Patch 4.2 Shadows of Change Content Additions – Part 1: Cathay


Total War
February 8 2024

Read Part 2 and 3 here:

Part 2: Tzeentch
Part 3: Kislev

Hi everyone,

I’m Richard Aldridge, Game Director for Total War: WARHAMMER. Today I want to share some news with you on the new content that will be arriving soon for Shadows of Change with Patch 4.2 – free for existing owners, and bolstering the DLC for anyone picking it up post Patch 4.2.

I’ll be covering what you can expect going forward from the Total War: WARHAMMER series, taking a peek behind the curtain as to how we go about planning, creating and making our DLCs, and having a close look at the new additions Grand Cathay will be receiving as a part of Patch 4.2.


Reflecting on Shadows of Change

I’ll cut straight to it, we didn’t give you enough new characters and units to play with at the original release of Shadows of Change.

We believe we can put this right for you, having listened to your feedback these past months to provide you with better and more varied options for your armies. We know that you, our community, are as passionate about the game as we are, and we’re pleased to say that many of your suggestions are being enacted upon.  Not all ideas and requests are possible, though. The Era of Karl Franz is, as you’ve come to expect, a rich and exciting setting for Total War, and we work closely with The Warhammer Studio to ensure that the content for this era of Warhammer is as faithfully represented in our game as possible.

All of the forces featured within the Shadows of Change DLC can look forward to a sizable collection of reinforcements, but we won’t be adding Hag Mothers as Generic Lords, as Mother Ostankya is the only Hag Mother of Kislev. Similarly, the relationship between Gospodars and Ungols is taking a back seat as we look less at the tensions of historic Kislevite culture, and more at what defines Kislev as a unified military force in the Era of Karl Franz.

Similarly, we won’t be adding beaks to Tzaangors, as while this avian characteristic occurs in other Warhammer settings, these elite Gors in the Old World represent those Beastmen who have drawn the eye of the Changer of Ways, rather than a totally separate offshoot breed. But as ever, we aim to ensure that whatever we do add to Total War: WARHAMMER III is as authentic an experience of the world of Warhammer as possible.


What to Expect Moving Forward

Looking to the future, the team and I love the Warhammer universe and want to make as much content for it as possible. Whether that be to add further exciting characters like the Golden Knight, spectacular units and creatures (Yes, I’m looking at you mighty “Hotpot”) or other unexplored lore. We still plan to make many more DLCs for Total War: WARHAMMER III, with some of them like Thrones of Decay following the same premise and composition as Shadows of Change where we will add to and develop three existing races from across the Warhammer world. Accompanied by our patches and updates, this will give us the opportunity to go back to some of your most beloved races and give them some attention.

Below I have laid out what you can expect to see for Shadows of Change and Thrones of Decay in terms of the content and features for these products moving forward.

DLC Content – Shadows of Change & Thrones of Decay

  • 3 Legendary Lords – Each playable in the Realms of Chaos and Immortal Empires campaigns 
  • Unique gameplay mechanics for each Legendary Lord 
  • 3 Legendary Heroes – One per race 
  • 3 Lords – One per race 
  • 3 Heroes – One per race 
  • 5 Units (Infantry/Cavalry/Monsters etc.) per race 
  • 3 Regiments of Renown per race
  • 1 FREELC Character (Aekold Helbrass for Shadows of Change and a Legendary Lord for Thrones of Decay)

Potential Further Content 

  • New Spell Lore* 
  • New Mounts* 
  • New Additional FREELC* 

*Subject to the IP, theming of the DLC, and where applicable

Thank you again for your invaluable feedback since the release of Shadows of Change, and in particular the thoughts on improving the rosters and having parity across the races with the content we are adding as a part of them.

As mentioned above; each race will now have a Legendary Lord, Legendary Hero, Lord, Hero, 5 units and 3 Regiments of Renown. This, we hope, will allow you to lead thematic armies that are better connected to the Legendary Lords in the DLC, add both lower tier troops and big centrepiece monsters and start to fill some of the gaps and needs of the races in the game that you have asked for.

Where possible, with “Further Content” we will also be adding thematic lores of magic, mounts for new and existing characters to make use of, and making some much-requested FREELC where it makes sense (Cough, cough, Katarin’s Sled).

I hope that everything I’ve mentioned above looks much more in line with your own expectations for the DLC, as we move to significantly bridge the gap to our past products like Chaos Dwarfs in what we will offer moving forwards, starting with Shadows of Change.

Now onto the exciting stuff you’ve all come to see.


Grand Cathay Additions

To set the scene, when we went back to look at what we could add to enrich the offering of Grand Cathay in Shadows of Change we focused heavily on the theme that surrounds the Jade Dragon, his Celestial Court. Having his eyes and ears everywhere, having the ability to quickly react and protect his Empire, to be the emperor in all intents and purposes.

