a longma. She's highly disruptive to ranged heavy factions since she can summon fodder into the middle of the enemy gunline like a flying vampire lord and overcast missile mirror to shut down individual ranged units for 36 seconds at a time.
Remember what we said in Dwarfs and Vampirates? Yeah you're dealing with a faction that does your thing better than you again. Grand Cannons are better than Great Cannon thanks to Harmony buffs and better mobility, but that's about the only good thing in this particular matchup. Luminarks hard counter Sky Junks and Imperial rocketry has significantly greater range than your own, while the constant threat of Demigryph up the ass keep you from rushing in without a plan.
- Grand Cathay:
This game is still too new for a meta, and most games you have on MP will just be people trying shit out. That being said, take Skyjunks and Fire Rockets and shoot the shit out of the enemy castle. Exploit the Grand Cannons mobility and provide harmony with cheap Peasants that you wont mind losing. Pop airships with Longma or Sky Lanterns, and save the Crane Gunners for their Longma. Take a sentinel and if your opponent takes one too, they can practice their kung fu
- Lizardmen: This will theoretically be a tricky match up, but ultimately one in your favor. Your plentiful AP gunpowder units will make quick work of the sluggish Saurus and, when coupled with your multitude of halberd units, can do some serious damage to their bigger beasties, but they're likely not going to be the forces a competent Lizardmen army will bring. Instead, Skinks will be your bane. Fast skirmishers and Chameleons will hassle you from all angles with their poisonous darts while their cavalry (flying or otherwise) disrupts your formations with fear/terror-inducing charges. If they're bringing a Slann, you will NEED to keep on top of your positioning; positioning your forces too close makes them prime candidates for the myriad of vortex and wind spells at their beck and call. Deal with them first, followed by any cavalry/skirmishers and clean up what's left with your plentiful gunpowder.
- Nurgle: Nurgle hates ranged units, enemy large units, an abundance of anti-large, fire damage, and enemies that can hold out in a grindfest against them. You are all of these things and Nurgle has vanishingly few options against you. Long Ma riders take a huge dump all over any of Nurgle's fliers and the fire damage of your artillery, magic, and more will make Nurgle weep with sorrow as you delete his slow moving and utterly unshielded units off the table one after the other. And as Nurgle has extremely anemic charges he can't even reliably break your formations without lucky spell casts; which of course relies on the Nurglites even getting a spellcaster in range through your numerous means to snipe them off the field. You can basically win this matchup while AFK, but something to watch out for is nurgles Army Ability, which can jump from one nearby unit to another, and Harmony forces your units together, so keep an eye out for the plauges.
- Skaven: From the looks of it, this seems to be your hardest matchup by far. Your harmony mechanic relies heavily on having a solid plan for most stages of the game and Skaven excel at disruption, be it through summons, skirmishing Eshin troops or just raw balls-to-the-wall firepower of Clan Skryre. Mirror Missile is your friend in this match-up and for its relatively low winds of magic cost is one of the single most brutal anti-ranged unit spells in the entire game, forcing the Skaven commander to either force their ranged unit into inactivity for twenty seconds or watch their prized shooters wipe themselves out.
- Slaanesh: What's this, a speedy flanking faction designed to dive backlines? This could spell trouble for you. Fortunately, you theoretically have one way to banish Slaanesh's creeps back to the warp, and that's "Invest in flying units and box up with halberds." Slaanesh has no ranged units and only Furies as fliers, so as long as you have a Longma unit or cheap missiles to protect them, your Sky Lanterns and Sky Junks will be pretty much untouchable as they blast apart Slaanesh's ranks. Due to the amount of AP on their roster, Celestial Dragon Guard are a risky choice so invest either in Peasent spears or Jade Warriors with Halberds. You won't win the melee fight so don't bother investing in it. Have your infantry hold while your War Ballons shoot, your flying casters cast (Grab either the Dragon Siblings or a Shugangen in the air to keep them safe) and your Longma use their speed to flank and rear charge. Your balloons will run out of ammo eventually though, so make every shot count. Or just bring crossbows/archers, and shoot the living shit out of the exhibitionists.
- Vampire Coast: If the Coast thinks they can outshoot you they have another thing coming. Rocket artillery devastates Vampirate formations and while they can swat your Sky lanterns out of the sky if they bring terrorgheists, Long Ma riders and your Legendary Lords can swat those out of the air in turn and curbstomp any deck droppers they bring. You have well armoured and shielded ranged units who will tear straight through the fragile ranks of the Coast and can stop any monsters they field cold; while your artillery is able to out-trade Vampirate cannons with a better rate of fire as long as harmony is active. Also Missile Mirror was basically created to troll the Vampire Coast specifically.
