Total War Discord Q&A archive: your questions answered on Kislev and Khorne

Total War: WARHAMMER III

Ben Barrett
June 18 2021

You’ve got questions and we had answers! Our first Discord Q&A for Total War: WARHAMMER III took place last week, inviting our whole community to come at us with everything they’ve got. And so you did – while we couldn’t answer everything, and there were enough questions to last a lifetime, we’ve gathered what was said here. This is only the first of several planned Q&As, so keep your eyes peeled for the next one, and join our Discord to take part. 

Joining the chat was: 

  • Baj Singh, Art Director 
  • Sean Macdonald, Lead Designer 
  • Oscar Andersson, Senior Designer 
  • James High, Community Manager 
  • Grace Carroll, Lead Community & Social Media Manager 

Note that some questions have been edited for clarity and length, some answered questions removed due to relevance, and other answers edited for specifics. 

Battle Gameplay 

General 

With new units like the Bloodthirster being added, will there be additional options for enhanced control of flying units (i.e., manual toggle between flying and landed)? 

Oscar: We are looking into it, but there is a fair share of problems to solve with it, so can’t give a definitive yes or no answer yet. 

Are there any changes or improvements made to the difficulty system? 

Oscar: From a battle perspective, we’ve reduced the melee bonuses that the AI gets on Hard and Very Hard, as they were very punishing for melee units. 

Could you go into more detail about the ‘wound’ mechanic for single entities? 

So, the idea with wounds is that single entities lose killing power as they get wounded, making damage dealt to them before they are dead more significant. Wounded single entities lose weapon strength and movement speed, making them easier to deal with. 

Is there going to be a difference between spell resistance and magic resistance in WARHAMMER III? 

Magic resistance has been changed into spell resistance in WARHAMMER III. We needed to change the way magic resistance interacted with magical attacks to make Daemons play well, so magical attacks now bypass physical resistance and are no longer resisted by magic resistance. Spell resistance now only affects spell damage. We changed the term to signal that something has changed there. 

Will there be a rework of any current monsters from the Warriors of Chaos Roster? 

Oscar: No, at least not for WARHAMMER III release. 

Will the stats of the new units stay the same or will they change closer to the release of the game after some testing has been made? 

Grace: All the stats have the possibility to change – development is still happening. 

Will WARHAMMER III have extreme unit sizes? And will spell damage scale with unit size? 

Oscar: No extreme unit size. Regarding damage scaling, we’ve done a fair share of work to improve damage scaling based on unit sizes. Direct Damage, healing, single entity weapon and projectile strength, and magic missile damage will now scale with unit size setting.  This should make the play experience more consistent across unit sizes. 

What are the Legendary Items/mounts of Katarin, Kostaltyn, and Skarbrand and what can the items do? Could you give us more specifics on how Skarbrand and Kostaltyn will work as units in-game? 

Oscar: Katarin will have Frost Fang and the Crystal Cloak. Frost Fang allows Katarin to cast a bound icy explosion spell. Crystal Cloak protects Katarin with a strong ward save whenever she casts a spell.  

Kostaltyn has the Brazier Mace of Ursun, which increases Kostaltyn’s weapon strength whenever he goes under 50% health.  

Skarbrand has Slaughter and Carnage, twin axes which increase his weapon strength with each kill on the battlefield. Feed them Skavenslaves at your own peril!  

Skarbrand is a pure powerhouse. He hits like a truck, comes with heavy armour and spell resistance, is surprisingly fast as well. His only downside is his lack of flying, but he more than makes up for it with his killing power.  

Kostaltyn is very much a support character that has his powers amplified when chucked into melee. Generally, his powers really start kicking in when the going gets rough, making him an inspirational leader for the direst of battles. 

Kislev 

What is the most unique aspect of Kislev? 

Grace: How hybrid the roster is and how most of your melee infantry units are very dependable in terms of holding a line and fighting until the bitter end. 

Will Kislev play defensively with its roster, considering they are the first line of defense of the realms of man? 

Oscar: Kislev’s playstyle is mostly defensive, at least when fighting against factions that lack their firepower. Kislev excels when it gets to hold its ground and shoot at an enemy trying to close the distance while being peppered by frostbite arrows and Ice Sheets slowing the advance down. Winged Lancers can shatter weakened enemy units with their charges. Once the lines have met, the hybrid units can hold long enough for the hammer of the cavalry and the war bears to hit the enemy. Against the likes of Empire, High Elves or Dwarfs, Kislev will have to pivot towards a more melee-focused approach centering around the cavalry and the War Sleds. 

