Since its release, I’ve played a lot of Total War: Warhammer II (TWW2 for shortness) and it is one of the best games I’ve ever played. So far I’ve tried playing as the High Elves and Lizardmen; both of which I’ve just about managed to win the campaign with. As a test though I thought I’d try a game as one of the races that may not suit my playstyle, the Dark Elves.
The very rough plan I have is to 10 turns blow-by-blow per article. Be prepared for me to make some awful decisions throughout though!
The Dark Elves
I know a fair bit about the Dark Elves from the lore; essentially that they are very angry Elves that feel slighted by the High Elves due to an age-old enmity. Their units are a mix of ‘standard’ elf spear and bow (albeit crossbow) units, as well as some more exotic units like the witches and hydras. The bonuses they have in TWW2 are:
- Black arks – essentially floating cities that can also support during battles with bombardment
- Slaves – providing economic bonuses whilst also reducing public order
- Murderous Prowess – killing enough enemies during a battle will give all units a bonus
Their ultimate goal with regards to the vortex is to capture Scrolls of Kerarti to start the rituals required.
Choosing a Legendary Lord
There are two choices, either the leader of the Dark Elves Malekith, or his mother (I think) Morathi. Malekith’s main bonuses are around reduced upkeep (50%) for some of the more basic units, whilst Morathi has diplomatic bonuses and spreads a lot of corruption. I’m going for Malekith, mainly because he likes so incredibly badass!
Upon choosing him you get a little history lesson as to why Malekith is so angry and why the Dark Elves have become the way they are. It is nice to have a bit of context to it all…and it makes me want to conquer Ulthuan!
(Quick note – I’ve not doing the introductory tutorial with Malekith)
We start in the cold wastes of Naggaroth in the north-west of the map with just one settlement; the Dark Elf capital of Naggarond. We already have a barracks and a dock, giving some good income and the ability to train some basic troops. It also has Marble as a tradable resource; when I can I’ll build the requisite building for this to start producing some tradable goods.
My one army has:
- 1 Black Guard of Naggarond – elite halberd infantry
- 2 Dreadspears – basic spear infantry
- 2 Darkshards – crossbows
- 1 Reaper Bolt Thrower
To my south and north-east I have other Dark Elf Factions, to the immediate east is a ruined city and to the north-west are my immediate concerns, the Skaven of Clan Septik. As per all legendary lords there is a small army of enemies nearby as well (also from Clan Septik).
My short-term goals are to improve Naggarond, take our Clan Septik and build a strong economic base. In the long-term I want to conquer Naggaroth and invade Ulthuan.
First of all I begin upgrading the capital building of Naggarond to level 2; this will give a much better garrison, more construction slots and some economic bonuses.
Instead of attacking the Skaven I also decide to recruit 3 more units to Malekith’s army, 1 Dreadspear and 2 Darkshards.
I also start researching a technology. I have 3 options to choose from that will each unlock a small branch of options:
- Driven by Vengeance – focusing on bonuses for ‘standard’ military units
- Battle as Business – giving bonuses for more exotic military units
- Founded on Tyranny – giving bonuses growth, public order and income
As Malekith is already giving some recruitment cost bonuses, I decide to go for Founded on Tyranny to kick-start my economy.
Finally I recruit another Lord, purely for the purposes of travelling the seas and finding lots of treasure. This is a tip I’ve picked up from my previous playthroughs and it really makes a big difference to your economy and the magic items you find can also help in battle. I choose a Dreadlord with Sword and Crossbow called Tothauthrak (I think Toth for short); he has a high loyalty level and he has the attribute Victious, giving his +3 in both melee defence and attack.
Finally I end the first turn!
Immediately I notice that the Skaven army that was nearby has either legged it or is lying in ambush. Not to be deterred I march Malekith towards what I expect to be a Skaven held-town, Har Kaldra.
(Note – in-case you don’t know, Skaven settlements are hidden until you scout/encounter them, meaning you never truly know where they are)
Unsurprisingly the Skaven had retreated to Har Kaldra and Malekith engages in battle with them and the settlement’s garrison. As you can see, it should be an easy battle that I could auto-resolve, though I’m minded to play as many battles as I can so I’ll take personal control of this one.
The army I’m facing is fairly light, mainly consisting of some clanrats (basic infantry), skavenslaves (even more basic infantry) and some slingers. I’m mainly concerned about their lord but I’m sure Malekith can take him.
In deployment I array my spears and black guard in-front with the missile units behind, with Malekith in the middle of the front rank. The skaven are very confident (or stupid) and advance straight towards me, so I decide to stay put and my bolt thrower starts incurring some casualties on them. The darkshards then start opening fire and it becomes a bit of a massacre. Their night runners try and outflank me but a diverted unit of darkshards starts cutting them down. A fair few Skaven do make it to the main battle line but it isn’t really a contest. With minimal casualties the battle is over pretty quickly.
