It’s been already a month since the release of Total War: Warhammer 3 and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to take each of the game’s eight playable factions for a test drive. Although I have enjoyed my time with all of them, I will say that some Warhammer 3 factions are definitely better than others. Much better.
With that in mind, I decided to put together a little ranked list to help new players figure out which factions to play and which factions to avoid at this stage in the game’s life cycle.
I took a number of factors into consideration when ranking all the Warhammer 3 factions. Including the unit rosters, legendary lords, unique gameplay mechanics, difficulty, and perhaps most importantly, the fun factor. Total War: Warhammer 3 released in a less than ideal state and there have been many complaints regarding the campaign, but you can still have fun with the game regardless. At least with certain factions.
Until CA releases the equivalent of Mortal Empires for Warhammer 3 we’ll just have to make do with what we have. As far as the performance is concerned, the devs already released two patches and there are more on the way.
Until further fixes arrive, you can boost your performance by following our Warhammer 3 optimization guide.
Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, join us as we go over all the Warhammer 3 factions ranked from worst to best.
Nurgle is in a pretty tough spot at the moment. The faction has some of the most unique mechanics in Total War: Warhammer 3, however, it also has some of the worst units in the game. Nurgle’s armies are comprised almost entirely of monstrous units and (very) slow-moving infantry. Both of which are extremely vulnerable to missiles and artillery fire.
Playing as the Poxmakers of Nurgle is actually pretty fun during the early game. There aren’t a ton of hostile factions to worry about and you’re able to recruit very powerful units right off the bat without having to construct any buildings. You’ll want to hang on to those units, though, because it may take a while before you are able to recruit more.
Nurgle units are some of the most expensive out of all Warhammer 3 factions and you can expect your economy to be terrible for a good chunk of the game. Same with your growth. This is a deliberate design choice since Nurgle is all about the circle of life and pretty much everything follows a cyclical pattern.
Once you construct a building, it will progressively grow and unlock access to better units before it starts to decay and limit you to low-tier units again. The entire process then repeats itself. Recruiting units is very convenient since you can summon them instantly wherever you are on the map. But you’ll have to wait for the appropriate building cycle if you want to make the most out of the recruitment process.
Warhammer 3’s fast-paced and hectic campaign feels brutal for turtling factions like Nurgle. Combine that with the underwhelming roster and insane unit prices and it’s easy to see why Nurgle is currently the weakest faction in Total War: Warhammer 3.
Daemons of Chaos
The Daemons of Chaos announcement CA made back in January came as a surprise to a lot of people. In addition to a faction that incorporates units from all four Chaos Gods, we also got a highly customizable legendary lord for the first time in a Total War: Warhammer game. Not just that but the Daemons of Chaos campaign is one of the most important ones in terms of storytelling as it picks up immediately after the Prologue.
On paper, the Daemons of Chaos sounds like one of the best Warhammer 3 factions. So why am I ranking it so low? Well, in the wise words of Thanos, “reality is often disappointing.” Both the customizable faction leader and the faction itself are weaker than I expected.
For starters, the legendary lord doesn’t have a traditional skill tree and isn’t able to equip regular items. Instead, throughout the game you’ll unlock a variety of body parts that you can mix and match as you see fit. While it’s cool to see the Daemon Prince constantly change his appearance as you equip him with new body parts, the parts themselves generally have pretty bad stats and abilities.
Meanwhile, your armies won’t get particularly strong either because the faction doesn’t provide any bonuses to units. And neither does the Daemon Prince, except for unlockable bonuses that take a while to acquire.
And you can forget about creating versatile armies right off the bat. To recruit units pertaining to a certain Chaos god, you’ll first need to dedicate a settlement to said god. You won’t be able to create true Chaos Undivided armies until after you conquer and develop at least four settlements. Which is easier said than when you consider that the Daemons of Chaos have by far one of the most difficult starting positions.
The Seducers of Slaanesh will be a very hit-or-miss faction for a lot of people because it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s definitely a lot to love about this faction but there are also quite a few things to dislike. Especially in the current state of the game.
Let’s start with the positives. Slaanesh is one of the strongest Warhammer 3 factions in terms of raw damage output. You have a lot of hard-hitting units to work with. And N’kari can become an absolute beast in battle with the proper skills and equipment. In addition, you can seduce enemy units and have them fight by your side, albeit only temporarily.
As far as gameplay mechanics go, they’re very lore accurate and largely revolve around diplomacy. You start off with a +20 bonus towards your diplomatic relations with most other factions and have various tools that will allow you to quickly start forming alliances with almost anyone you want. In time, you’ll also have the opportunity to vassalize a lot of factions and have them do your dirty work for you.
Now let’s talk about the negatives. First off, while Slaanesh units are indeed strong, they’re the very definition of a glass cannon. A lot of your units can melt in seconds if you pick the wrong engagement. Or if you’re not paying close attention to them.
The faction is also very micro-intensive, relying heavily on cavalry and chariot units, which must be constantly taken in and out of combat. Unfortunately, these are precisely the types of units that have a tendency to get stuck when you least expect it. As you might imagine, that can lead to a lot of problems.