This meant plenty of conversations with Games Workshop in looking to find characters and units that best complimented this approach and made sense from a lore perspective. Looking into what we hadn’t included previously in Total War: WARHAMMER III or Shadows of Change quickly helped us fill in some of the gaps in Grand Cathay’s roster, such as with the Gate Master and Celestial Lion. The Lion in particular was something that almost made the cut for the original release of Shadows of Change, so I am super excited to see it now in the roster as both a monstrous unit and a mount option.

But it also got us to look a little further afield too, as you will see with our first-ever Legendary Hero for Grand Cathay – Saytang the Watcher.


Saytang the Watcher, Sentinel of the Heavens (Legendary Hero)

So let me introduce Grand Cathay’s first colossal legendary hero to you. We wanted to add Saytang to move away from what is currently known about Grand Cathay and showcase some of the other inhabitants of this mighty Empire.

Saytang represents an ever-watching protective figure, not dissimilar to Yuan-Bo but as you will see is a fair bit larger. Saytang gives us the opportunity to expand on Grand Cathay’s use of magical constructs, something which is core to this great nation in how it protects itself. Along with giving them devastating long ranged artillery-like potential. Saytang also lends themselves nicely to the connection the Jade Dragon has to the winds of Azyr (Heavens) and the more magical elements of Grand Cathay.


“Known as the guardian of the sky, the heavenly bowman, or commonly to the people of the southern provinces simply the watcher, Saytang is the great sentinel that stands atop the Mountains of Heaven. Towering over other sentinels, Saytang is an imposing sight with its outstretched wings and great stone feathered helm. Those who have witnessed Saytang in battle claim no armour or barrier can turn aside the arrows it fires from its great wind bow, the shafts piercing the ranks of the enemies and even the iron hides of fell beasts. And though Saytang cannot fly in the true sense, its power allows it to leap great distances, even jumping from mountain peak to mountain peak in the defence of the empire.”

—New lore as told by Games Workshop

Above you can see the first step we take when designing and adding content to our DLC’s. Starting with a thumbnail image, it gives us a quick and flexible method to work with Games Workshop in first realising the character or unit. Its job is to get across the scale, flavour, functionality and work required to bring this model to life, but be easily adaptable to suit the needs of the IP and the game before we move onto the next stage of the creation process – the concept art.

When entering the concept stage of the creation process, we are looking to up the visual quality of the model from the thumbnail, adding details, looking at materials and textures to use. This will act as a comprehensive blueprint, to guide our 3D character artists in the creation of the final model for you to play with in game. We also use this as a sounding board for how our animations and designs will work, tweaking the size and scale of body parts to work with the games engine, creating a proxy model to test things out in maximising the fun of each character or creature.

So now you know a little of the process behind how we created our characters, let’s discuss what Saytang is good at doing in game.

Gameplay Overview

Saytang the Watcher is a giant-sized legendary hero, which (disregarding mounted characters) is a rare sight in Total War: WARHAMMER III. Much like the Bone Giant of the Tomb Kings, Saytang uses a giant magical bow to fire artillery-grade projectiles into the enemy lines. Saytang is also relatively strong in close combat, with good defensive stats and the ability to buff other nearby Constructs. Saytang doesn’t fly being a construct, even with those mighty wings, but can jump large distances to close the gap on the enemy.

  • Construct – With the introduction of Saytang into the game, we have re-evaluated the role of Constructs on the Cathay roster. The Terracotta Sentinel and both Guardian Lions are now considered Constructs (with the same rules as the Constructs found on the Tomb Kings roster). Saytang has an ability that synergises with this type of unit.
  • Tough & Heavy – Saytang has a high amount of armour, which enables it to shrug off most attacks from non-armour piercing sources. As a heavier character, Saytang will be able to send smaller entities flying with ease.
  • Giant Bow – Armed with the Wind Bow, Saytang can deliver long range attacks and singular targeted shots with devastating precision.

Gate Master of the Celestial Cities (Hero)

You may have seen the art of this character since the release of Total War: WARHAMMER III, a character which didn’t quite make the final cut. But he is now here to stand tall and add a bit of melee strength to your Grand Cathay frontline.

“Jade Warriors are the profession soldiers of Grand Cathay, and the Gate Master of the Celestial Cities are their leaders. To earn the title of Gate Master a Jade Warrior must have served in the defence of their city, and many are veterans of the empire’s many wars. Like their soldiers, a Gate Master is trained in defensive warfare and how best to defend their city, and as such know how to read the lay of the land before a battle. This can prove useful in enacting the will of their Lord Magistrate, who trusts their Gate Masters above all other officers in their armies.”

Gameplay Overview

The Gate Master is a defensive line-holding hero with hybrid weaponry. Using his abilities, he can buff the defences of nearby troops whilst shooting enemies with his crossbow from behind the main battle line. A fun fact is that the Gate Master is the first hero with a conventional crossbow that we have put into the game (Dark Elf Repeaters not withstanding), which will serve the armies of Cathay well in many different scenarios.

