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Total War: Warhammer 3 best faction starter guide

We help you pick a starting faction

total war warhammer 3

Total War: Warhammer 3 is a game of truly epic scale. And while its promise of clashing armies and bloodshed is undeniably appealing, it can also be a little intimidating. If you’re wanting to give the game a try but feeling put off by the number of options available, then worry no longer. We’ll take you through which factions to try out first, tailored to your specific playstyle.

Kislev

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Without too much playing favourites, developers Creative Assembly are steering new players towards starting with Kislev. Given that you play through Total War: Warhammer 3’s prologue as this faction, they’re familiar faces right out of the gate.

With theirranks full of different unit types, Kislev are specifically intended to be a good starting faction for new players. And they certainly live up to that, but with enough tactical depth to prevent them from just being a tutorial faction.

Kislev is a faction that prides itself on flexibility and versatility. Kislev’s backbone is its strong infantry forces. But a large amount of Kislev’s melee infantry also possesses ranged capabilities, allowing the player to be prepared for whatever an engagement calls for. A strong cavalry is also a point in Kislev’s favour, backed up with monster units to help turn the tide or overwhelm an opposing force.

If there is a weakness to Kislev, it is one that has plagued all-rounders across the ages. They offer flexible choice and cover all bases, without truly excelling in specific areas in the way other factions do. If you want you starting faction to have a rigid and definite sense of identity, then you might want to look elsewhere. But in all other cases, Kislev is an excellent choice of first faction.

Khorne

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There are factions that are intended as a good starting point because of their flexibility and balanced unit distribution. And then there are factions that are good to start with because they’re just so damn good at what they do. Khorne is definitely one of the latter.

Above all else, this is a faction of brutal melee specialists. If your idea of a Chaos horde is an unstoppable wave of berserk marauders, mowing down all in their path? Then Khorne is a faction you’ll be choosing first. Khorne excel at a rush and beat-down strategy. Khorne’s ranks are packed with powerful infantry, monstrous units and fast, effective cavalry.

There’s only one clear drawback to Khorne, and that’s a near-complete lack of magic and artillery units. For those that want a good all-round faction, this may be enough to put them off starting with Khorne. And while this is a fair complaint, the relative lack of long-ranged combat options only lets Khorne focus on what they do best; close-range devastation. And really, you won’t feel the loss of artillery too keenly when your demons are charging into the fray. For that reason, Khorne make an excellent starting faction to really get used to how fun and frantic the combat in this game can get.

Cathay 

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Kislev aren’t the only human faction in Total War: Warhammer 3. But where Kislev are a good all-round faction, Cathay offer something more distinct. This is a faction of defensive, long-ranged specialists. If artillery is something you favour, then Cathay offers that in spades. And for those Warhammer fans crossing over from 40K, Cathay may be the closest analogue to the Imperial Guard. There’s something iconic about simple humans standing against the forces of Chaos. And doing it all with pure martial might and a rain of arrows.

But it’s not all manpower in Cathay. This faction relies on a touch of the mystical, from giant sentinels to flying draconic units. There’s a very Chinese myth inspired flavour to Cathay. So, if you like the idea of Warhammer’s western fantasy aesthetics being broken up a little, you may find Cathay to be a refreshing change of pace.

At a very basic level, Cathay are a faction that are more in the defensive side of things. They excel at holding enemies at bay and peppering them with projectiles. For that reason, they are among the trickier factions to get to grips with in Total War: Warhammer 3. Players that are eager to dive into combat may find their more sedate pace initially off-putting. While Cathay have much to offer, it might be best to try them out after learning the ropes with more dynamic, mobile factions.

Nurgle

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Nurgle, much like Khorne, is an aggressive faction that does best when overwhelming its foes with force. But aside from their gnarly, diseased look, Nurgle differs from Khorne in some key ways.    

Where other Chaos factions are all about quick and brutal kills, Nurgle plays the long game. They win fights through attrition, from outlasting and wearing down their foes. Nurgle’s unique skills are also particularly befitting of the Daemon God of Plagues. Once Nurgle’s forces become more damaged, powerful magical effects are unlocked. These abilities debuff opposing units, slowing and weakening them, amongst other effects. This can lead to an engagement against Nurgle looking like it’s going well, only for the tables to be slowly and horrifically turned.

