Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull Throne! Khorne, the Chaos God of War, Rage, and Strength, brings an aggressive and brutal edge to Total War: Warhammer III. Specialising in powerful melee units, Khorne can quickly dominate both the battlefield and campaign map, and provides a fun, fast-paced playstyle that is backed up by a deadly army roster.
This beginners guide will cover the fundamentals of a successful Khorne campaign, including army and campaign recommendations, unique mechanics, Legendary Lord, and advice for the first ten turns.
Updated on October 21, 2022 by Alex Ferriday: With the release of the fan-favorite Immortal Empires game mode, there has never been a better time to return to Total War: Warhammer 3 or pick it up for the first time. Many factions will play differently and with frequent DLC implementation, you can be sure to see Khorne receiving some updates both now and in the future. Whether you’re a long time veteran or just starting out, our updated guide will walk you through any changes Khorne receives throughout the lifecycle of TW:W3.
With so many factions to encounter in the Immortal Empires map, Khorne has a variety of matchups, as some factions will be able to deal with his fairly one-dimensional play style more easily.
Best Matchup: Vampire Counts – Lack of ranged troops means you will primarily engage them in a melee contest, and this is where you shine. You have the units to grind through their low-tier chaff, and innate Magic Resist prevents them nuking you down with their strong magic.
Worst Matchup: High Elves – Extremely powerful ranged units can decimate your melee-focused armies, and if you are unable to flank successfully you might struggle to break through their decent frontline options.
Khorne plays in the exact opposite way to factions such as Tzeentch. His strengths lie in powerful aggressive melee infantry and cavalry and lacks any substantial spell-casting or missile units. Your preferred play style will generally remain similar in most matchups, run at the enemy and kill them! You should expect to win the majority of infantry contests, or at the very least inflict heavy casualties, and you are able to protect your flanks with some strong cavalry options in the form of Bloodcrushers and Skullcrushers.
Khorne does not come with any reliable spell casters or missile users, and has to rely mainly on Skullcannons for any form of long range damage. While very powerful, Khorne cannot compete with factions such as Tzeentch or Cathay when it comes to inflicting damage from afar. Your best bet against factions such as these are to either flank them with cavalry, smash through their frontline, or go over top with Bloodthirsters. You should dominate in melee, and your units are not slow either, unlike Nurgle.
Strangely for the God of War, Khorne can sometimes struggle on the battlefield. Other factions possess a greater variety of options, whereas he will always have to be the aggressor. It is best to lean into the role, not waiting for your opponents to engage, but instead be proactive. You can flank very effectively with either Minotaurs or cavalry, and get your Bloodthirsters onto either the enemy Lord, or ranged troops.
Blasting through the weakest point of your opponents line is your number one priority, as this can allow you to surround enemy units, or being to run at their ranged, forcing them to kite. While you excel in melee, you should be aware of any enemy spells that might punish you for blobbing.
You will not have any spells of your own, and are instead reliant on Lord and Hero abilities, as well as Army Abilities. While some of these can be useful, microing spell casters is not something you are going to have to worry about when playing Khorne.
- Some units to avoid are the Soul Grinder of Khorne, and Spawn of Khorne. Both of these are fairly weak, and other units in your possession can fulfill their roles much better.
Khorne may not have the most creative of rosters to choose from, but you will have some of the highest damage Infantry in the entire Warhammer world.
While Khorne can field some strong units on the battlefield, it is on the campaign map where he truly shines. The combination of Blood Host, Bloodletting, and Blood For The Blood God allow you to maintain momentum even in the very early game. They provide the perfect storm for enabling an aggressive playstyle. Gaining movement after razing and winning battles is extremely powerful, and the casualty replenishment provided by Bloodletting means you won’t need to stop and heal as much as other factions. Utilise Blood Hosts to capture minor settlements, while your main army tackles the heavily defended areas.
Sometimes razing for Skulls will be better than razing for a Blood Host, especially when it comes to conserving money. Khorne will often operate at a loss, as you will need to manage your income in order to take attrition. Both sacking and raiding will help with your cash flow, as well as remembering that Blood Hosts are very expendable, and should be thrown away if income becomes a severe problem. Being able to replenish in foreign territory is absolutely incredible, and means you can keep up the pressure without waiting to heal.
However, this military might does come with a drawback. Khorne is awful at diplomacy, receiving negative relations with every other faction. Get any deals you can in the early game, because by the time you have rampaged across half the world, nobody is going to like you very much…
|Bloodletters of Khorne|
|Minotaurs of Khorne (Great Weapons)|
- A special mention should go to the Skullcannon, as this provides your only strong ranged option and can be useful to round out an army build.
Rather fittingly for the Skull God, you will want to gather as much of this unique currency as possible. There are plenty of ways to generate them, including battles, buildings, sieges, and dilemmas. Enemy armies will spawn piles of skulls for you to collect, and Khorne can end up being quite reliant on these, as they are needed in order to occupy settlements and research technologies. If there are ruined settlements in a region with an occupied Khornate one, then there is a chance every turn to passively colonise the ruins. This means you should occupy sparingly, as you can rely on passively spreading your territory without hindering your armies.
