Balthasar Gelt is still the same old wizard lord you’ve known since the first Total War: Warhammer game. However, the golden wiz has got something new in-store, and it’s not a shiny mask he bought in a shop. It’s an entirely new faction and province, as well as major reworks to the Empire’s mechanics in Total War: Warhammer 2. Maybe it’s time for the Supreme Patriarch to reign supreme in Mortal Empires, eh?
Note: The Empire rework is part of a free update that coincided with the release of Total War: Warhammer 2‘s The Hunter & The Beast DLC. For more about that offering, you can check out our guides and features hub.
Balthasar Gelt and his mini Empire: The Golden Order
The first thing you’ll notice once you start your Total War: Warhammer 2 Mortal Empires campaign is that there are a number of new settlements and provinces now. As part The Hunter & The Beast‘s free update, the Old World has also become a lot more vibrant. Balthasar Gelt remains part of the Empire, but he now leads a sub-faction called The Golden Order based off the province of Solland and the provincial capital of Pfeildorf.
You’ll have to contend with a couple of Greenskin minor factions right from the start. They can be easily managed. Just take note of the fort nearby if it gets occupied. Fort provinces only have one settlement (which means you can quickly enact a commandment), though they don’t generate income. For the most part, you’ll just be upgrading their garrisons.
Close by are other potential friends (and obvious enemies) such as Averland, Stirland, the Vampire Counts, Templehof, and the von Carstein factions. You can focus on rebuilding and strengthening the Empire via the overhauled mechanics as you venture further south to expand your domains.
Balthasar Gelt’s capabilities
As for Balthasar Gelt’s own capabilities as the Supreme Patriarch of the College of Magic in Total War: Warhammer 2? Well, he’s mostly still the same old Gelt you’ve gotten used to since the first Total War: Warhammer game. The change of scenery pits you closer to the Greenskin and Vampiric threats, allowing Balthasar Gelt to test his mettle against new foes earlier than usual.
You can rack up a number of kills during battles, but it’d require some decent spellcasting and luck. Searing Doom is great against unit blobs, so you’d want an infantry unit to bear the brunt of the damage first before casting it on multiple enemies clustered around it. Gehenna’s Golden Hounds can be wonky at times especially if the summoned hounds end up moving in the opposite direction.
Final Transmutation remains Balthasar Gelt’s deadliest spell, so use it when you can especially when facing off against stronger packed units. Combine all of the above with the Plague of Rust to lower enemy armor in a wide area and you’ve got a deadly debuff — just be sure to take skill upgrades that help improve your spellcasting capabilities and Winds of Magic reserves.
Total War: Warhammer 2’s Empire Overhaul
Along with The Hunter & The Beast‘s free update is a major rework for the Empire as a whole. Remember when diplomacy and confederation used to be as easy as sending a lot of gold and telling an Elector Count to join your faction every few turns or so? Now, that’s no longer the case. Instead, you’ll have to focus on Imperial Authority, Prestige, and Fealty as new “resources” or campaign mechanics to manage.
Imperial Authority represents the cohesion and unity of the various Elector Counts as a whole. At level zero, growth becomes stunted. At even lower levels, things get worse and it may lead to civil war with various Elector Counts declaring war on you. Ideally, you’d want to keep Imperial Authority at level 1 and higher all the time. This becomes extremely important especially when you try to confederate down the line.
Imperial Authority is gained via:
- reinstating Elector Counts (should they be replaced)
- political events
- prevented civil war
- returning Empire-owned settlements
Imperial Authority is lost via:
- Elector Count’s faction destroyed
- political events
- declaring war on an Elector Count
- razing an Empire province’s capital
Prestige and Electoral Machinations
Prestige, meanwhile, represents just how much other Elector Counts venerate you with respect and awe, so much so that you can use your own Prestige to bolster relationships or hamper them.
Prestige is gained via:
- construction of buildings
- political events
- winning battles
- looting settlements
Prestige is lost via:
- political events
- Electoral Machinations
Electoral Machinations are the actions you undertake that allow you to manipulate the relationships between other Elector Counts or with your own faction. For instance, you could opt to increase Karl Franz’s/Reikland’s diplomatic relationship with Boris Todbringer of Middenheim, or you can set them at each others’ throats. This would cost a bit of Prestige each time, and it’ll increase the Prestige cost of committing to the action the more you use it.
Note: Total War: Warhammer 2 players would notice that this is akin to the High Elves’ Intrigue system.
Apart from Imperial Authority and Prestige, you also need to worry about Fealty if you wish to confederate with other Elector Counts in the Empire.
Fealty is gained via:
- having positive Imperial Authority
- technology researched (the “Runefang Pact” tech increases the Fealty of all Elector Counts by +1)
- allowed the expansion of an Elector Count
- reinstating an Elector Count (should they be replaced)
- defending settlements when prompted
- returning settlements
- high diplomatic relations
- political events
Fealty is lost via:
- demanding settlements
- declined to defend settlement when prompted
- not returning a settlement that previously belonged to an Empire sub-faction
- declaring war on an Elector Count
- negative Imperial Authority (Fealty has a chance to decrease; this chance rises each turn and the percentage value is also dependent on how low Imperial Authority is)
- low diplomatic relations
- political events
Summon the Elector Counts!
Controlling the capital of one of the Empire’s provinces allows you to nominate a new Elector Count. Likewise, you’ll also gain a couple of benefits:
- The province’s Runefang – These are unique blades of distinction with their respective perks and bonuses.