To make matters worse, Slaanesh has a difficult time winning auto-resolve battles. This means you’ll have to manually fight battles more often than other Warhammer 3 factions. And you can expect to get dragged into a lot of wars by the many vassals you’ll acquire during the campaign.
Once Immortal Empires launches, Slaanesh will likely become a very powerful faction. But as it stands, the faction feels tedious to veterans of the series and almost impossible to recommend to new players.
Grand Cathay is a bit different from other Total War: Warhammer 3 factions because it was based only partially on the tabletop. Although present in the lore, Grand Cathay was never made into a full-fledged playable faction in the tabletop game. Creative Assembly had to design a lot of things from scratch when creating the faction and they did a pretty good job with it overall. However, there are certain elements that could have been done better.
Grand Cathay is one of only three Warhammer 3 factions that give you access to multiple legendary lords. In this case, you have Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, and her brother Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon. Despite being siblings, the two couldn’t be more different from each other.
Miao Ying starts off right next to the Great Bastion, a massive wall that separates Grand Cathay from the Chaos Wastes. Essentially, Warhammer’s version of the Great Wall of China. In addition to having to deal with Chaos rifts just like everybody else, Miao Ying also has to safeguard the Great Bastion against invading demonic armies. Which is no small feat when you also have to manage caravans and keep an eye on the harmony mechanic.
Zhao Ming’s starting position is far easier than that of his sister. He doesn’t have to worry about the Great Bastion, and managing caravans is very fun with his faction. In addition, he has fewer enemy factions to deal with in the early game and is guaranteed to get at least one magic item after every battle. He has a couple of other nice bonuses, too.
Grand Cathay has a very balanced unit roster that includes everything from infantry and archers to cavalry and artillery. They also get an awesome construct to top it all off. However, outside of the Terracotta Sentinel and one of the artillery pieces, there are no standout units here.
Most Grand Cathay units are pretty average on their own because they are meant to complement each other. The faction’s harmony mechanic assigns either a yin or a yang sign to each unit and you’ll need to maintain a good balance between them if you want to get the most out of your armies. This mechanic also extends to buildings and other aspects of the game.
The harmony mechanic is pretty interesting at first but will likely get on your nerves after a while. Especially during Miao Ying’s campaign where you already have a lot on your plate.
Ogres feel a bit out of place in a game that centers heavily around demons and humans. But if you ignore the fact that their presence within the campaign doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, the Ogre Kingdoms are quite fun to play. And their starting positions aren’t too shabby either.
Just like Grand Cathay, the Ogre Kingdoms give you two legendary lords to choose from. You’ve got Greasus Goldtooth, the Overtyrant, along with the Prophet of the Great Maw, Skrag the Slaughterer. The two have very different playstyles. With Skrag focusing on conquest and destruction, and Greasus being more interested in economy and confederating other Ogre tribes into his empire, often through diplomatic means.
Out of the two, Skrag’s campaign is definitely the better one. The legendary lord starts off in the southwestern corner of the map and has little to no opposition in the early game. You can quickly take over the territories of neighboring dwarfs and humans and then set out to conquer the entirety of the Old World if you want to. Skrag has a lot of good campaign effects that allow him to traverse the map faster than other legendary lords. Expect to be constantly on the move when you play him.
Greasus also starts off in a corner of the map, however, there are far fewer settlements around his starting position. Conquering provinces is a lot more time-consuming in this region. This was an intentional design choice since Greasus is better at diplomacy and empire-building than zipping all over the map. Knowing that doesn’t make his campaign less tedious, though.
The Ogre Kingdoms roster is made up pretty much exclusively of monsters and beasts of all shapes and sizes. Ogre armies are very weak against missiles and anti-large units because of this, but they are very strong against melee-focused factions. Like those of Nurgle and Khorne, to name just a couple of examples.
Ogre Kingdoms also get access to a new lore of magic but Skrag is currently the only legendary lord that can use it. One more reason why his campaign is better than that of Greasus.
Kislev is easily one of the most well-polished Warhammer 3 factions. But that shouldn’t be too surprising. The faction has been heavily requested by players ever since the original Total War: Warhammer, so it’s likely that Creative Assembly worked on it the most. And it certainly shows.
Kislev has no less than three legendary lords to choose from. One of which needs to be unlocked by completing a specific objective during the campaign with one of the other two playable characters – Tzarina Katarin and supreme patriarch Kostaltyn. Both of these campaigns are very challenging but Kostaltyn’s campaign definitely takes the cake in terms of difficulty.
Total War: Warhammer 3 recommends playing your first campaign as either the Daemons of Chaos or Kislev. But, ironically, these are some of the most difficult campaigns in Warhammer 3. As Kislev, you’ll have to deal with a ton of enemies right off the bat and you’ll have to rely primarily on low-tier units for a good chunk of the campaign. The faction has very strong units but it takes a long time to get to the point where you can actually recruit them.
In addition to having to deal with a constant stream of invading armies, you’ll also have to take into account a whole slew of mechanics. Some of which, like Devotion, can cause a lot of problems if ignored for too long.
