The Empire has been in dire need of a rework and expansion for a long time. So many units, characters, mechanics and start positions have went neglected and the Empire as it stands right now is a shadow of what it could be. The current iteration, as seen in game, doesn't portray the cultural or religious differences between the provinces; region specific units, political intrigue between the counts, the complexity of the structured hierarchy of the empires Offices and there is no mechanic or incentive to peacefully unite the empire under one banner.
There is a lot of untapped potential and when people talk about these changes, they often point to Middenland as the ideal place to expand upon, since it has the most unique and fleshed out culture, with a heavy focus on a different religion and units which could translate into a fresh new playstyle. if properly implemented, the Ulrican north would indeed add much to the faction, but I think people have overlooked, neglected or just don’t know about other parts of the Empire with their own kind of unique culture, which could make an equal or potentially greater contribution to the unit roster, Legendary Lords and mechanics. one of the main contenders for a faction that could bring all these things to the Empire would be Wissenland and over the course of this post: I’m going to delve into what Wissenland is like, how they could effect the roster, what units it could add and what a Wissenland campaign might look like.
First of all, I would like to address something people tend to bring up regarding Wissenland: many say that because of its proximity to the Empire, that its basically the same start as the Empire. This could not be further from the truth (which I will go into) and other places like Middenland border the Empire as well (Middenland is also land locked and can only really fight the Empire, Bretonnia and perhaps Norsca early on).
Naturally, as a part of my explanation as to why I believe Wissenland would be one of the best inclusions, I may have to point out what benefits it has over other potential candidates. This does not mean that I think all other options are terrible; I would still advocate for an Ulrican focused faction, a Markus Wulfhart Faction that could function like a Vampire Coast horde with a beast hunting mechanic similar to Norsca (A wulfhart vs Taurox Lordpack would be great) and things like that, so understand that my goal is not to erase all other options except what I want, all I want to do is Inject Wissenland into the discourse and point out why it should be one of the better candidates.
What is Wissenland Like?
Wissenland is the south eastern most province in the Human Empire, which is situated between the Grey mountains to the west, the Black mountains to the south and the river Reik to the east. along the banks of the river Reik lie the only real fertile land in the entire province, as the rest of Wissenland's geography is craggy, steep and uneven, leading into the mountains that surround it. As a result: the majority of the province is barren or difficult to farm. Instead, the people of Wissenland rely on the Lowlands along the Reik, to provide the bulk of their food, while the rest of the province focuses on mining, animal husbandry and hunting. Their wool and Fur pelts are well renowned and are highly sought after, even beyond the borders of the Empire.
Here's some images of what the majority of Wissenland west of the Reik, would look like, to give you an impression.
due to their close proximity to the Mountains, they have had regular contact with the Dwarfs, who claim ownership over the mountains and the surrounding area. "While the Dwarfs of Karak Norn and Karak Hirn claim large areas of the mountains for themselves, negotiations over centuries have secured rights for Humans to mine too; though this does not stop illegal operations on Dwarf lands. The Dwarfs do not take kindly to what they see as theft, and more importantly, shoddy workmanship."
Wissenland Relies on trade as much as it does mining and merchants travel though the Vaults (where Belegar is, between the Black and Grey Mountains) to get to and from Tilea, the Border Princes and Bretonnia. during the winter, these mountains are almost impassible so they utilise tunnels created by an underground river, that goes straight through to Tilea, to keep trade alive all year round.