How does playing as Kislev feel different from similar-looking factions we’re already familiar with, like the Empire and the High Elves? 

Oscar: Kislev’s focus on hybrid ranged units really sets them apart from Empire and High Elves. Kislev missile units are also capable of forming the battle line. Additionally, the lores of Ice and Tempest are uniquely crafted to work with the Kislev playstyle and the lack of other lores of magic really shapes what Kislev can do in battle. 

In two trailers we’ve seen Bear cavalry on brown bears. What’s the difference between those and the polar bear cavalry? 

Oscar: So, at one point during development the Kislev War Bear Riders were riding brown bears. They are now riding white bears instead, but some of the cinematics were done before that change occurred. 

Is the Snow Leopard unit a single entity or a group of them? Is it a unit or a summon? 

Grace: Single-entity and both! 

The Snow Leopard looked closer to hound units, but you mentioned they are single entities. Will they function more like Stegadons but with more speed and less armor/health? 

Oscar: Stegadon’s are as far away from the Snow Leopard as a single entity can be. The Snow Leopards are fast moving, if squishy, single entities that can use their speed to hunt down vulnerable units like mages and horse archers. 

Is the Elemental Bear a unit and a summon too? 

Grace: Yes! It’s both. 

Will Kislev be completely land-bound rosterwise, without any flying units? 

James: Yep, no flying polar bears here, I’m afraid! 

How strong is Kislevite cavalry compared to cavalry units in the previous two games, like the Reiksguard and the Dragon Princes? 

Oscar: Winged Lancers are on par with Empire Knights (lighter and more offensive), Gryphon Legion are on par with Reiksguard (lighter and more offensive again). War Bear Riders are probably most comparable to a unit like Minotaurs (Great Weapons) rather than monstrous cavalry due to their entity size and number. 

How do the Streltsi compare, range-wise, to Thunderers and Handgunners? 

Oscar: On par with them, roughly. 

What kind of abilities can we expect from Kostaltyn? 

Oscar: He comes with the four Kislev Patriarch hymns, one each for Ursun, Salyak, Dazh and Tor. These are area-of-effect support abilities, offering a varied toolkit of healing, vigour restoration, leadership buffing, and melee attack buffs. Additionally, Kostaltyn has a host of passive abilities that inspire units around him when he is wounded and other passives that make him exceedingly hard to kill. 

From the way Kostaltyn was described, it seems you want him to be in the thick of the melee, and the more damage he deals, the more his units get buffed. Is that so? 

Oscar: So optimal Kostaltyn play will revolve around getting him into the thick of melee with Tzar Guard or War Bear Riders on his sides, buffing them with his abilities. If the enemy tries to take Kostaltyn out, it fuels his passives further and Kostaltyn is also excellent at cheating death (he has a passive health regen that kicks in when he is close to death). 

Does Katarin have any more offensive spells? I found Lore of Ice too passive – buffs and debuffs. Does she have access to another magic lore? 

Oscar: Katarin has three offensive spells. Ice Maiden’s Kiss is comparable to Wind Blast, but with an additional freezing effect. Death Frost is a like a slow acting, short range double Spirit Leech. Finally, you have Heart of Winter, a strong area of effect direct damage spell that slows enemies within its area of effect and gets stronger over time. Additionally, she has her bound Frost Fang ability, which is a strong explosion spell. Overall Katarin and the Lore of Ice should be an excellent damage dealer. 

Will there be any other magic lores for Kislev besides Ice at the start of WARHAMMER III? 

Grace: There is also the Lore of Tempest. 

Khorne 

What are Khorne’s battle mechanics? Will it be like Dark Elves, Tomb Kings, and Greenskins? 

Oscar: Khorne’s battle mechanic revolves around killing the enemy. Each kill made by the Khorne army adds to a battle resource, which can be spent to fire off one of three army abilities. Additionally, several Khorne units come with passive abilities that scale in intensity based on the number of kills made by that unit. So, most of it revolves around killing. 

What would you say is the biggest weakness in Khorne’s roster? 

Oscar: The lack of magic is definitely a big disadvantage. You lose out on a fair share of adaptability due to it, but luckily Khorne units have the killing power to compensate. 

