Content of the article: "Introducing Abhorash"
I know a lot of people would prefer to see him as a legendary hero, somewhat akin to the Green knight (and that would be a perfectly valid implementation) but personally I had a lot of fun baking his lone wolf, elite martial code ethos into a faction. Besides, I want to see what a beast he can become, fully levelled, decked out in the best gear and wielding the sword of khaine and a green knight hero scenario just isn't going to cut it. It would also be odd to have all the other bloodline progenitors playable (presumably) and then just have Abhorash serve them. Some of you may remember me from my Ulrika and Neferata concepts that were pretty popular. So here's my concept for Abhorash.
In a world where Archeon is bringing about the end times, Nagash, consuming gods, is looming on the horizon and the vortex is in flux, Abhorash realises that the world is going to need him, and like any man, can be in only one place at a time. Looking for a base of operations to settle, he sets out to rally the greatest blood dragons to his side. Let's break down Abhorash himself first, then move on to his faction mechanics. Numbers are mostly just place holders for what ever would actually be balanced, so don't get too bogged down in the details.
His combat traits: Dragon Slayer (one use per battle, instantly sync kill a dragon or lord on a dragon that's below 50% health. Duellist, Deflect shots, Doge, Perfect Vigour, Fear, Terror, Unbreakable, Dreaded Duellist (ability), Feint and Riposte (ability), The Hunger, Honor or Death, Heart Piercing, To the death, Just warming up (New ability, 30 seconds of fighting per tier, Tier 1, +20 MD, Tier 2 +20 MD and MA, Tier 3 +20 MD and MA and 30% armour piercing damage). "There can only be one!" (new ability: If Abhorash kills a lord or hero, feed and heal 30% health over 5 seconds).
- A Worthy Opponent!- Units gain +20 leadership in battle if facing a much stronger force.
- Abhorash cannot (or will not) learn lightning strike. Instead, inviting challenge and has a 80% Vigour loss reduction for grave guard, blood dragon aspirants and blood knights.
- Honor above all else: If Abhorash is attacked and has not retreated, all units gain +10 MA and MD. If Abhorash uses ambush stance, raiding stance, or sacks a settlement, his army gains a leadership penalty.
- Traveller: +20% campaign movement range and is immune to lack of Vampire attrition. Most climates are suitable.
- Coven of Undeath: Unit experience gain per turn: 200.
- Recruit rank: +4 for blood knights and blood dragon aspirants.
- -40% upkeep cost for blood dragon aspirants.
- Honorable and Respected: No race diplomatic aversion with Brettonia, diplomatic bonus to relations with Mousillon and The Vampire Coast.
- Starts with 1 blood kiss. Blood dragon lords, always cost 3 blood kisses.
- War Economy: 250% payout from a battle victory. Can't built advanced support buildings (more on this below)
- Starting units: knights of blood keep (BK RoR), champions of the blood tournament (blood dragon aspirants RoR), grave guard
Wanderer: Abhorash starts without any towns or cities. He can start in several locations around the world and for the first 10 turns of his campaign (or until he takes a settlement) has no upkeep costs, letting him shop around for a starting position. This gives him a lot of replay value and a variety of start positions for the vampire counts. He can start off near Bribali (estalia). Lustria, Ash River (Nehekara), Obsidian peaks (Naggarond), Hochland and some positions in the war hammer 3 map.
Challenger Approaching: Sort of like the Norscan Monster hunts but Abhorash seeks out not beasts, but foes with martial prowess. These quest battles will keep your campaign fresh with enemy faction variety, facing off against their elite. Challengers include: Tyrion, Gorok, Gotrek, Grimgor, Grombrindal Green Knight Imrik, Vlad, Settra, Malus, Wulfrick, Queek, Archaeon and more?
- War economy: Gain 250% payout from victorious battles. Advanced military support buildings cannot be built (spirit well, forbidden libraries, Vampires crypts and terrorghiest lair). Instead Abhorash and blood dragon lords upgrade and recruit on the fly from their war camp (think black arks, or Vampirates flagships but on land). The higher tier camp tents can recruit a limited number of elite units, they don't give money like their city counterparts do, but they do give a rank recruitment bonus to units freshly recruited from the limited pool and "raise dead" recruits. Furthermore, raise dead works a little different for this faction. It's renamed 'rally forces'. Instead of it being tied to battle sites and numbers of weak troops to summon good units, all the lords share from a global rally pool. The better and more elite the units you've slay in battle, the more advanced units you can raise. This will allow you to beat the war camp limit of elite units whilst keeping the recruitment rank bonuses.