Nuln is the biggest city in the province and used to be the Capital of the whole Empire. Unlike Altdorf, which is the seat of culture in the Empire; Nuln is more the seat of knowledge and industry. it has some of the best universities in the Empire and the world famous Imperial gunnery school and workshops: which teach the vast majority of the Empires Engineers, Gunners and Artillery teams. They call Nuln "the armoury of the Empire" because it manufactures almost every artillery piece, gun and Steam Tank in the Empire. because its a very industrial city, much of the population is working or middle class, as a result, the city is infamous for its merchant crime families, gangs and smugglers. (the city is very much like Novigrad from the Witcher 3)
Wissenland as a whole is a very industrial and working/middle class place which makes the richer provinces of the empire look down on it as a disgusting backwater place. Wissenlander's themselves are a Dour, Pious and hardened people, due to their professions, the barren landscape, harsh winters and an attack they endured From Gorbad Ironclaw; who sacked Nuln and commited a genocide of the province hundreds of years ago (there used to be another Provence here called Solland which was wiped out so completely that it had to be largely recolonised and assimilated by Wissenland)
How this could translate into Warhammer 2Unit Roster Buffs
: Naturally, Wissenland would be a Gunpowder focused faction, with buffs to artillery, Rifles and outriders. Suitable Climates
: Due to the geography of their province, their proclivity toward mining, and the fact that they utilise underground cavers: Wissenland should absolutely be acclimatised to Mountainous regions and perhaps wastelands as well (this works from both a lore and gameplay perspective), I would also love to see them be able to utilise the underway mechanic that is available to many other factions (or at the very least, I would like to see them be able to travel through the River of Echoes to TIlea)Early Dilemma
: I think it would be fair to suggest that the relationship between Wisseland and the surrounding Dwarfs is a bit rocky. In the Warhammer campaign, Clan Angrund, Karak Norn and Karak Hirn are your closest neighbours. Its simple enough to get Military access right off the bat but some players might want an excuse to conquer these lands. for this reason, I propose an early game Dilemma (within the first 5 Turns) where the Ruling council of Nuln or the Empire in general, demand an expansion of your mining operations. The Dwarfs say they wont stand for this as it would violate your treaties with them to stay off what they claim is theirs. If you choose to proceed with expanding your mines you get a bump to your income but a massive diplomatic penalty with the surrounding Dwarfs. If you choose to abide by the treaties and perhaps compensate the Dwarfs a little, you get a big diplomatic buff with the surrounding Dwarfs.
this lets you decide between conquest and alliance and it also speeds up your good will with the Dwarfs. So, if you didn't want to fight them, but instead wait for military access (which only takes about 5 turns anyway) you can ensure that this happens and happens as fast as possible to get you going.Nuln Gunnery School and workshops
: The Gunnery School could be so much more than just a unique building chain: you could make it into its own tech tree like what Clan Skryre has at the moment, where you pay for or research different buffs and unlock Regiments of Renown.
Wissenland is supposed to be the only place that truly makes the best of the best Artillery and gunpowder weapons, therefore, you could take all of the gunpowder Regiments of Renown that are in the game right now and make them exclusive to Wissenland (exclusive to the workshop). this makes sense and makes it so that other Empire provinces cant get them without buying them from Wissenland or conquering/confederating it to gain access to the workshop (you don't really get them until pretty late anyway and I've never seen the AI use Regiments of Renown).Start Position
: Despite being next to the Empire, Wissenland actually has the best access to the largest number of Races out of any Empire faction in the early game. I went in and tested this via faction unlocker mods and, from within Wissenland's closest settlements, without any movement buffs (not even Route Marcher) you can get to the Dwarfs (closest is 2 Turns away), Wood elves (5 Turns away), Skaven (9 Turns away), Border Princes (4 Turns away), Greenskins (2-4 Turns away) Tilea (5 Turns away) Sartosa (9-10 Turns away) and the Bloody Handz (9 turns) all within 10 Turns. you can reach the badlands within about 6 Turns and remember: this is just the time it takes without forced march or Movement buffs. some of these might seem far away but, this was a measurement of going straight there from Pfieldorf or Nuln, there are plenty of places in between.
Also, if you wait until Averland gives you military access or is destroyed (one or the other happened consistently around turn 14 for me), you can start digging into the vampires within 3 turns.
Isn't Averland a better Start?