Once you begin forming alliances and start confederating other Kislev factions the campaign becomes more manageable. Especially when playing as Katarin. Her unique bonuses buff Ice Guard units, which should comprise a good portion of your main army in the mid to late game. Up until that point, Katarin herself is better used as a spellcaster than a melee combatant.
Kostaltyn starts off as a better melee combatant but he never reaches the levels of power Katarin can achieve. Meanwhile, his unique bonuses are all about buffing low tier units like Kossars and horse archers. They’re certainly useful early on but gradually become obsolete as you start unlocking better units.
As far as the third legendary lord is concerned, Boris Ursus starts off far away from Kislev and has fewer problems to deal with. Boris is all about buffing bear units and has one of the easiest Warhammer 3 campaigns. However, unlocking him in the first place can be quite difficult.
Led by Kairos Fateweaver, the Oracles of Tzeentch is a very fun faction to play as. If a bit intimidating for players new to the series. It may take you a while to wrap your head around some of the faction’s unique campaign mechanics. But once you do, you’re in for one hell of a ride.
Kairos has an easy starting position and is surrounded mostly by weak factions. Many of which are not hostile to the player. Unlike most Warhammer 3 factions, Tzeentch starts off with a military ally right off the bat and can capture several settlements virtually unchallenged during the first few turns. The only real threat you may need to worry about in the early game is Miao Ying. But she probably won’t attack you since she’ll be too busy guarding the Great Bastion.
Kairos Fateweaver is a very powerful legendary lord even though his campaign bonuses aren’t that special. His skill tree more than makes up for it, though. Kairos is one of the strongest magic users in the entire series and gets access to spells from a wide variety of lores of magic. He starts with three spells right away and can unlock tons more of them via his skill tree. And unlike a lot of other wizards, Kairos is also quite capable in melee, though you will want to choose your engagements wisely.
The Tzeentch army roster includes a lot of surprisingly powerful ranged units, all of which have magic and/or fire infused attacks. Thanks to this, even low tier units can melt a lot of armies. You don’t have access to great infantry, though, so you’ll need to do quite a bit of micro to ensure that your valuable ranged units don’t get overwhelmed by cavalry or flying units.
Although they might look fragile at first glance, Tzeentch units are pretty resilient thanks to their barriers. Barriers act like an additional layer of defense that regenerates when out of combat. It’s essentially the same type of shield used by Starcraft’s Protoss race. A player with good micro skills can pull back units when their shields are depleted and send them back in once they regenerate to prevent them from taking damage directly to their health.
Between a strong unit roster, powerful legendary lord and campaign mechanics that let you do crazy things like steal settlements and force factions to go to war, the Oracles of Tzeentch is easily one of the best factions in Total War: Warhammer 3. But maybe not THE best.
I think few players will disagree with our top pick. The Exiles of Khorne faction and its leader Skarbrand are a breath of fresh air in a game that’s oftentimes too difficult and convoluted for its own good. There are no complicated mechanics to worry about here. The Blood God Khorne is all about mayhem and destruction. And that’s exactly what you’re going to do throughout this entire campaign.
Skarbrand is surrounded by quite a few enemy factions at the start of the game, but that’s a good thing for once. You’ll spend most of your time in this campaign running around the map looking for fights. So you’ll want to start practicing asap! That’s because the bloodletting mechanic allows Skarbrand to earn powerful buffs after winning a certain number of battles. These buffs get increasingly better the more battles you win.
Khorne buildings only generate a measly amount of favor, but winning battles gets you a ton of it. Winning battles also resets your movement range and replenishes your troops by a hefty amount. In other words, you’ll want to be moving and fighting constantly.
Don’t worry about Skarbrand, he can definitely take it. In fact, he’s hands down one of the strongest Warhammer 3 legendary lords and can take on whole armies all by himself towards the late game. If you’ve played Taurox from The Silence and The Fury DLC for Warhammer 2 you should have a pretty good idea of how this type of campaign plays out. Skarbrand might be even more powerful than Taurox but we’ll have to wait until Immortal Empires to find out for sure.
To further aid with Skarbrand’s rampage across the Old World, Khorne features a mechanic that allows him to summon a Blood Host every time you raze a settlement. Blood Hosts are demon armies that stick around for only a few turns. You’ll want to use them to cause maximum damage before they’re gone. As you progress through the game, your Blood Hosts will become increasingly stronger and will be able to stick around for longer.
It’s also important to note that razed settlements are automatically colonized by your faction as long as you have at least one active settlement in the same province. It will take a couple of turns for that to happen, but this mechanic allows you to move on to the next battle and worry about city management later.
If you need an additional reason to play as the Exiles of Khorne, know that the faction’s roster is comprised pretty much entirely of melee units. You don’t have to micromanage anything. Simply order your units to attack and they’ll do the rest. Same with Skarbrand. He does have a few activatable abilities but he doesn’t use magic, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
I know that some veteran players might find this style of gameplay a bit too simplistic. But if you’re a new player, Khorne is one of the first Warhammer 3 factions you should be playing if you want to learn what this game is all about.
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
You can find the video version of this article down below.