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For Total War: Warhammer 3, Games Workshop created two new armies

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These versions of Kislev and Cathay only exist on digital battlefields

The Tzarina wades into battle against the forces of Khorne in Total War: Warhammer 3 Image: Creative Assembly/Sega

The Total War: Warhammer trilogy comes to a close this year with Total War: Warhammer 3. With it, Sega’s Creative Assembly will have achieved something remarkable: Not only will it have tackled one of the most popular franchises in tabletop gaming history, it will have included every one of its factions in digital form. That includes two factions that don’t even exist in the latest version of the Old World tabletop universe — the armies of Kislev and Cathay.

Players who collect and paint Warhammer miniatures have their own favored factions. The Old World setting includes fan favorites such as the High Elves, Bretonnians, and the Skaven. But the larger lore speaks of armies and peoples that have never been fielded in the eighth edition of the miniatures game. Creative Assembly wanted two of those forces — the Kislev and the Cathay — to be included as playable factions in Total War: Warhammer 3.

A woman with flowing hard, two short swords strapped across her back. she is wearing riding boots.
Some concept art — like these early drawings of the Ice Guard — have already been shared on the Warhammer Community website.
Image: Mark Bedford/Games Workshop

So, Games Workshop designed them from the ground up as though they were being fully revised and added to the tabletop game. Creative Assembly game director Ian Roxburgh said it was a collaborative process.

“While they were doing that, they were working closely with us so we could give some feedback,” Roxburgh told Polygon. “They were inventing and creating that stuff as we were developing the game, and we had an opportunity to communicate and to work with them.”

The result, Roxburgh said, is two sourcebooks’ worth of material that could one day be used to field new miniature armies on the tabletop.

“There’s no way that Workshop would be willing to do what they did with Kislev and Cathay if we hadn’t had that really close relationship,” Roxburgh said. “And long may it continue. There’s been no problems at all, and it’s all just been going from strength to strength.”

The Kislev army was the first to be shown off during an early press demo in May, a hardy collection of vaguely Eastern European forces led by Tzarina Katarin Bokha. They include hybrid infantry units that use primitive firearms for ranged attacks, and heavy axes for close combat. They’re supplemented by swift and heavy cavalry sporting wings like Polish hussars. Early trailers show off the Cathay as well, all of them equipped with Arabian-inspired weapons and armor.

Kislev and Cathay have both been mentioned in the larger Warhammer lore of late, including novels and even other video games. But, Roxburgh said, they were never given the same treatment as other factions in the tabletop game. In the lead-up to Total War: Warhammer 3, he said that full army lists and additional lore were created as background for the video game.

“For us as developers,” Roxburgh said, “it’s brilliant to work with [Games Workshop] and see how their processes work and to be able to feed into that. But it’s also really exciting to know that the Warhammer fans out there are all waiting to see this brand-new stuff from Games Workshop, but through the Total War game.”

A warrior riding a polar bear goes up against a demon wielding a flaming ax in Total War: Warhammer 3
A Kislev riding a polar bear fights in Khorne’s domain.
Image: Creative Assembly/Sega

Currently, the modern Warhammer Fantasy miniatures game is set in the Age of Sigmar, a strange realm caught between multiple physical realities. But Games Workshop has announced that it will return to the Old World sometime soon. What does Roxburgh think about his video game feeding back into the creation of new armies for that future tabletop game?

“It’s cool,” he said with a laugh. “This could only happen, due to the real strength of relationship we’ve had with Games Workshop from the beginning.”

For more on Total War: Warhammer 3, see our hands-on preview with an early version of the game.