Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide

Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide – In this Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide, I’m going to share tips and tricks about the things you can focus on to make the most out of your time in the game. These will include beginner-friendly factions, the advantages of choosing diplomacy over war, and more! If you’re searching for a comprehensive guide, then this article is for you!

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Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide

Before we begin with our beginner guide, I would like to remind everyone that Total War: Warhammer III’s free trial on Steam is still ongoing until March 14 at 8 PM CET so if you wish to give this game a try, now’s the best time to dive in!

Steam Free Weekend and 33% Discount

If you’ve already invested or are fans of Total War: Warhammer I and II, you can now purchase Warhammer III, which is on a 33% discount until March 24, 8 PM CET. And finally, for those who already own the game, you won’t have to wait too long since preorders for the Forge of the Chaos Dwarves DLC start on March 14 at 1 PM CET.

That’s about it. Without further ado, let’s start with the best beginner-friendly factions in Total War: Warhammer III!

Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide – Best Beginner-Friendly Factions

By default, there are 7 playable factions as part of the base version of Total War: Warhammer III so it can be tough to identify which among them would be best suited for new players. Out of all of these, I highly recommend going for Grand Cathay or Exiles of Khorne for your first campaign.

Grand Cathay

Grand Cathay with Zhao Ming as the Lord provides you with an initially safer area and generally stronger melee units. Furthermore, he always receives magic items to help out with your other Lords and Heroes. In terms of the faction as a whole, your units are primarily defense-oriented so the strategy is to make enemies come to you. You’ll also be able to take advantage of caravans being sent to the Ivory Road to gain a sustainable income, allowing you to recruit more units and build the defenses of the Great Bastion to ward off invasions.

Total War Warhammer III Beginner Guide - Grand Cathay Great Bastion

Sealing the Great Bastion is one of the first things you should do even if it means declaring war since your AI allies aren’t as effective in doing so. The advantage of prioritizing this is you’ll significantly reduce the cost of your armies, allowing you to recruit more. As such, you should divide groups who can roam your lands to eliminate potential enemies.

One of the interesting features of Grand Cathay is its Harmony, which needs to remain balanced and should therefore be maintained inside and outside of combat to boost certain perks. In battle, for instance, you need to group together ranged units such as Peasant Archers, and melee units like Peasant Spearmen. Not only does this raise the archers’ reload speed but also improves the spearmen’s attack and defense ratings. Managing a balanced Harmony in combat will help develop your micromanagement skills as this will train you to be careful and particular about unit positioning.

Total War Warhammer III Beginner Guide - Grand Cathay Harmony

Exiles of Khorne

Meanwhile, the Exiles of Khorne have excellent momentum due to campaign movement passives available early on such as the Serial Killing upgrade for Blood Hosts or Skarbrand the Exile’s innate +25% movement speed buff after he wins a battle. Razing settlements gives them 2 unique interactions – Skulls for the Skull Throne and Blood for the Blood God. Although both are extremely useful, it would be advisable to use Blood for the Blood God, especially at the start. Doing so creates an expendable Blood Host Army that can be commanded to fight other enemies or even raze more settlements, keeping up early-game momentum.

Exiles of Khorne The Skull Throne

The Blood Host is very effective at wreaking havoc on enemy lines but they need to be constantly fighting, otherwise, they’ll eventually die out automatically. This army also costs upkeep, making balancing income a bit more difficult, however, remember that they can be sacrificed to free up resources if needed.

Constantly fighting and winning battles is a top priority for the Exiles of Khorne due to the Bloodletting mechanic. This is a global buff that stacks every time you emerge victorious from a fight. It confers many powerful effects, such as reducing upkeep, and faster casualty replenishment and new unit recruitment.

Total War Warhammer III Beginner Guide - Exile of Khorne Combat

In battle, you primarily fight in melee with the vast majority of units only having close-quarter combat options. Even their Legendary Lord Skarbrand the Exiled thrives in the melee range since he’s massively armored, charges quickly into battle, and even strikes terror into his target, decimating their Leadership stat over time. Chaos Warriors and Bloodletters will be the bread and butter of your army. They’re extremely reliable damage dealers until you unlock more advanced units later on. To augment the slow and steady charge of your infantry, you should bring along melee cavalry such as the Bloodcrushers. Be sure to route these creatures to the sides of the enemy army so that they can be in optimal flanking position.

