Total War Warhammer 3 Champions of Chaos has been a somewhat divisive DLC for the Total Warhammer community. While it’s given some badly needed frontline units to Slaanesh and Tzeentch armies some are accusing Creative Assembly of reskinning while raising prices. This review will highlight both the good and the bad from the DLC as well as looking at the free Warriors of Chaos rework.
The New Lords
I’m quite a fan of these new Champions of Chaos Lords, although Festus (Nurgle) is by far the weakest. The recent nerf to diseases really hurt Nurgle factions, making them a complete turtle faction in a game that rewards momentum. Nurgle specialised troops are also the slowest in the faction and some of the slowest units in the game making them extremely vulnerable to kiting. The other three are fantastic though and really translate well into the game. Valkia is a flying juggernaut, capable of duelling other Lords or slaughtering entire units of troops. She can also make herself invincible for a short time, very useful at forming blobs for your Skullcrusher cavalry to rear charge.
Azazel is a flying hybrid caster/melee fighter with high speed and is surprisingly tough in melee combat. He can’t stalk or capture siege points like N’Kari but is just as fast and has flying which opens up other tactical possibilities. Vilitch is a very unique hybrid Lord, literally a sorcerer parasite latched onto his berserker brother’s back! He has shields (like any Tzeentch aligned unit), is a very powerful caster and has really good stats so can tank while waiting for cooldowns! Vilitch is the only Tzeentch commander I’ve stuck in the front line with my Chosen, this makes one hell of an anvil!
All four factions play similarly to any of the other Warriors of Chaos factions with a little flavour from their Demon’s of Chaos sibling faction. Pretty much all of them are lacklustre though, Tzeentch for instance gets a watered down version of the Changing of Ways mechanic. Nurgle gets their nerfed diseases but fortunately dodges the bullet that is their awful cycle of life and death building mechanic. Khorne gets their bloodletting mechanic but no blood hosts or extra movement after battle, unlike the other two Khorne factions. Slaanesh probably gets the best part of their faction being able to seduce units and sway factions in diplomacy but they can’t spawn disciple armies.
I found playing all of the Champions of Chaos factions pretty similar to be honest. My army builds tended to be the same, themed God Chosen and cavalry for some armies and completely undivided for others. Even dedicating to specific God’s isn’t all that useful, in the case of Nurgle the speed loss on their units just made them a liability! I barely used the gifted units or cared much about the dedication mechanics if I’m being honest. Not exactly a home run if I found leveling and upgrading my units was far more fun and very simple. Also have to say the greater demon of Tzeentch is awful! Gives you all the worst spells from the lores of Tzeentch and Metal while making you slightly tanky. Not exactly what I was expecting from you know… THE CHAOS GOD OF MAGIC AND SORCERER’S! Do yourself a favour and dedicate to Undivided, you get a much better spell selection.
The Warriors of Chaos Rework
I couldn’t review Champions of Chaos without talking about the general rework to the Warriors of Chaos. The rework is generally quite good but you will be missing the dedicated units of marauders, cavalry and forsaken for their specific God’s without the DLC. Saying that though the original Warriors of Chaos Lords (with the exception of Sigvald) are Chaos undivided factions anyway so it fits lore-wise. I actually managed to make Chosen from my starter units eventually and got attached enough I started naming the units! This feeling of your army upgrading alongside your characters is really satisfying instead of the usual disband then recruit higher tiered units in other factions.
The removal of horde mechanics really helped the Champions of Chaos (and the Warriors of Chaos) out, moving to a settled faction, albeit with a unique twist. You can settle and build up any Dark Fortress city and can gift the lesser cities in the province to your vassals. Vassals are a vital mechanic and conquering Dark Fortresses is how to vassalize them. Each Dark Fortress will be attached to a specific faction, if there is more than one you have to conquer all of them to vassalize. Once you have a vassal as long as you hold onto their Dark Fortresses they will remain loyal. Recruiting is also done on a provincial basis with the spawn pools and chance determined by Dark Fortress buildings and the level and type of Chaos corruption present. Their economy is also pretty strong, slow to get started but ramps up fast once you have 6 or more high level Dark Fortresses.