- Blood Dragon Aspirants: Tier 5 infantry, vampires that have formed a coterie to push each other to be better fighters, training partners working to become blood dragon champions. Basically, the step they take before becoming a blood dragon lord. Very low unit count, lower than depth guard (which are 45 on large), think chaos aspiring champions of 18 men. Not a unit that can fill out a full front line. Grave guard will still form the backbone of your elite armies. But you'll hold a few blood dragon Aspirants back in reserve to reinforce where the battle is particularly fierce. They come in two variants, duel sword anti infantry and Halberds anti large. Both come with frenzy, encouragement (which raises the leadership of units around it), and a new trait called bathe in blood. Bathe in blood (30 seconds each tier, tier 1- Gain 'the hunger', tier 2 gain the hunger and +15 MD, tier 3 Gain the hunger, +15MD and +15 AP). The duel sword aspirants you want to reinforce and stick where your line is faltering. Your halberd variants can be moved to where your line has suffered a rear cavalry charge or if there's a big single armoured entity like a steam tank or khemerian war sphinx.
Regiments of renown
- Champions of the blood tournament: These guys are a great sword variant of the blood dragon aspirants. They also have an active ability that grants unbreakable and gives +10 melee defence and 30% physical resistance for 15 seconds too all nearby allied units.
- Knights of blood keep: blood knights RoR. They have a lower unit count, more akin to demigryphs or swords of chaos. They have the hunger trait and have two charges of a self only cast Vanhel's danse macabre.
Moving onto faction rework changes
Vampire Covens: Like pirate coves or skaven under cities. Vampire agents can establish a base of operations right under their nose. Buildings are detectable as they expand, especially by witch hunters and paladins. Buildings can increase Vampire corruption, siphon money, improve relations and diplomatic deals and potentially can summon a surprise army through a necromancer ritual. As enemy heroes can discover the coven, nearby Vampire agents can help keep it hidden.
Undead tide: Taking inspiration from the secondary or support army that greenskin waaghs create, necromancer lords or armies with a skilled up necromancer can fill up a support army with expendable zombies to tire out and soften up the enemy before battle. Armies have to sit directly on top of a battle site marker to summon these zombies over a number of turns. I don't want to get too off topic, but perhaps skaven could do a similar thing with skaven slaves, somehow tied to excess food. Breonnian peasant mobs could just be recruited straight into a secondary army so it doesn't take up a spot in your professional army. Just some thoughts on how expendable units could still stay relevant late game.
Corruption rework: Taking some ideas from u/Jman5 in my thread of why Vamp counts aren't as blessed as everyone thinks they are
- Corruption should be doing a lot more work than it currently does. I would like to see growth, income, recruitment cost, raise dead impacted by corruption amount.
- Corruption skills on the Lord's Blue Line should be moved from the second tier to the first so they can start generating it quicker. This is especially important for everyone but Vlad/Isabella since they don't spawn with any vampire heroes.
- Conquering a settlement should boost corruption/untainted in a province by 5% automatically. This would help jumpstart the process a little bit so you're not spending quite as much time waiting for public order to get under control.
I also think high corruption should make the map a night battle, reducing ranged units accuracy. It's weird seeing Vampires casually walk around in the sunlight.
Also u/Hobbes131 pointed out how annoying the random nature of bloodline lord traits are. Let the player recruit their lord from a pool and perhaps give them some more fitting traits. Also because of free skeleton upkeep it leads to boring armies, perhaps each bloodline lord can have a couple of free advance units that are thematic for them, strigoi can have two free crypt horrors and 3 free crypt ghouls etc, but that may just cause economic problems. It's a problem I'll leave to CA.
Siege: This has been suggested by a lot of people and would probably fall under the category of siege rework, but let ethereal units pass through walls.
Anyway, that's basically my Abhorash concept. A lot of people suggest giving the von carstien lords an empire province mechanic as they are technically elector counts, I'm not opposed to the idea. For those who enjoyed that mock concept I'll tac on my previous two concepts for Neferata and Ulrika for those who haven't seen them before (I think I posted the Nef one at a bad time because Ulrika's got a lot more attention and I know for a fact that Nef has a lot more love.
- Goal: to take back Lahmia and crush Khalida.
- Climate: As queen under the silver pinnacle, nef can occupy mountain regions and use underway stance.
- Seductive dealings: Similar to the Eshin shadowy dealings mechanic, Neferata can send agents away to manipulate other factions. Where some of the more notable Eshin abilities are things like, assassinate any enemy lord permanently with a 100 turn cooldown, Neferata's equivalent would be more akin to, instantly subjugate any minor faction or secure a guaranteed military alliance with any major power for 15 turns (100 turn cooldown). A lot of middle level actions would change relations between other factions, turning them against each other.
