A Guide to Choosing Which Faction to Play in Total War: Warhammer

Total War: Warhammer has arrived. Upon booting the game the first thing you’ll need to do is commit to a faction to play as. There are a total of five factions, and each is distinct with unique mechanics and units, making your choice more important than in any other Total War game in history.

Below we will introduce you to each of the Total War: Warhammer factions in an effort to help you choose the one best suited for you.


Style: The Chaos are centered around heavily armored infantry and monsters, foregoing a variety of ranged units in the process. They can’t trade, and are poor at diplomacy. Instead, they are built around moving swiftly through the map raiding villages and pillaging them. As they do so corruption is spread leading to public disorder and rebellion in opposing territory.

Difficulty: Normal. Chaos begins in a safe area to the North where they can push downward into Empire territory in one direction. They have many tough units similar to Dwarfs, but are lacking in missile units. The main difficulty comes from their anti-diplomacy, aggressive oriented nature which encourages constant offensive play.

Notable Units:

  • Chaos Giant – An anti-infantry monster that deals heavy damage.
  • Chosen – A heavily armored and shielded infantry unit that can stand toe-to-toe with most opposing infantry.
  • Hellcannon – A siege artillery unit that is effective at damaging opposing structures.

Leader Options:

  • Archaon the Everchosen – A powerful melee fighter and leader that has access to Lore of Fire spells. Army comes equipped with Chaos Warriors, Chaos Warriors (Halberds), and Chosen (Great Weapons).
  • Kohlek Suneater – A massive monster that supports his followers from melee range. Comes with Dragon Ogres, Chaos Warriors, and Chaos Warriors (Halberds).
  • Prince Sigvald the Magnificent – A melee fighter and leader with a human-like appearance. Starts with Hellcannon, Chosen (Halberds), and Chosen.

Primary Enemy: The Empire. The Chaos begin their journey to the North and immediately desire to conquer territory to the South. The Empire is their nearest neighbor, and one that they wish to corrupt and overwhelm.

Recommended For: Players who prefer aggressive play, but might not enjoy the punishing difficulty of Greenskins. Also, the lack of missile units makes this faction best for players who prefer swarming the enemy with melee units and cavalry.


Style: The Dwarfs employ resilient units backed by powerful artillery. Without access to magic they rely heavily on the game’s largest technology tree. Their primary mechanic is called Grudges, which sends you out on missions of revenge against enemies who take aggressive action. They are also capable of using underground tunnels to move around the map, particularly through rough terrain such as mountains which densely popular their starting region.

Difficulty: Easy. Dwarf units require less micro-management than other factions. They are also much more reliable in combat allowing for less punishment from mistakes. The Dwarfs spawn in a region densely packed with mountains, which serve as great natural defense from approaching armies.

Notable Units:

  • Gyrobomber – A flying war machines capable of bombarding the battlefield.
  • Irondrakes – A flamethrower unit that torches groups of enemies.
  • Slayers – Powerful axe infantry that excel in melee combat.

Leader Options:

  • Thorgrim Grudgebearer – Melee fighter and successful leader revered by Dwarfs. Begins campaign with an army of Grudge Thrower, Quarrellers, and Hammerers.
  • Ungrim Ironfist– Similar to Thorgrim, this leader is a melee fighter and leader. His army comes equipped with Thunderers, Slayers, and Longbeards.

Primary Enemy: Greenskins. The Dwarfs spawn at the mountaintops on the southwest portion of the map. To their West are the aggressive Greenskins who attack early and often. To their North is The Empire, which contains a wide variety of kingdoms that can become great allies if desired, or enemies if you wish.

Recommended For: New players who don’t want to micro-manage a lot of units will find the Dwarfs welcoming. This faction is considered the easiest of the bunch to play effectively thanks in-part to its units having high health pools and few abilities to keep on top of.


Style: The Greenskins are encouraged to constantly be in combat. When sitting around, the morale of units becomes brittle resulting in reduced effectiveness. Combat increases the ‘Fightiness’ of troops, and even spawns ‘Waaagh! armies’, meaning that you will have no room to avoid confrontation. Similar to the Dwarfs, this faction can employ underground tunnels to navigate rough terrain.

Difficulty: Hard. The Greenskins are by far the most aggressive faction requiring you to be very careful and deliberate about initiating battle and replenishing troops. This faction also has poor economic capabilities, making it a challenge to balance troop replenishment. Players who excel in battle, even when at a unit disadvantage, will find the Greenskins preferable.

