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 can we guess from official reveals or other materials? And which details from their background in 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, but considering this was originally all speculation, we’ll be marking content that we know is now confirmed (or otherwise).
Is Kislev in Total War: Warhammer 3?
Yes, Kislev is confirmed to be a launch race for Total War: Warhammer 3.
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
At least one of Kislev’s Legendary Lords is all-but confirmed at this point: the star of the announcement trailer, Tzarina Katarin Bokha. 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. Expect Ice Magic to be a new lore of magic, and Katarin – already affectionately characterised by the community as ‘badass Elsa’ – to be its most powerful wielder as a caster-style Legendary Lord.
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The letter Katarin reads in the trailer is addressed to “my child”, suggesting it’s from her father and predecessor as Tzar: Boris Bokha. Both Boris and Katarin got tabletop rules in that mini army book, which probably makes him the most prominent Kislevite character in the game after his daughter.
In tabletop lore, Boris is dead (hence Katarin’s succession to the Kislevite throne), but CA has stretched the timeline before – Repanse de Lyonesse is meant to have lived roughly 500 years before Louen Leoncouer’s reign of Bretonnia, for instance – so it’s not impossible that Boris might appear in Warhammer 3. He’s a huge figure in Kislev’s history, having reunited the country after the Great War against Chaos and revived the worship of Kislev’s patron god, the Gear Bear Ursun. And as a warrior, he’d complement his magical daughter well as another Legendary Lord option. Plus he rides a polar bear into battle, which is too cool not to make.
Total War: Warhammer 3 Kislev units and army roster
Between the 2003 army book and the Warhammer 3 reveals so far, we can make some pretty confident predictions about Kislev in the newest Warhammer game. Given how many unit choices a fully fledged faction in Total War requires, we can also be certain that the final game will have many wholly new troop types.
In May 2021 Creative Assembly revealed a new battle type – survival battles. To showcase this, they showed off a battle between Kislev and the forces of Chaos god Khorne. Through this, we’ve been able to confirm some of the speculation below, which we’ve marked.
Kislev lords and heroes
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 and/or hero level, wielding a new lore of Ice Magic in the nation’s defence.
Boyars, Atamans, and Druzhinas
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. Boyars are a unit type in the 2003 army book and are mentioned in the Realm of the Ice Queen source book for the Warhammer Fantasy RPG. Lesser ranks of noble include Atamans and, at the lowest rung, Druzhinas. Though these are political stations, they often come with military responsibilities, so perhaps they’ll be combat heroes to the Boyars’ lords. We’re guessing the lavishly armoured man at 1:24 in the reveal trailer is one of these.
The Warhammer 3 reveal trailer shows a column of generic soldiers trooping off to battle, and we’re confidently guessing these are the Kossars, named as the foot soldiers of Kislev in the 2003 army book. In that book they can wield both bows and axes, and indeed some of them are kitted out in exactly this way in the reveal trailer.
As Total War factions need core troops on multiple quality tiers, there’s a good chance Kossars will come with multiple permutations to reflect variations in training or equipment, at least one of which seems likely to include Seaguard-style hybrid infantry.
horse archers (Confirmed)
The kingdom of Kislev was first conquered and settled by the Gospodars, one of many nomadic, tribal clans who fought for position on the Eastern Steppes. When the Gospodars came to ancient Kislev, they found it inhabited by another tribe named the Ungols, whom they subjugated.
Though they’re a bit of an underclass, the Ungols still exist in modern Kislev, and even serve in its military, continuing to practise their traditional methods of warfare. Ungol horse archers are the most obvious example of this, and are listed as a troop type in the 2003 book. A famously skilled light cavalry wielding scimitars, spears, and bows, they’re a sure bet to appear in Warhammer 3. We’re guessing they won’t be the only Ungol troop type either, as CA will need to flesh out Kislev’s roster with some new ideas. I’d guess hybrid ranged/combat characters for the generic heroes and lords, at least.
Mentioned in the Warhammer Fantasy RPG source books, the Streltsi are an elite branch of Kossars hailing from the city of Erengrad, who wield halberds and gunpowder rifles. Kislev is a poor country and so isn’t able to field as many gunpowder weapons as the Empire, so – at least in the lore – the Streltsi are but a single regiment.
I would guess CA will stretch this to give Kislev an elite ranged option, but if not, they may appear as a Regiment of Renown.
Bokha Palace Guard, aka Kreml Guard
Another item from the Warhammer Fantasy RPG, these are another contingent of elite Kossars charged with guarding the Tzarina’s palace in the city of Kislev itself. Wielding two-handed greataxes called berdiches and receiving the best armour and training, expect these guys to be a high-tier elite infantry.
The Palace Guard are also a recruitment pool for the Tzarina’s secret police, the chekist. Though they’re given to espionage more than anything else, there’s a slim chance chekists could be a niche hero option.
Ice Guard (Confirmed)
In November 2019 I lost absolutely all of my marbles for a short, traumatic spell after Games Workshop confirmed that it would relaunch Warhammer Fantasy – which it blew up and replaced with Age of Sigmar, but upon which Total War: Warhammer is based – as Warhammer: The Old World.
Four months later, it confirmed that the Old World would explore Kislev a little more than previous editions, and teased a brand new unit: the Ice Guard. That’s who you can see at 0:34 in the reveal trailer. Games Workshop says they are an elite formation of warrior women, equally skilled with bow and blade, and able to wield Ice Magic. Expect the Ice Guard to be a high-tier hybrid caster unit.
Winged Lancers (Confirmed) and the Gryphon Legion
An iconic Kislevite unit clearly inspired by Poland’s even more iconic Winged Hussars, you can see the Winged Lancers charging into battle in the Warhammer 3 reveal trailer. Largely composed of the Boyars’ sons, they are Kislev’s knights – a group of well-fed, well-trained, well-equipped heavy cavalry. According to the Warhammer Fantasy RPG books, their feathered banners make a howl when charging into battle.
Winged Lancers are in the 2003 army book, which also mentions the Gryphon Legion as an elite regiment thereof. They may thus appear as an even more elite version of the Lancers or as a Regiment of Renown, but they may also have their own mechanics: they’re meant to be a semi-independent military order who serve as mercenaries around the world. Total Warhammer could use some mercenary mechanics, with famed soldiers of fortune such as ogres surely on their way.
Bear cavalry (Confirmed) and trained bears
As you’ll have guessed from the paragraphs on Tzar Boris, Kislev likes bears. They are sacred, and kept in pits in the kingdom’s temples. Boris himself rode a polar bear into battle, as do some Boyars, and while bear cavalry actually wasn’t listed in the 2003 book, that probably had more to do with ‘monstrous’ cavalry not being a thing in the game’s sixth edition or with the expense involved in developing such an ambitious miniature.
But it’s certain they’ll be in Total War – the reveal trailer clearly shows Winged Lancers mounted on some amazing-looking, roaring polar bears, and there’s plenty in the lore to support mobs of trained bears being poked into battle by animal handlers, too. Expect bear cavalry to be Kislev’s answer to the Empire’s demigryphs, and for bears to be a mount option for Kislevite lords. Can’t wait.
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That’s all we know about so far – we’ll update this guide when more official info comes along. Until then, enjoy the speculation!