Part of the problem with every DLC for a Total War Warhammer game is making each Legendary Lord different. Rather than focus on one faction, the latest release, Shadows of Change, adds three new Legendary Lords for Tzeentch, Grand Cathay and Kislev, all radically changing how their factions play.
As a devout worshipper of Chaos, I spent my time messing around with the Changeling, the new Tzeentch Legendary Lord, who drastically changes the way you play the game. Rather than conquering every city on the map, the Changeling is a little more… subtle, in it’s approach. You’re still attacking cities, yes, but never actually taking them.
Instead, the core mechanic of the Changeling is the Trickster Cults- these are buildings you can put in other people’s settlements, allowing you to leech part of that city’s income while also recruiting your own horrors of Tzeentch.
In exchange, the Changeling has a few perks- for one, boundaries don’t really exist for you anymore since you get no penalty for crossing them. The Changeling themself can also shapeshift into other Legendary Lords- a neat trait considering you’re essentially a frail wizard man.
Considering my love of playing more aggressive factions, the Changeling is the kind of Legendary Lord that really shakes things up. You’re really forced to take things like positioning into account- as great as it’d be to infiltrate a major city, it’s easier to capture the smaller settlements around it, then fill them with cultists who have a tiny chance of spreading the cult to other settlements.
This is where the Changeling really shines- while different factions all have their own campaigns, their goals always seem to align on some level. Daemon Prince is expanding his domain, Kislev are mustering their forces to free Ursun, et cetera. But with the Changeling your main goal is completing Tzeentch’s schemes-
As a servant of Tzeentch, this is, of course, all in the service of some higher scheme. The Changeling’s campaign goal is a variety of schemes- a complex list of tasks they need to complete during the game’s campaign. It’s actually really impressive how different these tasks are- some can include building high-ranking Cult buildings in key cities, while others include eliminating entire factions altogether. It’s important to note these are all hyper-specific: Tzeentch’s Scheme will for some reason wiping out a specific city off the map, while setting up the tiny settlement of Nordland as your home base.
These naturally lead to bigger setpiece Schemes, all culminating in a big climactic Ultimate Scheme.
I should point out that the other two Legendary Lords operate on similar rules as well- the Jade Dragon for Grand Cathay and Mother Ostankya also have these checklists they need to fulfill, creating a much more focused round of legendary lords.
In the Changeling’s case, however, just because you’re playing a cunning trickster doesn’t mean your units have any subtlety to them. The Changeling’s forces largely consist of Tzeentch Daemons, like Blue and Pink Horrors or Tzaangors. This kind of leads to my major gripe with the Changeling- for a Lord built around cunning and trickery, you’re surprisingly reliant on combat. Considering the Chaos Dwarves had their Caravan, I kind of wish the Changeling had more options to install Trickster Cults outside of brute force and a random chance from the Agent Halls.
More often than not I found combat a chore- it’s the building of these Trickster Cults that’s more fun than the typical Total War Affair. The Cults themselves have a Discovery mechanic to them- you can get more resources for building Parasitic Buildings, but once discovery hits too high, your host may suddenly decide to spend resources to evict you.
There’s also the case of protecting your buildings- you can’t establish cults in ruined settlements, so it’s in your best interest to stop everyone from totally killing each other. It creates a fun dynamic, since I thought I’d united most of the factions in one province only for an external faction to come in and start razing settlements. Maybe it says something about how much fun the Changeling’s actual campaign is that the big army battles Total War is known for end up being its most boring parts.
Overall, though, if you’re hankering for more new ways to enjoy Total War: Warhammer III you’re definitely set for a good time with the Shadows of Change DLC. Be it collecting Hexes with Mother Ostyanka or the Jade Compass with Yuan Bo, all three of these lords put you in for a good time with the game.
Early access provided by SEGA