How do you make sure that each unit in Khorne roster shines and there are no overlaps in their roles as it’s a mostly melee-based roster? 

Oscar: That’s definitely a challenge. Luckily the Daemonic units and the mortal units have very different roles, with daemons being hyper offensive and the mortals being offensive with staying power. Additionally, we’ve wanted to focus more on the daemons than the mortals with each of the rosters, so the Daemonic part of the roster is intended to be the dominant note with the mortals offering interesting support options filling out some of the roles that we felt were needed for our gameplay vision. 

Does Khorne have something to compensate for the lack of magic and ranged firepower? 

Oscar: Extremely strong melee units plus spell resistance for all Khorne daemons. Khorne will, on average, be one of the hardest hitting and elite factions in the game. 

What’s the most challenging aspect of balancing the Khorne army, where just about everything is an aggressive melee fighter? 

Oscar: So Khorne definitely has two dimensions. The Daemonic units for Khorne are reasonably fast, very hard hitting, and somewhat squishy on average. The mortal Chaos Warriors and Skullcrushers offer more staying power at the cost of lower mobility. The challenge is figuring out how to mix those two elements together and how to maintain cohesion with these different elements. Khorne also is a very elite-focused faction, so you’ll often need tools to win battles even when outnumbered. 

How much Physical and Magical Resistance will Bloodcrushers of Khorne/Bloodletters of Khorne have? 

Grace: 20-25% (but development is subject to change). 

Will the Flesh Hounds of Khorne have an anti-magic aura? 

Grace: No but they have significant spell resistance – higher than you’d see on the Bloodletter. 

Can you tell us more about the Blood Throne? 

Oscar: The Blood Throne comes with a Totem of Endless Bloodletting aura, increasing the melee attack of units around the Blood Throne plus its Gorefeast ability allows it to heal while in melee. 

What is Skarbrand’s weapon strength?

Oscar: Over 600 (subject to change) and can go far higher thanks to abilities like Frenzy, Slaughter and Carnage, etc. 

Skarbrand lost the ability to fly after being exiled by Khorne. Will he be able to fly in-game and if he can, is there an explanation for this? 

James: Skarbrand can’t fly in-game! His wings are ruined. He does have a jump wing-flap animation, but he won’t be flying around. 

Given that Skarbrand can’t fly, what ways ensure that he offers more than Exalted Bloodthirsters in combat potential? 

Oscar: Skarbrand is a stronger fighter, and he has a fair share of ways to increase his weapon strength even further. Generally, you don’t want to fight fair against Skarbrand. 

Does Skarbrand’s Rampage aura affect all units or are high leadership units or units like heroes/lords immune to it? What does weak-willed mean in the description? 

Grace: At the moment it’s an active ability with a limited duration but it may change (development is always subject to change!). Weak-willed means that if they’re under 70% health, then they may be affected. 

I believe y’all said that Skarbrand gets stronger the more kills he gets. Can you give us an answer over how it works? 

Oscar: So Skarbrand uses scaling ability intensity, meaning his Slaughter and Carnage ability becomes progressively stronger in a linear manner. 

Campaign Gameplay 

Are the new Chaos factions able to recruit Legendary Lords from the Chaos Warriors DLC? 

Oscar: No, at least not for WARHAMMER III release. 

Will Khorne be a Horde faction? 

James: Nope! 

Does Khorne have multiple legendary lords? 

Grace: Just one – Skarbrand. 

Are Bloodthirsters only lords or recruitable units too? 

Grace: They’re both. There is the Exalted Bloodthirster and normal Bloodthirsters, which are the lord and unit respectively. 

Can we play the Vortex campaign in WARHAMMER III? 

Grace: No, the vortex campaign is WARHAMMER II’s campaign. 

Art & Animation 

How much of a leap graphically is the game compared to WARHAMMER II? Have there been any improvements to the textures of units from the earlier games? 

Baj: We have significantly updated the engine to inherit some of the graphical features found in THREE KINGDOMS. We will be investigating how much work can be done with the WARHAMMER I/II textures, but some of the additional engine and shader work should help bring them up to the quality found in WARHAMMER III. 

Will there be an update to the lighting on WARHAMMER I races and Ethereal units in WARHAMMER III? 

Baj: We have improved the engine and lighting system for WARHAMMER III, and this should be reflected in the WARHAMMER I & II assets in the game. 

Will human Khorne infantry have their own animations or use Warriors of Chaos resources? 

