Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Kislev
Why Play Kislev
- Because you like Humans, but don't want to debase yourself by playing as one of the feeble westerners (or southerners in this case)
- You think that premodern Eastern Europe is underused as an inspiration for fantasy stuff.
- You will likely be playing a more generalist playstyle that leans more into mobile skirmishing and Cavalry.
- You want an excuse to blast Sabaton while playing in fantasy.
FUCKING BEARS!!!!!*BLAM* In the name of Tzarina Katarin Bokha, this man has been been sentenced to death for degeneracy, move along citizen.
- Cavalry: Kislev always leaned more towards the cavalry side on tabletop and that continues to be the case in TW. With Winged Lancers, Gryphon Legion, Bear Riders and Horse Archers you should have a very wide selection of horsemen to choose from, without the same crippling infantry Bretonnia has
- Flexible Infantry: Many of your ranged units, such as the Ice Guard, have weapons that allow them to fight in melee, similar to Shades and Lothern Sea Guard. This means them getting stuck in melee won't be too much of an issue as they can actually defend themselves.
- High Leadership: I guess when Chaos is squatting on your front door nothing really scares you anymore. With high natural leadership and a passive that makes you unbreakable when you're low it'll take a lot to get you to run.
- Range: You have plenty of skirmish units that also function decently well in melee. Virtually all of your infantry can shoot and you have a lot of mobile ranged options on top of that.
- Built for Total War: While they have more of a pedigree then Cathay does as far as canon goes, they have mostly been ignored in the table top game, which means CA has broad latitude in making units for there army in a way other factions didn't not. See Bretonnia's limited unit roster for example. As such they have potential to be more balanced then the other factions with no glaring unit type holes.
- Lower Unit Numbers for Melee Infantry: Unlike the standard 120 unit models of most melee infantry units, your Armoured Kossars only come in units of 90 and your Tzar Guards come in at 80.
- Minimal Mount Options: You'd better like horses or bears, because that's all anyone gets to saddle up on. Unfortunately, unless added in at a later patch or by popular demand, even Katarin is restricted to either a horse or a bear to ride into battle rather than a war sled (aside from her ice-gliding technique).
- Absent Artillery: Though you do have the Little Grom, which is more than some factions have, you have no other dedicated artillery units. Your rather robust cavalry and missile infantry can compensate somewhat but long range shootouts can and will turn against you if you can't close the distance.
- No Air Units: This is not going to be a flying faction in any way. You have more than enough missiles to deal with enemy fliers but having to concede the sky means that your opponent has an easier time dictating the fight and choosing their targets compared to you.
- Harder Campaign: Since you start right on the border of the Chaos Wastes, you're going to be dealing with a ton of Chaos armies marching your way. This can make the Kislev campaigns pretty tricky as you have so many Daemons and Norscans from the north to deal with. Not to mention the potentially pugnacious Vampire Counts to your south. This is, of course, not even counting the constant Chaos Rifts that utterly swamp the lands all around you. Is it fluffy? Oh absolutely! Will you get sick of the never ending Chaos stacks pounding on your door? Sweet Ursun yes. Your economy will be stretched quite thin as you're going to need several banner armies just to hold the motherland while Katarin/Kostaltyn venture into the Realms of Chaos.
- DLC: Yeah, this will be safe to assume. The Kislev starting roster is rather light compared to some of the other factions from prior entries (partly because the other TW:W titles only had four starting factions as opposed to TW:W III's six, and all the unit variants actually serve their own purpose instead of just "oh, here's the exact same unit but with shields" which caused bloat and partly because Kislev has a lot of units doing two roles at once so no need for a spear AND an archer unit when Kossars do both), so it's safe to say CA/GW kept some of the list in the back pocket for a cash grab. Get ready to join the very large "We need to fork over extra dough to be relevant in multiplayer" club.
