Total War: WARHAMMER III – An Introduction to Grand Cathay


Total War
September 14 2021

Hello, welcome back to, it’s finally time. Ahead of the screams of getting to the point, let’s just jump right to it, shall we?

What is Grand Cathay?

Grand Cathay is the largest nation in the Warhammer world. Far beyond the mountains to the east, past the lands of the dwarfs, the snowfields of Kislev, and even beyond the Ogre Kingdoms, lies this incredibly ancient and powerful land. Overseen by the Celestial Dragon Emperor and his wife, the Moon Empress, and ruled by their children, it is a mysterious land of incredible military might. Massive terracotta statues come to life to defend the Great Bastion against the floods of Chaos that come to Grand Cathay’s doors. Dragon-blooded sorcerers wield the magic lores of Yin and Yang in harmony to blast enemies from the battlefield. Powerful artillery and well-drilled troops numbering in the thousands slay any enemy that dares take one too many steps.

Whoa, y’all just came up with this?

Well, not quite. Grand Cathay was first mentioned in the second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles and made sporadic background appearances throughout its history. Games Workshop have created and reimagined all of those fleeting references into a full army, and we’ve put that army along with their empire into Total War: WARHAMMER III. This includes their own characters, units, magic, history, and much more. Much like Kislev, it’s been an exciting and collaborative process with Games Workshop, and they will have several bits of news and information on their community site too.

Who are Grand Cathay’s legendary lords?

For Total War: WARHAMMER III, Cathay’s playable legendary lords are Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, ruler of the Western Provinces and Lord of Shang-Yang, and Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, ruler of the Northern Provinces and Commander of the Great Bastion. Miao Ying is featured in the trailer above, while you’ll get your first glimpse of Zhao Ming next week. In addition, we’ll have much more information about both as we continue to introduce this mighty nation and its heroes to the world.

Hold on, dragons?

The rulers of Cathay are immortal dragons who can take human form. As well as being extremely cool this makes them incredibly powerful combatants, amazing sorcerers, and natural leaders. We’ll dedicate a bit of time to that topic soon.

Alright but what about the Celestial Dragon Emperor and his wife, the Moon Empress?

Fair question. Yes, the Celestial Dragon Emperor still rules over Grand Cathay. He spends his time in the Celestial City above Wei-Jin, contemplating the destiny of the empire with his wife, the equally revered Moon Empress. They are the true ‘power couple’ of the Warhammer World, older than most of the gods, for they existed when the planet was colder, before even the Old Ones came and pulled it closer to the sun.

As they rarely leave the Celestial Court and their power level is, frankly, on par with most gods, we knew they were not the right candidates to be Cathay’s Legendary Lords – in much the same way you’re not actually playing and deploying Khorne or Nurgle to the battlefield. Instead, their children provide a much more interesting prospect for the game, they are still extremely powerful characters with compelling family dynamics (spoiler, the siblings don’t get on), but with all the responsibilities of ruling and protecting great swathes of Cathay.

How does Grand Cathay play?

As an empire, a people, and on the battlefield, Grand Cathay is about harmony. They are a defensively focused army, long standing against the tides of darkness that crash against their Great Bastion, over and over again across the centuries. Ranged and melee units receive buffs when in close proximity, their power boosted as the Yin and Yang that runs through every inhabitant of the empire works in concert. This gives them incredible ranged firepower and a stalwart, hardy frontline. They are slow-moving and easy to flank, but their flying machines, alchemists, and dragon sorcerers do much to make the army a formidable one.

On the campaign map, Grand Cathay must use the incredible wealth of the Ivory Road to fund their war effort and defense of the Grand Bastion, the invincible walled fortress that borders the Chaos Wastes to their North. Defending it and launching assaults from it is a key part of their campaign and will make or break the fates of mortals.

Naturally, we’ll have more information, a roster reveal, unit spotlights, and much more in the coming weeks.

What can I expect units-wise?

Melee infantry mostly wield spears and halberds, all the better to protect their ranged troops that form the most powerful force Grand Cathay has to offer. They also favour spellcasters, with alchemists and astromancers having equal levels of power on the battlefield. They employ a number of flying units and can call upon the power of the Terracotta Sentinels if the situation warrants it. To back up their elite crossbowmen, artillery pieces and war machines bring destruction to the battlefield.

Grand Cathay is also one of the most populous nations in the Old World, formed as it is from hundreds of tribes that gathered under the Celestial Dragon Emperor in years gone by. Thus, it has legions to call upon when needed, with the less trained forming a fragile but effective frontline, wielding weapons and riding horses as required. Though they are cheaper troops, their power level can far out-strip their cost when used in proper Harmony.

Of course, there are still many surprises to be found in this ancient land and we’ll have the full roster reveal for you over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Well, that’s all very exciting but it’s September and I want to know about the future of sieges and minor settlement battles.

Understandable. As we go into details on the unique defenses of the Great Bastion that Grand Cathay can take part in, we’ll also explain how sieges play in WARHAMMER III. Beyond that, well, you can probably guess from the trailer who gets the highlight once Grand Cathay have had their moment in the sun.

Welcome back to Total War: WARHAMMER III – Grand Cathay is here, and they will stop at nothing to destroy the forces of Chi’an Chi and protect their empire. We’ll continue in earnest next week with a look at the lands, lore, and history of the mighty Eastern Empire.