Bugs, Oversights and Crashes
Now no new Total War game has come out and not been riddled with stupid bugs and oversights. What’s not acceptable is the sheer amount of them I’ve encountered with some of them resulting in crashes to desktop. I’m not playing on Legendary so reloading saves isn’t an issue for me but I’ve seen corrupted saves destroy legendary campaigns. The two most common I’ve experienced is a crash to desktop when upgrading my units or the game getting stuck during the end turn phase. The latter is easily fixed as it doesn’t freeze the game so you can just reload the autosave before you hit the end turn button. Crashing to desktop though can be really frustrating and why I save quite regularly now. I’ve also had to repeat a turn with two hard battles that took almost an hour between them, not exactly fun.
Oversights are another kettle of fish and there are quite a few. The most annoying one for me though is that there aren’t enough skill points for Chaos sorcerers! At level 50 you will have between 5 and 7 skill points left over. This also means either turning off the unspent point reminder on your end turn or having to dismiss it every end turn. There are ways to rectify this with Cheat Engine or similar programs but you shouldn’t have to do that. There’s also spelling mistakes and holdovers from Warhammer 2 as well as some bugs that are still there from Warhammer 2! Considering Champions of Chaos is the first paid content for a game that until recently couldn’t even break 10,000 concurrent players on Steam it’s a bit disappointing.
The biggest win for the Champions of Chaos Realms of Chaos campaign is it’s set after the main game! You also aren’t pressured into speeding through the game in a massive race with the clock always ticking. Fight mortal factions, gain souls, spend souls on buffs, fight more mortal factions! It was that simple and I found I was claiming portals to easily move large distances across my empire. Not because I cared about finishing the campaign but so I could defend my fortresses! When I did eventually unlock the final battle I was annoyed, CA obviously learned nothing. It’s yet another boring multi-staged battle but at least it didn’t have soul grinder spam in wave 2! You also can’t autoresolve it so are forced into a lengthy and ultimately boring battle against the three other Champions of Chaos Lords.
Champions of Chaos in Immortal Empires on the other hand is far more interesting. Annoyingly you can’t confederate any other Warriors of Chaos faction (although the undivided factions will be able to in a future update). Apart from that annoyance it’s a really fun campaign, getting the short victory condition is pretty fast. The long victory is quite a slog, although you shouldn’t mind it as the Champions of Chaos are snowball factions. Once you hit critical mass you will be pumping armies and sending them off in random directions, declaring war on anything you see! I haven’t had this much fun in Warhammer 3 until this point, I’ve literally tripled my total play time this past week!
Champions of Chaos is a pretty good DLC but should probably have come with the same beta tag they’re using for Immortal Empires. I do think however it is priced reasonably considering you do get four factions and a lot of units. Yes some of these units are sharing the same rigs and some animations but they really help some of the mono-God demon factions. There is also enough variation that they aren’t in the same camp as the recolours and slight stat tweaks historical Total War games like Rome 2 and Medieval 2 did. It’s in no way as much as a full new race pack but it’s certainly more than the standard Lord pack and it’s pricing between the two is fine.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed playing Warriors of Chaos in either Warhammer 2 or 1. You can’t doom stack Shaggoths like you could in the previous two games but due to the drop in difficulty in Warhammer 3 it’s not needed. Valkia was probably my favourite campaign with Vilich and Azazel being close seconds. I would only recommend playing the Realms of Chaos campaign once, then stick to Immortal Empires. The larger map had far more Dark Fortresses for me to take and the campaigns were more varied. Also got to mention I quite liked the voice acting, everyone was well cast as usual and it’s easy to tell which God each champion fights for.