Cathay is coming in Total War: Warhammer III. Here’s some of what we know about this mysterious and powerful empire, and how they might play in-game.

Total War: Warhammer III was officially announced a few days ago with an awesome cinematic trailer. There was so much to break down, including a tease right at the end of the trailer that revealed Grand Cathay on the map. On an official FAQ thread published around the same time, it was confirmed that Cathay is coming to Total War: Warhammer at release. But who are the Cathay and why is it so exciting that they are going to be a part of the game?

First, it is important to know that the Cathay have never really received tabletop models or army books from Games Workshop, despite having such a rich presence in the lore of the Eastern Lands. Because of this, many fans of Warhammer Fantasy and the Total War: Warhammer series believed that Creative Assembly would never bring Cathay to the game. But those doubters have now been proven wrong — so what can people expect from this new faction?

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From the little interaction that Cathay has had with the Old World, we know that the Cathay are an incredibly wealthy and powerful empire, with massive and diverse military might. This military strength is certainly needed because they are threatened, not only by the Chaos Wastes to their north, but also Hobgoblins and the island empire of Nippon. In addition to standard Cathay warriors, semi-intelligent Ogres, Dragons, clay automatons and even giant living statues of stone are said to fight on the side of Cathay.

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Gunpowder is known within Cathay, as well as Dark and High Magics and the magic of Astromancy. This means that Total War: Warhammer players can expect to wield all sorts of different and powerful troops in their armies, combining magics and technology with the strength and courage of the Cathay warriors. Mounts and flying creatures such as Dragons and Kir-in will likely play a large role in Legendary Lord upgrades as well, which will be needed against the hordes of Chaos revealed in the announcement trailer.

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Looking beyond the military aspects of the Cathay to their wider society, there are a number of grand cities and monasteries throughout Cathay. Wei-jin (or Weijin) is the seat of the Dragon Throne and capital of the Cathay Empire, a city rumored to be perhaps the greatest city in the whole world based on the stories of travelers that manage make it to and from the Old World to Cathay along the dangerous Silk Road. Monasteries and philosophy seem to play an important role in Cathay society too, with different orders of monks that are said to have incredible powers.

The Great Bastion is another incredibly important landmark. It’s a towering fortress wall that borders the northern edge of Cathay and keeps the raiding bands of Kugan and Chaos Warriors at bay. Several times throughout Cathay’s history, the Great Bastion has been breached, always with devastating effects upon the empire. Philosophy, monks, military excellence and a massive wall all seem to point to the ancient dynasties of China being an inspiration for the Cathay empire, with the Dark and High Magics even being referred to as yin and yang.

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In a video talking about the design process for Cathay and the other underexplored faction coming to the game, Kislev, Games Workshop employees stated that they were creating “new races … that have never been seen before” including some new ideas about how to approach Cathay’s hierarchy that people will not expect. From this, we can guess that entirely new units, buildings and game mechanics will be coming to the third Total War: Warhammer through the Cathay faction, which is extremely exciting.

However, that point on hierarchy is more interesting. People are unsure what it might mean, but some have suggested that actual dragons might make up the top of the Cathay hierarchy. Perhaps the Dragon Emperor is not so much a human imbued with the Dragon, but rather a Dragon gifted with intelligence and the ability to rule. Other theories involve the Skaven of Clan Eshin, who have historically had a close relationship with the Cathay empire. It could also be a race or system of hierarchy entirely new to the world of Warhammer fantasy.

Whatever the case may be, with Cathay players can expect a faction that is more diverse than some of those from the other games. Where the Dwarves rely heavily on ranged weaponry and thick armor, the Elves on magic, the Skaven on schemes and poisons and machines, and the Tomb Kings on creatures and hulking statues, Cathay will likely bring a rounded mixture of almost all of these things, making them an extremely exciting and powerful prospect.

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