Total War: Warhammer II‘s next Lords Pack DLC is The Warden & The Paunch. We’ll finally see an epic showdown between Eltharion the Grim, the Warden of Tor Yvresse, and Grom the Paunch, the biggest and meanest goblin in Warhammer Fantasy Battles history. Along the way, players will use the Mists of Yvresse to shroud Ulthuan from prying eyes, and cook numerous recipes via Grom’s Cauldron. A free update also reworks the Greenskins faction and adds Prince Imrik, the Dragon Lord of Caledor. But, is The Warden & The Paunch DLC worth it? Well, let’s find out.
Total War: Warhammer II – The Warden & The Paunch DLC: Ulthuan Fighting Championship
Legend has it that a tiny goblin once ate a chunk of raw troll meat. The uncooked haunch of flesh kept regenerating, increasing the goblin’s size and giving him an insatiable appetite. That’s how a scrawny git became Grom the Paunch, the self-styled Goblin King, and one of the mightiest Greenskins around. Grom’s massive belly and stout figure amazed all the goblin hordes, eventually joining his Waaagh! that devastated the cities of the Empire.
With no challenge left on the continent, he decided to build a fleet and sail to Ulthuan. This incursion was the first and only successful Greenskin invasion of the High Elven realm. The only one who managed to blunt his advance was none other than Eltharion the Grim, the Warden of Tor Yvresse who defended the island and eradicated the Waaagh! for good.
That’s what you’ll experience, in a way, while you’re playing Total War: Warhammer II – The Warden & The Paunch. Well, at least in some instances, because we also have to consider the sandbox nature of the campaign and victory conditions.
Grom the Paunch’s campaign
Grom the Paunch’s Total War: Warhammer II Vortex campaign was quite exciting, to say the least. This was partially due to the free update which overhauls the Greenskins faction, giving Grom access to scrap materials to upgrade troops as well as a revamped Waaagh! mechanic.
The Waaagh! can be used on the campaign map — giving you additional free units that are attached to your armies, and a trophy that provides powerful boons if you capture the target’s capital. There’s also a Waaagh! that can be used during battles. It’s similar to the Murderous Prowess mechanic of the Dark Elves, except that the requirement is for more units to be engaged in melee combat. Once the meter’s filled up, you can click on a button to give map-wide buffs to your entire force.
Speaking of buffs, Grom the Paunch also has a cool feature called Grom’s Cauldron. Given the chubby lord’s appetites, he’s keen on trying out new delicacies. In fact, your main goal in your Total War: Warhammer II campaign as Grom is to collect ingredients and cook new recipes to obtain amazing buffs or even Regiments of Renown units. I can only imagine if this is a trial run for features related to the Ogre Kingdoms in the next game in the series.
Anyway, if you’re able to cook a minimum of 12 different recipes, you can challenge Eltharion in a final battle to claim Tor Yvresse. The siege map is stunningly gorgeous. Its pristine streets and towering spires providing a serene backdrop in the midst of all the chaos.
The main downside in my Grom the Paunch playthrough was that most of it was spent in the Southlands. In fact, I didn’t even step foot on Ulthuan until after I had finished the final battle. It just wasn’t feasible to head north because there were still a number of hostile (or annoying) factions nearby, and so I spent most of my time pacifying the continent.
You’ll tend to fight Lizardmen, Skaven, and random Beastmen minor factions, and maybe even Malus Darkblade if you ventured further southeast. As far as the idea of a Grom vs. Eltharion/High Elves focus, The Warden & The Paunch DLC, at best, lets you encounter a few pointy-eared armies marching through Nehekhara’s deserts (probably because they had nothing else to do — more on this later).
Still, those gripes detracted very little from the overall experience. Grom the Paunch’s campaign is made fun thanks to the Waaagh! and Grom’s Cauldron mechanics. I found the concept of looking for ingredients, cooking food, krumpin’ stupid gits, and then just teleporting to beat down Eltharion with my Rogue Idols (of Gork or Mork), Feral Hydras, Hag Trolls, and goblin swarms a very satisfying romp.