General Tier Rank: C
You know how Harmony encourages you to stick your units together and to hold down a single point while not getting too aggressive? In Domination you win by doing the exact opposite of that. Since you have to spread out your forces and go on the offensive it's really hard for you to actually keep your Harmony active meaning a good chunk of your units won't be fighting at their price range. What's more, since you're out maneuvered by most factions, odds are you will not being getting to most points first and will have to fight off your enemies to secure them. Good news is that with your high armor, Terrocottas and range once you do have a point it's decently hard to kick you off. It would really help if you had some kind of decent, inexpensive mobile threat or just a fast ranged unit that can help keep harmony on all your infantry. You're way better in normal land battles though, as it's significantly easier to play your game and keep Harmony up.
Campaign Mechanics and Tactics
Unlike Kislev, which devolves into a Daemon fuckfest around the third or fourth wave of Rifts, Cathay is so easily-defendable that it's just begging for a rework, or at least a nerfbat.
Bastion: You have no real enemies outside the invaders in the Steppes beyond the Bastion, or the Ogres/Chaos Warriors in the Mountains to the South. The Bastion has a unique "Chaos Invasion" mechanic where Kurgans get spawned every so often to lay siege to the Bastion. They are Norscans rather than WoC, though, so have absolutely no artillery or siege ability outside of throwing trolls or mammoths at you, and the Bastion Gates practically pay for themselves once you invest in the Upkeep Lowering building chain, (which can go as far as 90% upkeep reduction for garrisoned armies), and get the settlement to level 4 to build Terracotta Sentinels. The Kurgans pretty much only exist to die against your garrisons and give them free experience. Funnily enough, should an AI Cathayan faction own all the gates, the stacks will do absolutely nothing but wait outside the gates.
Trade and Treaties:Speaking of Cathayan Factions, there are four hostile rebels (two for each Legendary Lord) and two Loyalist ones, who will be pretty easily confederated once you beat the rebels. Do this as quickly as you can, because your income will rise substantially with their provinces and stability. Cathayan income is comparable to High Elves, without the expensive upkeep. You will actually have enough passive income to station a hero in each province to close rifts as they come up, and the gold needed for each action.
You'll also have lots of potential trade partners; by sending Caravans westwards, you can establish diplomatic relations with factions they pass through, and trade treaties can be established with those on the route. These trade relationships can be turned into military treaties, which can eventually lead to Outposts, a new mechanic in Campaign that lets you build military outposts in major settlements (Provincial Capitals with 4+ slots). If you both have an outpost in each other's territories, both factions get to purchase infantry from each other's respective recruitment pools. Cathayan Castles with Kislev Tzar Guard? Na, think Jade Warriors backed by Kroxigors, or Hawk Riders screening for your airships!
Harmony and the Compass: Harmony is pretty tedious. Your economic/defense buildings, technology, and characters (+1 for heroes, +3 for lords) all have a corresponding Yin-Yang cost. Going too far towards one way will lead to inefficiency at the least, and provincial instability at the worst. Yin and Yang balance will fluctuate as you lose heroes and research tech, and certain buildings will wax and wane in usefulness as your empire expands/contracts: One Yin building, for example, provides better casualty replenishment, while its Yang counterpart ranks up your Peasants; one is more useful when you're trying to replenish losses after capturing a territory, the other is better for giving you quality levies, but both are mutually exclusive per settlement. Since you only need to build the first tier for the yin-yang point, it is sometimes helpful to leave a building slot open for quick rebalancing, or demolishing the ones you dont need anymore.
The Celestial Compass on the other hand provides campaign bonuses depending on which way the winds of magic is directed: corruption cleansing, casualty replenishment, control, or growth ; as it stays pointed in one direction, a meter fills up, providing grander effects, like increased income, attrition on enemies (but only the regions beyond the Bastion), or a comet like spell on the battlefield.
Actually playing: As mentioned above, uniting Cathay is your top priority, because the potential income you can get by having so many peaceful provinces under your direct control. And there's honestly not a lot of directions for you to expand to: The Steppes outside the bastion is simply too chaotic to be worth it, and the Mountains of Mourn are filled with Ogres and Chaos Warriors who will happily take a break from killing each other to kill you instead. Until the late game, your contact with the Old World will be limited to Caravans, which is fine, since they still provide line of sight and diopomacy options in the mountains and beyond in the Old World.
The Rifts will start out delivering only small amounts of corruption, but will get more severe as the campaign drags on, to the point that they can bring a province to 100 corruption in only a few turns. Close all the rifts in your provinces first with heroes, then those belonging to your sibling, because if lefr uncheck for too long, Daemonic heroes will emerge and the corruption will spawn rebellions. Only your faction leader can enter the Warp or traverse the rifts to fast travel to another place on the map, and when closing a rift with an army will only cause a battle, whereas using a hero only costs gold.