- By Our Blood: A trait all Kislev units have. When a unit's health drops below 50%, they become Unbreakable for 30 seconds, once per battle, meaning they can hold out better when they take a lot of damage all at once. May be a more of a double-edged sword, since as mentioned before, you are not that good at soaking up damage and can lead to problems down the road, as one unit fleeing can cause your whole frontline to collapse once the buff runs out - it will just take a bit longer. That said, three daemon factions and Ogres are good at dealing a lot of damage via charges, magic, or both so it may also help a lot.
- Tzarina Katarin: The new Tzarina after daddy went MIA fighting Chaos. She's a mage lord character with access to the Lore of Ice and a bound spell from her sword. She is faster than other infantry lords thanks to her ability to ice-surf over the map. She has surprisingly good combat stats for a mage, though her lack of armor and AP means you shouldn't throw her against dedicated combat characters. In lore, she had a horse and sled mount, but in game the sled mount was replaced with a bear due to Nurgle's centennial party, so we can hope it may appear later.
- Campaign-wise, she buffs Snow Leopards and provides an upkeep reduction for Ice Guards (to the point it's pretty easy to have them reach an upkeep even lower than basic Kossars'), and starts in Kislev.
- Kostaltyn, Supreme Patriarch of The Great Orthodoxy: This greased up Rasputin looking mother fucker is a new character likely created by CA and GW in order to help flesh out Kislev's roster. Supreme Patriarch of the Cult of Ursun and leader of the Great Orthodoxy, basically Kislev's Volkmar. His lore stresses he's very hard to kill, being stabbed twice but kept on fighting, and his abilities reflect that. He has the four Patriarch prayer abilities as well as regen and a couple of abilities that buff nearby troops even more, one of which only works when their health is low . He's not a fan of his Tzarina and in his SP campaign he tries to usurp her as the true leader of Kislev.
- In the campaign, he starts north of Erengrad. His army has drastically reduced recruitment costs, to the point that you can get some units for free. They're still expensive to maintain as a standing army, so you'll be disbanding and raising units pretty often
- Boris Ursus: Unlocked by holding the major cities of Kislev for 10 straight turns and winning a quest battle. Your super-heavy melee lord, Boris rides his unique bear mount Urskin and wields a halberd. He has anti large, an AoE damage ability, and a host of buffs for himself and other nearby units, many of them activated as his health gets low. Boris is designed to get into the thick of things and hold the line forever, with By Our Blood making him especially difficult to get rid of. As fearsome as his combat stats can get he's still not going to be beating Skarbrand in a duel. Put him in a death star where he can support other units and his toughness and decent damage output will make the enemy think twice about trying to assassinate him.
- In the campaign, he provides buffs and upkeep reduction to War Bear Riders and Elemental Bears in his army, which will most likely be your core in the late-game. Map-wise, he starts out in the Dark Lands East of Kislev, surrounded by Ogres and Orcs, both of which are bad matchups for you until you tech-up. However it has tons of empty territory and no major rivals so you can pull a Cathay and build a giant land base relatively safely. At least, that is, until the Dawi Zharr arrive.
- Boyar: Your pure melee lord with a horse and bear mount. They will primarily act as a Budget Boris and provide a solid melee combat character to support your main army. He uses double axes, so while we don't have his stats yet we can imply that he does relatively high damage for a generic melee lord but in turn in a bit more vulnerable to missiles, especially on the mount.
- Ice Witch: Magic Lord for Kislev, with the lores of Ice and Tempest. Has a bound AoE damage spell as well as a Snow Leopard summon. Can ride a horse or a bear.
- Patriarch: Kislevite warrior priest of the Great Orthodoxy. This chad rides a bear and can cast four miracles, one each for the gods Ursun, Dazh, Tor, and Salyak. These buffs affect nearby units and buff charge bonus/leadership, vigour, melee attack, and provide a heal respectively. These guys are your only source of healing so they're pretty valuable. While his mount means he's decent in melee he has low armor and like his Empire counterpart he's primarily a support character that will lose to dedicated duelists.
