An exclusive look at Total War Pharaoh Amenmesse, Egypt’s angriest son

Total War Pharaoh's Amenmesse isn't happy with his position in the south, and our exclusive hands-on look explains the challenges he'll have to overcome.

A pharaoh with a huge bludgeon and leopard fur shield wearing blue and red combat armor and a twisted golden helmet

Total War Pharoah begins with a house divided: as the Pharaoh’s reign comes to its inevitable close in Creative Assembly’s upcoming historical strategy game, his children vie for control of the throne. None of these are more eager to prove a point than Amenmesse, whose position as Viceroy of Kush places him in the far south of Egypt – an assignment he’s taken as a personal insult. As PCGamesN’s exclusive look at Amenmesse’s faction will show, this resentful pharaoh’s son has a lot to prove, as well as the raw resources to do it.

Amenmesse rules over the Kushite and Nubian territories in Egypt’s extreme south, straddling the Nile. Here, he has access to these peoples’ warriors. Nubian soldiers make for solid defensive conscripts in the early stages of the strategy game: they’re inexpensive and lightly armored, making them excellent raiders and skirmishers who can easily move through rough terrain. Kushite archers are where his army’s real strength lies in the early game, however. While Amenmesse lacks access to good charging formations, he has some of Total War Pharaoh‘s best archers.

As the campaign begins, Amenmesse holds settlements in two provinces. In Kerma, he holds the capital city and Uab-Khu, and to the north, he holds the provincial capital of Per-Ramesses Meri-Amon and Khet-Pa. Amenmesse himself begins on the eastern frontier of Egyptian Kerma, where he’s threatened by a small Kerma army.

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After dispatching the enemy army, it’s time to plan out Amenmesse’s first moves. Total War Pharaoh uses a resource system, and it’s crucial to make sure each province is producing more of each resource than you’re spending – run out of bronze, and those expensive units you started producing a couple turns ago won’t be able to replenish themselves after battle.

The key consideration for Amenmesse at the campaign’s outset, however, is securing a source of stone. The nearby city of Nu-Abu fits the bill, and conquering it will put Amenmesse one step closer to bringing the entire province under his control, so it’s a good idea to head that way – that is, after you’ve recruited a few new units of Nubian recruits and Kushite archer militia. It’s also a good idea to visit the nearby outpost: it’s a shrine to the local god Amun, and will provide a bonus to melee fighters in the battle to come.

Up north on the opposite side of the Nile, there’s another opportunity to be had in Per-Ramesses Meri-Amon. One of the settlements in that province, Hap-Sh, is a ruin, and so it’s worthwhile to recruit a second general, along with a unit or two of cheap troops, and march them over to capture it. It’s a gold mine settlement, and gold is key to Amenmesse’s unique mechanics.

An army full of archers shoots high into the sky in a desert area at oncoming enemies

Each faction has its own way of generating legitimacy, which can be used in the Pharaoh’s court to jockey for position and eventually lay claim to the throne of Egypt. For Amenmesse, that comes through his unique faction command, which is to declare a Golden Age. This prompts his people to create a Golden Mask ancillary, which Amenmesse and his generals may equip to add to his legitimacy. There’s a catch, though: Golden Ages have a cost – you guessed it, it’s gold – and that price goes up every time Amenmesse uses that command.

While Amenmesse is busy subduing the rest of Kerma, that second general you recruited can be sent on a rough march north through the desert. That army will take some tough attrition moving that way, but it’ll be worth it to capture the abandoned bronze-smelting settlement of Thes up in the Dungul Oasis province. From there, it’s a much easier trip northward along the road to another smelting settlement, Ua, and then eastward to Tem-Pa for more stone. If you’re careful, you can avoid all that attrition from marching through the desert by picking a general for this job who has high starting fortitude – three points in this attribute unlocks the title Force of Anhur, which makes the general and his units immune to the sweltering heat of the sands.

Around turn 12, you’ll need to select an Ancient Legacy, which further shapes the direction your campaign will take as it develops. There are four options, and for Amenmesse, Creative Assembly suggests going with Khufu the Builder. This starts the prince on a quest to build magnificent monuments across the land that will endure for thousands of years.

Total War Pharaoh Amenmesse preview: A map with perks along the side from an Egyptian god

That’s a fine option, but I went with Hatshepsut the Merchant – because Amenmesse is all about the gold, I figured this path makes sense for him, too. Going this route unlocks merchant caravans that transport special local goods to trading hubs all through Egypt, the Levant, and Hattusa to the north. If you played Total War: Warhammer 3, you’ll recognize this system from Grand Cathay and the Chaos Dwarfs.

While all this is going on, it’s a good idea to look around and figure out where Amenmesse is headed next, now that Kerma has been safely brought into the fold. To the south, there’s Kawa, but heading north on the Nile heads through Buhen, which could serve as an excellent breadbasket for Amenmesse’s kingdom. Whichever you pick as your next target, it’s a good idea to strike a deal of some kind with the other – a non-aggression pact might be expensive, but it’ll be worth it to make sure your opposite border isn’t attacked as soon as you march off to foreign lands in the other direction.

An army of troops waiting for archers to attack another army before approaching in a desert area

From there on, it’s a matter of expanding and heading northward to the Nile Delta, protecting the sacred lands already under Amenmesse’s control and, ideally, taking those away from his siblings. These lands are key because anyone who wants to be pharaoh must control at least one of the five, so kicking your rivals out of them is a good way to weaken their claims. Your claims to the throne can also be pressed in the royal court with intrigue plots and gossip among courtiers, so don’t neglect that avenue either. Meanwhile, make sure to drop in and offer up a prayer to your deity of choice when you get the chance – devotion is sure to pay dividends.

Perhaps if you pray a little harder, the Total War Pharaoh release date won’t feel so far away. In order to prepare for the big day, it’s worth glancing over our Total War Pharaoh system requirements, too.