During the launch of Total War: Warhammer II last year, there was a conspicuous absence of the Tomb Kings from the list of factions that populate the New World. With the Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC, Creative Assembly are rectifying that, bringing the Tomb Kings to the forefront in a way that respects the faction’s lore and makes them stand out from the rest of the Warhammer races.
The Tomb Kings are the Warhammer universe’s riff on Ancient Egypt, a long lost empire that has risen from the grave and seeks to reclaim its former glory and territory. But unlike their fellow undead Vampire Counts, who specialize in raising armies rapidly to expand quickly, the Tomb Kings are far more insular and protective of their holdings. They are a defence-oriented faction as a result, but that doesn’t mean these mummies are lacking on the battlefield.
In general, the Tomb Kings focus on fielding legions of weaker infantry and fast moving chariots to overwhelm their enemies, while powerful animated statues like the Ushabti and Necrosphinx use their higher defense and attack to crush them. Your starting units are relatively weak, and will die quickly, but they are meant to hold the line for your more specialized units to dominate the enemy. This is further reflected in their unique healing mechanic, which heals your army and resurrects some of the dead after certain number of your own soldiers are killed. Never before has it been this fun or strategic to watch your men get slaughtered.
Unlike other factions across both Warhammer games, the Tomb Kings do not need to pay gold for units or their upkeep. Instead, each unit has a cap on the total amount that can be built at any time, with the cap only rising as more military infrastructure is built in your cities. This breeds caution, as you must carefully avoid stretching your forces too thin while simultaneously conquering enough to keep your finances in good health.
In a departure from previous Total War: Warhammer faction DLC, Rise of the Tomb Kings also does not come with a mini campaign. Instead, players have the choice of four legendary lords with their own starting positions instead of two. I welcome the change, as each of the new lords feel far more fleshed out, both in the diversity of their abilities and their starting locations, than previous DLC leaders. My personal favourite is Grand Hierophant Khatep, who starts out in the Dark Elves’ home continent of Naggaroth and must contend with them and Norscan raiders in his opening turns.
Ultimately, Rise of the Tomb Kings is a sign that Creative Assembly are more than willing to experiment with the Total War formula to create unique and engaging factions that fit with the established lore. If future DLC is as strong as this, Warhammer and Total War fans everywhere can continue to look forward to conquering the world in increasingly entertaining ways.