- Frost Maiden : Hero version of the Ice Witch. Has the same magic and same mounts at a cheaper cost, so she is surprisingly decent in melee for a mage character but nothing spectacular.
- Armoured Kossars: An armored infantry choice featuring with an axe and board variant and a great weapon variant. They trade out the bow for a pistol that allows them to fire off a shot before combat is joined, which can help them weaken an enemy before the main engagement begins. Will be your go-to front line for much of the mid game and especially in multiplayer where they're very cost effective.
- Tzar Guard: The elite infantry line for Kislev, the bodyguards of the Tzar wearing thick snazzy fur cloaks. These guys are Kislev's only pure melee infantry. Have a sword and board and greatsword variant.
- Dazh's Hearth-Guard - Greatweapon Tzar Guard with Flaming Attacks, which helps fill that niche against Nurgle, or rather make nurgles time fighting you even more miserable than it was before. Also have some utility against Tzeentch owing to their Fire Resist. Unrelated to the Squat unit of the same name.
Hybrid missile units
- Kossars: Bow and axe troops, early game troops which with their decent melee stats can fend for it self in melee to some degree unlike most other archers. Running light cavalry into these guys may cost you some more horsemen than you may have initially bargained for, especially if they're the Kossar with Spears variant which actively have anti-large. They are also your cheapest infantry unit meaning in the early game and probably multiplayer they will fill the role as your front line.
- Unfortunately it does have to be mentioned that due to kislev's extremely weak economy and many threats these tier 0 troops are going to be your entire army until tier 4-bears. literally one lord and 19 easily replaceable kossars as your armies. Usually you're not forced to play 'meta' in total war but kislev is near western roman empire levels of 'fuck this campaign'
- Streltsi: Their weapon is a gun that is also an axe. A mid tier missile unit with armor piercing in melee and at range. Again, like a handgunner that can fend for it self a bit in melee. these guys are going to be most useful against heavily armoured factions (Dwarfs, Khorne, Warriors of Chaos) but against more lightly armored factions there really is no point (Skaven, Wood Elves, Beastmen.) Absolutely useless against Tzeentch as daemonic projectiles ignore their armor and barrier is not affected by their armor-piercing ammo.
- These guys will mow down infantry like it's the End Times and make a better gunline than Armored Kossars; when melee is joined, the rear ranks will still fire their guns into melee, but this unit will fold against Monsters and Cavalry.
- Ice Guard: These ladies are what happens when a Sister of Avelorn and a Lothern Sea Guard have a baby, only it came out human somehow. Wielding magical weapons that deal frostbite, each comes with a bow, and either a dual sword variant for fighting infantry or a glaive for cavalry and monsters. They are decent on the counter attack abd will take models down with them, but don't leave them in combat for too long, as they're relatively squishy by Kislevite standards.
- Their weapons deal magic damage and frostbit, and their missiles arc over your front line. Their best use is focus firing on monsters that would give your infantry a hard time, especially since slower speed = less charge. With magic damage and relatively low AP they are top notch daemon-hunters, countering the physical resistance and low armor daemons generally have. Improve their missiles with Tempest Magic and watch them delete Lords of Change.
- Horse archers: Fast skirmishing cavalry. Though fragile they have decent melee offense, so as long as you don't get hit they can charge on occasion. By Our Blood means that if you do have to charge them into melee they'll probably fight to the last man.
- Kossovite Dervishes: Your quintessential light cavalry unit with high speed and Vanguard Deployment. A cheaper option than Winged Lancers of Gryphon Legionnaires but squishy as hell. Be careful with the situations you throw them into. They're ideal for running down enemy archers and war machines, but if they tangle with anything tougher the By Our Blood trait means you may lose all of them as they refuse to retreat.
- Don't ask me why they're called Dervishes when this is an Eastern European themed faction not an Islamic one (also noteworthy is that at least in some maps Araby have a region called "The Land of Dervishes"), true Russia proper does go that far South but not Kislev. This is especially silly when you realise with terms like Hussar and Uhlan, GW/CA had no scarcity of other names to use.