Bloodletters of Khorne

You can also make use of Chaos Furies as they can easily fly across the battlefield, ignoring most terrain obstacles that walking units would need to go around. Furies can disrupt enemy missile units, ensuring they don’t have free reign on your melee-centric army. Chaos Warhounds are also an excellent counter to enemy missile units since they’re very quick and have Scaly Skin, which gives them natural protection against ranged attacks.

Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide – Diplomacy Over War

Although the idea behind Total War: Warhammer III is to dominate several provinces until you completely take control of the map, initiating wars all the time will cost you. Not just in terms of the recruits you end up losing but also the chances of hostile factions grouping together to destroy you. Choosing diplomacy over war will allow you to expand your empire and upgrade your settlements while minimizing the risk of getting ambushed.

Diplomacy in Total War Warhammer III

The first thing you should do is to check who your neighboring factions are and what their attitudes are toward you. Establishing a Non-Aggression Pact with those who are neutral or those who like you is important, allowing you to freely explore the area and avoid unnecessary encounters. Haphazardly sieging a settlement to own the respective province won’t do you any good, especially since word spreads around how bloodthirsty you are, making you a prime candidate for obliteration. In conclusion, you should target the enemies of potential allies, either the factions they dislike or aren’t trading with, to deepen your relationship with them.

It’s also worth noting that groups who haven’t encountered you will most likely ignore you so be careful in crossing their borders. If you don’t make yourself known then the chances of antagonizing them are slim since they can’t fight someone they don’t know, and nor can they talk negatively behind your back.

Grand Cathay Non-Aggression Pact

When it comes to picking your friends, don’t ally with factions who are likely to fight against each other such as the Empire and any Chaos group, otherwise, you’ll end up getting caught in the middle. Furthermore, it’s not advisable to get into Military Alliances, at least not early on, because you can’t control who your ally goes to battle against. If they suddenly decide to declare war, you’ll have to tag along or risk fracturing your relationship.

Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide – Setting Up a Stable Economy

Always prioritize buildings that provide a bonus to income, such as Khorne’s Dark Bastion or Soul Keep. The earlier these can be constructed, the earlier they can start providing you with a snowballing bonus. In the same vein, you should also look into getting income-enhancing skills and traits for your Lords and Heroes, such as Skarbrand the Exile’s “Despoilers Skill”, which increases income from raiding or “Sustained by Slaughter Skill”, which reduces upkeep costs.

Sustained by Slaughter Skill

The biggest drain on your income will be the upkeep, which is the cost it takes to maintain your standing armies. Managing low upkeep is easier when you have fewer units but that also leaves you vulnerable. Instead, when calculating whether or to hire a unit, keep both the upfront and upkeep costs in mind. You don’t want to hire a unit only for it to be more expensive than they’re worth. This is also especially problematic if you’re not actively fighting an enemy. If you’re within your own provinces and the unit doesn’t have too much experience, consider disbanding them temporarily to free up some upkeep.

You can always rehire them anyway when you anticipate combat encounters or if you’re at war with another faction. As your empire grows in size, sometimes disbanding a far-off army and then hiring a fresh one when you need to is better than having them march across the entire map.

Garrisons in Grand Cathay

Building garrisons for protection is also an investment worth taking since they provide an extra layer of defense to your income-generating settlements. An enemy who wants to take over a settlement with a garrison in it will need to set up a siege first. This should give you ample time to increase your army to assist the besieged area. Anything that slows down your enemies’ actions will pay off in the long run.

Understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Basic Units

In Total War: Warhammer III, the number of units you need to keep track of can be overwhelming due to their sheer size. But immediately knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are will be helpful in determining how you’d wish to group them together. In this section, we’ll discuss 5 of the basic units that you’ll need to utilize right from the beginning.

