Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Grand Cathay

From 1d4chan

This is the general tactics page on how to play Cathay in Total War: WARHAMMER.

Why Play Cathay[edit]

  • 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


  • 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 likely 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.
  • 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.


  • 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, most units will suffer against similar units of other factions.
  • Slow: From what is known and has been shown, Cathay won't be winning many foot races compared to other factions. Though seemingly not as plodding as the dwarfs or lizardmen, you don't seem to have much in the way of cavalry and your war balloons will be pretty susceptible to air cav and missile fire.
  • Limited Cavalry: Seems like you will be the worst Cav faction of all the non Chaos human factions. The Jade Warrior Cav will probably be on the same level as Empire Knights and flying cavalry like Longma Riders generally don't do well in this game, so you will likely struggle to outmatch other cav heavy factions in that regard.
  • 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 Generic Melee Character: None of your generic characters are really that good in melee. I know what you're thinking "But the Dragon Siblings!" but they won't be leading all your armies in campaign and will likely be expensive in multiplayer. 3 out of 4 of your generic characters are Mages and the one that isn't, the Lord Magistrate, is stated to be more of a buffing character than a fighting character. 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.
  • 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.")

Faction traits[edit]

  • 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.

Legendary Lords[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Legendary Heroes[edit]

Generic Heroes[edit]

  • 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. Literally expected to run away. Treat them as human skavenslaves. Considering that your army core is meant to stand still and hold ground (getting better the longer they stand still without moving), you're probably meant to send the spearmen forward first to take missile fire and interrupt enemy cavalry whilst you position your Jade and Dragon Guard behind 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. Come in sword and board and halberd variants.
  • Celestial Dragon Guard: Jade Warriors on steroids. Everything you can do I can do better. The only difference presumably is price tag and tier, so your end game army stack. They also only come in a halberd variant when it comes to melee so they’re dedicated Anti-Large with expert charge defence.


  • 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. Said to not have any AP at all, so probably only good against the undead or other unarmored chaff.
  • 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, you'll probably want to move them in position behind Long Spears and refrain from moving them to keep those bonuses.
  • Celestial Warrior Crossbowmen: Jade Warriors on steroids, once again. Shielded, heavily armoured and with armour-piercing bolts, they look poised to be one of the top-tier missile infantry units in the game, although probably quite expensive.
  • Iron Hail Gunners: A living version of the Zombie Handcannons from the Pirate coast. Use them mainly for flanking, although with the Harmony system, being able to keep them closer to your melee troops whilst flanking will apparently make them into machinegunning shotgunners. Evidently, massacre armoured infantry with their high-AP shots.
  • 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.


  • 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. Probably not worth getting unless you are desperate for cavalry. Low leadership and low attack. Use them to screen for low tier enemy missile units or artillery. Alternate take: This is easily your best unit for chasing down routing units, as you'll want Jade Lancers and Longma to do other things. So in Multiplayer or even early campaign a few of these guys probably won't hurt.
  • Jade Lancers: Jade warriors on horseback. More defensive than other factions cavalry. More suited defending your flank than running in to attack the enemy.
  • 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. All numbers are subject to balancing prior to the release of course.


  • Wu-Xing War Compass: A big ol' magical battery with two spells that use winds of magic. These spells are Urannons Thunderbolt and Comet of Casanodora. Evidently use it to break up armoured blobs of infantry. Also ok in melee as a chariot.


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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. It provides a morale boost to your infantry and grants vision on units that are hiding in foliage, which can help thwart ambushes. It can also fire while moving and line of sight isn't much of a problem, so use them like you would flying War Wagons. 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.
  • 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.

Multiplayer Strategies[edit]

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. Of course, we need to wait for the game to come out to see how you play in multiplayer, but you seem well equipped to win glory for the Dragon Emperor.

  • 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.
  • Dwarfs: Ok, I know the game isn't out yet but I don't think we need to wait until release to know that this matchup is going to SUUUUUUCK! This will likely be 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 cav. Meaning 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. A decent theory tactic is to invest in Crane Gunners, as they will likely do great for the same reason Jezzails do, sniping. Use them to shoot down Gyrocopters to clear the skies and give your lanterns the ability to shoot from afar without being shot down. Jade Warriors with shields will likely by your best infantry bet as they might be able to survive salvos as they hold against the dwarven line. In terms of how to break the line, try spamming Fire Rain Rockets, as they can clear infantry well as the Helstorm can. Don't bother with either dragon siblings, they will get shot to pieces as dragons and their magic won't be to effective against the Grudge Gnomes. This may be one of the matches to bring casters knowing Missile Mirror.
  • Grand Cathay:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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