Total War: Warhammer 3's Thrones of Decay reveal has finally made me excited about the game again

Total War: Warhammer 3 has been in a weird place for a while, with 2023's experimental Shadows of Change DLC being so poorly received that Creative Assembly ended up reworking the whole thing and giving out freebies in the form of new lords. Things have been steadily improving, though, and with the reveal of Thrones of Decay they're poised to get even better—if CA sticks the landing. 

It's hard not to be pumped after watching the Thrones of Decay trailer, which teases a helluva lot of Warhammer goodness. I confess I did shout "Yes!" when I spotted a group of dwarfs guzzling booze at a table on the thunderbarge. Flying into battle is the perfect time to get completely sauced. 

(Image credit: Sega)

The DLC is focused on dwarfs, the Empire—about time—and Nurgle, introducing three new legendary lords, the most exciting of which is undoubtedly Tamurkhan. He's one of Nurgle's greatest champions and is a literal maggot. But he's a maggot with ambition. He can possess corpses, and is currently sauntering around in the body of an ogre tyrant, Karaka Breakmountain, who rides an imposing toad dragon known as Bubebolos—a fantastic name. 

Tamurkhan's campaign mechanic sees him striding around the world recruiting and dominating warlords from Chaos and Norscan tribes in an effort to bring ruin to the world. Good times! Since his host is an ogre tyrant he's a tanky lad, naturally, and he can stick it out in battle for a long time thanks to his Feast of the Maggot Lord ability, which triggers when he dies, stealing the life from the enemies around him. 

The Maggot Lord is joined by a bunch of new units, as well. Here's the new additions to the Nurgle roster:

  • Kayzk the Befouled (Legendary Hero) 
  • Chaos Lord of Nurgle (Lord)
  • Chaos Sorcerer of Nurgle (Hero)
  • Plague Ogres
  • Rot Knights
  • Toad Dragons 
  • Pestigors 
  • Bile Trolls

(Image credit: Sega)

If this was any other DLC I'd be preparing to play Tamurkhan immediately, but Thrones of Decay also includes some dwarf love and flying ships, so it's going to be real tricky picking my first faction. Malakai Makaisson is representing the stumpy lads, bringing with him an impressive airship known as the Spirit of Grungi. This ties into the former engineer's campaign mechanic, where the ship can be upgraded as you travel across the map and even be called into battle. 

Since Malakai took the Slayer's Oath, he also has a second mechanic, Malakai's Adventures, where he searches for the most dangerous battles so he can put his latest inventions to the test and improve upon their designs. 

In battle, Malakai is a ranged support lord, tossing bombs and eviscerating enemies with his shotgun. He also carries a very large hammer that will smash your face off. He's joined by some new pals, too, listed below: 

  • Garagrim Ironfist (Legendary Hero) 
  • Daemonslayer (Lord)
  • Dragonslayer (Hero) 
  • Doomseekers
  • Goblin Hewer
  • Thunderbarge
  • Grudge Raker Thunderers
  • Slayer Pirates 

(Image credit: Sega)

Finishing off this trio of new factions is Elspeth Von Draken, duking it out on behalf of the Empire. She's a dragon-riding wizard who's so chock full of magic I'm surprised she hasn't popped. Naturally she's a ranged lord, but she can still charge into the throng on her dragon and start dishing out punishments with her scythe. 

Elspeth's first campaign mechanic, Imperial Gunnery School, beefs up units with upgrades and powerful abilities, and all they need to do is deal damage on the battlefield, in return for which they'll earn schematics that can be swapped for boons from Wissenland and Nuln. 

Gardens of Morr is Elspeth's second campaign mechanic, which lets her set up the titular gardens in friendly or neutral Empire settlements. These sacred sites are going to come in ridiculously handy, since they allow instant travel between them, albeit at a cost and with a cooldown. The Empire is absolutely massive, and beset by enemies on all sides, so this should make Elspeth incredibly reactive. Fighting against her is going to suck. 

It turns out that Malakai isn't the only one bringing ships into battle, either. Once Elspeth arrives, Empire players will be able to field landships, which you probably noticed in the trailer. Here's what else you'll be able to play with soon:

  • Theodore Bruckner (Legendary Hero)
  • Master Engineer (Lord) 
  • Engineer (Hero) 
  • Marienburg Landship
  • Steam Tank Volley Gun
  • Nuln Ironsides
  • Hochland Long Rifles
  • Knights of the Black Rose

(Image credit: Sega)

So that's five new units, a legendary hero, a lord and a hero per faction, and if you're not interested in all three, Creative Assembly has you covered. You'll be able to purchase the DLC piecemeal. If you just want Tamurkhan, you can simply buy that faction for $9/£7.49/€9, which is similar in price to the old Lord Packs (though they included two legendary lords). If you want the lot, you can buy the full DLC for $22.92/£19.10/€22.92.

This isn't going to be something Creative Assembly keeps doing, however. Following Thrones of Decay, the studio will be working on smaller DLCs, says Total War's head of community Adam Freeman, "so that we can help to keep both the value, and the price right for you".

I like the meaty DLC, to be honest, but I'm also happy for Creative Assembly to focus on more manageable stuff. Back in Total War: Warhammer 2, the two-lord DLCs like The Prophet & The Warlock and The Warden & The Paunch were among my favourite post-launch additions. 

Thrones of Decay doesn't have a hard release date yet, but it's due this spring. And if you'd rather save your cash, you'll still be able to enjoy some free additions when the 5.0 patch arrives. These include another legendary lord, a hero and the Nemesis Crown (which sounds like it will work a bit like the Sword of Khaine). Dwarf, Empire and Nurgle campaign reworks are also planned for the core game. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.