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Total Warhammer 3 without touching grass: unlikely allies, money troubles, and bilge rats

Vampirate diaries, part II

Vampirates fire on a lord from Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Avast, me hearty bowls of soup! Welcome back to Plundertales, a chronicling of my journey to best strategy game Total War: Warhammer 3 as vampire pirate Count Noctilus without ever touching grass. When we last saw Noctilus, he’d just received a challenge from his ancient rival Gentlemen Jenkins, crudely scrawled on the rear of a carrier pigeon (I had to google ‘do birds have buttocks?’ to write that.) I say ancient rival, it’s been about 15 turns, but Horace said the column needed more drama and that Noctilus’ ongoing battle with the weevils to reclaim his biscuit tin ‘wasn’t testing well’ with the Treehouse’ preview audience. Avast, Jenkins! (I really should find out what avast actually means.)

You can find the specifics of this playthrough in my previous entry, but here’s a quick recap of the almost entirely arbitrary rules I've set:

  • No traveling across any landmass on the entire map. Sea only. I can capture ports, but the only way I can leave the ports is via sea again. I can enter and leave the Galleon’s Graveyard as I please.
  • I’m playing on Very Hard campaign, Normal battles. Battle AI difficulty is on max.
  • You will likely see screenshots of me fighting on land. This is just what the game does for sea battles. It is not real grass. Ditto for sieges and port battles. Not real. I will never, ever, touch real grass.
  • The game sometimes plonks Noctilus on nearby land once I’ve finished taking a port settlement. As long as I immediately return to sea at the first possible opportunity, I’m good.
Noctilus sails through Ulthuan in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

It’s turn 21. We research some casualty replenishment - less limbs on average in the army than I remember - and prepare to assault Jenkins, but not before christening our Gunnery Wight ‘C. Montgunnery Burns’ as suggested by James in the comments last time.

“I refuse,” says Jenkins when I click on him. I’m afraid you don’t get a say in the matter, sunshine, because this is videogames. Fighting Jenkins means facing the emasculating truth that I, a gun pirate, am actually outgunned. He’s got mortars, plus a cannon, plus some pistol chaps. I plonk my zombies and artillery on a hill, and send Noctilus up the left flank to soak aggro. If you’re new to Twarhammer, certain lords are effectively invincible past a certain point in the game, unless the AI has an especially nasty duellist character. Noctilus, with his healing spells, can tank for minutes on end with no worries, so I use him to tie up a flank. On the right, I send my bats on a mission to take out Jenkins’ cannons. The sacrificial bats gets munched, but I’d say it was a fine trade. We can always build more killbats.

vampires vs empire pirates in a battle from Total War: Warhammer 3
vampires vs pirates in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Jenkins defeated, Burns levels up and gains a crab mount - I like to think it was just waiting in the ship toilets until Burns was ready - and we get a piece of eight, a special doodad the rogue pirate factions carry, which lets us recruit some unique rifle zombies. We can also now get our flakey paws on Queen Bess, one of the more disgusting artillery pieces in the entire game. I can’t recruit it in elven waters though, so we still need to make it out of Ulthuan in one piece to regroup

Turn 22 now, and we’re in big trouble. Despite hightailing it out of Ulthuan, Tyrion has caught up with us. He’s stacked with elven archers, some of the deadliest and most skilled bowman in the world. Be a shame if some zombies with rifles they found at the bottom of the ocean made them look like rank amateurs, Tyrion. Also, cannon beats bow. That’s just reality. We can’t all be magical elves, pal, some of us pay taxes. Not me of course; I’m a pirate.

We fight back Tyrion, messily but victoriously, killing the elf lord but losing our centerpiece unit the Necrofex Colossus in the process. I won’t be able to get another one for quite a while, so I’d usually save scum at this point, but I don’t want to break kayfabe. I suppose I already ruined any immersive qualities by saying ‘save scum’. I meant, uh, reverse time. Still, not doing it.

Noctilus escapes Ulthuan in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Turn 23, and we’re safely out of Ulthuan. And look who it is! Erethond has returned from the crabs we buried him with and thought to launch a sneak attack on our capital, and also our only settlement. Not happening.

We grab Queen Bess and some assorted zombies, do some housekeeping, and get stuck in. What a fine selection of raised dead we’ve got! They barely touch our frontline, and we end the battle with seven friendly losses to 1300 enemy casualties. One of the losses was a mortar, though, so I’m still pissed off.

It’s turn 24, and I’ve got a dilemma. I want to go pirate hunting, but I can’t leave Ulthuan as powerful as it is. They’ll take the Graveyard as soon as we leave. On the north of donut island is daemon N’kari, one of the elves’ main early game threats. If I can take out his enemies and gift him a few settlements, I can likely ally with him, giving me a Man on Land while I’m out swashbuckling. Men! Make the sails do the flappy thing that gets us places quicker.

It’s turn 27, and we’ve arrived outside a port city belonging to N’kari’s main enemies, Yvresse. At the same time, Alastar is advancing on the Graveyard. Our garrison isn’t bad, so we recruit a small force with our meager funds. We go into debt, but we’re due some plundering funds, so it should be fine. Heading up this second army is fleet admiral Henrietta Fenn. Please pop your name suggestions in the comments, and I’ll pick my favourite for next time.

Avast! Pirates attack a port in Total War: Warhammer 3
Another elf ambush in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly
Diplomacy in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Meanwhile, I reckon we’ve got time to siege the elves down a bit. Elsewhere, a friendly beastman wreaks havoc on their land. Thank you, cowpal, very cool.

a friendly cow wrecks ulthuan in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Turn 28, and we raze the city for a nice chunk of cash and infamy. The cash is good, because we’re currently making but a single gold piece a turn. You don’t want the sort of income someone can just yank out of the air with one hand, that’s basic economics. We put a couple of skill points into upkeep reduction so we’re in a better position, then hoist sail. N’kari doesn’t want to be mates yet, so we’ve got some more elf killing to do.

Meanwhile, at the Graveyard, Alastar is closing in. Henrietta blows on the bat whistle, summoning many, many bats, and awaits his attack. On Turn 29, Alastar sieges us, and Tyrion isn’t too far behind. I’m tempted to wait it out because of the attrition, but I don’t want to deal with both stacks at the same time.

The elves are here! in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Any footage of this fight might make you think I got lazy with the micro, leading Alastar to mess us up quite badly. Really, though, I was just showing off how many expensive units we can afford to waste, surely leaving the elf terrified of our laissez-faire attitude to death in general. That’s him dealt with, at least. Henrietta pops on Amazon to order a wound-licking monkey, but delivery is six to eight weeks. 'Why am I paying for Prime for then?!', she thinks, but Tyrion is right outside, so giving Bezos the black spot via a strongly worded email will have to wait.

It’s Turn 30, andTyrion has scarpered. Should have ordered that monkey after all. At Ulthuan meanwhile, Noctilus needs some replenishment. I’m preparing to go further north to take another elf port, when who should sidle up but certified rat bastard Sloppy Cruickshank, the furriest menace on the ocean. I'm usually quite tolerant to rats, but this particular rat is on our kill list. Unfortunately, he's also stacked with nasty Skaven artillery.

avast, a rat pirate in Total War: Warhammer 3
Image credit: Creative Assembly

Will we send these rats scurrying like, uh, hamsters from a collapsing rollercoaster? Will we make it to N’kari in time to save them? Will we ever, ever touch grass under any circumstances? The answer to that last question is clearly no, but as for the rest, we’ll find out next time. Avast, mates.

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