You need to collect four Daemon Prince souls, one from each Realm, to lead to the final battle.
- Slaanesh takes a minimum of 6 turns, as you need to go past each of the six circles and deny all the gifts presented at each exit. You can, however avoid pointless battles the easiest here by simply going straight to each rings portal and avoiding the Slaanesh daemons.
- Tzeentch's realm is like a pokemon gym, where you go from island to island via teleporter until you arrive at his palace. The islands only really have 2 portals, the one you came from, and the one you need to reach, so as long as you just go from one to the next, you'll be fine. What makes this difficult, though, is that you spend the rest of your movement teleporting, no matter how much you had left. Some islands have Daemons waiting to jump you outside of the teleportation portal, sometimes one stack, others, two. Never march through a portal, since that will leave you exhausted, or worse, with no retreat option. If youre afraid of being jumped on arrival, in TW3 you can still move in the encampment stance(but at 50% range), so this not only prevents attrition but gives you an advantage on the defense
- Khorne wants to watch you fight. His realm is full of rogue armies that you must defeat, and for each kill you get, you fill up a meter. Fill this meter and he will grant you the honor of fighting the Daemon Prince at the Brass Citadel. Pick a fight against the undead or daemons, because rather than run away, they will fight on until the entire unit is wiped. This will fill the bar quickly, and its not like you had lots of ways to chase after routing ememies.
- Nurgle grinds you down with attrition, but thankfully unless Ku'gath is there too, you won't actually catch a "real" plague. The best way to move through his realm is encamped, but doing so cuts movement in half. You can also visit landmarks for some replenishment, because Nurgle is nothing but generous. That being said, his daemons will block your path and respawn right away.
- The Shadow Legion: After collecting all 4 souls, the road to the Forge of Souls is unlocked. Once more, portals will open all throughout the world, but this time Belakors forces will erupt and lay siege to your cities. The amount looks to be variable, amd by this point in the game, you are probably at war with more than just Chaos. If you have any spare heroes, close the portals right away to prevent reinforcements. Since this happens right after collecting the fourth soul, you can time it to happen right after clearing the latest wave of Kurgans, so that at the very least, you're not dealing with a Bastion invasion at the same time you're dealing with literal hell gates erupting all over your empire.
- The Final Battle: Belakor controls the Forge of Souls. It is a survival battle, so you will face three waves while also fighting through the forge. The first wave is nothing difficult, and can be won solely through Sky Junks and Celestial Crossbows, but the 2nd and 3rd will be tedious, since you're in the Forge of Souls, you will be facing a whole bunch of Soul Grinders. Take Celestial Halberds, Celestial Crossbows, and multiple Sentinels. The Halberds are self explanatory, since you will need some tough holding units to hold against the waves of Daemons, and their expert charge defence means that while fighting Bloodletters is inefficient, they wont give up without a fight; Crossbows are quite dangerous when focus firing in volleys, but the two artillery Soul Grinders (Nurgle and Tzeentch) are both also the tankiest. Take out Tzeentch first, because Barrier recharges, and it will recharge once you stop shooting it. When teched up, Sentinels are a good match for Soul Grinders, but are very slow in movement and attacking without support, so you will want to have someone fight the Daemons while the Sentinels fight the Daemon Engines.
- This is where a military alliance really comes in handy. Bloodletters are pretty good against your infantry, and are still pretty dangerous when they mob a sentinel. Tzar Guard or Armored Kossars provide some offensive oomph that your Celestials and Jade Warriors otherwise lack.
- One tricky part about Survival is that even after a wave is "over," you will continue to be harassed until the next wave begins. After the first wave ends, Chaos Hounds wil harass your troops until they capture the secont point, so you will need to leave a rear guard behind to deal with them, otherwise your heavy infantry, or worse, your slow, slow, Sentinels wil get stuck behind swatting them. After the second wave, Belakor spawns endless Daemons. Daemonettes and Bloodletters will rush you, while Pink Horrors will pepper you with magic while taking no damage in return from barrier.
- The Final Wave wont end until Belakor is slain, and then you will need to mop up whatever remains. Belakor summons even more Soul grinders, as well as a bunch of heavier hitters, like Minotaurs of Khorne and Doom Knights. They will be teleporting in from all over the throne room, so you will need to keep an eye out for when a portal opens and for what comes out of it. The only thing that prevents this from being utter Bullshit is that they give you a shit ton of Sentinels (7??) in the final wave of reinforcements, and you will be legitimately retarded if you take anything else besides them. In fact, because of how many Sentinels you get for the final battle, you may be able getting away only three or four in your army, and filling the rest with heavy infantry or crossbows. The final battle is chaotic and all over the place, and warm bodies to hold back the reinforcements might be more helpful than 15 sentinels all trying to gangbang Belakor.
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