Meta-Wars: Total War: Warhammer & Update 5/Realm of the Wood Elves DLC

By T.J. Hafer 17 Dec 2016 0

I’d make a terrible general in real life in that I almost always eschew risk to preserve the lives of my troops in strategy games. In my book, the best kind of war to fight is the kind where you’re killing lots of people without your guys getting killed. That’s why I’ve always loved the bow-toting skirmish masters that are Warhammer’s Wood Elves, introduced into Total War: Warhammer alongside the recent ‘Update 5’ patch and the Realm of the Wood Elves DLC. While many factions saw tweaks and re-balancing, the presence of the Wood Elves in the campaign and multiplayer roster is the change that has the most impact.

Most Total War armies fight in a hammer and anvil fashion, where a front line of sturdy infantry pins down the enemy while both sides maneuver on the flanks to get in position for a rear charge, the Wood Elves play more like the Huns or Mongols in historical Total Wars, but with fewer horses and more homicidal ents.

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Some of the key traits that make Wood Elves unique include:

  • Forest Stalker (All Humanoid Units): Bonus to speed and missile accuracy when standing in woods. The Wood Elves can outmaneuver any army in heavily-forested terrain. Trees also don’t impede accuracy like they do missile troops from other factions - it actually sharpens their aim.
  • Good Range (All Missile Troops except Deepwood Scouts): The archers of Athel Loren can outrange the missile troops from any other faction, allowing them to engage the enemy’s skirmish line without being engaged themselves.
  • Master Ambusher (Deepwood Scouts and Waywatchers): These shorter-ranged archers can hide in any terrain, including plain sight in the middle of an open field, and have the ability to fire while moving.
  • Forest Spirit (Monstrous Units): The eagles and treekin that assist the Wood Elves have a strong resistance to non-magical damage. However, most of them take additional damage from fire.

This sets the Wood Elves up to be a very micro-heavy skirmish army that is going to get most of their kills at range and doesn’t really want to get tied up in melee engagements. Baiting opponents, using the forest to your advantage, and making the most of your tougher forest spirit units when the enemy does close in.

To see some of the Wood Elves’ most elite units in action, check out this video on the Loresworn Order's channel:

What about the other factions? This isn’t a huge shake-up of a patch for most, but some tweaks have been made.

BRETONNIA

  • All flying mounts +50 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Pegasus: -5 Ground Speed, -5 Fly Speed
  • Pegasus hero mount: -100 Mass
  • Hippogryph: -200 Mass
  • Spearmen-at-Arms: -2 Melee Attack, +1 Bonus vs Large (According to CA, this is to make them weaker against other infantry without losing any potency against larger units and cavalry)

This is a fairly significant nerf to Bretonnia’s flying cav. Since they’re not fully fleshed-out as a faction yet, I wouldn’t consider any of this set in stone. Once they have a full unit roster with their FreeLC campaign patch early next year, it will likely be necessary for the devs to take another pass at their overall multiplayer balance. Hippogryphs are now going to be much weaker on the charge (and less cost-effective), meaning you won’t be able to just bypass walls by landing a flock of angry Buckbeaks on them. Plan accordingly, and bring some siege equipment in city battles.

BEASTMEN

  • Ungor Spearmen: -2 Melee Attack, +2 Melee Defense for the shielded variant
    According to CA: “Both Ungor Spear units were inconsistent in attack speeds and required animation and entity tweaks. They now equal their corresponding Empire units in both combat strength and cost, while Primal Fury gives them an edge in speed.”
  • All Minotaur units: -100 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Razorgor Chariot: +8 Melee Defense, +6 Bonus vs Infantry, -6 Charge Bonus
  • Razorgor Herd: -150 Multiplayer Point Cost, +2 Weapon Damage, -4 Armor Piercing Damage, -12 Hit Points, -2 Speed, Minor changes to splash attacks and charge
    According to CA: “Razorgor have been rebalanced to fit the lower price point. A contextual example: with a bit of luck, they can defeat a unit of Greatswords in 3 charges while a unit of Crossbowmen is firing at them, and then have just enough HP left to also defeat the Crossbowmen.”

Making minotaurs more cost-effective in multiplayer should definitely not be underestimated, as for my money, they’re the best unit in the entire Beastmen roster and possibly my favorite monstrous infantry in the game. The changes to Razorgor Chariots will also likely change their role significantly. They’re no longer quite so deadly on the charge (especially against armored units), but are now much more able to get stuck in a scrum and last a while.

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CHAOS

  • Chaos Marauders: -25 Multiplayer Point Cost for the shield variant, +1 Melee Defense for the Great Weapon variant
    According to CA: “In wide formations, the Great Weapon Marauders take out the improved Dwarf Warrior with ~30% HP left. They cost more, but also have a decent speed advantage. They are also cost-effective against Greatswords.”
  • All Chariots: -100 Multiplayer Point Cost, +8 Melee Defense
  • Gorebeast Chariot: -10 Charge Bonus, +5 Melee Attack (on top of the above)
  • Chosen (Halberds): +4 Bonus vs Large, -2 Melee Attack, +4 Melee Defense
    According to CA: “We buffed the Halberd version of Chosen to be a bit more Anti-Large focussed, while holding their ground longer in all melee engagements.”
  • Kholek: +300 Hit Points, +10 Bonus vs Large, Shorter attack interval, Added tail-swipe attacks
  • Shaggoth: +400 Hit Points, +10 Bonus vs Large, Reduced chance to be interrupted when taking damage, Reduced chance to be interrupted when taking damage, Shorter attack interval, Added tail-swipe attacks
    According to CA: “Kholek and Shaggoths can now convincingly defeat 1 Demigryph Halberd, 2 Reiksguard or 5-6 Squig Herds. They are still not cost effective against spearmen, but the tail attacks help against getting swarmed.”
  • Giants: Reduced chance to be interrupted when taking damage