- Winged Lancers: The Winged Hussars have arrived and they are a mid tier cavalry unit. With anti-infantry, high charge bonus they are typical cycle charges. Charge in, get back, repeated. There big difference is that they are very fast and have fear representing how they caused a panic check on the table top during a flank charge.
- The Winged Lancers and Gryphon Legion are both dedicated anti-infantry, though changes in charge mechanics mean that if you charge a braced enemy head-on you will do nothing but get hurt in return for your stupidity. And don't charge other cavalry, just don't. That's what War Bears are for.
- Gryphon Legion: An elite group of Winged Lancers who act mostly as mercenaries but are sworn to show up when the Tzar/ina calls for there aid. They're not an RoR are but are instead ""the same unit but better" in the same vein as Reiksguard are to Empire Knights. With Fear and high speed they're very good at their jobs, but still pretty fragile compared to heavy cav from other armies.
- War Bear Riders: The Sons of Ursun are here to kick and then eat some ass. Good stats, good armor, anti-large, and armor piercing they are anti-large cavalry experts. Just as fast as the Gryphon Legion, with only slightly less armor and charge. They are, however, unshielded.
- Oath-Brothers of Tor: These guys have magic attacks and a special activated ability that bombards the area around them with lightning, blinding any enemies in the radius. These guys are very flexible, with the magic attacks making them good against any daemon units and the lightning bombardment helps them escape from an infantry grind after a rearcharge. The blinded effect of the bombardment also serves to debuff any ranged units they get into, so they're also excellent for riding roughshod over the enemy back line. Just remember you get limited uses of the bombardment, so time it carefully.
- Light War Sled: Benefits greatly from the reworked Charge and War Wagon mechanics, the Light War Sled is a chariot first, gunpowder unit second. They are quite fast, and shoot both on the move or in combat, but as chariots, you shouldn't leave them in melee and you should pick your targets properly: ranged units, unbraced infantry, or thin, stretched out gunlines should be your targets of opportunity to make the most use of their collision attacks.
- Compared to the Heavier version, this one has less armor and charge, but is much faster. Everything else is the same, so you should probably pick this one instead: the speed helps it escape melee that makes the additional armor a moot point
- Heavy War Sled: Better armor, pulled by Polar Bears, and have stronger "collision attacks" which are special animations that disrupt models more than regular charging.
- Snow Leopard: A single entity monster that is very fast and very good at killing large enemies. Has anti-large and frostbite but almost zero armor. Functions best as a support unit, designed to bog down enemy cavalry/monsters so that your slower and heavier troops can catch up and put on the hurt. Good at sniping enemy artillery, particularly monstrous artillery, and decent at fighting chariots. Do not expect it to fight anything like a stegadon or soul grinder though; these things are as fragile as an icicle.
- Your witches can summon Snow Leopards mid-battle and with skill upgrades improve their attack and strength stats. Basically single-entity Norscan Ice Wolves with anti-Large, Katarin can give them Stalk, but you also probably won't take them after you can get Ice Guard.
- Elemental Bear: A massive, unbreakable bear made of ice, stone and the will of Kislev’s people. It is more is capable of throwing hands (paws?) with any greater demon. It has a breath attack to accent its melee power. These guys are slow and tough but very vulnerable to ranged fire. However their massive health pool means that if the enemy doesn't bring the tools to get rid of them they might lose from army losses before the Bear goes down.
- Little Grom: No, they didn't kidnap Grom and put him on a diet. It's a giant ass ice mortar pulled by polar bears. Does it get any more Russian than that? It's a single model artillery piece with good range and good damage, and it can take care of itself in melee as the bears pulling it get anti-infantry attacks. Appears to be channeling Grom's spirit however, as it has 'collision attacks' dealing additional attacks when colliding with enemies. Better get out of the way of the bear train coming for your ass
You have two big themes in your roster, aggressive cav and hybrid infantry. Compared to Empire Cav Winged Lancers and Gryphon Legion are faster, harder on the charge, but less durable, meaning they are focused way more on hit and run and not as good in grind fights. Combine that with the fact that most of your infantry double as melee and ranged troops, and you are basically a far more aggressive Empire. However, it requires a lot of finesse to pull off, as your troops, while brave, are hardly durable and will fall apart fast. You can use Little Grom to play defense, but generally you seem to be better on the attack. Once the game comes out and we have multiplayer experience we will let you know how to gain victory for the Motherland!
