The latest DLC for Creative Assembly's Warhammer sandbox is here, and there's a lot to go over.
Total War: Warhammer 3 Shadows of Change adds three new Legendary Lords for players to pick from, alongside new units and campaign goals to play around with. It's solid enough for DLC, with a couple of especially monstrous units and a highlight in how fun 'The Changeling' campaign is.
These additions come at a premium price, however, one that may give pause to any players who aren't so hardcore as to need every last piece of additional content that's added. I still had a lot of fun playing through the various campaigns on offer, but players who aren't interested in the factions being buffed here may want to wait for a sale.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a code provided by Sega. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.
Shadows of Change: What I liked
Straight away, there's a nice bit of variety in what got added through this DLC. Shadows of Change adds a single Legendary Lord to three different factions: The Changeling for Tzeentch, Yuan Bo (the Jade Dragon) for Grand Cathay, and Mother Ostankya for Kislev.
Outside of these Legendary Lords, who all have new campaign mechanics to play around with, there are some impressive new units, like Kislev's towering Incarnate Elemental of Beasts or Tzeentch's nightmarish Vortex Mutalith Beast. Other additions like The Things in the Woods, Tzaangors, and Onyx Crowmen better flesh out the infantry options of each faction.
The Changeling, in particular, provides a fun shift from how you usually play. The Changeling's goal is to destabilize the entire realm, causing factions (both Order and Chaos aligned) to fight among each other. To do this, the Changeling has to build cults underneath existing enemy settlements, draining resources and spreading influence in order to build up your Horde-style army. Appropriately enough, the Changeling can also steal the appearance of other Legendary Lords, wading into battle as Grimgor Ironhide or Karl Franz.
From time to time, the Changeling can also enact Schemes. These vary based on the region you're in and can have tangible effects on the final battle, causing you to gain special reinforcements or deny the enemy key support. Running around causing havoc and starting cults is a lot of fun, and combined with Tzeetch's existing Changing of the Ways mechanic, you can cause an unprecedented of problems for everyone around you.
Meanwhile, Yuan Bo has a particularly interesting setup if you play in Immortal Empires, controlling settlements in Lustria and back in Cathay. You'll also have to choose whether to split resources between the two and develop your Cathayan settlements or take an initial payment to abandon some territory and commit to Lustria.
This Jade Dragon, as he's called, can also empower the Great Compass with additional direction and benefits while using unique Jade and Stone resources for a variety of edicts, such as enhancing a settlement so all military buildings grant additional bonuses.
Finally, Mother Ostankya is arguably the strangest of the bunch. Isolated from the rest of Kislev, she uses special access to creatures of the forest, like spiders and bears, to overwhelm enemies in early fights. Defeating or allying with various factions unlocks ingredients for her Witch Hut, where she can craft powerful blessings to buff her own troops or curses that debilitate enemies in battle.
There are some drawbacks to how she players (more on that below,) but I do like how her campaign encourages lighter skirmishes and guerrilla warfare early on. In general, if you're tired of the existing setup for these three factions, then the Legendary Lords in Shadows of Change provide some meaningful shake-ups.
Shadows of Change: What I disliked
Mother Ostankya has a bit of a strange setup, where she doesn't have access to an extremely large number of Kislevite units and buildings until she directly controls (or is allied with the leader of) a handful of key settlements such as Praag. This is difficult in the Realms of Chaos campaign, where she starts in the Chaos Wastes, but it's downright grueling in Immortal Empires, where she's been moved to the Druchii coasts just north of Morathi.
Until such a time as you can ally with other Kislevite factions, you're limited to a handful of troops like the aforementioned spiders, Kossar archers, as well as the newly-added Things in the Woods and Incarnate Elementals of Beasts.
A DLC that isn't focused on an entirely new race with a $25 price tag feels extremely aggressive.
On paper, this makes sense, putting emphasis on her role as the hag that terrorizes the night, and she wouldn't be able to immediately put together more 'civilized' armies until she grows in strength. In practice, this is something of a pain point, and even if you're an extremely skilled player, you'll have to min-max every turn in order to beat armies that can have far, far more variety than you, even at early stages.
Outside of this pain point, I have to mention the price of the DLC, as it's $25. This is the same price as the previous DLC, Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs, but that was a race pack that bordered on a full expansion, as it introduced a wild number of new units and animations, as well as new faction gameplay mechanics. Here, while there are certainly new units and impressive monsters, the 'core' of each faction was already set in place with the base game.
I completely understand that inflation is a thing. $15 in 2023 does not have the purchasing power that it did in 2017. Still, having a DLC that isn't focused on an entirely new race cost this much feels extremely aggressive.
Shadows of Change: Should you buy?
This DLC is a bit of a mixed bag. There's no denying the quality of the content being offered, as these lords and units do a good job of shaking things up to the point that I want to keep on playing The Changeling for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, there's simply no ignoring the price point. Again, I absolutely understand that inflation is a thing, but this feels extremely aggressive, considering how much content is included, even if that content is quality.
Ultimately, I do think Shadows of Change is still worth buying if you're someone who already enjoys playing Total War: Warhammer 3. With that said, the price increase can't be ignored, and if you're only truly interested in trying out one particular Legendary Lord, this is definitely a harder ask than many prior packs. If you're not huge on Kislev, Tzeentch, or Grand Cathay, then you may want to wait until a sale happens.
Total War: Warhammer 3 Shadows of Change
The Shadows of Change pack introduces 3 new Legendary Lords for Tzeentch, Grand Cathay, and Kislev, usable in both the Realm of Chaos and Immortal Empires campaigns.