With Har Kaldra taken, I get a little bonus for completing a quest (1000 gold and 8 scolls) and Malekith has levelled up. I decide to go for the Route Marcher skill to make him a bit more mobile; something I’ve always found useful in the early game. Har Kaldra has an Artisan’s House already, giving a bit of an economic boost so I decide to leave it in place.
In the meantime Toth finds a skull reef with an old vampire’s hoard nearby giving 10000 gold (!) and the armour of glittering scales (+3 armour, +3 melee defence and a passive ability making nearby enemies have -5 melee attack). I give the armour to Malekith and Toth continues on his ocean adventure.
I also decide to do a little diplomacy and I find I’m already in a non-aggression and military access pact with the Dark Elf faction Har Ganeth who are in the east. I decide to enter in to a non-aggression and trade agreement with Hag Graef to my immediate south, hopefully securing my border there. Beyond that most other factions aren’t too keen on me so I leave it for the time being.
The first order of business is to give Malekith some more troops – this time 2 dreadspears and 1 darkshard. This should be enough to take on any more Skaven and wipe out Clan Septik.
Toth continues without finding anything but I do recruit another Lord, this time to search our ruins. I go for Dreadlord Corvass (Sword and Crossbow) who has the strategist trait, giving him a +5% campaign movement range.
The capital building in Naggarond is completed, giving me a 500 gold bonus and some empty building slots. I first of all start upgrading the barracks to level two and then I also start building a marble quarry and slave pens. The latter two will give me some economic bonuses and they aren’t wasted slots where the buildings could be built in lesser settlements.
I send Corvass in the direction of the Great Arena abandoned settlement to the east and he should reach it next turn to do some treasure hunting. Toth again finds nothing.
Malekith marches towards another expected Skaven settlement to the west – Kaelra. Capturing this will give another trading resource.
The first research completes, giving me +10 growth in all provinces. I then select Continuous Slave Supply that will take 6 turns and will give some economic bonuses.
Toth continues with luck but Corvass reaches the Great Arena for some treasure hunting. He finds some trapped people and in true Dark Elf fashion tries to blackmail them for their freedom. It works pretty well and 1000 gold is added to the treasury, as well as a bonus of 500 gold and 6 scrolls for completing a mission.
Malekith reaches Kaelra and unsurprisingly finds Clan Septik there – battles ensues, although Malekith again has the upper hand in terms of the forces at his disposal. It is another walkover but on a side note, the battlefields look pretty amazing. I love the ramshackle Skaven structures on this one.
With Kaelra taken I now control all of Naggarond province, giving me the ability to issue a commandment. I issue the Demand Highborn Hostages, giving +4 public order as it is quite low at the moment. I also get a 500 gold reward for taking the province. I also level up Malekith, upgrading his Chillwind skill. Finally I tear down the barracks at Kaelra as there is already one at Naggarond capital.
First up I get a 500 gold bonus for issuing a commandment, giving me over 20000 gold in total!
I was going to colonise the Great Arena with Corvass but my allies Har Ganeth have already taken it. To secure the border I make a trade agreement with them and enter in to a defensive alliance. I send Corvass back to Naggarond where I will then build up an army around him. In the meantime Toth continues to explore but still without any luck.
On the building front, the improved barracks and marble quarry are built. I upgrade the marble quarry, as well as building a hunting camp in Kaelra. Finally I decide to upgrade the capital of Har Kaldra to open up some more building slots.
Finally I recruit some more troops for Malekith, this time 2 Bleakswords (unsurprisingly they are sword infantry) and another unit of Darkshards.
Corvas returns to Naggarond and I begin to build a proper second army. Toth still finds nothing!
All that remains is to march Malekith towards the Altar of Ultimate Darkness, both the final Clan Septik settlement and the potential for building a special landmark when I take it.
During the end turn, I do sign a non-aggression pact with another Dark Elf faction, this time Karond Kar who are quite far away from me. With any luck I can start confederating with other Dark Elf Factions in the medium-term.
I continue building up Corvass’ army and Toth continue to be useless. Kaelra’s capital begins an upgrade.
The most interesting part though is Malekith’s assault on the Altar of Darkness. The Skaven hoard is numerous so I decide to encircle it, either enticing the Skaven to attack me or I’ll starve them out.
Corvass’ forces continue to build up and Toth carries on without reward. Har Kaldra’s capital has been upgraded so I upgrade the Artisan’s House to a crafting district and start building a Plateau of Dark Steeds that will soon give me access to cavalry. Malekith continues his siege.
In the meantime, beastman have started raiding my territory; hopefully Corvass can deal with them when he has a sufficient force.
Corvass’s army continues to grow and Toth continues on. Malekith’s sige continues as well.
A good start with Naggarond taken and Clan Septik on its last legs. Future steps are to build up a proper second army, build some elite structures for better units and then to start taking our Dark Elf Factions that aren’t too keen on me. Once Naggaroth is secured, Ulthuan awaits!