For some time before this update I advocated for both Nakai and Wulfhart as Legendary Lord picks, not just because they seemed like cool characters but because I thought they fit the criteria CA tends to use for these sorts of things. This thread is about trying to identify what that criteria is and what it means going forward.
A lot of people have strong feelings about the lords they want
and while I do think CA listens to that (it's probably why we're getting both Nakai and
Gor-Rok), I think they weigh that after they've made their own decisions about what sort of LL they need. If there's a fan favorite who fits the necessary benchmarks they'll go with that, but if the fan favorites don't fit those requirements then they'll be skipped.
So what sort of criteria are we talking about here? Well, here's how I see it:
- The Lord Choice Must Offer Combat Variability: This one is simple enough. CA tries not to pick LLs who are too similar to each other. The High Elves and Dark Elves are both excellent examples of this. Both races have two caster lords and two combat focused lords, but all are very distinct from each other. The High Elves have an offensive, damage dealing caster (Teclis), a defensive healing/buffing caster (Alarielle), a melee beatstick and lord killer (Tyrion), and a sneaky ranged fighter (Alith Anar). The Dark Elves have a pure caster (Morathi), a hybrid melee/caster (Malekith), a pure anti-infantry blender (Hellebron) and an assassin/duelist (Lokhir). In short, the more distinct a lord choice is from his peers, the more likely he is to make it in.
- The Lord Choice Must Offer Campaign Variability: Similar rules as above. If a LL choice lends itself to interesting campaign mechanics then CA will consider that a major plus. This is a more flexible rule than the first, though. The mechanics introduced for Wulfhart, for example, could be applied to other characters. In many cases this can be seen as CA trying to build on a central theme. They decided they wanted to have an Empire LL leading an expedition to the New World. Of the options who do you pick? A few different options are possible, but the one that most strongly lends itself to a theme of exploration and rivalry is Wulfhart, as he is a hunter who exists on the fringes of Imperial society, hunting big dangerous things the Emperor tells him to. This is easily extended into a themed rivalry with a big, monstrous character, and of the New World LL choices Nakai fits that mold the best.
- The Lord Choice Must Tie into Some Sort of Theme: This mostly just applies to DLC lords. CA usually goes for some kind of thematic approach. This can be expressed in different ways. For example, they may pick a LL who has a connection some or all of the new units being added with the DLC, as was the case with Ghorst and his Corpse Cart or Volkmar and his Flagellants. In other cases they pick LLs who have an existing rivalry within the lore, like Skarsnik and Belegar. And in some cases they manufacture a rvalry based on a broader theme, as they stated Tehenhauin and Ikit Claw were pitted against each other both due to the overall Skaven vs Lizardmen rivalry from the lore, but also because they represented a theme of technology vs religion.
- If it is a FLC Lord it Must Be Within Budget: This is pretty straightforward. FLC lords almost always reuse the animations and rigs of existing unit types. Vlad, Tiktaq'to, Grombrindal, Isabella, etc, etc. Sometimes they even re-use large chunks of existing models. This also applies to their mechanics. Tiktaq'to is a good example. He was clearly picked because he fit the first two rules, offering speedy skirmishy battlefield gameplay, very different from the other Lizardmen LLs, and this continued into his campaign mechanics with his new rite and bonuses to other units/lords, yet all of this could be implemented on the cheap. TTT himself just reuses the animations and rig of a standard Terradon rider and his various mechanics require no new interfaces, animations, or other extensive changes.
If I am right and this is a mostly accurate representation of CA's criteria for LL choices, what does that means for the future? Who are they most likely to pick? Here are some rough outlines.
- Empire - The Empire now has a melee focused lord (Karl), a pure caster (Gelt), a melee/caster hybrid (Volkmar), and a ranged/sneaky assassin (Wulfhart. They're in a pretty good place in terms of options, but if I had to guess the direction CA might go if more LLs were added, I suspect a new caster with a different focus than Gelt is very likely. If they add another melee/combat focused LL they will have to have very different mechanics to distinguish themselves from Karl, Wulfhart, and Volkmar.