Some people advocate more for Averland as a starting position because they want a lord who can attempt to curb the Vampire Counts expansion into the Empire and they assume that Averland has better access to the border princes. In reality: Wissenland and Averland have relatively equal access to the Border Princes: it takes 4 turns for Wissenland to conquer Zvorak and it takes 2 turns + siege time for Averland to conquer Akendorf (which is usually garrisoned at the start by one of the Border Princes starting armies). Wissenland has an easier time getting their foot in the door and is in a good position to meet border prince armies out in the field and conquer Matorca and Karak Angazhar in rapid succession. where as Averland will have a struggle, but if they manage it, they will have a stronger foothold in the region, with a walled settlement. As I said its somewhat relative.
As for the Vampires: I believe that Averland wouldn't just curb the Vampires expansion, they would grind it to a halt and put Vlad in an even weaker position than he already is. The vampires are the only real threat to the Empire and even then, they usually get taken out or put under control before the mid game starts in my experience. Having Averland at their doorstep would throw that completely off balance. On the other hand: if Wissenland were to be implemented: Averland would act as a great cushion, making sure that neither side can reach right away, giving them time to gather strength. Even Ostermark would be a better choice, because they are designed to fight undead and from their position, they would have to go through Templehof first, which is another perfect cushion.
Whose in charge Here?
The Elector Countess who rules this province, is one: Emmanuelle von Liebwitz. Emmanuelle was a childhood friend to Karl Franz, she had a poor claim to the title of Elector Count but by pulling strings with her life long friend, she was able to gain the title over the other suitors. (some even say that she seduced him) she has no skill for ruling or governing, nor does she want to handle such things. Instead, she took the title because of the prestige it it would grant her and because it would allow her to live in the highest luxury (gotta love how Games workshop portrays women don't you). She adores the high society of Nuln and spends most of her time throwing lavish parties, indulging in the theatre and things like that. "She loves the culture, the pomp, the majesty, its history, and its deep coffers". she's assembled a council of lesser nobles, merchants and Churchmen and rarely shows up to meetings on stately matters. She Detests the rest of Wissenland and the commoners who inhabit it. she wants nothing to do with it, to the point where she has been in negotiations with Franz to break Nuln away from Wissenland all together; make it a city state all its own with her as the head and a new electoral vote all to itself (meaning there would be 11 Elector Counts).
Because of what shes like, she wouldn't be the leader of the faction (perhaps in the diplomacy screen but even then, she never shows up).
How this could translate to Warhammer 2
The countess could be a feature of your campaign and there are multiple forms this could take:
1: she and/or the council of Nuln, could issue you missions: either being mandates from the council or simply from the whims of the countess herself (she could demand you declare war on the faction of someone who offended her or she could demand that you acquire luxury resources through conquest or trade for her).
2: She could be a nuisance, getting herself into trouble: falling out with other elector counts at one of her lavish gatherings. Wielding her power as countess in a way that is brash, selfish and imprudent, which then affects you diplomatically.
3: The countess could be linked to public order or your diplomatic standing. Since she is the real power behind the Province, you must follow her instructions (if she even gives them) and if you don’t, you could suffer penalties, as she claims you are out of control.
Legendary Lords and Heroes
Elsbeth Von Draken
Elsbeth is one of the most powerful amethyst wizard of the age. She acts as the countess’s tactician and commands her troops when she is summoned, as mentioned in this quote:
“During the conflict of the chaos host of Tamurkhan, Elspeth von Draken appeared in the Council of the Countess Emmanuelle like a spectre of death itself, gowned in robes so black as to appear as living darkness and bearing a keening scythe so sharp it seemed to murder the still air. It was her council that the Countess Emmanuelle took in forming up her armies to defend Nuln itself rather than meet Tamurkhan in the open field of battle, and such was the fear that came with Elspeth von Draken's presence that few gainsaid her despite the cost the strategy entailed in lands, livestock and human life.”
She is something of a recluse who is feared by the people of Nuln; she spends most of her time within the confines of her tower that stands near the Church of Morr on the outskirts of Nuln, or in another tower just like it which lies hidden, deep within the grey mountains. it is said that she is an ardent researcher, who is always on the hunt for lost lore and artefacts and runs experiments constantly to discover the powers of what she finds and further her skill and knowledge in the arcane.
