Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay review — A fantastic reason to return

New lords and units shine in this real-time strategy DLC with only a handful of shortcomings.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay key art
(Image: © Sega)

Windows Central Verdict

Thrones of Decay is a strong addition to the DLC roster for Total War: Warhammer 3. New leaders, units, and faction mechanics make multiple races worth revisiting, but the Dwarfs end up feeling left behind compared to the forces of the Empire and Nurgle.


  • +

    Fun new units

  • +

    Strong faction mechanic additions and reworks

  • +

    Flexible pricing model


  • -

    Dwarfs still lack needed variety

  • -

    Age of Reckoning mechanic needs tuning

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As new guns woven with Amethyst Magic thunder across the battlefield, the undead forces of Sylvania die in droves, being ripped apart faster than they can regenerate. High above the shambling corpses, Elspeth Von Draken's Carmine Dragon unleashes deadly blasts. 

So goes one of the many, many battles I've undertaken in Thrones of Decay, the latest DLC pack for Total War: Warhammer 3. After some rough patches last year, this content drop is a strong return to form for the franchise, with some powerful new units and accompanying faction mechanics that change the game for races that have been around since 2016. Things aren't quite even across the board, however, with one faction left feeling like it needs just a bit more love. 


This review was made possible thanks to a review code provided by Sega. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.

What is Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay?

The Dwarf Thunderbarge finally arrives. (Image credit: Windows Central)
Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay

Price: $23 ($9 for each lord separately)
Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Real-time tactics, turn-based strategy
Playtime: 20+ hours
Platforms:  Windows PC
Release date: April 30, 2024

Thrones of Decay is a DLC content pack for strategy title Total War: Warhammer 3. Developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega, this DLC adds new Legendary Lords, units, and gameplay mechanics for the Empire, Dwarf, and Nurgle factions. 

Elspeth von Draken, the self-proclaimed "Graveyard Rose," leads the forces of Nuln in a dark addition to the Empire's forces. Dwarf innovator Malakai Makaisson fields an expedition of Dwarfs out of the frosty northern hold of Kraka Drak. Finally, Tamurkhan, the Maggot Lord, is spreading new plagues for Nurgle from the blasted plateau of K'datha.

This DLC also coincides with the massive 5.0 patch and some free content. While these additions aren't technically paid, they are worth briefly touching on alongside everything included in Thrones of Decay since they directly impact any new playthroughs that will be started with the new characters. Epidemius is a new free Legendary Lord for Nurgle, while the Empire receives the long-awaited Gold Wizard, meaning Balthazar Gelt is no longer the sole way for Empire players to access the LORE OF METAL

Speaking of Gelt, he's been moved due to the addition of Elspeth, and he can now be found studying in the lands of Cathay. It's a radical change that massively shakes up how he plays, as well as creating a power vacuum in his former province of Solland that provides challenge and opportunity for anyone playing Elspeth or Sylvania. 

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay — What I liked

The power of Shyish is unleashed by Elspeth's Carmine Dragon. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The addition of Elspeth is particularly fun, as she comes well-equipped to take advantage of new Empire units like the Nuln Ironsides and Landship. Elspeth's gunpowder units can be further improved through the Imperial Gunnery School, allowing her to spend special resources in exchange for unlocking unique modifiers and bonuses that can utterly obliterate even the strongest opponents. 

Having studied death, Elspeth also has access to Morr's Gardens, allowing her to reinforce and (for a fee) instantly travel between up to five settlements. This adds another tactical layer to the game, and I found myself choosing locations dozens of turns in advance in order to best plot out a path that would make my territory more easy to defend.

Malakai Makaisson's forces, meanwhile, take advantage of new Daemonslayer lords, Dragonslayer heroes, and mighty Thunderbarge gunships. The latter is a particularly impressive addition, raining death from above and providing sorely needed aerial cover for Dwarf armies that have been increasingly limited in options compared to the growing roster of factions over the last few years.

Makaisson also functions as a quasi-Horde-type army, upgrading a special Thunderbarge to provide unique benefits and keep his army moving. He can also embark on special adventures, taking on dangerous missions around the world in exchange for unique rewards. 

The Imperial Gunnery School makes deadly units deadlier. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Finally, the rotting armies of Tamurkhan have been reinforced with the addition of units like Rot Knights and Toad Dragons, adding to the noxious cavalcade of bile that Nurgle's forces can unleash. Nurgle's Plagues have also been touched up, with new symptoms to unlock that make spreading diseases more beneficial for players and detrimental to enemies. All of these new units and mechanics are welcome, providing new ways to play and addressing pain points or gaps in the rosters. 

I also have to applaud the pricing model being introduced here. Thrones of Decay is $23, slightly cheaper than the last two DLC packs, Shadows of Change and Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs. Unlike prior DLC packs, there's also an option for players to just pick up leaders on an individual basis for $9 each. 

While this format would make buying all three slightly more expensive, the flexibility is appreciated. If someone has no interest in one or two of the factions, they can save money only by buying the Legendary Lord and units they actually want to use. 

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay — What I disliked

The reworked Plagues system for Nurgle's forces. (Image credit: Windows Central)

While most of the systems added or tweaked here are quite welcome, one particular addition, the new Dwarf Age of Reckoning, isn't quite clicking into place. This system builds on the prior iterations of Dwarf grudges, requiring the player to take vengeance and move quickly against their most hated foes in a short amount of time, just 10 turns. Settling these debts results in nice bonuses like mercenary units, while not achieving anything causes you to suffer some minor penalties. 

In theory, I love this system. Forcing the Dwarfs to at least somewhat abandon their tank role and aggressively pursue enemies is fun and makes you think in different ways as you play. In practice, it leaves a lot to be desired because Dwarf tankiness is the only real defense against the swarth of options your immediate enemies have access to. Making players play in a different way doesn't really work if that method of play isn't viable. 

The Thunderbarge was a step in the right direction, but I still firmly believe the Dwarf armies are missing a couple of bigger units like Shard Dragons or Rune Guardians. Even with strict population count limits, these would provide flexibility on the battlefield that Dwarfs simply don't have against their Chaos-infused brethren or the innumerable Daemon hosts. 

Should you buy it?

Rot Knights are one of the many disgusting additions to Nurgle's roster. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Overall, Thrones of Decay is a great DLC pack. Most of what's been added here are well worth the money, and the new option to buy a Legendary Lord and its accompanying armored accouterments on an individual basis is a fantastic choice from the developer and publisher. I'll be returning to the Lords offered here in the future, especially Elspeth von Draken. 

At the same time, it really is worth noting that the Dwarfs still need more. Some tweaks to the Age of Reckoning system to grant more time, as well as another unit or two, and this faction will be in a fantastic place. 

Total War: Warhammer 3 Thrones of Decay launches on Windows PC on April 30, 2024. With three games of content pushed into one combined map, players who pick up the trilogy of Total War: Warhammer titles can experience one of the best PC games available in the Immortal Empires mode.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.