- Dwarfs - All of the dwarfs are some variety of close-combat lord. If CA is going to add anything to them I would expect a ranged lord or some sort of caster.
- Vampire Counts - Most of the VC characters focus on magic. Kemmler and Ghorst are both pure caster lords, Mannfred and Isabella are hybrids, and Vlad is a pure combat tank. If they add anyone else my bet is on somebody more focused on melee.
- Greenskins - The Greenskins are in a pretty good place in terms of options, with a strong melee lord (Grimgor), a pure caster (Wurrzag), a hybrid melee/caster (Azhag), and a sneaky melee goblin-buffer (Skarsnik). If I had to guess on who might get added I would actually say either a more ranged-focused lord or a dedicated assassin, both options they lack.
- Beastmen - Of the three Beastmen LLs two are casters and one is a melee fighter. The logical option here is a new melee focused lord.
- Wood Elves - The Wood Elves have a hybrid melee/ranged lord and a hybrid monstrous/caster lord. They have no dedicated caster at all, and that seems like the reasonable direction for them to go.
- WoC - Of the three WoC LLs you have the strongest melee fighter in the game (Kholek), a duelist/assassin (Sigvald), and a hybrid melee/caster lord (Archaon). They also lack a pure caster lord, but in this they are hampered by the fact that most of their caster lord choices are associated with the Lores of specific chaos gods. It's unlikely an entire new Lore would be added with just an FLC or a even a Lord Pack, but if they have a caster lord choice who can reasonably use an existing lore (or a combination of lores) then that character is very likely, at least before WHIII and the addition of the chaos Lores.
- Bretonnia - Two cavalry focused melee lords and a dedicated buffer/healer caster lord. Bretonnia doesn't have a ton of character options, but another caster lord (probably with an offense focus) or an infantry or range focused combat lord are both likely directions for CA.
- Norsca - Completely lacking a caster lord of any kind, that's the logical direction for them. But their thematic focus is somewhat different than the WoC, and it would mean finding a caster lord choice who fits the Norsca theme or heavy metal vikings, as opposed to the WoC theme of hell-warriors of the apocalypse.
- High Elves - The High Elves are very well rounded, but the one lord type they really lack is a hybrid lord of some sort.
- Dark Elves - The Dark Elves are also very well rounded. This is a difficult one to pin down. They could use a more deffensive/buffing caster, but that goes against their murderous theme and gameplay style of "the best defense is a good offense." I think this choice will come down more to campaign options and overall thematic strength more than anything else.
- Skaven - The Skaven have two casters and two melee lords. Both of their casters are melee hybrids, while the melee lords focus on dueling and sneakiness respectively. A pure caster lord would make a lot of sense for them, but if there's a very strong thematic choice that might overrule everything else.
- Lizardmen - The Lizardmen really, really don't need more LLs right now, but if they were to get one another caster lord would balance things out a bit, as currently their only pure caster lord is Mazdamundi. Tehenhauin is a hybrid and everybody else is some sort of melee lord.
- Tomb Kings - The mummies have a very good mix of casters, hybrids, and duelists. The main thing they are missing is a monstrous lord or a a lord focused on one of the major aspects of their army: constructs.
- Vampire Coast- Where these guys would get a new character is beyond me, but if they were to get one another caster lord is the way to go. Harkon is a melee/ranged hybrid, Aranessa is a duelist, Noctilus is a melee/caster hybrid, and Cylostra is a pure caster. Another caster with a different focus from Cylostra would make sense, but this is also a faction that could easily accommodate a monstrous lord.
The above list just indicates directions I think CA will go, and is not intended to suggest any particular LL choice. If there isn't a popular choice available that goes in one of these directions then I think the odds of CA picking a very obscure character who isn't very popular but provides the desired themes/gameplay/mechanics are increased,