So, you want to know more about Kislev? With Total War: Warhammer 3 on the way, it's time to take a closer look at the confirmed Warhammer 3 races. What do we know about them so far? What has been officially revealed and what's still guess work? And which background details from the Warhammer tabletop game might be relevant?
We have plenty of information on rugged Kislev – a grim, warlike nation, and an essential bulwark against the forces of Chaos for the civilisations of the Old World. Kislev got a mini army book for tabletop Warhammer's sixth edition way back in 2003 in which a threadbare unit roster was spelled out, with many mentions in Warhammer lore.
A Kislevite army also stars in the Warhammer 3 announcement trailer in which it was clear – as you'd expect by now from developer Creative Assembly – that their depiction in the game will align with or at least be inspired by all this background. Before we dig in, you can also check out our Total War: Warhammer 3 Cathay guide.
Since this article was originally published, further information has been revealed regarding Kislev. We’ll go into more details below.
What do we know about Kislev?
The Kingdom of Kislev borders the Empire to the south and Norsca to the north. To the east, across the northernmost tip of the World’s Edge Mountains, lie the Dark Lands, which we’re guessing will comprise a large chunk of Warhammer 3’s map.
Thus Kislev is a geographic bulwark between the Old World and the forces of Chaos – whenever the latter wax strong enough to attack civilisation, they almost always have to come through Kislev. The struggle against Chaos has thus defined much of Kislev’s history and culture, and the nation has been a steadfast ally to those who share in this fight, most notably the Empire. Combined with the country’s harsh and snowy climate, this eternal conflict has made the Kislevites a grim and warlike people.
Total War: Warhammer 3 Kislev Legendary Lords
Thanks to the official Kislev roster reveal in June 2021, we now know exactly who the Kislev Legendary Lords are. One of them is, naturally, the star of the announcement trailer, Tzarina Katarin.
She’s the current ruler of Kislev and one of the most powerful practitioners of Ice Magic – her homeland’s unique, home-grown sorcery – to have ever lived, and we see her flexing her powers in the trailer. She also wields the powerful sword Frost Fang, which adds further spells, including the explosive ‘frost fang’ ability. She has options to mount a warhorse or a war bear, although she can also skate around the map like an Olympian if she really wants to (and she seems to want to a lot).
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The other legendary lord is Supreme Patriarch Kostaltyn. He is the head of the ‘Ursunite’ cult who worship the great bear, as well as the most powerful clergymen in the Kislev kingdom. As de facto head of the “grand orthodoxy” (hey, Warhammer was never subtle), he is somewhat at odds with the Tzarina and her magical followers.
His abilities are summarised as:
- Kostaltyn is an unkillable paragon of his people, and even the most mortal wounds simply power him to greater heights of ferocity as he faces down his enemies.
- Kostaltyn’s fervour means he never lacks faithful, loyal warriors to send into battle.
He can also mount either a warhorse or a war bear.
Total War: Warhammer 3 Kislev army roster
As we mentioned above, the full Kislev roster was revealed in June 2021.
While Tzarina Katarin is known as one of the most powerful Ice Witches ever to live, she’s far from the only one. Expect the other members of this ancient sisterhood to offer Kislev its main caster option at generic lord, wielding a new lore of Ice Magic as well as Tempest magic.
They can mount warhorses or war bears.
Naturally, Kislev will also need a generic combat lord and/or hero. We’re betting one of these will be some form of Boyar, a middling rank in Kislev’s nobility whose members own a lot of its land and lead its armies. They can mount warhorses or war bears.
From the Kislev roster reveal article:
“Ranking nobles, Boyars are powerful men and women within Kislev. They each govern specific areas of Kislev, including scores if not hundreds of stanitsas, as well as larger towns and small cities. Especially large cities are governed by Boyars of singular prestige. This is a hereditary rank, although royal edict can raise one to the position.”
Kislev has two confirmed heroes, the Frost Maiden and the Patriarch. The former are essentially weaker versions oft he Ice Witches, as they are considered “in training”. They can also wield Ice of Tempest magic and can also mount warhorses or war bears.
The Patriarchs are the frontline guardians of the Kislevite faith, serving Kostaltyn directly and can use a number of battle hymn abilities. They can mount, you guessed it, warhorses and war bears.
