Total War: Warhammer 2 Dark Elves Faction Guide and Campaign Walkthrough
Ready to dive into the complex tactical combat and cutthroat fantasy diplomacy in Total War: Warhammer 2? There are four starting Warhammer factions to pick from, from dinosaur-riding lizards to hordes of subterranean rats -- and each plays incredibly different from the others.
As the Dark Elves, your goal is to obtain the Scrolls of Hekarti to take control of the Vortex through a series of magic rituals. Along the way you'll be raiding settlements, taking slaves, and battling off armies of rat men or weakling High Elves.
Below we cover everything you need to know to get up and running with an unstoppable force of Dark Elves and slaughter your way through the Warhammer 2 campaign!
Looking for a guide how to beat the Total War: Warhammer 2 as dino-taming lizards instead? Check out our guide to the Lizardmen campaign for more information.
The Best Dark Elf Lord for Your Total War: Warhammer 2 Campaign
You've got two starting options for your Legendary Lord: a melee/spell-caster hybrid, or his Hydra-riding mother. The main differences between them revolves around experience points and loyalty.
Dark Elves want to be raiding and engaged in battle whenever possible. If you sit around defending an area instead of going to war, your loyalty will take a big hit -- and that can be disastrous if you aren't prepared.
Malekith automatically gifts out experience to other Lords, which is a major double-edged sword. If a Lord is higher level than Malekith, or if a Lord gets wounded and flees a battle, expect to take a big loyalty hit. While Malekith is technically the easier of the two, you have to keep him in battle constantly or the other Lords (and their armies) will rebel against you. His Bladewind combat ability is extremely useful, however.
Morathi, Malekith's mother, actually gives a bonus to loyalty for other Lords in the area. While technically the more difficult of the two, she can be a better option for the mid game when you need your armies to do what you want them to do. Just keep in mind that she doesn't include a tutorial mission, so you better know what you are doing ahead of time if you go with Morathi.
Dark Elf Black Arks
While the Lizardmen have their powerful Geomantic Web to offer bonuses across their empire, the Dark Elves instead get the mobile Black Arks, which support armies and have building slots like any other settlement.
That's not the big draw, though. Black Arks offer bombardments to aid battles close to the Ark. Make sure to position these Arks near where you are about to be engaged in warfare!
Essentially, you've got extra long range spells to rain down death on concentrations of enemy units without actually having to bring in any spell-casting characters, so don't overlook this massive advantage.
Warhammer II Dark Elf Campaign Strategy
The Dark Elves occupy the frozen north at the campaign's start, with the Skaven being your primary problem throughout the early campaign. To begin, focus on taking Naggarond and then recruit another Lord so you have two armies flush with Darkshards and Dreadspears.
Afterwards, your mid-range goal here is to forge alliances to the south and east to keep people from attacking you while you work towards taking Ghrond. This task should be done via siege rather than a straight fight, as it's very difficult to win that battle in a direct assault. You want the army to come out and fight you instead.
Don't forget that Dark Elves have a leg up over the competition on the technology tree, which can be advanced faster without having to build as many precursor buildings first as other factions.
As mentioned above, you are going to deal with serious loyalty issues throughout the Dark Elves campaign. Completing quests and faction-wide battle wins increase overall loyalty, but losing quests and faction-wide battle losses decreases loyalty. You can help pump this up further by stealing tech, which frequently results in captured slaves as well. Giving these slaves to your Lords will keep loyalty high.
Don't forget that your Legendary Lord -- no matter which one you picked -- can utilize a Rite to boost loyalty as well. Finally, the Khanite assassin eventually gets the Stalker trait that can also boost loyalty.
Dark Elves have a third resource to juggle: slaves! You can use this resource to balance out other aspects of the economy in ways the other factions can't use. More slaves means a province produces more gold, which is good -- but get too many slaves and public order starts to drop when the servants outnumbers the actual populace.
If you have a province with high public order but you need gold, upgrade your slave capacity buildings and then start raiding. While order will go down, you will be flush with currency. Likewise, choosing to the option to take slaves after battle is frequently a better idea than killing the survivors for extra experience, since Dark Elves have a high turnover rate and you will be replenishing units often.
Warhammer II Dark Elf Combat Strategy
Darkshard missile infantry are key here, and you can basically formulate your whole battle strategy around them. Later on, Shades can become indispensable and in some situations, even better than Darkshards.
Whether utilizing Darkshards or Shades, you need to master forming them up properly to avoid the problems of friendly fire or missing your enemies entirely. Archers have problems hitting if they are spread out too thin. In general, it's a good idea not to keep them in a long, shallow line, but rather to have two close ranks lined up one behind the other.
You want several groups positioned next to each other that can concentrate fire and reposition quickly to hit moving targets. Make sure to set control groups of your rows of Darkshards so they can quickly rain down fire and you aren't wasting time clicking and dragging to reposition your archers.
In this formation, with several moderately deep ranks that aren't long left to right and are concentrated together, your primary concern should be long range artillery fire from the enemy. If the opposing army has artillery, it needs to be ambushed and taken out early in a battle.
Dark Riders are your initial mounted units, and frankly they aren't that great -- but you should use them for side and back attacks when you are stuck with them. Upgrade these guys as soon as you can to their crossbow version for better tactical options.
What melee unit you want to focus on is up to you, but essentially their goal here is to protect the Darkshards and hold off the larger melee or hero units while you can kill at range. Coupled with abilities like Bladewind and bombardments from your Dark Arks, you can annihilate most enemies.
That's just one of several possible strategies for playing the Dark Elves, but so far for us it's been a winning one. Do you have any other hints and tips for playing these diabolical hit and run combatants?
Let us know your favorite Warhammer 2 Dark Elf strategy in the comments below, and be sure to check out our other Total War: Warhammer 2 guides if you feel like playing a different race or want more help with the game in general.