Title: Total War: Warhammer – Call of the Beastmen
Available On: PC, Mac OS
Developer: Creative Assembly
Official Site: https://www.totalwar.com/product/total-war-warhammer
Release Date: 28 July 2016
Where To Buy: Steam
Rarely do I get excited for premium DLC but I made an exception for Call of the Beastmen. Total War: Warhammer combined the right dose of strategy and fantasy that I needed, and having an additional campaign added to the title only makes it better. Total War: Warhammer, for those who have never played a Total War game, is an addictive turn-based empire-building game that features real-time battles. For the full review of the base game, you can find it here.
I wasn’t overly familiar with the Beastmen races from the Warhammer tabletop games before playing this particular add-on, and since I rarely stray away from my feeble human race who are usually preoccupied with Skaven, Vampire Counts, Greenskins (orcs) and Warriors of Chaos, not to mention their own petty squabbling; the Beastmen didn’t spring to my mind as a must have race for this title.
First of all, I wanted to see what playing against the Beastmen would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed. All of their units are well crafted and have great sounds and animation, most impressively are their larger units that can terrorize large groups of troops. My only real criticism is that they don’t seem varied enough, and really don’t have a plan B. The only viable strategy as the Beastmen is to hit hard and hit fast. In a long drawn out encounter, the Beastmen don’t seem to fare well, much like the Vampire Counts.
Playing as the Beastmen race is a different experience from the classic Total War games since you are more focused on combat than building up resources. You may notice similarities to the mechanics from Attila: Total War. I found this was a refreshing change from my usual style of gameplay (although by the end I was frustrated), where I prepare my defenses in earnest and expand exponentially. You will find that the Beastmen playstyle is similar to the Warriors of Chaos (DLC) where you control a horde rather than an empire. You don’t own any lands, and you must roam from place to place making camp to replenish troops and upgrade your warband.
I really didn’t enjoy having to halt my army from moving in order to recruit troops. This took up a lot of my turns as I could only recruit 2 troop stacks per turn, and I only started the campaign with my main leader stack having 10 units. I found this whole process tedious and it is compounded by the fact that your troops will not replenish unless you use the encampment stance.
Understandably I cannot move after I initiate the recruitment of troops, but as the Beastmen, you have to make camp before you are allowed to recruit anything at all. Doing so takes up 100% movement to accomplish, so even moving a shorter distance whilst recruiting is not an option. Cancelling this order doesn’t resolve the issue either. Once you have made camp, you are committed to it, you can’t unselect it and resume movement, you must wait a turn and make the best of it.
Since you don’t have control of any lands, you cannot locally recruit troops as you would with other races. As the Empire, for example, I would move my forces to the border of my territory, recruiting along the journey to the frontier of my lands, rather than keeping that force garrisoned, recruiting locally from each province as I went. If you were in enemy territory or had no buildings that supported recruitment, you could pay more to purchase troops globally, using all of your facilities, but this was usually 3 times more expensive to do so.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t an option as the Beastmen, as they don’t control buildings or towns. When you make camp, you can upgrade your camp facilities, which raises a few continuity queries, but you know what? It’s a fantasy game, I’m not going to question why this horde is willing to upgrade their camp only to leave it the next day and then the next camp they set up has the same upgrades when old men can kill orcs with orbs of light that shoot out of their hands.
The Beastmen don’t utilize gold as a currency, only dealing with “favor” which is their staple currency in the game. You use it much the same as gold, so it makes very little difference in all earnest. Favor is earned by looting towns and cities, as well as winning battles. You also generate a certain level of favor each turn as you would with gold as the Empire, but it doesn’t seem to go very far. After recruiting a few troops and perhaps upgrading one aspect of my camp, I found myself with a depleted level of favor, which could only be earned by looting towns.
The problem was that in the time it took me to recruit these troops since my recruitment pool was so low, every other faction matched me for strength in numbers, meaning my chances for consequent victories were somewhat slim. I considered adding an extra General to my roster but couldn’t afford the upkeep along with troops for him to lead, so my options were somewhat limited.
Even with all this, however, I found that the Call of the Beastmen mini-campaign was fairly easy compared to what I am normally used to. I don’t claim to be the greatest general in the land, but I was able to stumble around with very little focus initiating battles with anyone and everyone. I felt like there needed to be more resistance from the AI players.
The main danger of this DLC pack is that it highlights the one major flaw with the game, which is highlighted in the base game review. You ultimately spend too much time on the overworld screen and not enough of your time fighting meaningful battles. The game is somewhat less interesting for streamlining the tactical elements, rather than making them more in depth. You have far less to worry about as the Beastmen, but having less to do on each turn on the overworld cement that you are having less engagement with the game, which for me is a step backwards.
The Call of the Beastmen “mini” campaign is a complete letdown, though, since you are playing on a smaller version of the standard map, with some of the same factions. The major difference is that the completion goals are different to that of the grand campaign.
I managed to achieve the end goal which was to kill a certain Empire lord that had taken your eye. I ended up killing him by accident, as I was looting one of his towns but realized afterwards that he was actually reinforcing the town as reinforcements. I saw he was only travelling with 10 units under his command and assumed it was a relative or a general with a similar name. It turned out I was wrong and won the campaign prematurely. Whoops!
This DLC pack boasts a whole new race to play as or against, with its own set of unique troops and generals to boot. New units are always cool, but they don’t really play out that much differently from the Greenskins troops, which make me wonder, is it enough for your money? I know that many fans of the franchise would love to expand their unit roster, but is the price too high for some?
Do I personally think it’s worth $18.99? It really is a steep asking price for essentially 1 race and a new campaign, so for me, it’s a no. There just isn’t enough content to justify the asking price. Would I recommend it? If you like the Chaos Warriors play style more so than the Empire or the Dwarves, then yes; you’ll enjoy this, but wait for a sale. Is it good? Yes, the race is very good, they are nicely balanced on the whole, although I would like to have seen more variety in the unit types. This race offers an alternative play style to many of the other races that featured in the base game.
- Gameplay: Lead your troops on a turn-based overview map and route your enemies in real time battles. Manage your kingdom. Be the armchair general of a fantasy world.
- Graphics: Visually beautiful with a huge variety of locations, well-animated troops, and the battle animations are worth watching, despite giving you a tactical disadvantage doing so.
- Sound: Good soundtrack adds to an epic fantasy feel. Creates the atmosphere.
- Presentation: Fantasy world that is very respectful of the Games Workshop franchise.
- New units with cool animations, always a welcome addition
- Offers new style of play
- New campaign
- Way too expensive, sitting at 1/3 of the base game price for 1 race pack
- Just not enough content
- Slow start to their campaign
- No territory control
Ryan Griffiths is a British gamer, known as a bit of a lone wolf. Retro games are his passion, with newer releases not living up to his expectations. Of course there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to Dynasty Warriors & Total War games.