Skulls can also be used to activate The Skull Throne, a powerful ten turn buff that grants your armies multiple benefits:
- Increased movement range after razing
- Increase to post battle income
- Army ability to summon a unit of Bloodletters
- Increase to Blood Host unit numbers on spawn
One of the strongest unique mechanics to grace the trilogy, Blood Hosts allow you to keep up map pressure and provides an advantage for razing instead of occupying. Choosing the Blood for the Blood God option when razing, provides casualty replenishment rate for your army, and spawns a friendly Blood Host army. The unit numbers/quality will depend on your technologies, skills, and how many previous Blood Hosts you have spawned. You cannot add to or take away from these armies, and you should treat them as an expendable resource. These armies can help you continue your rampage across the map, and are entirely built to generate you momentum. A fantastic way to claim territory and farm to farm skulls, Blood Hosts are the key mechanic to making Khorne snowball out of control.
Similar in nature to the Greenskins Fightiness mechanic, Bloodletting encourages you to keep up your aggression throughout the game, granting multiple bonuses to your armies for continually winning battles. This synergises greatly with Blood Hosts, as you will be fighting a great number of battles. Although Khorne normally exists with an income deficit, Bloodletting is a reliable way to reduce army upkeep and increase casualty replenishment, both crucial for maintaining momentum.
Unholy Manifestations and Corruption
All Chaos Daemon factions possess the Unholy Manifestations mechanic, whereby they may exorcise a powerful rite with a cooldown. Khorne’s Manifestations require a certain amount of Khorne Corruption to unlock, and become enhanced when he is in Ascendance in The Great Game.
- The Great Game: The Chaos Gods will cycle through who is currently the Ascendant, granting the holder stronger Unholy Manifestations. There is currently no way to influence this.
Khorne has the following Manifestations available to him:
|Eternal War||Spawns a small Khornate army that immediately attacks your own army.|
|Call of Battle||Grants a large increase to campaign movement range for one turn.|
|Slaughter Incarnate||Doubles Skull gains from battle for several turns.|
|Khorne’s Glare||Disables a friendly army’s movement for several turns. At the end it razes the local settlement and gives a massive number of skulls.|
- Alongside unlocking later Manifestations, Khorne Corruption will grant you bonuses to Control, Melee Attack and Melee Defence.
All Chaos Daemon factions can create Cultist settlements within other faction areas. Within these you can construct special Infrastructure buildings that can passively generate resources.
While free Skulls are certainly nice, the most intriguing building is certainly the Arena.
- Arena: Destroys the cult upon completion but teleports your faction leader (and their army) to the settlement.
This can be incredible, as it allows you to instantly arrive somewhere else on the map and continue your destructive rampage!
Khorne’s chosen Legendary Lord (ironically) is Skarbrand the Exiled. The greatest of the Exalted Bloodthirsters, Skarbrand once grew so arrogant he dared to strike Khorne when his back was turned. Khorne merely laughed and cast Skarband down from the Brass Citadel, doomed to exile for eternity. Skarbrand nows wanders the Warhammer world, seeking to amass as many Skulls as possible in order regain Khorne’s favour.
A devastating melee Lord, Skarbrand gains bonuses to Blood Host unit creation, Regeneration for himself, and wields a devastating unique weapon, Slaughter and Carnage, that grows stronger with each kill he makes on the battlefield.
Strategy with Skarbrand is quite simple. Let him kill stuff. Very few units can go toe-to-toe with him in a duel, and Skarbrand actually has decent speed, allowing him to be powerful yet mobile.
His Lord effects are:
|Increased Campaign Movement range after winning a battle|
|Lower recruitment cost when in razed or enemy territory|
Important skills to level on Skarbrand include:
- Blood Feast
- Unholy Resilience
- Drinker of Blood
- Restless Fury
- Locus of Endless War
- Lightning Strike
Skarbrand can really make use of many of the utility skills, as they will allow him to keep his army constantly moving and replenishing. Although it can simply be more fun to turn him into a one unit doomstack by buffing his combat strength….
First Ten Turns
Realm Of Chaos First Ten Turns
When playing as Skarbrand the Exiled, in the Realm of Chaos campaign, you will begin in the Bloodfire Falls province, holder of the Infernius settlement.
- Another option is to ignore the Slaaneshi faction, and immediately go and destroy the Gharhar, although this will likely lead to you chasing a Slaaneshi army around in your territory or sacrificing your capital.
- After taking The Shifting Monolith you can also send Skarbrand North by himself and let the Blood Hosts attack N’kari
- You will end these first turns having conquered two provinces, spawned an unhealthy amount of Blood Hosts, and be on the verge of destroying the Seducers of Slaanesh. Not bad for only ten turns!
- If you come across any Skull Piles left by other armies, you should pick them up as you travel.
Immortal Empires First Ten Turns
If you are playing the Immortal Empires campaign, you will instead start in The Barrier Idols province, holder of the Deff Gorge settlement. Placing you among a variety of enemies, but primarily Greenskins, it makes for a fun campaign that lets you jump right into the thick of the action, something Skarbrand appreciates.
- Due to how important early game momentum is, try to manually fight your battles and preserve as many troops as possible
- The Knights of Origo may cause issues, especially if they came and start occupying any ruins, so keep a watchful eye on them
- Try to initiate diplomacy with Harbinger of Disaster, and take any allies you can get, as Skarbrand is not very popular…