For about a month from June into July, I and good ol’ Cameron from Cameron’s Considerations embarked on a co-op multiplayer campaign of Total War Warhammer 2 playing as the Empire. I took control of Emperor Karl Franz, and he took control of the Supreme Patriarch, Balthasar Gelt. What followed were at least one or two sessions of coherent strategising, followed by upwards of 30 days of devolving back to monke together.
Part 1: Sanity
Before even starting we had a plan to unite the Empire. I would unify the northern elector counts against the Dark Elves, French and Norscans, while Cameron would unite the south against the Vampires and Greenskins. At some point we’d unite in the east to fight off the forces of Archaon’s chaos invasion when it spawned. But until then we’d focus on consolidating land and building armies.
I had a tedious start because, as is the case in this game, some multiplayer campaigns have slightly different starts to the solo ones. In the case of Karl Franz, the first army he is supposed to fight in singleplayer spawned much further away than I could attack in multiplayer. This meant that when I advanced on it, that army was able to attack me with reinforcements which nearly led to me losing my first fight of the whole campaign. Luckily, because we were both still sane at this point, Cameron would point out idle units of mine, flanking opportunities and fleeing foes for me to chase down. I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and united my starting province quite easily.
Cameron obviously had an awful start because Balthasar Gelt, despite being one of the game’s best wizards, had an awful spawn with terrain that drains his movement points, unideal climates in most of the surrounding settlements available to him, and the Vampires as his totally not tedious early-game foe. I do recall him asking me to help him fight the Vampires at some point, but I instead went to purge some Greenskins who I knew, from previous campaigns as Karl, would spiral out of control unless I dealt with them early. The plus side to this was I got a lot of treaties with the French and other elector counts out of this… But the bad side was Cameron, while perfectly capable, had a much more tedious time fighting the Vamps.
We fought many battles wherein he would corner camp with artillery and give me control of his cavalry to spring ambushes and flanking attacks once their infantry was engaged. Once their legendary lords were killed, he had no problem claiming their lands and capturing two crucial provinces for himself.
Meanwhile, in what was the first bit of insanity I’d perform this campaign, I decided to start a civil war with my neighbouring elector count because I wanted the building he had access to, providing early game access to high-tier artillery units. It tanked my Imperial Authority, and therefore my growth and income, but hey, I got missiles and cannons!
Part 2: Infighting
There was lots of infighting between me and Cameron. In a coop campaign, one cannot declare war or fight their partner, so pretty much all of the infighting came from our own incompetence. The first instance of which was us not realising that, since we are both playing as the Empire, we share fealty with the other elector counts. This means that if I increase/decrease fealty with one, Cameron receives the same bonus/penalty and vice versa. This made our plan of uniting the Empire very hard because oftentimes he would have to lower the fealty of a northern elector count, of whom I wanted to control, in order to boost the fealty of a southern one. It took us an embarrassingly long time of us going “I swore I had higher fealty with that guy”, before we realised what was happening.
Eventually, we did figure it out and the infighting began as I’d report “sorry, but I have to lower your fealty with Ostermark to get my fealty up with Nordheim”, and great drama would ensue. What’s worse is that, perhaps because I was the host, I’d always be asked first if I wanted to confederate the elector counts… Even the ones Cameron had put all the effort into raising fealty with and whom I had no interest in. So even if Cameron got their fealty raised to max in the quickest time possible, they would propose I confederate them instead of him, I’d have to decline the confederation and then Cameron would have to wait for the event to reroll for him to get the opportunity to do it. This caused some infighting because it inadvertently gave me access to a lot more Imperial Authority than Cameron since every time I declined a confederation, I gained some. I thus had more to spend on my confederations, while Cameron only had the base amount to spend on his.
Part 3: Vietnam
Vietnam was turning point that changed our campaign from something we were taking semi-seriously and into (almost) a complete joke. We found online meme videos of Balthasar Gelt screaming to his men about how they’re all going to die, before launching himself from a helicopter to spam spells on savage orcs, all to the tune of music typical of that heard roaring from helicopters in the Vietnam war and in movies set in that period.
There was a long stretch of gameplay wherein we would play such music over the battle whenever one of our artillery armies or Balthasar Gelt went up against a severely uneven fight against folks who didn’t have access to any answer to our war machines.
Part 4: Quotes
Do you know how many times we clicked on our generals? A lot. And every time they did they said the same handful of quotes over and over again. Karl Franz would say ‘BRING ME TO MY MEN’ and ‘I AM FRANZ!’ Meanwhile, Balthasar Gelt would say ‘YOU SUMMON ME!?’ and ‘I GO WHERE THE WINDS HOWL!’