Nurgle is for you if you like to overpower your foes less by bolstering your own strength, but by sapping theirs. But while Nurgle’s sheer survivability makes them a forgiving beginner faction, their debuffing focus complicates this somewhat. Getting the best out of Nurgle depends on knowledge of opposing factions. How best to negate and undermine their strengths. In addition, Nurgle’s slow speed requires careful planning to compensate for. For these reasons, they are among the less beginner-friendly factions in the game.

Ogre Kingdoms

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From their appearance alone, you would expect the Ogre Kingdoms to be another particularly aggressive faction. But these big ol’ bruisers have more up their sleeves than might alone. Hewing closer to the human factions than the Chaos hordes, the Ogre Kingdoms offer a flexible playstyle that can be adapted on the fly.

The Ogres’ monster units are a true force to be reckoned with. But they’re no slouch from further away either. If rushing the opponent isn’t working out for the Ogre player, they are more than capable of pulling back and letting artillery do the heavy lifting for a while.

If the Ogre Kingdoms have an Achilles heel, it’s undoubtedly their weak infantry. Other all-round factions can rely on infantry as a backbone of their army. But the Ogres’ Gnoblar units pale in comparison to other factions’ more impressive forces. Yet even these little skirmishers have their uses; moving in quick and working as a distraction. This gives larger ogre units the time to set up and cause havoc.

Far from the simple brutes they may appear, the Ogre Kingdoms are an interesting and relatively beginner-friendly faction that definitely come recommended.

Slaanesh

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Slaanesh are a faction that favour speed and power above all else. They can shred enemy forces before they have time to react. But, as with all glass-cannon types, their raw damage comes at a cost. Slaanesh are perhaps the most fragile faction in Total War: Warhammer 3.

Even moreso than Khorne, Slaanesh is a melee-focused faction. They have nothing in the way of artillery, preferring to close the distance and do damage before the enemy has time to fire. Positioning is also key for Slaanesh, with their units being much more effective when flanking the enemy.

While their rush gameplay can be exhilarating, new players may find themselves frustrated by Slaanesh’s lack of survivability. Especially against more seasoned players, who can pick their units off before they have time to smash the opposition apart. Adding on to this, the speed of their gameplay may lead to a degree more micromanagement than new players are ready for. As such, those new to the game may be better suited getting to grips with another Chaos faction first.

Tzeentch

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As complex to play as they are to pronounce, Tzeentch offer a tricky gameplay style and a wealth of options. While their unit options are varied – heavily investing in flying units and long-range – the thing that unites this faction is a focus on magic.

While almost all factions have magic as a component of their playstyle, with Tzeentch it is truly front and centre. Spellcasters play a larger role in this army than any other. They are what players will build around, as opposed to being used to fill open slots. Their reliance on this may take some getting used to at first but will serve players well down the line.

While Tzeentch’s units are not especially survivable on their own, they each have access to a barrier mechanic. This serves as a buffer to soak up damage. Ensuring that the faction is not overwhelmed before it can start to gain traction.

Tzeentch is a tricky faction, but not overwhelmingly so. Their unique mechanics and spellcasting add a layer of complexity, but their unit variety is a big plus. While not among the easier to learn factions, players that enjoy being given a wealth of options to choose from right from the off will be very happy playing Tzeentch.

Legion of Chaos

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The Legion of Chaos are less an individual faction, and more a grab-bag of the Chaos factions’ best features. They are the most customisable faction in the game, which leads to a huge amount of player expression.

But while they are an incredibly powerful faction, the number of options available can be overwhelming to new players. And in order to get the best out of them, you need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual Chaos factions. This will allow you to mix and max a truly devastating demonic force. Sadly, what makes this faction so interesting is also what makes it the least recommendable to new players.

But, that’s not to say that nobody should try them out first. For a player that is unsure of which Chaos Faction to start with, The Legion of Chaos can be a tasting menu of sorts. It can allow you to try out the demon forces that seem most interesting, without worrying about all their interlocking systems. For a new player looking to see the sheer variety Total War: Warhammer 3 has to offer, the Legion of Chaos is perfect.

More Total War: Warhammer 3 content coming soon

While that’s it for the basics, we’ve only just scratched the surface of Total War: Warhammer 3’s factions. We’ll be covering more of the game in the coming days. Stay tuned for in-depth faction guides, tier lists, campaign tips and much more!

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