- Beastmen: With their speed and vanguard, beastmen can and will get into melee whether you like it or not. The good news is that you heavily out range them and most of your units are combined arms, and their only missile units that aren't the Cygor or Centigors with axes is crap. Combined with the Lore of Ice and Tempest, you can slow them down heavily and help even the odds. The bad news is that because of many of them are so fast combined with a huge charge bonus and stalk, your frontline can quickly crumble if they aren’t careful with what they fight, bring Kossars with spears to be your front line, they’ll make a beastmen player think twice before charging his monsters into the frontline. Ice Guard and missile cav are your best bet to bring down a Cygor, and lastly have some Streltsi to turn any Ghorgons, Jabberslythes or Bestigors into ground beef should he bring any.
- Bretonnia: This is an interesting one, as you're both very cavalry focused but in different ways. Bretonnian cav is slower, tougher, and has greater variety. Your cav is faster, hits harder, is more fragile, and has less access to anti-large, aside from bears. Your front line will probably be armored Kossars with shields, who will roll right over Bretonnian infantry. Your back line will probably be Kossars with spears and maybe one or two Ice Guard with glaives to slow down Bretonnian cav with their frostbite ranged attacks. A lot is going to depend on who gets the better cavalry engagements. You really need to charge and not be charged to succeed on this front. A Snow Leopard might be helpful for slowing down enemy knights to set up charges for your Lancers. Consider bringing one unit of War Bear Riders so you have a strong anti-large sweeper to scare off flanking attacks on your archers. Both Lore of Ice and Lore of Tempest have their uses here, either to slow down the Bretonnian knights so they eat more ranged fire or to speed up your own cavalry for those decisive charges.
- Daemons of Chaos: Ice Guard, Ice Guard, Ice Guard. The DoC roster is huge so it can be difficult to predict what they'll bring but aside from Khorne most of their units are low armor with physical resistance. Ice guard have low AP but their magical attacks will cut right through that physical resist. They also have magical damage in melee, and combined with their decent melee stats and the option to bring glaives they're well positioned to deal with summons and monsters pushing into the back line. Consider brining a Lore of Tempest caster to buff up their shooting even more. Skip the Tzar Guard, however, as they'll still get krumped by Bloodletters and aren't worth the extra gold. Bring a front line of armored Kossars--By Our Blood should keep them in the fight for long enough. War Bears and Sleds are always good options as well, but just be sure to keep those Ice Court ladies firing.
- Dark Elves: The biggest weakness of the Druchii is their staying power. If you can outlast their Murderous Prowess you are very likely to win the battle. By Our Blood should help with that, but the Dark Elves will still outclass you with melee infantry and AP ranged units. The good news is their cavalry is pretty bad and your Horse Archers will outrange their Dark Riders. An emphasis on kiting, with Horse Archers and War Sleds, might help with waiting out Murderous Prowess. Beware of Scourgerunners, however.
- Dwarfs: The Dwarfs are a very defensive army, whereas you are something of a hybrid army that can alternate between range-focused defense and cavalry-focused offense. In this matchup you want to pursue the latter. Dwarfen artillery will pound you into the permafrost so you need to get up in their faces ASAP. A Lore of Tempest witch with Swiftwing will help with that. Bring Gryphon Legion over Winged LAncers (they have slightly better AP), as well as War Sleds. Cycle charge the hell out of the Dawi. If you bring ranged infantry, bring Streltsi -- always pick AP where possible. Armoured Kossars are probably your best choice for melee infantry thanks to their shields and pistols, but with all the money you're sinking into the rest of your army you might have to cheap out on the front line a bit.
