One of the biggest questions and causes of speculation around Total War: Warhammer III is simply: what will the launch races be?
Developer Creative Assembly has promised to include all 15 of the Warhammer eighth edition core races in its Total War games, which at this point leaves only Ogre Kingdoms and Daemons of Chaos. The studio has also promised that each game would have four races at launch. But with the Daemons sort-of breaking down into four smaller armies, one for each of the Dark Gods, how would Creative Assembly handle that? And who, other than ogres and daemons, could otherwise populate the new map?
Such were the questions ahead of the Total Warhammer 3 reveal trailer. Now that it’s dropped, we have answers. And we’re also able to speculate further into the future with a little more accuracy. These are all the races currently confirmed for Total War: Warhammer 3, plus a few others that are native to the lands where it will likely be set, and thus are candidates to arrive later via DLC.
If you missed the reveal trailer, you can watch it and an in-depth breakdown of every little detail with our Total War: Warhammer 3 trailer analysis.
The Total War: Warhammer 3 races are:
The reveal trailer and the accompanying announcement were clear: Kislev will be a launch race for Total War: Warhammer III. Warhammer’s analogue of Russia, Kislev borders the Empire to its north and thus is the first place to get reamed whenever the hordes of Chaos in the north pole decide to beat up someone other than themselves. It’s a cold, harsh land full of cold, harsh people, sometimes scorned by the Empire as savages, but as the first line of defence against Chaos the rest of the world owes them a debt. That’s pretty badass, and has made Kislev into fan favourites.
Kislev got some threadbare tabletop rules in a mini army book for Warhammer’s sixth edition (back in 2003), and it has plenty of lore, but it was never one of the 15 ‘core’ races to get a fully fledged rulebook. Still, the fact Creative Assembly made playable races out of Norsca and the Vampire Coast always meant it was only a matter of time before Kislev got its turn.
The trailer stars the northern kingdom’s current ruler, Tsarina Katarin Bokha, as she leads an army against a horde of Khornate daemons, so it’s pretty clear she’s going to be one of its Legendary Lords. She’s one of the most powerful practitioners of her kingdom’s home-grown Ice Magic and she flexes it pretty hard during the trailer, so expect her to be a caster character, and Ice Magic an all-new lore.
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The reveal trailer hints that all four of the major Dark Gods of Chaos will be represented, and the accompanying announcement confirms that each will get its own faction for a grand total of six factions at launch. Given that each Chaos god feeds on a different human emotion with big implications for their aesthetic and agenda, it makes sense that their strategic mechanics might vary, but it remains to be seen how beefy each god’s unit roster will be. In the tabletop game, they were combined in one very large army called Daemons of Chaos, so there might be a way to similarly mix across their rosters in Total War: Warhammer III. Perhaps we might even be able to combine them with the Beastmen and Warriors of Chaos, or maybe even Norsca, as part of a massive Chaos Undivided overhaul.
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However they’re implemented, we knew this was coming. Daemons of Chaos are one of the remaining two core Warhammer armies yet to have a playable faction in Total War – it was hinted even ahead of the launch of the first game that they were being saved for the third. Expect them to play the role of ultimate antagonist in an epic new campaign.
The big news of the reveal trailer comes at the end, when the adviser from the previous games reveals a map of Grand Cathay. Cathay is the Warhammer analogue of China, and while it’s mentioned often enough in the lore, it’s never had any official rules or even models.
Looks like that’s all set to change, as the announcement confirms that Cathay will be a launch race for Warhammer III. This is a very big deal: we’ve seen Creative Assembly create an original Legendary Lord for the Vampire Coast and breathe new life into old models for them and for Norsca, but turning Cathay’s wisps of lore into a fully fledged faction will have involved very close collaboration with Games Workshop – even if GW are planning to release Cathay in Warhammer: The Old World and thus doing a lot of this development work themselves anyway.
Cathay is inspired by Chinese mythology and military history. The lore suggests we can expect serpentine dragons, Astromancers, warrior monks and warrior monkeys (seriously), lots of gunpowder units, ogre mercenaries, animated statues of guardian dogs, and lots more.
Ogre Kingdoms: unconfirmed, but, c’mon
With Daemons of Chaos in the game, this leaves the poor, neglected Ogre Kingdoms as the last of the 15 ‘core’ Warhammer factions (ie, the ones that got a fully fledged army book in its most recent editions) to get a playable race in Total War. Precisely because of this, though, they must surely be first in line for DLC – Warhammer III is confirmed to be getting a race pack as an early adopter bonus, and the ogres are definitely a prime candidate.
the Ogre Kingdoms offer some of Warhammer's most recent, creative, and badass lore
The Ogre Kingdoms are found in the Mountains of Mourn, which lie bang in the centre of what the Warhammer III map will probably look like if it stretches to Cathay. And they’re freaking cool: Warhammer’s ogres were always gluttons, but then a Chaos-tinged asteroid hit the planet and made their appetites literally insatiable. It also scarred the planet with a massive crater whose walls are the throbbing muscle of a giant throat. The ogres now worship this continental mouth as their god, the Great Maw, and live mainly to acquire food, or money to exchange for food. Warhammer began by adapting Tolkienesque tropes, but the Ogre Kingdoms offer some of its most recent, creative, and badass lore.
Chaos Dwarfs: unconfirmed
Another major denizen of Warhammer III’s probable map are the twisted kin of the noble Dawi. The Chaos Dwarfs are among the most prominent of Warhammer’s ‘minor’ races – they got an army book in the game’s fifth edition before being ‘squatted’ thereafter, so as with Kislev, there’s plenty of lore and old units for Creative Assembly to work with. We know they sort-of exist in Total Warhammer – you can see them crewing the Hellcannons used by the Warriors of Chaos.
This reflects their affinity for engineering, which they retain from their not-evil cousins. Unfortunately, their added evil has unleashed their imagination a bit, and their so-called daemonsmiths have cooked up all sorts of infernal machinery and artillery that would make them the rival of any ranged army in the game. A definite highlight here is the K’daai Destroyer, a massive, daemon-infused construct.
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Add some Mesopotamian vibes and you’ve got the Chaos Dwarfs: their elite units are called ‘Immortals’ after the ancient Persian bodyguard, and they live in colossal black ziggurats which dominate the Mordor-like wasteland they call home. Here they worship Hashut, a minor Chaos god who taught them how to wield raw magic, which of course proper dwarfs know not to do as it doesn’t agree with their physiology. The Chaos Dwarfs are no different, and eventually all their sorcerers turn to stone.
So lots going on here, as you can see. We’ve heard no peep of them yet, but these and the Ogre Kingdoms are all but certain to be added later.
Hobgoblins are a distinctive sub-species of goblin – slightly taller, yet somehow even more treacherous (one of their units is, honestly, called a Sneaky Git). They are native to the eastern lands where Warhammer III looks to be set, and especially the eastern steppes, where, under the leadership of one Hobgobla Khan, they have built a Hobgoblin Empire bigger than any other Greenskin empire in the known world.
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Why yes, Hobgobla Khan is the Warhammer analogue of Genghis Khan, how ever did you guess? His empire lies to the north of the Ogre Kingdoms and Grand Cathay, which built the Great Bastion partly to keep him out. You can definitely expect some Greenskin placeholder factions in his territory when Warhammer III launches, which are ripe to become playable in a future Lord pack that fleshes them out with Hobgoblin flavouring and the Khan himself as a new Legendary Lord.
Don’t forget to check out our guide on the Total War: Warhammer III release date, as well as everything else we know.