Total War: Warhammer II
After months of waiting, I was finally able to get my hands on Total War: Warhammer 2 and this game is a blast. Despite never playing the first Total War: Warhammer game, I am no stranger to PC war-gaming, the Warhammer fantasy, and 40K universe.
The Total War campaign mode has you choose one of two heroes per faction for a total of 8 separate stories. Picking the High Elves lets you choose between Tyrion or Teclis, the Dark elves leaders are Malekith and his mother Morathi. The Lizardmen gives you Lord Mazdamundi and Kroq-Gar, and finally, we come to the Skaven – the evil ratmen whose leaders are Queek Headtaker and Lord Skrolk. Choosing which path to take is up to you but each hero has their own advantages and disadvantages during gameplay. In this game, you get to play 4 out of the many races from the Warhammer fantasy setting.
At the heart of all these story lines is the great vortex. As you fight your foes to gain territory and access to more supplies and troops your main goal is to control the great vortex, a giant swirling mass of magical energy that is used to siphon magical power from the world. It has become destabilized and the 4 factions are making move to control the vortex with the High Elves and Lizardmen looking to control it to keep the minions of chaos at bay. On the other side, the Dark elves and Skaven want to control it because of the power they can gain from it.
If you’ve ever played games from the Total War series, you should already have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing, so go ahead and dive right on into the game, but for folks like me who haven’t played an RTS (Real-Time Strategy)/turn-based game like this in a long time or just never played one, I highly suggest doing the tutorial. Additionally, character selection can be vital to early success for Total War rookies. I chose Tyrion to start with, he seems to be the starter character and he has no drawbacks, but you can choose whoever you like. Once your hero is chosen you’ll be off to another screen where you go over picking squads, how to move, and reorganize them. Your first battle against the dark elves should go well if you pay attention to the directions.
Once your first battle is over you move on to the part of the game that I feel will be the most time-consuming part of the game. You find you may now have P.O.W.’s from the battle you just finished. It’s up to you to decide what will happen to them. Will you return them for a ransom, execute them all, or make them slaves? Each choice has its own advantages, but only the ransom option has a negative. If you choose the ransom route, you’re able to stuff your pockets with a decent amount of money, but for some reason you lose troop morale. Meanwhile, the other options, like slavery, replenish troop numbers and killing them gives troop XP. In summation, Total War rewards you for being brutal in war and punished you for doing the humane thing.
In the tutorial, the post-battle upkeep/resolution phase seems somewhat simple because they walk you through what you need to do and explain, but pay attention because the next time you get to this phase you are on your own. Need new troops for those you may have lost, or to garrison a city you just took? Maybe you need other heroes to attach to an army? This would be the time to buy them. Furthermore, construction is critical to the upkeep phase of Total War. New buildings can help with unrest within the city, or to get those exotic troops that can lay waste to your enemies. If all that wasn’t enough there’s a diplomacy portion to the game that’s difficult to tackle. My first attempt to make a trade treaty almost started a new war!
A Battle Worth Planning For
As good as the game is it takes a lot of patience and unlike most hybrid RTS games like this, there is a tactical portion that can either be a fantastic experience or a total nightmare. I can easily see someone spending weeks to months in campaign mode just battling for control of the vortex. It all depends on how much you prepare yourself for later battles. I highly suggest taking notes of what is going on if you need to after all this is a tactical war game and no General has led his troops off the top of his head. Plan your battles and take the Vortex!