First is the infantry who excel in attacking enemies in the melee range. Oftentimes, it’s best to line them up due to their power and strength and to prevent enemy flanks. These melee units have resilient armor, making them the prime candidate to stay in the frontline of combat. However, since they also lack horses, they move slowly so you’ll need cavalry nearby together with spearmen to defend against the enemies charging at you.

Grand Cathay Infantry

Second are ranged units who are better positioned at the back of the pack so they can shoot arrows and hurl projectiles effectively. Doing so will also keep them protected from enemy melee units, especially since they’re only wearing light armor. Unlike melee units, it’s possible for these archers to hit allies accidentally so be sure to frequently check the direction of their attacks. What’s more, is that they require ammunition to keep going so remember to invest in upgrades to improve this, otherwise, they’ll resort to engaging in melee combat, which is one of their weaknesses.

Third are the cavalry or mounted units, which can maneuver quite easily and tend to move fast, making them the optimal choice to charge at enemies. This becomes especially useful when done from a terrain, catching the target by surprise. They can even choose to attack lone units or those who are exhausted to finally eliminate them. One drawback, however, is their expensive cost so they’re usually fewer than the others.

Kislev Cavalry

Fourth is the artillery, which can mess up concentrated enemy formations, particularly melee units and fortifications. These are generally machines manned by your own infantry. Due to their size and sheer power, they do not fare well in the melee range and are susceptible to quickly running out of ammunition compared to ranged units.

Combat Tips

When it comes to Total War: Warhammer III’s combat, you need to first ensure that your units are constantly performing actions by paying attention to the unit bar. Inactive units are represented by “ZZZ” on their portraits. The backslash hotkey will allow you to easily cycle through any inactive unit, immediately allowing you to issue commands.

Total War Warhammer III Beginner Guide - Combat Tips

Next, make it a priority to abuse flanking and surround your enemies but also prevent them from executing the same actions to your own units. You can do this by grouping armies into tight formations. Now hitting your enemies’ weak sides will always prove to be advantageous. Charging at them will grant a temporary Leadership bonus, which will temporarily boost that unit’s morale.

On the topic of Leadership, this is the most important attribute in combat, even more so than a unit’s actual health pool. Having high Leadership will allow a unit to continue fighting in peak conditions. Units whose morale is wavering will be represented by a flashing banner. When this stat fully depletes, the entire unit will be routed despite their remaining health, drop all active commands, and will eventually flee from the battlefield. This is disastrous because fleeing units will affect nearby allies’ morale as well, triggering a massive chain reaction.

Yuri's Ursun's Roar for Leadership

Some units also have the Unbreakable attribute, meaning they won’t lose Leadership and thus will never be routed. So you’ll need to understand which actions can positively and negatively affect Leadership in order to prevent your units from running away and provoking the enemy into doing this very action. Here are the things to keep in mind –

A. Positive Actions to Increase Leadership: 

  • Negating an enemy cavalry charge bonus using units that have Charge Defense such as Grand Cathay’s Jade Warriors or Peasant Long Spearmen.
  • Charging at an enemy line.
  • Protecting a unit’s flanks.
  • Encouragement from nearby Lords and Heroes.

B. Negative Actions that Decrease Leadership: 

  • Being surrounded or having to deal with enemies on at least two different sides.
  • Having low vigor when the unit is exhausted.
  • If the unit takes too many losses in a small amount of time.
  • Taking too much damage in a small amount of time.
  • If your Lords or Heroes fall in combat.

That’s it for our Total War: Warhammer III Beginner Guide. What are your thoughts on this article? How are you enjoying the game so far? What factions would you recommend to new players? Let us know in the comments below! If you have questions, feel free to drop by our Twitch Channel. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our recent content, Total War: Warhammer III – Should You Play It? Is It Worth It? and Wayfinder Closed Beta Impression – NEW MMORPG.


Writer at Fextralife. I enjoy playing RPGs, narrative-driven games, and platformers. Outside of gaming, I like watching meaningful movies and reading sci-fi and dystopian books.

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