Who is Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon?

Total War: WARHAMMER III

Ben Barrett
September 28 2021

Welcome back to TotalWar.com and our introduction series for the legendary lords of Total War: WARHAMMER III. Today is the turn of Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, and ruler of the Grand Cathayan Western Provinces. He joins his sister, Miao Ying, as our two launch legendary lords for Grand Cathay and the world’s introduction to the people of the eastern Empire. Once again, Andy Hall will take us through the basics and subtleties of the Iron Dragon.

We’ve already been introduced to the Storm Dragon to the North – what makes the Iron Dragon in the West different?

Location is the most obvious. While Miao Ying defends the Great Bastion towards the roof of the world, Zhao Ming rules the Western Provinces and the mighty city of Shang-Yang – seen as a gateway to the West (or East, if you’re coming the other way). Many trade caravans leave Cathay from Zhao’s domain, and should they be successful he will reap the wealth and prestige. Which is particularly important to the Iron Dragon as he is not as beloved by his father as his older sister, although rumours say the Moon Empress has a soft spot for her son.

While Miao Ying is facing off against the hordes of Chaos in the Wastes, the Iron Dragon’s neighbours are a varied collection of Greenskins, Ogres, Skaven, and more besides – how does he deal with these disparate factions?

Well, he starts off his campaign in a bit of a pickle to be honest. The Skaven in the desert are acting up and there are even rumours of rebellion – could the two be connected? Even so, he is a Dragon, a force to be reckoned with, and commands an impressive following. The cabals of Metal Wizards are welcomed within his realm, much to the irritation of the Jade Dragon who sees the encouragement of sorcerous organizations outside of the Celestial Court as dangerous to the empire. These sorcerers help the Iron Dragon in his experiments, and many magical weapons and armour are forged in the Dragon’s cities.

Talking of which, can you tell us more about Shang-Yang?

It is the largest city in the west, a bustling metropolis full of foreign traders despite its location in the middle of the Warpstone Desert. At times it has come under threat from the armies of Hobgoblins or Ogre raiders from the Mountains of Mourn but has fended them off due to the Iron Dragon’s formidable presence. Over the last few centuries Shang-Yang has become the end of a thread connecting Cathay to the Old World, and Estalians, Tileans and Empire travellers and ambassadors all have permanent quarters within the city. It also draws the aforementioned cabals, who use the city as a base for their expeditions into the desert – some never return. Others come back loaded with exotic ores that end up in the forges, with the Iron Dragon as enthusiastic as any of the other Alchemists to begin experimenting.

So, the Iron Dragon is also an accomplished alchemist and blacksmith?

Very much so, he is as skilled an artisan as those drawn to him since he has had a Dragon’s lifespan to perfect such expertise and research the mysteries of arcane metallurgy. The strange elements found in the Warpstone Desert have only deepened Zhao’s fascination and understanding of alchemy but has also led to some unfair accusations from his siblings…     

Yes, what are these rumours?

His brothers and sisters perpetuate that his centuries in the Warpstone Desert have affected his mind. But this is pure slander, I say! They are Dragons, cold-blooded and detached from the mortals they rule, where the Iron Dragon will share a jape, or even a drink with his followers. Such mortal behaviour inspires loyalty within his legions but makes him stand apart from his kin. They don’t understand it and so smear him… although, maybe we can’t fully rule out the effects of living so close to the Great Maw.

In any case, even if his siblings look upon him with suspicion, the Moon Empress is very fond of her son and will shield him from ire when the family assemblies become less than harmonic!  

Thanks, Andy.

Which Grand Cathayan Legendary Lord takes your fancy? Would you rather defend the north or the west, and what will you do about your brothers and sisters? The choices will be yours with WARHAMMER III in early 2022.