Total War: WARHAMMER III Grand Cathay roster reveal

Total War: WARHAMMER III

Ben Barrett
October 8 2021

Welcome back to TotalWar.com – you’ve waited (too) long for this one. Grand Cathay is here and in this Roster Reveal we’ll be taking you through each unit, lord, and hero the Eastern Empire has to offer from what Games Workshop has created. They are a humongous, powerful nation capable of fending off attacks from every angle, including the swarms of Chaos that inhabit the northern wastes. They believe, and it’s hard to disagree, that should they fail, should the Great Bastion fall and Grand Cathay be laid to ruin, all the world will be doomed. 

To prevent this, a legion of highly trained and capable warriors stands ready to fight for their homeland, the Celestial Dragon Emperor, and his mightily powerful children, the Dragons. They are leaders, generals, and heroes to their people – and the weight of responsibility hangs heavy on their shoulders. 

As a reminder, Total War: WARHAMMER III is not a finished game. What you see below is an overview, not the stats of every single unit, and some things may change before release. However, still plenty to dig your teeth into here – let’s get to it. 

Grand Cathay Legendary Lords

Miao Ying, The Storm Dragon 

Miao Ying believes herself to be the strongest Dragon sibling, and lords her power and position of authority as protector of the Great Bastion over her brothers and sisters. Despite her earned arrogance, she is well-aware of the significance of the task laid at her feet to protect Grand Cathay from the hordes of Chaos to the North. The constant scheming of the mortal lords of Nan-Gau, her capital and unconquerable home, does not make it any easier. 

As such a powerful and ancient being, she emits an aura of command and majesty that even mighty heroes find difficult to resist. Her followers seek her favour, and her enemies fear her bite and strong magics. On the battlefield she can channel those powers to transform between her dragon and human forms, as needed. 

Both Dragons are also masters of the Elemental Winds. This attribute, which is shared among all Grand Cathay spellcasters, increases the power of all spells cast for each spellcaster in the army. This makes taking multiple spellcasters all the more effective for the armies of Grand Cathay, even doubling-or-better the power of spells should you have enough. Of course, they may not have the army to back them up, at that point…

Unique abilities and skills: 

  • Magic – Miao Ying has access to a unique selection of spells from the Lores of Yin and Life. 
  • Disdain of Dragons – All enemies who try to combat Miao Ying will find themselves at a significant disadvantage. 

Zhao Ming, The Iron Dragon 

Ruler of the Western Provinces, the Iron Dragon is seen as a much more down-to-earth ruler and commander than his sister. Zhao Ming commands loyalty through comradeship, as well as his creation and use of powerful artifacts and magic items. He is one of the Empire’s premier alchemists and welcomes the same within his realm – much to the chagrin of some of his siblings. 

Proximity to the Warpstone Desert and the Great Maw, still seeping with the destructive magic that created it, has led some to believe his mind is beginning to unravel. This would certainly explain some of the odd tendencies and decisions he makes, but it is still far from anything approaching insurrection or dangerous to Grand Cathay. While less favoured than his sister by the Celestial Dragon, their mother, the Moon Empress, has a soft spot for Zhao Ming. 

Both Dragons lead their armies with incredible fervour, their mere presence enough to enhance the Harmony and belief of their people to new heights. Non-character Cathayan units all ascribe to either Yin or Yang, and when close to the opposite receive buffs – melee, Yang units becoming more defensive and harder to kill, while ranged, Yin units fire faster. Lords increase these benefits when they are nearby. 

Between this and the Master of the Elemental Winds attribute, it makes hero spellcasters quite a powerful choice for Grand Cathay armies. They are force multipliers both battlefield-wide and in their area of effect, and proper usage can see massive odds overcome. 

Unique abilities and skills: 

  • Dragon Transformation – Both Dragons can also swap forms in the midst of battle, becoming powerful melee units with the ability to fly. 
  • Magic – Zhao Ming has access to a unique selection of spells from the Lores of Yang and Metal. 
  • Warding Iron – The Iron Dragon’s near-invulnerability can be passed on to his nearby troops for a short time. 