- Empire: You can't outgun them but you can outflank them. This battle is going to come down to who wins the cavalry battle. Your bears can hold their own against Demigryphs, your Horse Archers will out-range Pistoliers or Outriders, and your melee cav is faster than theirs. You need to rush the Empire, hitting them hard and fast. If you land the decisive charges this battle will go your way, but if you take the charges the relative fragility of your cavalry will be a problem. Bring a Lore of Tempest witch and make sure you give her Swiftwing, which will let you blitz across the battlefield.
- Grand Cathay: Generally the big advantages you have over Cathay are mobility and flexibility. Don't bother engaging them in a shootout, you aren't going to win. Instead, take advantage of your cavalry and use them to get into that back line. Dervishes will get there the fastest but if you want something that'll punch through Jade Lancers the Gryphon Legion or Bear Riders should do the trick. In terms of infantry Cathay will probably go with a ton of halberds to deal with your cav so they probably won't break through your shielded units too fast and while your shielded Tzar Guard might have a rough fight against Dragon Guard they'll survive long enough for your horses and bears to mop up the backline and charge them in the rear. The other major problem is that you can't contest them in the air so your missiles might come under attack from Longma or the Dragon Twins. Streltsi can at the very least put a dent in them at range or in melee and Cathay's ranged troops will buckle way faster than yours, if you can compromise their Harmony. Your ranged units might get swarmed, but they'll at least hold long enough to let you win the infantry fight and rally back to help them.
- Greenskins: This might actually be a pretty good matchup for you. Greenskins rely a lot on their skirmishers, their monsters, and their Black Orcs. Your faster than normal shock cav, plus your own skirmishers and light cav, can help deal with all those wolf riders and spiders. Lancers will be a good choice due to causing Fear. Thanks to By Our Blood your troops will hold out far longer compared to the poor leadership of the Greenskins, meaning that while you might take a lot of damage in the melee you probably won't break before they do. Aside from Black Orcs, Greenskins tend to have low armor so you can probably get away with mostly archers here, plus maybe one or two Streltsi to focus down Grimgor's buddies. Greenskins also struggle against the large monsters of other armies, so a unit of War Bears or even an Elemental Bear (if you can afford it) will be helpful for breaking the back of the Waagh.
- High Elves: The strength of the High Elves lies in their archers and their big flying monsters, while their cavalry is only sort of OK. They will definitely outrange everything except Little Grom (which they can focus down with Bolt Throwers) so you probably want to focus on a more mobile army. War Bears and their anti-large bonus will be very useful for protecting against dragons and phoenixes. Bring Kossars with spears or Ice Guard with glaives for your ranged core, as they can also fend for themselves when the bears aren't nearby. Focus down the monsters with ranged units and slow them down with Frostbite effects while trying to get your speedy cavalry into their archers.
- Khorne: Khorne is slow, heavily armored, and you do not want him getting into melee at all. As a result it might be best to focus on a very mobile Kislevite army, with lots of Lancers and War Sleds. Back them up with a Witch who has the Lore of Ice to slow Khorne's forces down even more while your sleds shoot them to pieces. If the Khornates reach your front line then By Our Blood will help you hold for a while but this is not a fight you're going to win. You better have Little Grom and some Streltsi on hand to shoot through all that Chaos Armor before your infantry breaks, otherwise this is going to be a short match. At least once the front line does break your Streltsi still have AP in melee.
- Lizardmen: This one is probably going to be rough. The Lizardmen are a walking wall of armoured scales that rules at grinding you down slowly while big dinosaurs stomp on your face. By Our Blood will be helpful but the Lizardmen will probably outlast it. Focusing down their dinos with Streltsi will be imperative. They're a fairly slow army so your cavalry will have an OK time cycle charging them, but the relative fragility of your cav may also mean they'll break before the lizards do. If nothing else a unit or two of Dervishes to run down Chameleon Skinks will be useful. Consider bringing Little Grom, as unless the Lizardmen bring the regular Stegadon they probably can't focus your bear-cannon down and it can hold its own against Terradons or Ripperdactyls.