- The State Troops of that province/Elector Count – These are unbelievably stronger than their regular unit counterparts, although they’re limited in recruitment numbers and they’re also more expensive. You’ll be able to recruit more after a few turns.
At the start of Total War: Warhammer 2‘s Mortal Empires campaign, there are 11 active Elector Counts and two more provinces that can join the Empire: The Wasteland and Sylvania. You’ll have to take out their capitals (Marienburg and Castle Drakenhof respectively), then appoint a new Elector Count to consider these lands as part of the Empire once more. That’s the only time when the above mechanics (Fealty and Prestige/political machinations) become available for these provinces and Elector Counts.
When Fealty is at level zero, an Elector Count might attempt to secede and declare war. At level 10 (max), an Elector Count will offer to confederate. Their lands and armies will be yours, and you can assign any of your lords to become the Elector Count for that province. Who knows? You might even get a chance to obtain Gotrek & Felix (even if you don’t have the White Dwarf code) if they somehow ended up recruited by an Empire leader that you’ve just confederated.
One more thing of importance: Confederation will reduce Imperial Authority by -3 points. Let’s just say things will be tough for Balthasar Gelt during Total War: Warhammer 2‘s Mortal Empires campaign. That’d be a guaranteed drop in Fealty for other lords as well if you don’t have a high enough Imperial Authority. As such, you’ll need to be on the lookout for the various dilemmas presented by random political events.
Note 1: It’s possible for Balthasar Gelt and any other Empire legendary lord to confederate with The Hunter & The Beast‘s Markus Wulfhart (and Wulfhart can do the same) through normal means. Since the territories of Wulfhart’s faction (The Huntsmarshal’s Expedition) aren’t nominal provinces of the Empire — and he’s not an Elector Count — you won’t need to undergo the reworked Empire and confederation mechanics. Pray to Sigmar that he’s still around by the time to reach Lustria, give him gold, and be nice.
Note 2: If by some chance you end up getting Gotrek & Felix, do not make Gotrek an Elector Count. If he leaves, as intended, you can lose access to the Runefang.
Political Events and Dilemmas
These events will fire randomly every now and then. Some will increase your Imperial Authority at the cost of 1,000 Prestige, so you’ll want to make sure that you always have 1,000 Prestige or more all the time.
Other political events/dilemmas that you should also watch out for would be those that increase Fealty. One such event lets you increase the Fealty of one lord while lowering that of another — such as +1 Fealty for Wissenland, but -1 Fealty for Averland. Look at individual Fealty values especially if you’re prioritizing a lord so that they may offer to confederate.
Another guaranteed way to increase Fealty is by assisting an Elector Count when a political event fires telling you that their settlement is besieged (seen in the image above). You’ll be able to make your decision, pitting you in a battle against an invading army. The armies and units you get (if you choose to come to their defense) might not be to your tastes and you can find yourself at a disadvantage. Even if you lose this battle, you’d still retain the extra point to Fealty. One glaring issue, though, is that it can lead to a malus to your diplomatic relationship if you didn’t have military access as this would count as trespassing.
One notable problem I experienced was when Bretonnia captured Marienburg. My Imperial Authority dropped by one point because it counted as an Elector Count “getting destroyed” even though Marienburg’s ruler wasn’t loyal to the Empire. Another issue I’ve encountered is the lack of any Fealty gains if you return a settlement to an Elector Count. For instance, I captured The Moot from Vlad von Carstein and a prompt allowed me to return it to Stirland. Unfortunately, there was no Fealty increase.
No, confederation is no longer the old process of throwing away cash. Instead, due to the Empire rework and Elector Counts system, it becomes more involved. For the most part, giving money to increase relationships via the diplomacy screen is only for enacting various agreements and getting an extra boost in Fealty. That’s it.
You’d have to consider the reworked mechanics to help you in the long run during Total War: Warhammer 2‘s Mortal Empires campaign. When I say “long run,” that’s no understatement. Given that we’re talking about Mortal Empires, you’re going to be waiting for egregiously lengthy turn times to finish, twiddling your thumbs and hoping you get Sigmar’s RNG to bless you with political events. One can say that the mechanics are refreshing, but, given the current technical issues, they’re also quite time-consuming.
If you really feel belligerent, you could just opt to declare war on some Elector Counts to take over their lands, though you’d suffer the penalties that come with it. You could just wait for an event to fire that lets you side with one lord versus the another, though that just adds another thing that you’re waiting for.
It also bears mentioning that it’s very weird to see Balthasar Gelt and the Golden Order faction being joined by other Elector Counts (including the Emperor himself, Karl Franz) under a splinter banner when you confederate. Instead of retaining the Empire’s colors and standards, everyone just switches to the Golden Order which looks messed up in terms of the lore.
Note: While not related to Balthasar Gelt, another inclusion from the Empire rework is a unique building/landmark for the settlement of Ubersreik. Let’s just say that Markus Wulfhart’s Legendary Hunters aren’t the only nods to Vermintide in Total War: Warhammer 2.
That does it for our Total War: Warhammer 2 guide featuring Balthasar Gelt and the Empire rework. You might’ve noticed that I’ve got Gotrek & Felix in some of my screenshots. If you already have the White Dwarf code or you’d like to see what they bring to the table once the DLC is made available for everyone this October, have a look at our mini-guide right over here.
As mentioned, Balthasar Gelt’s new faction, the Empire rework, and the Elector Counts system for Mortal Empires are all part of Total War: Warhammer 2‘s The Hunter & The Beast free update. You can find that DLC via its Steam store page. We’ve also got our guides and features hub to help you out.