Grand Cathay Lords 

Dragon-blooded Shugengan Lord 

While relatively rare, the ancient nature of the Dragon siblings means their many own progeny now exist within Grand Cathay. They often rise to positions of power, not least out of respect for their heritage, but also due to the power that comes from being a part of the family. The Dragon-blooded, as they are known, are inevitably skilled combatants, natural sorcerers, and talented leaders. As you can imagine, their lineage can be a source of some jealousy and resentment from high-ranking mortals, especially when the Dragon-blooded allow their abilities to develop into arrogance. 

As the magic-wielders of Grand Cathay, the Dragon-blooded fight with either the lore of Yang or the lore of Yin. Each takes its power from the Celestial Dragon Emperor and is a unique school passed down through the ages. 

The lore of Yang focuses on buffing allies with resolute belief or disrupting enemies with walls of wind. In particularly dire situations it can also unleash mighty explosions upon the enemy, bringing with it the power of the Celestial Dragon Emperor himself. Their spells are… 

  • Jade Shield 
  • Dragon’s Breath 
  • Wall of Wind & Fire 
  • Stone Ground Stance 
  • Might of Heaven & Earth 
  • Constellation of the Dragon 

The lore of Yin is a more esoteric school, with the power to reflect projectiles or summon the ghosts of the dead to assist in battle. Those who practice it can shield their allies behind obfuscation and remove foes in the dead of night. Their spells are… 

  • Storm of Shadows 
  • Cloak of Jet 
  • Missile Mirror 
  • Blossom Wind 
  • Talons of Night 
  • Ancestral Warriors 

Mounts: Warhorse or Jade Longma 

Lord Magistrate 

Be they generals or lords of one of Grand Cathay’s gargantuan cities, Magistrates are some of the best the Empire has to offer. While not the greatest single combatants of their nation, they are expert commanders, inspiring and directing their troops with the skill and efficiency that comes only from years of experience in real battles. If they are engaged, they are melee warriors capable of holding their own against most enemies. 

In particularly large engagements, Magistrates may ride aboard a Sky Lantern, commanding their troops from above with a more strategic view of the battlefield. It also, as you can imagine, keeps them somewhat out of harm’s way – a priority for some, if not all. Their true strength lies in their ability to bring the best of Grand Cathay to the fore, vastly increasing the bonuses received by troops working in Harmony with one another. 

Mounts: Warhorse or Sky Lantern 

Grand Cathay Heroes 

Alchemist 

The lores of Yin and Yang are not the only magics practiced in Grand Cathay, though they are the most favoured. Alchemists gravitate to the Iron Dragon in the West and the city of Shang-Yang precisely because he is uncommonly accepting of their talents and practices. Over the years this has grown into a powerful cabal that often sees its members hired by generals all over the empire, as their capabilities are far beyond that of most mortals. 

Their potions imbue them with spells from the Lore of Metal, as well as giving them unique buffs that can be applied to themselves or nearby units, providing massive bonuses to attack or armour.  

Mount: Warhorse 

Astromancer 

Astromancers are the accepted Sorcerers of Grand Cathay, practicing the Celestial Dragon Emperor’s favoured lore of Heavens and harnessing it to an expert level thanks to the natural affinity between their leader and the Azyr wind. After more than five thousand years of perfecting the art, they are quite adept, and only more so when riding to battle aboard the Wu Xing War Compass. 

Mounts: Warhorse or Wu Xing War Compass 

Grand Cathay Units

Grand Cathay Infantry 

Peasant Long Spearmen 

The backbone of Grand Cathay is its people, and they are numerous beyond count. While the Celestial Dragon Emperor is wise and his children are benevolent leaders to the people under their command, they understand with the detachment of immortality that the one thing they will always have is more bodies. More men and women to man the battlements, more fighters to hold the line, more defenders to make the forces arrayed against them fight for every inch. 

Thus, the least-trained armies of Grand Cathay are still a power to be reckoned with through sheer force of numbers. Unlike the hired soldiers or lower classes of other factions, the Warriors of Wind & Field, as they are known, feel a fierce loyalty to their cause and the Dragons that watch over them. They may buckle and even break, but they know their role. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Like all melee units, Peasant Long Spearmen are Yang-aligned, increasing their Leadership and Melee Defense when within close proximity to a Yin unit. 
  • Their long spears give them fantastic charge defense when bracing, making them a suitable anti-cavalry and anti-large force. 
  • As noted, the endless ranks of Grand Cathay are expendable and expected to flee from battle when facing more than they can handle. Finishing the fight is the work of more disciplined troops. 

