Mercenaries. CA actually has a fairly decent base for a mercenary faction from the Bandits in Three Kingdom, but I'd like to argue for something quite different. I want to note I'm coming from a pure gameplay standard, I'm no lore head.
Warhammer and Vermintide were my introduction to the Warhammer world, so I have no nostalgia or expectations going in. Everything I've learned about the Dogs of War has been from reading comments on this sub. With that in mind, the thing that most excites me about the prospect of DoW as a faction is the potential variety. Mortal Empires is Big. Wh3 is going to be even bigger. It's a stretch to encounter/fight everyone in a single game and would be an absolute slog if you tried to do so.
And yet, that variety is my favourite thing about Warhammer. And, honestly, my favourite battles are small-scale ones or when fighting with AI. There is an extra level of strategic complexity when you are forced to work with the AI, and work with their Blunders as so many real commanders have had to do throughout history. But Small-scale battles are non-existent after turn 20, and fighting alongside AI is a rarity because it requires everything to be in just the right place. I often set up custom battles AI against AI, while I control a small detachment of elite units working within a broader battle, and it's a totally different way to play the game and such a fun, unique experience that is almost utterly absent from the campaign.
But I think a Mercenary faction has a solution: detachments.
In addition to normal armies and Diplomatic Contracts like 'Go mess X up and I'll give you 15,000 gold', I suggest the DoW have a special faction unique mechanic I'm calling 'Detachments.' Historically, Mercenary groups did not always march alone – they sometimes hired out small groups of regiments to pre-existing armies, who would then fight along side a normal national army under command of their own Mercenary Captain.
For the Dogs of War, the Mercenary Captain would be a hybrid hero-lord unit with an army size of 5 units, increasing by 1 every few levels to a maximum of 10. Mercenary Captain Detachments could function as 'smaller' armies in the field, but the real key comes when an AI nation hires them. Once you have a Mercenary Captain, AI can use Diplomacy to request the Captain, offering either a Lump Sum, a portion of any Prize money the detachment is involved in getting, or a combination of both to hire the army for a specified amount of turns. If you accept, the Mercenary Captain and their detachment 'disappear' and become attached to the hiring faction's army. You lose over-world control of the army, but for the duration of the contract any battles that army is involved in will have your detachment come in as reinforcements, allowing you to play the battle.
With this system, You can easily fight anywhere on the map. Markus fighting lizards in lustria? Send a detachment. Charge 2000 gold/turn and 25% of any sack/battle income the detachment is involved in, for a 10 turn contract. Have fun fighting Lizards for 10 turns and making bank. Then your detachment returns home to recuperate and — what's this? Cathay wants to hire them to fight a daemon invasion? Great, they are rich. That'll be 3000 gold/turn and 15% of the winnings (they are on the defensive so unlikely to be doing any sacking, so you charge more up-front). Have fun blasting daemons for 10 turns, and you are back. Of course your captain has levelled up so you can hire some more units, and then it looks like Empire is having some trouble against the vamps. Why not offer them a detachment for a reasonable price? Of course, since you have no strategic control, you would have to deal with the AI marching you into a bad situation. You can decline and break contract before any battle, but that's bad for business. Mercenary Captains would have access to a unique 'Lucky' trait that gives them a fairly good chance of only being wounded when killed in battle, and of course can get Immortality later. This means you won't always be losing your Captains to AI errors, and can build up some renown detachments. After some levels, they can get famous named, Atilla banner style, which offers detachment wide buffs for any detachment serving under the captain. Sort of like the DE Names as well, I guess. Famous detachments are much more in demand and you can ask for a hefty premium, even if the units are different.
You would have scope to get several Mercenary Captains and organise several Detachments, so if you wanted you could more or less turtle with your main armies in your starting provinces plus some nice ones nearby, and spend a whole game hiring out detachments and fighting all over the world. Or you could use the Detachments as a side hustle while you hire out your main armies traditionally and wage a more traditional war, with your own full stacks, sacking cities on behalf of someone who you are charging so you'll sack cities on their behalf. Charge the Dwarves 30k to get involved in a war in the Badlands and run around the back lines sacking orc settlements, while you reinforce several dwarven armies with detachments. Then, when the war seems to be on a tipping point nullify your contract (Signatures don't match. Sorry Dawi, nothing we can do. Legal's Legal.) and approach the Orcs. They'll be desperate enough to pay double now, and a good businessmen never lets an opportunity go to waste. Of course, you are mercenaries. You don't want anyone to actually win the war, that'd be disastrous to your bottom line.
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More about Total WarPost: "How I would want the Dogs of War to be implemented in WH2/3" specifically for the game Total War. Other useful information about this game:
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