Then of course there were all the generic generals who weren’t our legendary lords. Folks who would say ‘BY THE COMET!’ and ‘PRAISE SIGMAR!‘. But for all these quotes we heard hundreds of times for hours on end, one stood out to us… The generic Empire Generals who said the line ‘IT IS TIME!’ Why? Because it was one of the only lines that was reused multiple times to be spoken with multiple inflations by the voice actors. The funniest one, and one that we latched onto, was the one with a slight inflation at the end implying that the general was not stating that it was time, but rather asking if it was the time: ‘IT IS TIME…?’
And after playing this game in long sessions ranging from anywhere from 1-6 hours, there comes a point the depravity settles in and one begins to devolve. After a certain point, these play sessions became me saying ‘IT IS TIME’, only for Cameron to say, ‘IT IS TIME…?’, then for me to say (for no reason at all) ‘BY THE COMET”, and for him to say ‘PRAISE SIGMAR‘. Absolute untranscribable, unfunny, bottom-of-the-barrel crappy nonsense no one in their right mind could listen to without having us wheeled off to a psychiatric ward. In fact, I’m surprised my neighbours didn’t have me wheeled off to one. The walls aren’t all that thick here.
Part 5: Boris and Balthasar go Camping
Some time into the game I confederated Middenheim, giving me control of Boris Toddbringer who is another Legendary Lord for the Empire. Me and Cameron were vaguely aware in the lore that Boris and Balthasar don’t like each other because Balthasar blew up Boris’ castle and caused him to lose an eye, so we’d often hurl insults at each other whenever I was steering Boris around the campaign map.
At around turn 90, the first Chaos Invasion spawned and I had 100%, completely and utterly, failed to live up to the promise of sending literally anyone to help Cameron fend it off. Luckily he had three armies up there and Balthasar Gelt at the helm of one, with lightning strike. He killed the whole thing in one turn but was not best happy that I hadn’t helped. He made me swear to help next time and I actually did. However, I only had Boris Toddbringer at hand, meaning I only sent one army to help deal with the much bigger second invasion while he sent another three with Balthasar once again leading one of them.
The second invasion was set to spawn between turn 140-160 and so, for twenty odd turns, Boris and Balthasar went camping in the Chaos wastes suffering ungodly amounts of attrition, wasting time doing absolutely nothing to further the rest of the campaign and desperately trying to heal back their armies in time for the eventual defence of the whole Empire that they had to perform. They hurled insults at each other every turn for twenty turns – that is to say, I and Cameron in the mindsets of these deranged lunatics, were hurling insults at one another.
Finally, the Chaos Invasion arrived and we got instantly attacked by three beefy armies at once. However, of all the armies we had preset, only Balthasar and Boris would be able to fight. So we fought it manually and it was hella fun. Cameron, as Balthasar, typically positioned his forces in a corner camp position so his artillery could shoot for as long as possible before the enemy made contact with the front line. I came in as reinforcements behind his army, but could not deploy in time before the fight had begun. This resulted in us losing a lot of cavalry and infantry early on. But on the other hand, Balthasar was able to neutralise the enemy artillery before it got a single shot off, so we were trading pretty well. It was rocky, but with Balthasar spamming spells, me somehow managing to flank the enemy with slow-moving cannons and Boris Toddbring feeding two out of three enemy generals, Archaon included, to his Gryphon mount, we pulled a victory out of the bag.
The Chaos Invasion was defeated just as soon as Balthasar ran down Archaon on his own after the battle and, if only for a little while, Balthasar and Boris were friends who didn’t insult each other on a regular basis. I suppose going to this world’s version of hell, watching all your closest friends freeze to death for what must have been several in-game years and then do battle against an army of daemon worshipers looking to end the world where the best spellcaster has to spend most of his time away from the battle line taking out high priority targets, so the generic melee lord somehow holds it in his by poking giants, trolls and lords with a pointy stick until they fall over will do that to two people.
Part 6: The Great Estalian Vacation!
While all this world-ending drama was happening, Karl Franz had been casually making an entire race of vikings extinct by razing every settlement they had, in the most brutal act of genocide to occur in this campaign, and he finished soon after the destruction of the Chaos Invasion. After this, Karl needed a vacation and decided to head into Estalia. Estalia, on a map, is basically Spain but in a fantasy setting. To get there, Karl had to go through Brettonia, which is just France but in a fantasy setting.
After so much unjust genocide with Karl, I was feeling friendly and made friends with all the French people and the Elves shortly off the ocean from them. Having acquired a few cities from rogue vampires and orcs in Brettonia, I was able to trade with both of them for over 10,000 gold a turn from trade alone. So despite Cameron’s many claims that I should purge the French and knife-ears, I kept them around for the fat stacks of cash they were feeding me. After peacefully walking through Brettonia, I arrived in Estalia to find it overrun by Skaven.