While among the least flashy, the most impactful change I see here is reducing the cost of Chaos Marauders with shields by 25. This makes them cheaper than Empire swordsmen, and they are arguably a better unit pound-for-pound. I’m a big fan of marauder-heavy chaos armies (my old tabletop army was swarming with them), and so I say the more the merrier. The chariot changes are consistent with what we’re seeing across other factions, making them better at sustained fighting. Shaggoths just got a whole lot scarier, as if they needed that. 

DWARFS

  • Miners with Blasting Charges: -25 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Dwarf Warriors: -25 Multiplayer Point Cost, +2 Melee Defense, +2 Hit Points, +5 Armor for all variants, -1 Damage and +1 AP Damage for the Great Weapon variant
  • Warriors of Dragonfire Pass: +2 Hit Points
  • Longbeards: +1 Melee Defense, +2 HP for all variants, Charge Defense vs Large added and -4 Charge Bonus for the Great Weapon variant
  • The Grumbling Guard: +1 Melee Defense
  • Irondrake Trollhammers: -100 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Slayers: -2 Weapon Damage, +2 Armor Piercing Damage
  • Ironbreakers: -100 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Norgrimling’s Ironbreakers: -50 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Gyrocopter and Gyrobomber: Increased Turn Speed, -5 Fly Speed for all variants, Increased Accuracy and Damage at Center of Impact for the Steamgun variant
  • Thunderers: +1 Weapon Damage
  • Dwarf Cannon: +20 Range
  • Organ Gun: +15 Range

The biggest take-away here is that a lot of core dwarf melee line units have become stronger and more cost-effective, including a number of their Regiments of Renown. Increased range on their artillery pieces is also pretty significant, especially when mixing it up with those new elves on the block who can split a beard at 500 meters. While the damage change to Slayers may seem odd, I think in more cases than not it’s going to help them be better at their core job of killing big stuff.

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EMPIRE

  • All flying mounts: +50 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Griffon: -200 Mass
  • Spearmen: -1 Melee Attack, -1 Charge Bonus, +1 Bonus vs Large for all variants
  • Greatswords: Spacing and charge animations changes
    Accoring to CA: “Now fewer entities in the 2nd rank get an attack, slightly reducing overall charge damage.”
  • Handgunners: +1 Damage
  • Hellblaster Volley Gun: -150 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Outriders with Grenade Launchers: -1 second Reload Time, +4 Explosion Damage, +2 Explosion Armor Piercing Damage, +10 Range, -2 Ammo
  • Free Company Militia: -50 Multiplayer Point Cost, Increased Accuracy
  • Knights of the Blazing Sun: Reduced Magic Resistance

From what I’ve seen of the Greatswords change, they’re still a really good unit - just maybe not as ridiculously good as they were before. Here we can see some of the same nerfing to flying units as we did for Bretonnia, which seems to suggest that CA really doesn’t want flying cav to be the obvious choice over siege weapons and towers for city battles. My favorite changes here are the buffs to Handgunners (who have felt underpowered from day one) and Free Company Militia. I love running pike-and-shot Empire armies, and this patch will make those builds more viable without increasing their cost.

GREENSKINS

  • All Chariots: -100 Multiplayer Point Cost, +8 Melee Defense
  • Orc Boar Boy Big Unz: -2 Charge Bonus, +1 Weapon Damage, -1 Armor Piercing Damage
  • Broken Tusk Mob: -2 Charge Bonus, +1 Weapon Damage, -1 Armor Piercing Damage, -4 Morale, -2 Melee Defense, -1 Melee Attack, +200 Multiplayer Point Cost
  • Giants: Reduced chance to be interrupted when taking damage
  • Squig Herd: -12 Speed, Removed Vanguard Deployment, Reduced Mass

Poor squigs. They always get the short end of the half-digested wizard corpse. As a newer addition to the Greenskin roster, they’re still finding their place in the meta, however, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fiddling with their stats in the next few patches. Other than that, most of the Greenskin changes seem to be motivated by someone getting rekt by the Broken Tusk Mob regiment in office multiplayer and beating it into submission with the nerf bat, along with a spiteful glare at the plain ol’ Boar Boyz for good measure.

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VAMPIRE COUNTS

  • Hellsteed: -5 Ground Speed, -5 Fly Speed
  • Grave Guards with Great Weapons: +2 Armor Piercing Damage, +1 Melee Defense, -2 Charge Bonus, Spacing and animation changes consistent with Empire Greatswords (see above)

Very little has changed for the pallid lords of Sylvania. Even still, the small tweak to survivability in protracted engagement for Grave Guards will make them a more attractive frontline choice than they were previously. Oh, and more nerfs to anything that flies.

All the faction changes aside, the most exciting part about this patch is definitely the very different playstyle Wood Elves bring to the table. I look forward to seeing how skilled players come to use them, and the tactics the other armies will be forced to develop to deal with them. See you on the battlefield!

This article was written in collaboration with The Loresworn Order, who do a lot of gameplay analysis videos, as well as cosplay guides, podcasts and a host of other content. Check out their YouTube channel for more.

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