Jade Warriors 

The Jade Warriors are Grand Cathay’s line troops. They are the standing army, expertly trained and well equipped to defend from Ogres, rebels, Chaos, or anything else that might come wandering in from the West and North. Each city maintains its own regiment of Jade Warriors, and few make their home outside of one of the metropolises that dot the landscape of Grand Cathay. 

In times of war, they will head to battle armed in numerous possible ways, collectively known as the Warriors of Jade & Steel. The ranged firepower of Grand Cathay is what breaks the enemy, but the Jade Warriors, so named for the Celestial Dragon Emperor’s sacred stone must hold the line and cut down enemies who think them weak. 

Variants: 

  • Sword & Shield 
  • Halberd 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Long trained to defend Grand Cathay against the relentless assaults from beyond the Grand Bastion, Jade Warriors adopt a Defensive Stance when immobile, making them harder to charge and kill. 
  • This builds as they remain that way, taking the lay of the land and bedding in to fend off the next attack, further increasing their charge resistance and armour. 
  • While the Halberd-wielding variant is unable to block missile fire due to the lack of shields, it is no less adept at bedding in to take a charge head-on and destroy any force foolish enough to challenge them. 

Celestial Dragon Guard 

Grand Cathay’s elite soldiers are officially the legion of the Dragon Emperor, his loyal defenders. As the Eastern Empire has expanded, more and more Dragon Guard have been added to the Celestial Host, which now numbers enough that they can be dispatched to battlefields all over the East. Their arrival represents an exponential increase in power for the army, not least for the morale boost it gives the soldiers to see such a direct connection to their Emperor. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Wielding Halberds, they are natural opponents to the armoured and the massive, as capable of spearing a beast from the Chaos Wastes as a man from his horse. 
  • However, as the most well-trained units in Grand Cathay, they are capable of defending against charges from anything – be it Chaos Warrior or Skaven Slave. 
  • They are superior to their brothers in the Jade Warriors in every way but one – there are, simply, less Celestial Dragon Guard out there. 

Grand Cathay Missile Infantry 

Peasant Archers 

Archery is considered a noble and useful pastime in Grand Cathay, and young girls are especially encouraged to follow the path of the Moon Empress into ranged combat. Thus, even the lowest in society will have a well-maintained bow within their household and be more than capable of drawing it to defend their home. Naturally, however, they are not particularly well equipped, and are more deterrent than professionals. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • As with any ranged unit among Cathayan armies, Peasant Archers are Yin-aligned, receiving bonuses when close to Yang units. 
  • Also expendable, though slightly less expected to be in the thick of things, as an archer. 
  • However, despite their mighty number and decent training, the gear of the peasantry is simply unlikely to cause much damage to heavily armoured foes. 

Iron Hail Gunners 

The closest we can get to an Old World shotgun, the Iron Hail Gun is a short-range blunderbuss that can rip through almost anything if positioned correctly. The gunners themselves are lightly armoured, making them vulnerable if surprised and quite the glass cannon of a unit. However, should they bring their guns to bear even for a moment, nevermind a sustained period, it spells doom for even the heaviest warriors. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • The strength of gunpowder gives these units a heavy, armour-piercing punch when they line up a shot. 
  • Their range is much shorter than either archers or crossbowmen elsewhere in the army. 
  • However, this can be quite an advantage when used to keep them in a useful position for Harmony and still pumping out heavy damage. 

Crane Gunners 

The mighty Crane Gun requires two people to lift, set up, and fire. One is positioned at the trigger, ready to sight and shoot anything in a massive range. The other carries the tower shield on which the gun rests, steadying the shooter as well as providing built-in cover. It is a specialist device for the highly trained, but it can be devastatingly effective when properly employed. Range and precision are nothing to scoff at, especially if they are pointed at your head. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Save artillery, will outrange anything on the battlefield, acting as effective snipers. 
  • Their armour-piercing rounds and heavy shields make them a unique and difficult unit for enemies to deal with, especially if unprepared. 
  • Two people for the price of one – bargain. 