Total War factions need core troops on multiple quality tiers, and Kossars come with multiple permutations to reflect variations in training or equipment. The confirmed variants so far are:
- Bow and axe
- Bow and spear
These are cheap and easy to build troops, and offer Kislev early access to hybrid troops for a very flexible army.
Mentioned in the Warhammer Fantasy RPG source books, the Streltsi are an elite branch of Kossars hailing from the city of Erengrad. They also wield one of the coolest weapons we’ve ever seen in Warhammer – a hybrid gun-great axe weapon, which is based on a real firearm from the 16th century. They are armoured units with armour-piercing attacks that can hold their own in any situation.
Considered a “warrior elite” within the ranks of Kislev’s armies, they typically guard the Ice Court, Ice Witches, and the Tzarina herself. They also come in a couple of variants:
- Bow and dual sword
- Bow and glaive
Their variants mean they can take on an anti-infantry or an anti-large role, and are considered very stout, formidable troops. They also inflict ‘frostbite’ on their foes.
These elite warriors come in two variants, pistol and axe, or pistol and great mace. From the Kislev roster reveal article:
“Arrogance, reinforced by undeniable results – these are warriors as good as an ordinary man can hope to become. They wear heavy armour above the waist, and sturdy reinforced boots, though their legs are clad only in baggy trousers.”
These were the core of the army we used in our recent hands-on preview with Warhammer 3’s new survival mode, these guys represent the most elite fighting force Kislev can muster, and typically serve as the Tzarina’s personal guard.
Their two variants are sword and shield, or a two-handed great sword, the former making them excellent defensive troops. They are slower than most of the rest of the Kislev army, but they can take a hit and return and even bigger one, so we’ll allow it.
This is a melee based cavalry unit specialised for hit-and-run attacks. They can use “vanguard deployment” to appear behind enemy lines, and they are incredibly quick, even for mounted units.
Winged Lancers and the Gryphon Legion
Both of these have been confirmed for Kislev, and represent two tiers of the kingdom’s shock cavalry potential. Winged Lancers are slower but heavier hitting than Dervishes, but weaker (and faster) than Gryphon Legion cavalry. Both are capable of dealing devastating charges, and neither ride bears (we’ll get to that in a bit).
We thought the Gryphon Legion might be a regiment of renown, but it appears they are simply part of the normal army roster. The legion’s abilities can rival even that of cavalry from ‘southern’ armies.
war Bear riders
You have may noticed that Kislev has a thing for bears. Nowhere is this more obvious than the fact that they can train ‘war bear’ riders. Think of the best cavalry unit imaginable, and just swap out the horses of bears.
Since bears are more flexible than horses, this unit has incredible staying power when in melee, even after a charge. Also: bears.
A ranged mounted unit that can also hold its own in melee combat when needed, the regular horse arches have similar speed and the vanguard deployment capabilities to Dervishes.
Light and Heavy War Sleds
I’ll be honest, I had to double-take when I saw that Kislev were getting some bear sleds. I don’t know if this was ever hinted at in the lore or not. Where’s Richard when you need him? Anyway. War sleds.
These come in two variants, light and heavy, because apparently just one war sled isn’t enough. Both feature big hunks of wood staffed with gun-toting Kislevites, pulled by a team of bears. The heavier one is, naturally, better armoured and slower. Both can be used for a direct charge, or to rake the enemy with mobile ranged fire. Essentially Kislev’s answers to chariots or the Empire’s war wagons.
Little Grom (Artillery)
The one and only piece of heavy firepower in the Kislev army, Little Grom is long range, powerful, single piece, and pulled by a team of bears (shocking). The bears themselves can offer some resistance in melee fights, and can charge an enemy even with the cannon in tow.
KISLEV MONSTERS and BEASTS
You’ll have seen this crazy cat during the initial roster teaser trailer. These battle-cats may not be as meme-able as bears, but they are fast, heavy-hitting, and in a large enough pack can even take down larger creatures.
The star of the preview build and several of the newer trailers, this big boy is the Kislev’s ace in the hole. It is a literal manifestation of the land’s will to resist the forces of Chaos, powered by the unshakable faith and unhealthy affinity for bears of the Kislev people. It’s capable of going toe-to-toe with even Skarbrand himself. We should know, we beat him with it ourselves.
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That’s all we know about so far – we’ll update this guide if more official info comes along, although we know quite a bit now by this point.