Total War: Warhammer II - The Queen & The Crone Overview

By Marcello Perricone 12 Jun 2018 0

The second DLC for Total War: Warhammer II fills a gap that’s been in the game ever since release, giving High and Dark Elves some much needed attention. The first second game’s first Lord Pack fleshes out two minor Elven factions and levels the playing field against the vanilla ones, as well as adding six new units, two new Legendary Lords, and several Regiments of Renown to the race’s roster.

Like most Total War DLCs, the worthiness of the Pack comes down to how invested one is in its theme. Elven lovers will get their kicks out of every addition, while dwarf masochists will find it a waste of gold… but if you have at least a passing interest in playing as the pointy-eared bastards, you're in for a world of fun.

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The first major change brought by The Queen & The Crone DLC is the fleshing out of Avelorn, Ulthuan's Inner Shore’s topmost kingdom. Ruled by the beautiful Everqueen Alarielle, Avelorn is the epitome of the Ten Kingdoms’ rustic beauty and the last line of defence, overseeing the Great Vortex.

Alarielle takes part as the first of two new Legendary Lords (or ladies), possessing a campaign presence that differs from any other main character in the game. The Everqueen leaves lingering effects through every province she passes, buffing the region and bolstering public order, opening new strategic opportunities.

But as the embodiment of the goddess Earth Mother Isha, Alarielle is also uniquely susceptible to Chaos and enemy presence. The integrity of Ulthuan directly affects faction wide bonuses to recruitment and power, strengthening Avelorn when the Island belongs to the High Elves, and sapping its power if not. Similarly, the Queen herself falters as the world falls to daemon kind, decreasing her magical powers and increasing convalescing times, while boosting her units stats to represent her people’s determination in fighting back against the heretic onslaught.

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In battle, Alarielle is a powerful -- if fragile -- presence. Her abilities are capable of changing the course of an engagement, almost rivalling Teclis in terms of spellcasting. As she levels up and unlocks quest items and campaign skills, the Everqueen makes a bigger and bigger impact in the game world and can easily hold itself against other Lords.

On the dark side, we have Crone Hellebron, Hag Queen of Har Ganeth. An old being beyond imagination, this Druchii wizard kills slaves by the thousands through a yearly ritual called the Death Night in order to fuel her power and eternal youth through. This is represented in-game via a new excel-like use of the Slaves resource, which must be acquired via battles or captured settlements and sacrificed by the droves every so often, lest huge penalties applied.

While the fully rejuvenated Hag Queen enjoys several faction wide bonuses such as extra income, public order, and unit’s battle performance, a drained old hag is unable to keep their murderous society together and loses all vigour, entering battles in a 'Very Tired' state and suffering several harsh penalties to nearly every aspect of the logistical campaign.

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In battle, the Crone is a bit more physical than the Queen, and she can ride atop a magical chariot called the Cauldron of Blood which causes terror on the battlefield. The Dark Elf wizard’s spells are destructive, creating a stark contrast with the Everqueen’s support arsenal.

On the unit side, the DLC adds several new units. The High Elves get the Sisters of Avelorn -- an elite unit comprised of women warriors of Ulthuan, armed with magical bows and extremely skilled with a blade -- and the Shadow Warriors -- ranger-like scouts who can deploy in vanguard mode and shoot undetected, firing in any direction even while running. Both units are extremely versatile, able to hold their ground against standard units and deal one hell of a hit to enemy forces as they rush into melee range.

Meanwhile, the Dark Elves have the Sisters of Slaughter and the Doomfire Warlocks -- murderous poisoned whip-wielding lady gladiators that cause fear, and an elite spellcasting magical cavalry that deals both magical and poisonous attacks in melee. As with Avelorn’s additions, these new units are much more powerful than standard units and can be devastating on the battlefield. 

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Those new units come accompanied by the new and sorely needed Elven Regiments of Renown, featuring everything from fear-inducing Lothern Sea Guards and flaming lance Dragon Princes to pegasi-riding Dark Riders. Warhammer II launched without any RoR for any of the vanilla factions, so The Queen & The Crone finally fills a hole that’s been in the game ever since launch (I expect a Lizardmen and Skaven Lord Pack to be in the works at the moment of writing).

Last but not least, the DLC’s factions also have access to unique characters, in the shape of the High Elf Handmaiden hero and the Dark Elf Supreme Sorceress wizard lord. The Asur hero is a damage dealer with campaign skills that affect diplomacy, trade, and influence, which is weird -- given they are a 100-strong female-only bodyguard regiment in the lore, one would expect them to be more suitable for a region of renown than a single, lonely, (almost) meaningless hero.

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The Druchii lady is the first Dark Elf wizard capable of leading armies, and it packs quite a punch with its ability to wield the magic lores of Fire, Dark, Shadows, Beasts, and Death. If that wasn’t enough, Supreme Sorceresses can ride anything from a Dark Steed or Cold One to a Dark Pegasus, Manticore, and even a Black Dragon, making them very versatile and allowing players to gear them up as they please.

The Queen & The Crone is a fantastic DLC, continuing Warhammer II’s DLC tradition of batting 400. This Lord Pack deepens the already fantastic asymmetry of Warhammer II’s campaign, and both Alarielle and Hellebron succeed as heroes and characters. If you play as the High Elves or the Dark Elves, this DLC is a must have.

Wait! What about the free stuff?

The launch of The Queen & The Crone accompanied the release of a free Elven Legendary Lord, in the shape of Alith Anar. This ranged High Elf represents the faction of Nagarythe, located at the northwest of Ulthuan’s outer shores, bringing the High Elven playable faction count to a lovely “four”.

Unlike Tyrion’s strength, Teclis magic, or Alarielle’s defensiveness, Alith is all about stealth and speed, enjoying reduced global recruitment durations and extra movement range and ambush success chance for his armies. He also gets a discount on the upkeep of Shadow Walker units, allowing him to field several more of this very versatile group.

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In order to reflect his sneaky ways, all armies faction wide go into ambush stance by default in the campaign, making Alith a very dangerous adversary. He also gets a list of 'Marked For Death' people every few turns, which allies nicely with his unique Invocation of Morai-Heg rite that spawns a Hand of the Shadow Crown Hero with a one-use guaranteed assassination skill.

The free update also adds the Sword of Khaine to the campaign, which can be obtained by capturing the Shrine of Khaine settlement in the north of Ulthuan and building the Shrine of the Widowmaker. Choosing to draw the sword at this point gives one of your lords the very powerful weapon, but all battle and army bonuses are offset by faction wide penalties to public order, unit upkeep, and diplomatic relations.

The sword works as a trackable item on the campaign map, appearing as a large rotating red sword symbol above the army of the general who has it. Defeating that army gives the winner the choice to keep the sword for themselves or return it to the Shrine, creating a very interesting and cycling dynamic that makes the game feel a bit more alive and unique.

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Lastly, there’s the Tomb Kings new Bone Giant unit, which is a towering construct who wears a massive magical bow capable of bringing down walls from hundreds of yards away. The Bone Giant needs to be constructed through a level 5 building but acts as a very resilient magical artillery unit capable of wreaking havoc in the battlefield at an alarming rate.

All in all, the release of The Queen & The Crone and its accompanying updates elevated the already excellent Warhammer II to new levels, and I seriously hope CA continues to push its boundaries.

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