After playing Total War: Warhammer nonstop since it came out, it’s only natural that it receives yet another post. Today, I wanted to give a few general tips for those starting out as Empire in the campaign. I’ve previously given some general advice in a previous post.
Empire is the basic human faction in Total War: Warhammer, utilizing basic ground troops (Swordsmen, Spearmen) augmented by substantial ranged firepower (Handgunners, Crossbowmen, Artillery). Empire also has access to powerful cavalry, both the regular and shock varieties. Thus, Empire can build well-rounded banners capable of specialization against any foe.
If you are just getting started, or perhaps having some trouble getting stable in the campaign, here are a few guidelines to follow to help make things run a little smoother. Of course, sometimes certain factions can just make your life very difficult (especially Chaos). Use these tips, and hopefully you can give the long campaign objectives a run.
#1 Defend, and then Attack
When it comes time to do battle as Empire, the maxim of “defend, then attack” is prudent in both the actual battles, and on the overworld map.
Empire have excellent ranged units and artillery. Getting the maximum amount of rounds down range at the enemy is imperative. Vampire Counts and Chaos do not have any real ranged threats, and so are forced to come into your battle lines. Use this against them.
Make sure that you set your ranged units to skirmish mode, so that they automatically avoid any melee. With Helblasters and Helstorms, the enemy is going to try to cover open ground quickly, and try to harass your war machines with fast units. Once you’ve softened up the enemy (and hopefully exposed some holes in their formation) then attack. Keep cavalry back to exploit any flank or rear charges. Make sure to keep ranged units shooting at all times.
On the campaign map, similar principles apply. Leaning on garrisons for extra units, and letting enemy banners wander into a walled settlement can help repeal much larger numbers. This is especially important when Chaos comes knocking, and may have full sized banners you cannot handle. By setting up strong defensive positions, they cannot raze your settlements one by one.
Once your enemy’s large banners have bounced off your settlements, press the advantage and hopefully wipe the banner off the map. By defending and then pressing, you also may get a turn to replenish casualties, thus making the subsequent attack more meaty.
#2 Maximize Diplomacy Each Turn in Order to Confederate
Empire requires the constant need to talk with fellow Empire dignitaries. The easiest way to expand is to build credible relations with a minor faction, and then confederate. This comes with a temporary penalty however.
Begin with the basic non-aggression pact into (hopefully) trade agreements with your Elector Count neighbors. This will build goodwill that can then be built into a military alliance down the road. This may also require repeated gifts to disaffected factions. Gifts scale based on the size of the giftee, so its easier to stomach for smaller factions.
Once you have built a solid rapport with a certain minor faction, its time to confederate. This will give all of their land and banners to your side. The AI is typically terrible at properly and efficiently building in their provinces, and so you will need to rebuild. In addition, you might take a large army upkeep hit if they had multiple banners, and if they are far apart.
Further, you will not be able to confederate with any other factions for 5 turns, and take a significant diplomacy penalty for the same time period. This makes it tenuous to deal with certain neighbors, and obviously difficult to escalate any treaties. However, the benefits normally outweigh the cons.
Confederating also allows you instant strategic expansion. War and siege take time, resources, and leave you vulnerable. Confederating moves you ahead without any real work required.
#3 Leave Buffer Zones
Taking the first two guidelines together, it is critical to leave some “buffer” areas between you and superior foes. This requires strategic planning from the confederating side, and utilizes the defend then attack maxim.
For instance, when Chaos eventually invades, two factions will attack across the Sea from the top left of the campaign map. This puts Nordland and Middenland right in the warpath. Same goes for the opposite side of the map and Archaeon’s banner — Kislev is right in front of the steamroller.
You want to keep these factions alive if possible, and you want them between you and the wave of full banners that are to come. Having to constantly defend the small settlements on the furthest north province bogs down at least a full banner, and requires constant attention. You’d rather the AI deal with that wouldn’t you?
Same idea applies in the south and east. Greenskin Waaagh!’s will come from the southeast, and Wissenland stands between them and your precious provinces. Keeping them in the way gives that first line of defense you’d otherwise have to provide, but for free.
Of course, this makes it somewhat difficult to expand and build up an income if you need a buffer in every direction. This is true, so prioritization based on the strength of the factions in your campaign should be your guide. You know Chaos will be coming, so leaving the northern provinces alone is probably the safest strategy. Expanding south into Bretonnia gives access to some rich port cities and doesn’t hurt against Empire faction diplomacy.
#4 Make Friends, and Let Them Do The Work
Just as you leave buffer zones to help during the defense phase, it pays off down the line to keep good friends for the inevitable offensive. Using war coordination targets can help drive attention to a settlement or banner you don’t have time to eliminate.
When Chaos invades, you will receive a large diplomatic bonus with the other human factions that stand by you in the flood. Using this temporary bonus to build military alliances can help give credibility and war coordination targets. When a dwarf banner goes after a full Lord of Change banner, you’ll be glad you paid 3000 in gold as gifts – its a good investment.
After Chaos/Vampires/Orcs run out of steam in the (hopefully) buffer areas, press the advantage with your allies and their weakpoints. Send as many allies toward the same target as possible to get at least a couple banners moving that direction. Sometimes the AI will get it right and pull right up during a siege giving you a big reinforcement. Sometimes.
#5 Watch For Special Building Options in Some Provinces
Lastly, and this is a point that could work for any faction, make sure to open the building browser in each province and plan out your build. Often, the military buildings will require a highly upgraded main building, and the smaller settlements cannot go to the levels 4 or 5. Planning this, along with special buildings, will optimize your economy and military capabilities.
Some provinces will have special buildings, for instance, Altdorf has a port option. Some provinces have Woodworkers shops that give steep discounts to crossbowmen and spawn the units with experience. These bonuses make your gold go further, and may confer factionwide benefits. Moving a banner through he relevant territory to get these benefits is not a waste of time.
Total War: Warhammer can take awhile to learn, especially for those new to the series. The game now utilizes completely unique factions, so specific advice for each faction can go a long way.
Empire has bulk melee units, backed up by great ranged units, and supplemented with strong cavalry. This creates an incentive to defend before launching counterattacks at the battle level. On the grand strategy level, diplomacy is your greatest weapon, and setting up buffer zones to absorb large incursions helps lessen the blow when they arrive.
All in all, each campaign ends up unique depending on how the AI behaves. With these general tips, you should be able to survive a few turns longer, and maybe gain a foothold for further conquest.