Oscar: They are re-using existing Warriors of Chaos animation tables. 

Is the entire Kislev roster developed by Games Workshop or are you allowed artistic freedom to create, for example, more variants or specific units? 

Baj: We have worked very closely with Games Workshop on the Kislev designs to ensure that not only do we respect the lore they have established for the race, but also that they fit in with the visual aesthetic we have established for all three games. Whilst we have some creative freedom, everything is reviewed and approved by Games Workshop and their expert design teams. 

Why are bears pulling sleds instead of Oblast Elks from the lore? 

Baj: We worked with Games Workshop directly on the designs and functionality on the sleds to respect their lore and expectations. 

What were the most difficult to create units? 

Baj: The hardest unit to create from a visual perspective was definitely the Elemental Bear. Balancing the amount of snow, flora, and magical power whilst making the bear look functional took a lot of collaboration between the artists, animators and VFX team to really make it all come together. 

Are there sync kills for the bears? 

Oscar: Yes, there is a sync kill animation for the bear. 

Is the ice effect on Kislevite war-sleds final, or is it something that might be adjusted before release? 

Grace: Everything seen in trailers is still work in process and you can assume that there will be minor/significant changes to visuals by release. 

The Silence & The Fury 

Will the horde rework apply to other Horde factions or just to the Beastmen? 

Sean: The Beastmen rework has been created bespoke to capture the Beastmen fantasy, so not a general Horde rework. 

Why did the team choose Oxyotl as the final Lizardmen DLC lord for WARHAMMER II?  

Sean: It’s always hard to choose which character to turn into a Legendary Lord, we look at lots of factors. In this specific case we thought Oxyotl’s background with Chaos made him a great match for the Beastmen. 

If you considered Oxyotl’s lore fighting Chaos, then why did you not save him for WARHAMMER III so that he could lorefully fight a Daemon of Tzeentch in a DLC? 

Sean: There are a few key Lizardmen units still to come so we wanted to get them into WARHAMMER II, and Oxyotl made the most sense to go up against Beastmen for our final pack. 

When can we expect a full trailer for The Silence and The Fury DLC? 

Grace: July 

Will there be Greenskin nerfs in the next patch? 

Sean: Yes, we took a look at Grom’s power level and increased the number of Waaagh! points per use of the ability (other changes too, but these are the two big ones). 

Other questions

What WARHAMMER I & II races do you think could still use an adjustment to be brought up to standard? 

Sean: I think the obvious one is Norsca, they have fallen behind during WARHAMMER II and we want to make sure all our factions are great experiences. 

Do we have any news on the Collector’s Edition yet? 

Grace: Not yet – when there is news, it’ll be shared on our social media accounts. 

What is your favourite Kislev and Khorne unit, and why? 

Baj: Skullcannon – because it’s a flaming cannon on a motorbike. 

Oscar: Streltsi are my favourite Kislev unit. They epitomise what Kislev gameplay is all about and their animations are some of my favourites. For Khorne, I’m a massive fan of Skarbrand. He’s such a killing machine, haha. 

Who was your favorite WARHAMMER III lord to design? 

Oscar: From the ones we can talk about, Katarin for sure. She was a fun challenge as we wanted to create a human wizard who also felt like a powerhouse of a character, and the art, audio, and animation teams have done a stellar job with her. 

Baj: From an art POV, Katarin. There was a lot of back and forth between our team and GW on nailing the colours, shape language, and flow of the clothing. Fortunately, they were super happy with what we achieved here (and seeing her in the trailer was a delight). 

Do you guys still work from home? 

Grace: Yep! 

Would Grace say that “The Silence and The Fury” is a good nickname for the Total War Reddit?  

Grace: I’d go with The Hunter and The Beast. 

So Tasting History did a few episodes based on Rome Remastered.  If you got a different YouTube chef to make something for WARHAMMER III, what fantasy recipe would you want to see and why? 

Grace: Tough question! I’d want something out of Grom’s cookbook, even though that’s WARHAMMER II – too good an opportunity to turn down! 

Do any of you guys read manga/watch anime. If yes, what is your favorite? 

Sean: Watch more anime than I read manga, and Jo-Jo & Full Metal Alchemist are two of my favourites. 

That’s all for today – but we’ll be back after our next Q&A with further updates. Remember to check out the regularly updated WARHAMMER III FAQ too for a wide range of other answers.