Jade Warrior Crossbowmen 

Crossbowmen are the ranged backbone of the Grand Cathayan army, assigned to Jade Warriors and Dragon Guard who show an aptitude for shooting rather than stabbing. While Grand Cathay brings powerful magics and giant machinery to war, it is less ever-present in their armies than other factions. Sorcerers are an important, precious resource, while the construction required for a lantern or War Compass may be beyond the poorer cities. 

The crossbow is as close to industrialised production as the hand-crafted weapons in Grand Cathay get, though there will still be subtle differences between the direction of one master artificer and another. This makes the Jade Warriors equipped with crossbows a mainstay of city defence, entrusted to outrange their opponents and defeat them before they get within striking distance. 

Variants: 

  • Crossbow 
  • Crossbow & Shield 

Notable characteristics: 

  • While their armour weighs them down slightly, they will defeat a peasant archer in all other areas. 
  • That increased armour, especially when further improved with a shield, makes them difficult for other ranged units to trade with effectively. 
  • While not a melee troop, will happily survive and even defeat lesser foes in the midst of a close-range engagement. 

Celestial Dragon Crossbowmen 

When the Celestial Host – the combined name for the various sections of the Dragon Guard – makes war, it does so in style and with power. The Dragon Crossbows are repeating powerhouses, with armour-piercing bolts to rip through almost anything and fierce training to keep up the fire. Shielded, with the best armour in Grand Cathay, very little can stand up to a hail of bolts from these troops. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Crane Gunners will outrange and outdamage them, the Celestial Dragon Guard are hardier and more powerful in all forms of warfare. 
  • Shields keep them protected, while the power of the crossbows makes their bolts armour-piercing. 
  • While not a true hybrid, are also more than capable of holding their own in battle. 

Grand Cathay Cavalry & Chariots 

Peasant Horsemen 

As they are everywhere in the world, the horse is the most common steed and beast of burden in Grand Cathay. Plenty of the peasantry learn to ride as part of their duties and carrying goods or information across the great distances of the nation is tantamount to its survival. Thus, when called to war, many can mount up and act as scouts or harrying attackers for larger armies. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • The fastest Cathayan unit that can’t fly. 
  • Will deploy ahead of the main army to scout and act as a Vanguard. 
  • Like foot melee units, cavalry belong to the Yang harmony. 

Jade Lancers 

Put a Jade Warrior, with all their training, all their armour, and all their power on a horse, and this is what you get. Grand Cathay’s mainstay cavalry is a hard-hitting, well-armoured force. Often the Jade Lancers are part of scouting groups that head beyond the Great Bastion to break up and destroy Chaos tribes in the region before they can gather their power and be a threat. Doing so is as dangerous as it is necessary. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • Slower but heavier than standard Horsemen, Jade Lancers will deal extreme damage to infantry formations they crash into. 
  • They are also great on the defense, heavily armoured with shields to protect themselves further. 
  • Conforming to Grand Cathay’s defensive nature, they are far hardier than other faction’s cavalry of a similar sort. 

Great Longma Riders 

Dragon-blooded who are yet to rise to their own prominence or prefer a place within the Celestial Host for the honour it brings often become Great Longma Riders. Flying to battle alongside other elements of the Celestial Host, they are the solution to endless problems on the battlefield, from enemy flyers to the hardiest of ground troops. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • While Grand Cathay is often focused on dealing damage from afar, anything in the way of the Great Longma Riders is unlikely to survive for long. 
  • Their speed, the power of their charge, and the strength of their armour is unmatched. 
  • Such is the strength of the Longma charge that enemies have been known to flee in fear before they are even beaten. 

Grand Cathay Constructs 

Terracotta Sentinel 

Grand Cathay’s ancient protectors, the Terracotta Sentinels are remnants of an era long past, when the Celestial Dragon Emperor was an active leader in the nation’s armies. Tales of their creation range from the believable to the legendary, that each was a personally-blessed soldier of the Dragon Emperor in a great army to fend off Chaos in its earliest years.  

True or not, they stand sentinel all over Cathay, often silent and still for centuries, overlooking paddy fields or partially submerged in rivers, or even as stanchions in the Great Bastion itself. But the light within will burn and the statue will finally move if summoned to a nearby threat. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • The ultimate in Cathayan defense of their settlements and armies, laying waste to anything unlucky enough to make contact with it. 
  • Truly alien to most of the armies of the world and either impossibly massive or an ancient enemy, it causes deep terror in the hearts of any who array against it. 
  • As happy destroying Steam Tanks and city gates as it is laying waste to enemy armies. 

