Both Kislev and Grand Cathay were huge surprises when Total War: Warhammer III was revealed last year. Neither nation has had an official army book and their rosters were never fully fleshed out. In Kislev’s case, there was, at the very least, some lore owing to the nation’s proximity to the Empire. Grand Cathay, however, was more of a mystery due to its location in the far east. That was then. Soon, Total War: Warhammer III players will be able to choose Grand Cathay led by Miao Ying and Zhao Ming, its two legendary lords.
Note: This article is part of our Total War: Warhammer III preview series. You can also take a look at the Daemon Prince/Legion of Chaos and Realm of Chaos mechanics/campaign structure, as well as our interview with Jim Whitson and Mark Sinclair of Creative Assembly.
Total War: Warhammer III preview – Meet Miao Ying and Grand Cathay
In Total War: Warhammer III, Miao Ying is the eldest daughter of Grand Cathay’s Celestial Dragon Emperor. The more gregarious and impulsive Zhao Ming is her brother. The two have other siblings, but they’re the only ones who are playable. Below, you’ll see Miao Ying’s bonuses in the campaign.
- -2 Corruption.
- +10% Leadership when fighting against Daemons of Chaos.
- +20% ammunition for missile units.
- -50% upkeep for missile infantry units.
- +3 Yin Harmony.
Miao Ying rules Northern Cathay and she also commands the armies of the Great Bastion. As the Storm Dragon, she’s able to transform into a mystical creature that harries opponents with water and electricity.
The Caravans of Grand Cathay
Grand Cathay in Total War: Warhammer III has a fairly unique feature in that the faction can send caravans throughout the Ivory Road (the game’s version of the Silk Road). In Miao Ying’s case, caravans will start from your capital in the north and you can set their destination. The further they travel, the more gold they’ll bring back to your base. As such, there are many opportunities to increase your coffers, but grave dangers await.
Caravans act as armies since they have their own units (some even have specializations like Ogre mercenaries). The caravan leaders themselves have their own skill tree, with certain perks that add cargo capacity (i.e., more gold), as well as others that help with shortcut events (i.e., bypass encounters or reach areas faster).
The difference from regular armies is that caravan movement is automated. Moreover, certain provinces have a threat rating. Those with lower hostilities will let caravans pass without issues. But, those with higher threat will usually lead to encounter events. For instance, if you’re passing through lands controlled by Ogres, you’ll have the option to fight or feed them. The former starts a battle, while the latter improves relations but one of the units gets eaten (whoops!).
The Wu Xing Compass
Another feature that you’ll use if you pick a Grand Cathay legendary lord is the Wu Xing Compass. No, this doesn’t determine if a “red” character is better with shock cavalry or if a “blue” character has access to catapults and juggernauts. Rather, it gathers energy to provide beneficial effects. And, if it’s set to a particular direction, you’ll receive boons as well.
For example, the Great Bastion’s boons, which are always active, increase defensive supplies and casualty replenishment rate. If the Wu Xing Compass is further set to that direction, then you’ll receive more buffs, like decreased recruitment costs, lowered threat to the Great Bastion (i.e., weakened Chaos attacks), and the “Celestial Intervention” army ability.
The Great Bastion and Harmony
Two other core mechanics are integral if you wish to achieve success as Grand Cathay and Miao Ying in Total War: Warhammer III. The first is the Great Bastion, a massive wall that protects the heartland of Grand Cathay from Chaos invasions. Keeping the Great Bastion’s threat meter low is imperative, as that means you’ve eliminated serious threats.
At the start of the campaign, Miao Ying is already fighting rebels and Chaos forces near the Snake Gate, and she’ll have an opportunity to shore up the defenses in that region. Naturally, you’ll still be out and about expanding and exploring, all while partaking in the race to reach Ursun past the Realms of Chaos.
The last mechanic is Harmony, which is the balance between Yin and Yang. Lords, building chains, technologies, and units all have a Yin or Yang value. The idea is to keep everything at harmonious levels, right down the middle, to obtain positive effects. If you go further in one direction, then you’ll incur penalties to its counterpart. A good example would be choosing between two mutually exclusive buildings in your settlement. If you have too many Yang-type buildings, then the penalties to Yin buildings will be more severe. The same also applies to your armies when you have Yin and Yang units.
All in all, Grand Cathay looks like an interesting and fleshed-out faction in the campaign. The territories are significantly more eye-catching due to the aesthetics and themes (you’d be reminded of Total War: Three Kingdoms). You also have a lot of ranged and gunpowder units, so keep them strengthened as you stand as a bulwark of civilization against the tide of darkness.
In any case, you can check out the rest of our Total War: Warhammer III preview series as we wait for the official launch on February 17. We delved into the Daemon Prince/Legion of Chaos faction and the Realms of Chaos/campaign structure. Likewise, we spoke with Jim Whitson and Mark Sinclair of Creative Assembly regarding their vision and future plans for the game.