Notable Units:

  • Arachnarok Spider – A massive armored spider that can pass quickly over rough terrain and poison enemies.
  • Doom Diver Catapult – A slow siege unit that deals area of effect damage from great distance.
  • Giant – A massive monster capable of striking fear and terror to opposing armies.

Leader Options:

  • Grimgor Ironhide – A strong melee leader who has the unique ability of being able to buff a unit of Black Orcs in his army. Comes equipped with Black Orcs, Orc Boar Boyz, and Doom Diver Catapult.
  • Azhag the Slaughterer – A melee fighter with access to Lore of Death spells. Can ride a unique Wyvern mount. Begins campaign with Forest Goblin Spider Riders, Orc Big ‘Uns, and Goblin Archers.

Primary Enemy: Dwarfs and The Empire. The Greenskins begin their campaign to the West where they can safely push their Eastern borders without fear of being attacked from many directions. The Dwarfs and The Empire both have ill-defended cities ready to be captured near their boundary with the Greenskins, allowing for an opportunity for a strong start to a journey predicated on domination.

Recommended For: Players who enjoy constantly engaging in battle will enjoy the Greenskins. The faction is based around attacking nearby enemies constantly with low upkeep units. In battle, armies tend to have large numbers of units backed by brittle leadership that requires careful micro-management.

The Empire

Style: A balanced faction with a large sum of options. Employs useful technologies. Can assign Lords to offices to grant bonuses for the empire. Focuses on reuniting a fractured Empire through brute force and diplomacy.

Difficulty: Normal. Although The Empire is capable of producing a strong economy and military, it is surrounded by enemies at every angle. Managing diplomacy is a challenge. Though, it has the most familiar playstyle which allows Total War veterans to ease in with the least resistance possible.

Notable Units:

  • Demigryph Knights – A mounted unit equipped with armor, spear, and a shield. Is best used as an anti-infantry unit that can hide in tree lines for powerful ambushes.
  • Luminark of Hysh – A mounted unit that provides an aura of protection for allies, and can attack from afar.
  • Steam Tank – A large war machine unit that can’t be routed, and deals devastating damage all around it.

Leader Options:

  • Emperor Karl Franz – A mounted melee fighter with strong leadership skills. Comes with Halberdiers, Handgunners, and Reiksguard.
  • Balthasar Gelt – A Metal Wizard that strikes down foes with dangerous magic. His army starts with Greatswords, Outriders, and Mortar.

Primary Enemy: Vampire Counts. This faction spawns a moderate distance from your starting point, but toward the mid to late game becomes a difficult force to deal with as it spreads corruption within your borders.

Recommended For: This faction is most similar to armies in past Total War games. If you enjoy employing spearmen, swordsmen, cavalry, etc., and are shy of breaking from that mold, The Empire provides something familiar yet capable of enjoying the new mechanics that have been introduced in Total War: Warhammer.

Vampire Counts

Style: The Vampire Counts rely on their living dead to overwhelm the opposition. Weak, crumbling units make up the front line, but can be resurrected using magic. Behind the front line are a few elite units that can go toe-to-toe with just about any faction’s best units. Along the journey the Vampire Counts will spread corruption within enemy territory similar to Chaos, affecting public order and making expansion easier.

Difficulty: Normal. Vampire Counts have the luxury of beginning in a safe area of the map that allows the faction to setup comfortably. They are incapable of proper diplomacy, making map positioning very important. Since their units crumble instead of routing, they require strong support from elite units, which can be a challenge.

Notable Units:

  • Hexwraiths – An ethereal cavalry unit that ignores most physical attacks capable of ambushing opponents from tree lines.
  • Terrorgheist – A flying monster that is proficient at taking down large, elite enemies. Can replenish health.
  • Varghulf – A fast moving monster that replenishes health and strikes terror into the hearts of opponents.

Leader Options:

  • Mannfred von Carstein – A well rounded leader capable of fighting in melee and using magic. Comes with Varghulf, Fell Bats, and Crypt Ghouls.
  • Heinrich Kemmler – A dangerous wizard who is a master of the Lore of Vampires. His army is equipped with Hexwraiths, Cairn Wraiths, and Dire Wolves.

Primary Enemy: The Empire. This faction begins its journey to the East side of the map, where is quickly encounters small Empire kingdoms to the West. For most of the game it will have to deal with The Empire in addition to the aggressive Chaos to the North.

Recommended For: The Vampire Counts is perhaps the most unique faction in the game making it a radical departure from standard Total War play. This faction is best for players who want something different, or prefer factions that employ a weak front line with powerful elite units, such as the Zerg in StarCraft 2.