Warhammer: Mark of Chaos
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Warhammer: Mark of Chaos is a Warhammer Fantasy strategy game released back in 2006. It has similar gameplay to Total War: Warhammer despite being released 10 years before. One could say that Total War: Warhammer is its spiritual successor. Still, this is an extremely underrated gem that was almost never talked about on /tg/ due to its short supply of memes. The game was for a long time very hard to find, at least legally, as the physical copies were long out of production and only recently became available on GOG. This was due to the fact that it was published by Bandai-Namco, a Japanese publisher not known for their embrace of the digital storefront, and that it was deeply integrated with Games for Windows Live.
Like Total War: Warhammer, or any Total War game, there is no resource management or base building in the real-time portion of the game. You control an army of units selected from the overworld map, form them up in formations, manage their morale, and use your generals to- fuck it, it's a Total War game! However, as was common in strategy games of the time, rather than having a large and wide-ranging open world map to conquer, the campaigns locked you into a set of not-quite linear missions to advance the story of their Empire and Chaos champions. Multiplayer is limited to skirmish battle options, so don't expect something on the scale of a Total War game.
Both campaigns feature branching mission options at certain points in the story, but are otherwise linear. The overworld, such as it is, consists of a 3D-rendered map of the northern reaches of the Empire, with mission destinations, campsites, and ruins scattered along different points of the storypath. At each point, you may recruit new units, equip your Lords with various magical items, equipment, and skills, and customize and maintain your army. If you want to paint your Empire troops in the colors of Mariendorf, you can do so; much like Dawn of War, which had come out just two years prior, Mark of Chaos featured a fairly in-depth army customizer for that real tabletop wargaming experience.
In the RTS portion you control a mix of unit squads and individual heroes, and enemies will randomly drop equipment and items you can pick up to customize your troops, like magic standards to improve your soldiers or potions of various effects. While superficially it resembles Total War, it's much more like King Arthur: A Roleplaying Wargame or MechCommander, but with a great Warhammer Fantasy skin. You can also compare it to Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat, but in glorious, bloom-spewing 3D.
The Dwarfs and Greenskins also appear in a limited capacity, with extremely small rosters and merely serving as mercenary units for the main factions. The Vampire Counts also make an appearance, though only as an AI faction in a handful of campaign missions.
The expansion, Battlemarch, made the Greenskins into a fully fledged faction, along with adding the Dark Elves as an entirely new one.
There are 2 campaigns in the game. Chaos and Empire.
In the Chaos campaign you play as Thorgar the Blooded One, a Chaos Champion who fought alongside the warlord Asavar Kul (also known as the fourth 'Everchosen') in the Great War. Later levels have you control the Skaven as well. The campaign centers around Thorgar's attempts to rally the forces of Chaos after their defeat, ascend to daemonhood and, ultimately, finish what Kul started. As the Empire is still around 200 odd years after the game takes place this can be considered the non-canon campaign.
The most characteristic thing about Thorgar is that he, a powerful Chaos Champion, is best buds with a Norscan Marauder by the name of Olaf. This wouldn't be so unique (in the end, even Chaos Warriors have friends), except this friendship continues even after Thorgar TRANSFORMS INTO A DAEMON PRINCE.
In the Empire campaign, you play as Stefan von Kessel, a captain in the army of Ostermark under Count Otto Gruber. Stefan's family used to be the Elector Counts of Ostermark (which makes his service to the current count rather ironic), however they were convicted of heresy and executed with only little Stefan being spared, albeit branded with a mark of shame. The events of the campaign follow his struggles to hold off the forces of the aforementioned Thorgar whilst simultaneously trying to redeem his family name. Spoilers, he does so by uncovering hidden Chaos cultists that framed his family, and recovers the Ostermark Runefang along with his honor.
The game also received an expansion called Battle March. The expansion made the Greenskins into a full faction while also adding the Dark Elves to the game. It had a campaign revolving around an orc warboss named Gorbash leading a Waaagh! through the Chaos-ravaged Empire. It is later revealed that the whole plot had been orchestrated by the Dark Elf sorceress (Lilaeth (no relation to the similarly named deity)), who was manipulating the Greenskins for her own purposes. Also, Malekith makes a cameo, threatening to tear out Lilaeth's soul should she fail him (What a charming guy!).