Not just any Skaven, but Skaven with access to chemical and nuclear weapons which they did not hesitate to unleash on Karl whenever I engaged them. Karl alone could not defeat their specialised modern armies, so I trained up a good fellow called Gustaf to help out. Together he and Karl genocided yet another faction. For a while the Skaven lands in Estalia were contested by Brettonian forces, but my refusal to help them win any battles (despite supposedly being one of their closest allies) led to their defeat in Estalia, opening the gates for me to destroy the weakened Skaven armies they left behind. Soon enough Estalia was mine and the invaluable help of Gustaf was rewarded when I decided to make him the Elecotor Count of Nordheim, after realising Boris Toddbringer had somehow become elector count of both Middenheim and Nordheim (normally a character can only be the count of a single province).
I didn’t want to keep Karl in Estalia after all the hassle the holiday had been with all the politicking and rats, so I left Gustaf down there to live in a nice Estalian villa, keeping the peace and public order going up.
Part 7: Wurzhag Fertalises the Badlands
While I was overseeing an Imperial expansion into Estalia to purge the Skaven, Cameron had grander ambitions of taking over the Badlands; a huge chunk of land contested by undead and Skaven, but ultimately ruled by the orc Grimgor Ironhide and his sidekick, Wurzhag the great green prophet.
Very early on into the Badlands campaign, Wurzhag asserted his dominance over Cameron by capturing one of his towns and taking a poo so large in it, that it can be seen on the zoomed-out campaign map and provided debuffs in the region. I’m not joking. Wurzhag actually did this, and would go on to do it two or three times more when recapturing Badlands settlements from Cameron. For a while it seemed like Cameron had overextended and would lose most of the territory he gained, but a military alliance he had signed with the dwarf known as Ungrim Ironfist would see his campaign a success. They both had a common enemy in Grimgor and Cameron would direct Ungrim to attack the settlements he could not spare the men to expand into, which ensured everything remained under control.
But Wurzhag wasn’t done yet. Despite the unwinnable situation he found himself in, Wurzhag would routinely throw himself into objectively unwinnable battles against Cameron for absolutely no reason at all, get killed and come back a few turns later to do the same thing again, all while inflicting minimal casualties agasint the Empire forces he was going up against. In fact, this most likely crippled Grimgor Ironhide’s economy, to keep recruiting army after army and spending cash to revive Wurzhag, for absolutely nothing in return as men and dwarfs invadeed his most profitable lands. This only adds to how nonsensical and funny the Badlands war was.
It goes without saying that, despite a bit of a rocky start, Cameron’s badlands campaign was an overwhelming success and the whole of the Empire celebrated when Wurzhag, specifically, was no more and gone for good.
Part 8: Insanity
At this point we were both extremely burned out. We had played for too long to quit without reaching the victory conditions, and all we had to do was get a handful of more settlements to get the victory screen. So the mentality became to capture anywhere and everywhere without discrimination so this damn game would end.
To this end we both trained up steam tank doomstacks… That did almost nothing to contribute to ending the campaign and saw very little action. Mine saw action against the Wood Elves, who I invaded on a whim. The game claimed the Wood Elves would kick my ass in a fight, but I gave Cameron control of my tanks and the simple order to park them quite far ahead of the rest of my army. This got all their forces hung up on the tanks while I attacked with spells and artillery. I was flanked, however, and did have to go into tenuous melee fights myself with both Karl Franz and Boris Toddbringer. When the battle ended the AI glitched and wouldn’t flee the battle, but wouldn’t fight either. So I spent a good 10-20 minutes spamming healing spells to offset a good 50-60% of the damage I had sustained over the fight before manually ending it and returning to the campaign map.
In the south, Cameron had decided to fight more Skaven and, against them, the winning fight of the Campaign against Queek Headtaker. We couldn’t be bothered to fight it so just autoresolved. Of course Balthasar Gelt, one of the game’s best wizards, beat some rat with a sword into a bloody pulp. Or rather, summoned swarms of meteors from the sky upon his exact location.
From there we got the victory screen and how did we choose to end the campaign?
With the quote, ‘Let’s not load this save again. It is a silly save.’
And that was that. Victory was ours. The Empire had united. All enemies were (mostly) beaten. The borders were (probably) secure. The populace was (definitely) happy. The campaign was a success. A ridiculously dumb, bananas on toast success, but a success nonetheless. But blimey is it going to be some time before I play the Empire again!