Grand Cathay Flying War Machines 

Sky Lantern 

Sky Lanterns serve dual purpose on the battlefield. They are often crewed by magistrates or other commanders that can oversee and direct the troops below, using a complex system of fans and smoke. However, they are also crewed by four Crane Gunners, sitting in an armoured carriage held aloft by the balloon, itself in place thanks to an ever-burning Vermillion Warbird. It is generally agreed they have a lot more fun than their land-locked cousins. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • While glacially slow to move around the battlefield, it provides a much-needed vantage point for troops below, allowing them to spot enemies hiding in foliage and giving them a morale boost. 
  • The crane gunners are truly deadly – nothing is between them and their targets, they do not have to stop to fire, and they can see all from above. 
  • As flying units armed with gunners, both this and the Sky Junk are Yin-aligned. 

Sky-Junk 

The Sky-Junk is more warship than a simple battlefield unit. Its humongous size supports great guns that project shrapnel at oncoming hordes, wiping out whole battlelines. Within the armoured carrier beneath the main balloon are a host of bombs ready to be dropped on those below. During times of great danger fleets of Sky-Junks are seen floating from the Great Bastion, moving steadily towards the latest threat and fully intending to wipe it out. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • A larger and more deadly Sky Lantern, packed with soldiers that spew fire rain rockets at enemies. 
  • Can drop makeshift bombs from above on unsuspecting foes, dealing massive damage. 
  • Slow and near-useless once out of ammunition, the Sky-Junk is nevertheless an incredibly valuable addition to the battlefield, if used right. 

Grand Cathay Artillery & War Machines 

Grand Cannon 

Oxen carry the artillery of Grand Cathay to war, pulling these guns to battle from the city walls and Great Bastion they usually inhabit. More suited to firing from on-high, these cannons will still rip apart anything they gain sighting on but benefit greatly from smartly used terrain. Shaped like dragons and belching flaming projectiles, they are not a subtle representation of Grand Cathay’s power. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • While being Grand Cathay’s most basic form of artillery, they still pack a huge punch, more than capable of toppling monsters or city walls. 
  • The flaming, armour-piercing projectiles will make short work of smaller foes placed in their path. 
  • The Oxen pulling it are pretty cute, all told – and make it, and other Cathayan artillery, more mobile than counterparts from other factions. 

Wu-Xing War Compass 

Perhaps the oddest part of Grand Cathay’s armoury to an outsider, this miniaturised version of the great Compass engraved into the floor of the Celestial Court high above Wei-jin is a powerful tool for manipulation of the Elemental Winds. Imbued with the power of the Heavens and intricately designed as a weapon of war, meteors and lightning storms are summoned in its wake. While expensive to build and maintain, they are a truly unique weapon. 

Notable characteristics: 

  • A mounted spellcaster with access to unique, long-range spells that deal extreme damage to enemy formations. 
  • More than capable of tearing up the ground and crashing headlong into enemy forces – making it a Yang-aligned unit, but one with significant ranged prowess. 
  • Regains its own power with increased speed thanks to control over the elemental winds. 

Fire Rain Rocket 

The ultimate in ranged firepower for the armies of Grand Cathay, these rocket launchers spray the battlefield with deadly, explosive projectiles. Vital for pitched battles as well as taking or defending settlements, their rockets equally effective against almost all targets and the arc of their fire easily penetrating enemy walls. While the impact is widespread at long-range, this is only more effective against massed legions of enemies. 

Notable characteristics 

  • Has an inferior range but greatly improved firepower over the Grand Cannon. 
  • Left to its own devices and placed near a melee unit to increase reload speed through Yin harmony, Fire Rain Rockets will happily wipe out whole formations. 
  • Both Cathayan artillery pieces have a higher than usual number of support staff on-hand, making them that much harder to wipe out if caught. 

There you have it – the massed forces of Grand Cathay, ready to defend the world from Chaos. What takes your fancy, or which units are you particularly worried about as you push on the Great Bastion?

Copyright (C) Games Workshop Ltd 2021