- Norsca: These guys will be a pain in your neck for most of the SP campaign, so you'll get a lot of experience fighting them. They work very similarly to the Beastmen so some of the same tactics apply. One difference is you will definitely outrange Norsca. Make the most of this, especially since your hybrid infantry will be more resistant to Norsca's preferred tactic of swamping your back lines with war hounds and wolves. Streltsi and Ice Guard are your friends here. Just watch out for their anti-large capabilities. If you bring War Bears or Elemental Bears to hold off their mammoths you will need to protect them, otherwise they will get chipped down fast.
- Nurgle: Nurgle is slow and generally doesn't have a lot of armor, which is good news for you. All of your archers (mounted or otherwise) will deal decent damage to them while your cavalry will run circles around them. Bring a Lore of Ice witch and you can slow them down even more. This is a game of keep-away where you try to shoot and cycle charge the pestilent horde until they crack. Nurgle's best answers to this are his handful of ranged and fast troops. Plague Drones/Toads, Furies, Soul Grinders and probably Ku'gath will all be primary targets. Consider going elite for your front line, as Nurgle can't really punish unshielded units and your Great Weapon Armored Kossars or even Tzar Guard will be better at carving through Nurglings and Plaguebearers. Don't try to outlast Nurgle in melee, it won't work. Focus on damage.
- Ogre Kingdoms: Ogres generally have low armor and nearly their entire army is made of monsters and monstrous infantry. This means Kossars with spears are an excellent cost-effective choice. They'll deal most of their damage and will also be able to defend themselves if the Ogres push into melee. Bringing some War Bears to help focus down the bigger monsters the Ogres can field might be wise. Most ogre units are also relatively slow, so kiting builds of Horse Archers and War Sleds may be viable, and your fast cavalry will be able to run circles around these lumbering brutes.
- Skaven: Play this like your Norscan neighbors would. Go for a cheap front line of Kossars and otherwise focus on lots of light cavalry to overrun the ratmen's flanks and take out their ranged units. Play your cards right and the worst you'll have to worry about are the Moulder monsters, who can easily be killed with regular old arrows. Just don't try to get into a ranged duel with the rats -- it will not end well.
- Tomb Kings: Streltsi, Sleds and Bears are the name of the game here. You'll need the AP and anti-large to deal with all the Tomb King constructs. A relatively cheap front line of Kossars can handle their skeletons with support from War Sled charges. Your lack of fire damage will make it less easy to snipe the Tomb King characters but a Lore of Tempest caster will have a lot of AoE spells for wiping out skeletons so you can focus on the statues and enemy lords/heroes. Consider bringing Kostaltyn or a Patriarch if only for their fire damage.
- Vampire Coast: Break out the Winged Lancers, it's time to go fast. The Vampire Coast struggles against cavalry so a mass cav build is the way to go. Try to close as fast as possible from multiple directions and shut down their shooting. They'll try to bog you down with zombie pirates and monsters but Sleds and Bears should be able to keep them contained while your lighter cav runs roughshod over the artillery and guns.
- Vampire Counts: Definitely a match where you want to bring Little Grom, which will be able to hold its own against bats and wolves. You want to go in with a heavy defensive build, putting your money into your ranged units, which since you have so many hybrid missiles means you can probably hold your own against vampire chaff. By Our Blood will help you hold out against the Fear and Terror effects of the undead, which buys time for you to shoot. Consider bringing a Patriarch to heal and buff your front line so they last even longer.
- Warriors of Chaos: You want armor piercing and anti-large against these jokers. Roll out Little Grom and some Streltsi to shoot through all that hell-forged chaos plate. Bring War Bears to deal with Dragon Ogre Shaggoths. The WoC are slow so the Lore of Ice will help ensure you'll be able to shoot at them for as long as possible. This is one of the matchups where you'll want great weapons in your front line. Consider also bringing some Horse archers to deal with Marauder Horsemen harassment.