Eltharion the Grim’s campaign
Eltharion the Grim has unique feature called Athel Tamarha. This “base of operations” is a panel with upgrades that boost Mistwalker-type units and the Mists of Yvresse mechanic. There are three settlements to conquer, along with a handful of missions, to obtain upgrade resources called “warden’s supplies.”
My Eltharion the Grim playthrough in Total War: Warhammer II sharply contrasted with Grom’s. Whereas Grom had to contend with various races before seeing a single hostile High Elf, Eltharion can quickly beeline for Grom’s hovels. I spent the first few turns befriending the High Elves on Ulthuan, eliminating a Greenskin minor faction, and capturing Sartosa. Then, I sailed down to Nehekhara and the Southlands to start obtaining supplies for the Athel Tamarha facilities.
Additionally, you could capture lords and heroes using the Warden’s Cage ability. Once imprisoned, you can interrogate them to give boosts to your Mistwalker units (they’ll get mirrored skills), and then release or execute them (netting you some supplies and other benefits). The Warden & The Paunch DLC also introduces many new units for the High Elves such as the aforementioned Mistwalker unit varieties like the Knights of Tor Gaval griffon riders, the Arcane Phoenix, and White Lion Chariots of Chrace (seen below).
Sadly, Eltharion’s campaign was one of the more tedious runs I’ve had in a Total War game. That’s because, even after controlling three important settlements and fully upgrading Athel Tamarha, you still need to wait for 150 turns just for Grom to arrive. This isn’t just “regular Grom” on the campaign map — I’ve actually eliminated his faction twice — but a scripted instance that’ll initiate the final battle once all those turns have elapsed.
Total War: Warhammer II – The Warden & The Paunch DLC: Is it worth it?
Total War: Warhammer II‘s campaigns are still a breeze thanks to the optimization patch that greatly improved turn times. There were, however, a few issues with regards to clicking on armies or stances on the campaign map since, at times, the controls were a bit unresponsive.
In battle, I found both Eltharion’s and Imrik’s capabilities quite superb. They were easy to get used to, and their units packed quite a punch. Unfortunately, there were a few problems I had with Eltharion’s Warden’s Cage ability. First, you don’t get the defeated lord’s trait if they were captured in battle using Warden’s Cage. Second, auto-resolving has a very low chance of actually imprisoning opponents. Third, some characters are deemed “insignificant” that they’re automatically executed. There’s also a minor bug with the Athel Tamarha panel in that you might need to reopen it if the upgrades don’t show up.
What does become more frustrating when playing as Eltharion the Grim in Total War: Warhammer II is that you just have nothing important to do for several turns while waiting for Grom the Paunch to arrive. If you’ve been checking out our Total War guides, such as the ones for Total War: Three Kingdoms‘ original and DLC campaigns, you’ll know that I’m very particular when it comes to focusing on speedy completions. As far as I’m aware, there’s no way to speed up the progress and start the Siege of Tor Yvresse final battle as Eltharion without going the Civilization “one more turn” route.
In Grom the Paunch’s case, his pathing and that of Snotling Pump Wagon units might need some tweaks. They’d get stuck often when friendly and hostile forces are clumped together, or when moving through rough terrain like forests. As such, you probably need to spam-click orders (whether Guard Mode is enabled or not) just to have them go after hostiles.
In the end, though, Total War: Warhammer II‘s The Warden & The Paunch DLC remains worth it. You’ve got a couple of new legendary lords to take out for a spin. Eltharion the Grim might lead to a rather uninspired run, though he has new units that are certainly useful. Grom the Paunch, however, provides an exhilarating and unique experience that’s a delight to have in the game. A Total War: Warhammer II playthrough with the Gobbo King is surprisingly wonderful.
Given the fairly affordable price, it’s safe to say that The Warden & The Paunch DLC is something long-time Warhammer Fantasy Battles fans should try. Plus, the Greenskins faction overhaul and the inclusion of Prince Imrik are sure to be treats for all players thanks to the free update.
Total War: Warhammer II – The Warden & The Paunch will be available via Steam on May 21. You can purchase the DLC for $8.99. Stay tuned for our guides and features hub.
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