She is a much darker character than the empire is accustomed to: in her magic, appearance and perhaps her personality too. She has had an unnaturally long lifespan of more than 3 generations and yet still remains the image of youth. She is able to vanish into shadow, teleport and is said to be trapped in a perpetual state between life and death. (in Table Top, exorcisms and things that damage undead and chaos affect her as well). All this has raised the suspicion of the head of the college of mages: Balthasar Gelt who has agents regularly spy on her and whose mistrust of her worries his peers, as they fear his paranoia and disdain may provoke an open conflict between the two.
Despite the fear and suspicion of von Draken and despite her reclusive nature: she is a true scion of the empire, who regularly rides atop a carmine dragon into battle against the Empires foes. Many of the conflicts where she has slain great evil or saved entire Towns from being overrun, aren't widely known; and the only reason we do know about them is through Gelt's Spies. This implies to me that she wishes to keep her privacy and while she has the desire to protect the Empire and its people, she is still very much an introvert and doesn't at all want to be in the spotlight if she can help it.
I'm not sure why she looks so old in her model when shes supposed to be eternally young.
Here she is, in game, via Mixu's Legendary Lords Mod. Translated into Warhammer 2
: she would be an amethyst wizard Legendary Lord with a Carmine dragon mount, who Buffs winds of magic, research rate and possibly Gunpowder units as well (simply because of the Faction and province). She could also cause something like -2 public order in her own provinces, since people have a kind of fear and prejudice against her.
Jubal is an Engineer at the Nuln Imperial Gunnery School and the current field commander of the Ironsides (the ironsides are heavily armoured riflemen form the School who act as part of Wissenland's army and protect the Nuln artillery trains).
He is described here as: "an engineer with a flair for tactical matters who many see as a rising star and future Guildmaster of the school. Born a cooper's son on the river wharf's of Nuln, Falk's natural talents and dogged enforcement of discipline have seen him rise rapidly in the ranks of the Ironsides, and he is respected by those under him both for his skills as a military engineer and as an honourable man if one notoriously unforgiving of slackness or incompetency"
Hes a Seasoned fighter and was instrumental in the battle against chaos that Elsbeth planned and partook in. he uses a Hochland Longrifle and has the ability to use Alchemical bullets.Translated into Warhammer 2
: Jubal isn't explicitly stated to be a Master Engineer, however, he is noted as being a rising star of the school who may one day become its Guildmaster and in terms of implementation, even if he wasn't a full blown master, it would make perfect sense to implement him as one regardless. the addition of him means we could implement generic Lord or Hero Master Engineers along side him (also, him carrying a Hochland Longrifle means we could implement them at the same time too). naturally he gives buffs to all gunpowder units, including great buffs to their leadership when within his Aura. himself and the other master engineers could act similar to the Dwarf ones or the Gunnery wights obviously and he could have the ability to use his Alchemical explosive shots too.
This guy is literally the mountain from game of thrones (they call him "the hound" though). hes the countess's champion who fights trials by combat for her (he was once disarmed in a trial and he then proceeded to break his opponents back like bane), hes a huge wall of a man, who some suspect of having been experimented upon at the behest of the countess to make him that way (again, just like the Mountain) and he rides on the back of an equally giant Demigryph called Reaper. He is the countess's right hand. dealing out Judgement and hunting down Wissenlands enemies. he also partook in the battle with chaos, alongside Elsbeth and Jubal.
on foot, He fights with a shield and his sword: Liarsbane, which has been the sword of Nuln's champions for generations. While riding Reaper he, wields his Stormlance which is engraved with runes of the Heavens magic. it kind of explodes with lightning heavens magic when he strikes an enemy, both burning them and knocking them back. Finally he carries an amulet given to him by Elsbeth which protects him against dark magic.Translating into Warhammer 2
: I'd kind of like him to be a lord but really he is a hero through and through. he should function like an assassin hero who trains troops when embedded. He can have his two weapons by default when hes either on foot or on his mount and Reaper and his amulet could be unlockable in his skill tree.
In Closing, I hope this has brought to some peoples attention a faction that is often dismissed or overlooked in the discourse and I really hope we can see it implemented one day.