  • Hybrid Combatant – The Gate Master uses a combination of Sword, Shield and Crossbow, making him a very adaptable unit in all forms of combat.
  • Defensive – The Gate Master excels at defensive warfare, with several abilities that buff friendly battle lines.
  • Mounted – When mounted on a warhorse, the Gate Master can quickly move between the battle lines to where he is needed most.


  • Warhorse

Great Moon Bird (Monster & Monstrous Mount)

Continuing the theme of the Celestial Court and to give Grand Cathay some added flying power, we have added the Great Moon Bird as both a monstrous single entity flying unit and as a mount option for a variety of characters to field.

“Favoured of the Empress, the Great Moon Birds are found in the highest peaks of the Mountains of Heaven. They are said to make their nests in the craters of Mannslieb, the silver moon of the Warhammer World, and only fly down to earth when called by either the Empress or the most powerful Astromancers. Fearsome to behold in battle, the Moon Bird are often wreathed in silvery flames – or moon fire – which burns the enemies of the empire who come into contact with it. Powerful lords, especially wizards of the Celestial Court, might even be granted a Moon Bird as a mount, though this is usually only for a short time before the creature once more returns to the heavens.”

Gameplay Overview

Similar to the High Elf Phoenixes, the Great Moon Bird is a magical flying monster with flaming attacks and a powerful AoE vortex ability. Grand Cathay haven’t had any flying single entity monsters in their roster before now, so new strategies will become viable in battle; whether it is providing air-to-air defence for Sky Junks or striking deep into the enemy lines. The Great Moon Bird is also a mount for the Astromancer, which offers them a whole new level of battlefield mobility.

  • Airborne – The Great Moon Bird can fly and traverse otherwise impassable terrain.
  • Moon Fire – By flapping its wings, The Great Moon Bird can produce a vortex of Moon Fire, which damages all enemies caught within its radius.
  • Flaming & Magical – Much like the Arcane Phoenix of the High Elves, the Great Moon Bird can deal both Flaming and Magical Attacks

Mount Option for:  Astromancer


Celestial Lion (Monster & Monstrous Mount)

Probably my favourite model of the new additions to Grand Cathay, the Celestial Lion’s beauty and strength is second to none. Acting as both a single entity monstrous flying unit and a mount option for a variety of characters from Grand Cathay, the Celestial Lion will strike terror into those that stand within its way.

“Winged lions exist in the east, believed to have descended from natural beasts warped during the coming of Chaos to the world. Unlike the fell Manticores of the west, these celestial beasts have been purified by the power of the Dragon Emperor and live within the sacred hunting grounds of the Forests of the Moon. Favoured sorcerers or warriors may be gifted such a creature by the Dragons, riding it into battle and striking fear into the foes of the empire.”

Gameplay Overview

The Celestial Lion is another flying single entity monster for the armies of Cathay to utilise. Similar to a Griffon or Manticore, it is able to provide air support on a budget compared to higher tier units like the Great Moon Bird. The Celestial General can also make use of this beast as a mount.

  • Fast – The Celestial Lion has exceptional ground mobility, making it perfect for harassing tactics or flanking.
  • Airborne – Flying high above the battlefield, the Celestial Lion can traverse otherwise impassable terrain.
  • Fearsome – By utilising its Fearsome Roar ability and the Terror attribute, the Celestial Lion can strike fear into the hearts of nearby enemies.

Mount Option for: Celestial General


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Before I end today, I wanted to cover an omission that you may have been hoping for in Grand Cathay’s roster update; an Elite Core Infantry unit. There is a very good reason for this and trust me we aren’t monkeying about. The first as we explained is on keeping the focus on the Celestial Court and the Jade Dragon. The second being that the Celestial Courts don’t have a unit of this type to add, that said we’ve only just scratched the surface of the possible content we can create for Grand Cathay and as I mentioned earlier, we have plans to support the game with lots of new content for the foreseeable future.

So when can you expect Patch 4.2 and all of its additions to SoC?

Well, the team are still working flat out to have everything ready for release, but we want to be upfront with you that there is a chance that our intended date could shift slightly. This is the true nature of video game development, in spotting those last-minute issues or adding that final polish which can lead to release dates changing.

It’s important to all of us here that we get Patch 4.2 right for you, so we won’t rush it out before it’s ready. As is stands today we’re on track to release in the middle of the month, but like I said, this could shift closer to the end of Feb depending on how the remaining work goes. I’m optimistic, and the team are super energised in getting everything done and ready to put into your hands.

Next week I’ll be back with a deep dive on the additional units coming to Tzeentch, along with confirmation of 4.2’s release date.

Thanks for taking the time to read this – chat to you all next week!


Rich (Game Director) & the Total War: WARHAMMER Team