Special Coven building: As an alternative to raising an army, Neferata can work on and flip any human or undead settlement. This increases discoverability a lot should you try to make that play.
Blood Kiss: If preferred, Blood kisses can be spent to turn human factions into allied Vampire factions (empire, kislev, norsca, bretonia, southern realms)
Lord effects: Boost air units Melee attack and charge and ranged units range and accuracy.
In battle: Unlike normal vampire armies, Neferata's Hybrid roster lends her to playing defensively rather than rushing the enemy. Neferata doesn't have the normal vampire strength of cavalry but more flying units and ranged units to compensate. Her ranged artillery borrowed from the tomb kings roster may not be as good as the dwarves, coast or empire but with her superior air power she can try and snipe the enemy artillery to flip back the advantage.
- Infantry: Zombies, Skeleton Warriors, Skeleton Spearmen, Crypt Ghouls ,Syreens, Grave guard, Tomb Guard (Hal), Crypt Horrors, Blood Dragon Aspirants
- Ranged: Skeleton Archers, Skeleton Horseman Archers, Ushabti Archers, Screaming Skull Catapult, Bone Giant, A single campaign exclusive Casket of Souls
- Cavalry: Dire wolves
- Flying: Fel Bats, Carrion, Varghiests, Terrorghiest, Lahmian Hellsteed Coven (new unit), Zombie Dragon (by itself)
War Machines: Corpse carts, Black Coach, Coven Throne (new unit)
- New Units
Lahmian Hellsteed Coven: A bunch of Lahmian ladies on flying horseback. Not particularly tough but has two free charges of a single target, Vanhel's danse macabre and invocation of nehek. Since your main lord is probably casting spells to support the main battle, this unit can help reinforce your distant side skirmishes.
- Coven throne: Not sure what this would do, but it's one of the last units on the vampire counts roster and is tied to the lahmians. Looks similar to a mortis engine.
Onto Ulrika for the kislev faction.
Her lord skills and faction effects boost her cavalry and her camaraderie with her troops give them leadership bonuses. She has a hybrid Kislev and vampire roster, that combined give her a wealthy cavalry choice. Good for players that like a cavalry focused faction but are sick of Brettonia.
- Start position: Fort Straghov, her family home on the edge of kislev bordering norsca. She can occupy norscan settlements without a penalty.
- Diplomacy: Having personally saved the Prague political elite, one of which was her cousin, and stopped Prague falling into chaos hands. Ulrika at first suffers no vampire aversion penalty with Kislev and can ally with them. Furthermore, after personally saving Karl Franz himself at the last second from a Von Carstien plot, also has an easier time allying with empire factions.
Faction mechanic: Ulrika must choose which side she walks. Her honorable human nature, or her darker vampiric side. This will depend on who she fights. As she embraces her human values, elite kislev units become unlocked and diplomacy is easier with the order factions. She can also recruit gotrek and felix. If she embraces her darker nature, elite Vampire units become available to recruit, quest battles change, diplomacy with vampires is easier but harder with humans.
This will add some replay-ability to her campaign and open up some new co-op options.
Witch houses: Their corruption of neighbouring provinces is replaces with a reduction in public order from a lack of corruption.
Obviously as kislev doesn't have a full proper roster, aren't in the game and the fact that games workshop are creating new units for kislev means that this is mostly just a very rough stab in the dark. I'll remake the roster when we get our hands on a playable kislev.
- Infantry (units change depending on alignment): Zombies, Skeleton warriors/ Kossars, Skeleton spearmen, crypt ghouls, Cairn wraiths, Grave guard/ Streltsi, grave gaurd (gw)/ Cossacks, Kislev ice guard
- Monsters: Dire Wolves, Crypt Horrors, Varghulf/ Ursa Bear
- Flying: Lahmian Hellsteed coven, Bats, Vampire path only: Varghiests, Terrorghiest
- War Machines: Corpse carts/ War wagon, Black coach, Vampire only: Coven Throne, Mortis Engine
- Cavalry (no matter what path she takes, she gets all the cavalry): Ungol Horse archers, Black Knights, Black knights (lance), Winged Hussars, Hex Wraiths, Kislev Bear Cav, Blood Knights, Kislev Polar Bear cav.
Hope you all enjoyed that, I thought it would take me maybe two hours tops and took me a whole day.
- What’s left for CA to use for Total War: Warhammer
- Unpopular opinion: The Vampire Counts aren’t as Blessed as everything thinks they are (change my mind)
- Aserai Mameluke Heavy Cavalry is the most OP unit in the game and you should experience it before it inevitably gets nerfed
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