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The Unusual Factions of Total War: Warhammer

Total War: Warhammer is arguably the most successful of Creative Assembly’s long-running franchise. The marriage of classic TW gameplay and Warhammer Fantasy setting seemed like an obvious choice. The thing is, it doesn’t exactly escape what we’d expect from a strategy games, most factions seem pretty standard fare, all things considered. We’ve played as humans, elves, or dwarves many times in the past.
This is lucky, then, that Creative Assembly brought something relatively fresh to the mix for both the first Total War: Warhammer and its upcoming sequel. Let’s figure out what’s the deal is with factions other than the human-elf-dwarf-orc quartet we’re used to.

Vampire Counts

In the lore of Warhammer Fantasy setting, Vampires have originated as a result of necromantic meddling of ancient civilisation, Nehekhara, which fell long before the dawn of the current human Empire. Through some ill luck concerning elixirs and poisons interacting in a weird way, the first vampires came into being.
Warhammer Fantasy has several vampiric bloodlines overall, however in Total War: Warhammer we get just von Carsteins, the classic Dracula-like vampires. Their leader is Mannfred, a cunning, extremely dangerous man. The other is Isabella, the daughter of infamous Otto von Drak, who married into von Carsteins. Another lord is Heinrich Kemmler, a powerful necromancer, but not a vampire.
In gameplay terms, the Vampire Counts control armies of undead, who grow larger with every slain foe. They can (and should) spread corruption ahead of their arrival to break the spirit of mortals and provide ample opportunity for undead uprisings. Oddly enough, they have no ranged units, so they need to rely on getting in close very fast to overwhelm the enemy.

Beastmen

How often do you get to play as animalistic raiders living on the outskirts of civilisations that aren’t orcs? Yeah. This is why the Call of the Beastmen DLC for TW: Warhammer is such a treat. It focuses on a faction that typically is outside of most people’s interest.
What are the Beastmen, beyond what the name reveals?

They are, at their most basic, a species of mutated humanoids exhibiting prominent bestial traits. In the lore they are referred to as the Cloven Ones and even as the Beasts of Chaos, and none of these terms are untrue. They are said to originate in the ancient past, from the first humans to become corrupted and twisted by the nature of reality-warping Chaos flooded the world for the first time. After centuries they have been beaten back by forces led by God-King Sigmar, but they still feel a seething hatred for hatred. They are physically powerful, with animal heads and legs, but muscular human torsos and arms, as well as intelligence beyond what would be expected of a mere beast.
In TW: Warhammer they have their own unique campaign, focused on guerilla warfare against the Empire. They have an extremely aggressive and mobile playstyle, and they don’t have to worry about infighting-based attrition. As their Bestial Rage rises, much like the Orcs, they can summon an AI controlled army to direct it against opponents.

Lizardmen

The theories about Reptilians laying the foundations for modern world? All true. At least in the Warhammer universe.
Their evolution has been guided by the Old Ones, a primordial space-faring species which is behind the existence of most civilisations on the Warhammer setting.

The Lizardmen, led by the powerful Slann, form possibly the oldest civilisation of the Old World. For the most part shaped as anthropomorphic reptiles, they have other, less developed creatures at their beck and call. If you’ve always wanted to have a dinosaur unit in your Total War, then the Lizardmen faction in Total War: Warhammer 2 is going to be a real treat.
Their leader in TW: WH2 is going to be Lord Kroak, the oldest surviving Slann Mage-Priest, and quite possibly one of the oldest beings in the world.
Their specific mechanics remain largely unknown, possibly until the launch date on September 28.

Skaven

In the lore of Warhammer Fantasy, the Skaven are shrouded in mystery. The mere mention of their existence is met by many with claims of heresy, and the Skaven themselves do their best to erase any awareness of their existence from existing records, especially in the Empire.
The Skaven are sentient, malevolent, and inherently cowardly anthropomorphic rats living in the undeground caverns and tunnels all over the continent. They are excessively paranoid, vicious, brutal species which dreams of little as much as of conquering the surface. And they would have well been able to, if they weren’t their own worst enemies.

skaven warhammer fantasy stormvermin
Skaven in Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide (source: vermintide.gamepedia.com)

The Skaven have only been teased for a long time. An angry rat here, a subtle hint there, but everyone familiar enough with the Warhammer setting, or at least Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide launched two years ago could easily deduce what was coming.

Conclusion

This brief rundown doesn’t, of course, exhaust the possible factions we’ve yet to play, it’s just the least usual ones as far as playable fantasy races are concerned. There are still some unexpected possibilities like guests from Cathay, or Halflings. The first Total War: Warhammer just received a new DLC introducing the Chaos-worshipping barbarian invaders from Norsca, so who knows what’s yet to come?

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