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The Total War: Warhammer 3 roadmap is finally here, showing the content Creative Assembly has planned out for the next twelve months. Among a multitude of free updates are three new DLC packs, two which already have names: Shadows of Change will include a new legendary lord – and thus a new faction – for Tzeentch, Cathay, and Kislev, while Thrones of Decay will reinforce Nurgle, the Empire, and the Dwarfs. There will also be two legendary heroes with each update, one free and the other being part of the DLC.

Details are still scarce, but with a severely depleted pool of available characters – after all, we are going to reach 100 playable lords soon – as well as some in-game hints and clues from the announcement, we can make some educated guesses as to which characters may be included in these expansions. Please take all of this with a massive grain of salt – these are not officially confirmed pieces of content.

Update (July 29, 2023): We have our first official announcement for a Shadows of Change character: Yuan Bo, the Jade Dragon, will join the roster of Grand Cathay.

Total War: Warhammer 3 – possible Shadows of Change factions

Shadows of Change will release in Summer 2023, so this is the closest of the announced DLC packs.

First up, here are our predictions for the characters to be included:

  • Tzeentch: The Changeling
  • Cathay: Monkey King
  • Kislev: Mother Ostankya
  • Free Legendary Hero: Aekold Helbrass (Tzeentch)

Change is literally in the DLC’s title and a core theme of Tzeentch in general, so The Changeling is a perfect fit. He can take on the forms of any other being flawlessly, making him the ultimate trickster – he can easily disrupt battle plans before combat even begins and then take on the form of the strongest fighter or creature on the other side, turning the enemy’s greatest weapons against them. That would certainly make for some unique mechanics. The Changeling is also a bit of a weirdo among Tzeentch’s followers, seldom carrying out the plans of his master and focusing more on his own schemes – which the Changer of Ways finds very amusing.

That whole “being an outsider” theme could well be the core of this entire DLC, so going with the Monkey King for Cathay makes a lot of sense. This mysterious character has been hinted at quite clearly in the game for a while now, and it seems to be a general rule that any medium under the influence of Chinese mythology will sooner or later adapt this popular character. Located in the south of Cathay, the Monkey King is sometimes described as a foe of the ruling dragons and sometimes as an ally against Chaos. He’s also a bit of a trickster himself, making for another thematic similarity. There are clues that The Changeling has been running around masked as the Monkey King, ruining his reputation, so there might be some conflict to explore here.

Mother Ostankya is our choice for Kislev for similar reasons. She’s basically Warhammer’s version of the Slavic Baba Yaga myth – an old witch living in the forest, who steals and eats children, especially those who’ve been naughty. Mother Ostankya is said to dwell in Duklys Forest and is being hunted by Supreme Patriarch Kostaltyn and his zealots, who consider her a threat to the nation. However, she’s in fact also trying her best to protect the Motherland. The game’s writer, Andy Hall, has previously hinted at future Kislev content showing the other side of that nation’s dominating religion, which is the more “wild and wandering” aspect presented in other media. That would fit the bill.

The announcement described the free legendary hero coming alongside the DLC as “a front-line fighter twisted by the Lord of Change” which could mean Aekold Helbrass. He is one of Tzeentch’s greatest champions and one of the very rare melee-focused characters in that Chaos God’s roster. Being born a noble of the Empire, Aekold succumbed to Chaos and escaped from the clutches of the Witch Hunters, traveling to the Northern Chaos Wastes where he and his horse slowly began to mutate. Lethally wounded in a duel against his mirrored self, Tzeentch inducted him into the ranks of his champions, saving him from death.

We don’t really have any hints to go by for the paid legendary hero, so we can’t speculate on their identity for the moment.

Total War: Warhammer 3 – possible Thrones of Decay factions

Thrones of Decay is set to launch in Winter 2023 and – if our predictions are correct – is shaping up to be a highlight, including some characters fans have been waiting for a long time.

Here are our predictions for the characters to be included:

  • Nurgle: Tamurkhan
  • Empire: Elspeth von Draken
  • Dwarfs: Grimm Burloksson
  • Free Legendary Hero: Malakai Makaisson (Dwarfs and Empire)

The DLC’s name is a huge hint for both the Nurgle and Empire lords we predict to be in this pack: Thrones of Decay seems to be a reference to Throne of Chaos, a campaign book released in 2011, which contains lots of information Creative Assembly drew upon for Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs – crucially, though, the work’s main subject is Tamurkhan, the Maggot Lord. A champion of Nurgle in the form of a giant maggot, which is able to puppeteer corpses (his favorite being that of an Ogre Tyrant), Tamurkhan waged war against the Empire and was only thwarted during his assault on the mighty city of Nuln. He also rides on a giant Toad Dragon, which is pretty nifty.

Nuln, of course, is the capital of Wissenland and was seemingly unnecessarily squeezed onto the Realms of Chaos map. It’s ruled by Elector Countess Emmanuelle von Liebwitz, whose principal advisor is one of the coolest figures the Empire has to offer: Elspeth von Draken, a member of the Amethyst Order (comprised of wizards who command the Lore of Death) and rider of a mighty Carmine Dragon – the odds are high that she’s actually a vampire or some sort of undead herself, but nobody dares to talk about that to her face. During Tamurkhan’s onslaught, Elspeth was entrusted with leading Wissenland’s army, leading Tamurkhan into a trap and killing him. While she would, in a way, fit better as a legendary hero, her army leadership likely qualifies her to be a lord in Emmannuelle’s stead, who isn’t really a fighter.

The Dwarfs’ lord is a bit more difficult to guess, but people have been clamoring for a Master Engineer lord archetype to be represented in the game for a while now. Grimm Burloksson, the youngest Master Engineer in Dwarfen history, sounds like a fantastic candidate for this position, and could bring another monstrous unit into the fray to compete with the Toad Dragon and the Carmine Dragon – the mighty Dwarfen Thunderbarge.

As for the free legendary hero, the announcement says that they’d join “the toolbox” and that we already “have all the clues” we need. That points towards someone engineering-related and a character we would expect to come out at some point. With Gotrek, Felix, and Ulrika Magdova already released as free legendary heroes, their companion Malakai Makaisson seems to be a likely candidate to follow them in this role. He’s a Dwarf slayer who is also a gifted engineer and – bonus points – has a connection with Nuln.

Again, we don’t really know anything about the paid legendary hero, so we’ll forego any speculation on their identity for now.