- Wood Elves: Because you lack fire damage this is one of the rare situations where the Wood Elves can bring lots of tree spirits without fear. Because of this it'll be a little hard to anticipate their builds. If they bring Durthu and a lot of monster you'll want a kite build. If they bring lots of archers you'll want a more melee cavalry build. Horse Archers and War Sleds will probably be good picks no matter what, as will Kostaltyn.
Campaign Mechanics and Tactics
How They Play: Unlike Cathay, which is surrounded by barriers, both natural and artificial, Kislev is one big plain with enemies all around you. Norscans and Chaos Warriors to begin with, but soon enough the Legions of Chaos will be at your door faster than you can say "чорт, пошёл на хуй". Things will only escalate once the rifts start opening up, as minor factions have shit AI and will do jack shit about the corruption spreading in their lands, so don't count on your Empire allies surviving very long once the rifts start spewing out Daemon stacks and 30+ corruption.
Also unlike Cathay, your units are expensive to maintain, even if they're relatively cheap to produce: a leveled-up Kostaltyn with a bunch of minor stacked ancillaries can actually raise units for free, or close enough to free. Instead, you'll find all your gold diverted to their upkeep and maintenance, a problem which will only get worse when you lose settlements to Chaos. Your Legendary Lords have quite substantial upkeep reduction for key units (Tzarina and Ice Guard, Boris and Bears), so building an army around them is crucial unless you want to pay 3000+ gold in wages everyturn.
Managing your Oblasts: Since only your faction leader can enter the rifts, it would be a good idea to devote your other armies to the defense, as well as cleaning up corruption. For every 2 provinces you own, you gain a unique character called an Ataman, functionally a Boyar who manages a province for you . They occasionally get events that will boost certain aspects of the province's economy, will lead your garrisons when attacked, and notably not cost upkeep (which trust me, is super important in Kislev).
It is notable as well that the three main Kislevite cities (Praag, Kislev, Erengrad) are all single-settlement provinces, while the adjacent Oblasts are all minor-settlements. By holding both, you get one Ataman, and while the cities are valuable enough to warrant a Garrisoned lord, the Oblasts have more to gain by having an Ataman buff them for you.
Devotion and Supporters: A campaign mechanic that simulates the power struggle between the Orthodoxy and the Royalty: the first one to gain 600 supporters wins and if you win, you confederate the other. Supporters are generated by building unique buildings in the major cities, or by building Orthodoxy churches. They can also be gained by invoking "the Motherland," which is like Rites that give you campaign bonuses, but also have challenges that you need to fulfill. For example, invoking Ursun deals attrition to enemies and slows them, but gives you +5 Supporters for every new settlement you occupy; Tor gives +2 supporters every time you enter a battle, and +10 melee attack. Kostaltyn will almost always have the edge in the beginning, but the Tzarina's safer realm means she'll eventually win out, so long as you dont lag behind in victories/tech.
Devotion is managed separately, and is gained by either sacrificing Chaos worshippers/Daemons post battle, or by religious buildings (you have two: Hallowed Woods, kinda like the Godswood in ASOIAF, that provides devotion and economy benefits, or Orthodox Churches, which also provide devotion and supporters, but cost Devotion as well.) Devotion is used for rites, certain tech, and buildings. You need to maintain above 100 devotion, too, because having too low Devotion spawns Chaos cults (completely independent of the Rifts/Public Order, which is annoying). The Rites are also pretty expensive, going from 60 to 80 and up to 200.
Unfortunately it does have to be mentioned that until tier 4 you only have one practical unit. the tier 0 kossar as it's low upkeep and easy replaceability is key for your weak economy and lack of decent units. Prepare to spam one unit even harder than the tomb kings. Is it boring as fuck-yes. is it the only practical way to hold off your enemies and unit kislev before you get swarmed by everyone-yes.
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