Mini-Review: Chevaliers de Lyonesse

Remember when we complained that Warhammer: Total War didn’t have any content at launch? By Sigmar, that’s in the past. You can’t turn your back nowadays or Creative Assembly will put out another content patch or free overhaul. I recently got back into the multiplayer scene for Warhammer: Total War II and figured I’d see what was new in the campaign. After playing as the Chevaliers de Lyonesse for a while, here are my thoughts on this novel sub-faction.

The Chevaliers are a band of Bretonnian Knights who have left their temperate homelands to crusade in foreign lands. The faction starts on the western coast of Araby with not even a major settlement to their name. They must do battle with the native Tomb Kings and wrestle with other foreign visitors like Savage Orcs and expansionist Lizardmen.

Repanse de Lyonesse leads this faction and she’s a fun character. Imagine Jeanne d’Arc, but she lived well into adulthood while the French king she served died in her stead. She is a fervent crusader and lives strongly by the Bretonnian ideals of order & chivalry. She’s a fascinating lord character and I am always happy to see another female champion added to the roster, but her story is very underexplored for reasons we’ll get to in a moment.

The Chevaliers use the same unit roster as the other Bretonnian lords, so the only real surprise here is Repanse herself. She is a competent melee cavalry, but kind of generic for a legendary lord. She has the standard skill tree with a small branch added in that provides some powerful buffs. She has a unique weapon and a special warhorse, she can use an AOE attack with a long cooldown during combat, and… that’s about it. I realize that it may be unreasonable to ask for more considering Repanse was a free addition to the game, but it feels strange to have such a unique lord that still plays just like a beefed up paladin.

The unique twist to the Chevalier’s campaign is that they must crusade through the unwelcoming climate of Araby. Any army that’s not in a settlement will run out of water over the course of 5 turns, at which point they begin to suffer increased attrition. This introduces a bit of a logical inconsistency, because you’d expect any living army in Araby to start dying of thirst, not just the chevaliers. This gets even worse in the late-game if you decide to set sail, because the water mechanic exist regardless of your location. Even if you go back to Bretonnia, your armies will still be dying of thirst if you don’t let them resupply.

It’s also at odds with the existing Bretonnia mechanics. Repanse’s story missions are in no hurry to unlock and you only get a few quests to work on, after which you just need to grind chivalry points to unlock the final battle. After conquering the entire desert, I was still only halfway through. So I set about razing the Orc settlements in the adjacent Badlands, but then ran into the problem that I couldn’t reach far enough without running out of water again. My only solution was to periodically capture a settlement instead of razing it, missing out on the chivalry bonus, just so I could regenerate troops and resupply.

As turn 100 began to loom on the horizon, I was firmly bored with the campaign I was waging. I had long since completed the stated objective of the Chevaliers and had gone for hours without any story beats whatsoever, yet still I was 750 points shorts. Everything around me was either firmly allied to my cause or had been thoroughly depopulated, forcing me to employ inane workarounds just to reach new enemies.

This comes on top of the usual shortcomings for a Bretonnia campaign. I love this faction in multiplayer, but neither the chivalry system nor the grail vows ever appealed to me. You’re just repeating the same chores on each lord to get them some minute bonuses. The Chevaliers also get basically the same tech tree, though the left side is changed around a fair bit to accommodate for the different enemies and allies they can get.

There is an undeniable novelty to playing an Old World faction in a territory that is so foreign to them and I do much enjoy the Chevaliers from a lore perspective. It’s fun to try out Bretonnian army builds against the unusual foes they can face in Araby. And, hey… it’s free! I’ll take that offer, even if it’s just to have Repanse in my multiplayer armies.

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