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Grand Cathay is a playable race introduced in Total War: Warhammer III. Cathay is the largest empire in the Warhammer World, consisting mostly of humans, ruled over by immortal dragons who can take human form. The faction is based strongly on the history of Imperial China, and Chinese mythology. They are staunch opponents of Chaos, but their location in the Far East makes them very isolated. Thousands of miles from potential allies, they have constructed a Grand Bastion on their northern border to keep out marauding forces.

How They Play[]

  • The Ivory Road: Cathayan factions can send trade caravans west along the Ivory Road to the Old World, to gain income. Caravans will also face dilemmas that might enhance their rewards or destroy them.
  • Wu-Xing Compass: Use the magical Wu-Xing Compass to direct the Winds of Magic across the land, providing faction-wide benefits.
  • Harmony: Each action taken pushes the Harmony meter towards either Yin or Yang. The greatest benefits are gained from keeping the meter balanced in the center.
  • The Great Bastion: This mighty fortification will come under attack, but building it up will confer great benefits.
  • Battle Harmony: In battle, each unit is aligned with either Yin or Yang, and gain buffs when near an opposite-aligned unit.
  • Legions of weaker, cheaper human troops backed up by a diverse roster of stronger elite troops, Long Ma riders, huge Terracotta Sentinel constructs, War Balloons, gunpowder artillery and dragon leaders.
  • Generally a defensive, less mobile army vulnerable to flanking.


The landscape of Grand Cathay

Grand Cathay is the largest empire in the Warhammer Fantasy setting. Located in the Far East, Grand Cathay is bordered to the west by the Mountains of Mourn, to the east by the Far Sea, to the south by Khuresh and to the north by the Eastern Steppes and Chaos Wastes. Southwest, across the Mountains of Heaven, lies the land of Ind. Grand Cathay itself is a huge and diverse country, with desert in the west, mighty rivers and farmland in the center, great coastal cities in the east, and forested mountain foothills in the south.

Grand Cathay is a powerful nation of order that stands against Chaos. However, they are also located far from other order-aligned nations, and tend to be somewhat isolationist. Contact and trade with the High Elves and human nations of the Old World has increased in recent times, but travel between east and west is still dangerous. Because of this isolation, Grand Cathay long ago constructed the Great Bastion, a huge fortification along their northern border which guards against incursions by Hobgoblins as well as marauding bands of Hung, Kurgan and other forces of Chaos.

The rulers of Cathay are a family of immortal dragons who are powerful spellcasters, and can shapeshift into human form. In principle, Grand Cathay is ruled by the Celestial Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress, who are revered by the populace. In practice, these two spend most of their time in the Imperial Court, and leave governing of the empire to their sons and daughters. The common people of Cathay are humans, with smaller populations of Monkey-Warriors. In some Cathay's trading cities, there is populations of foreigners from Tilea, Estalia, The Empire and even High Elves and Dwarfs.

The strongest of the sons and daughters of the Emperor and Empress is Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, ruler of the Northern Provinces, who is charged with defending the Great Bastion and the city of Nan-Gau. There is also Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, ruler of the Western Provinces. He guards the city of Shang-Yang which is located in the Warpstone Desert, and the dangerous Ivory Road, which trade caravans travel west to reach the Old World. There is also Yuan Bo the Jade Dragon who rules the Central Provinces, Yin-Yin the Sea Dragon who rules the Eastern Provinces, and Li Dao the Fire Dragon who rules the Southern Provinces.

While the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress command their subjects to live and work in harmony for the good of all, it is not always so. For in addition to external assaults by the Ogre Kingdoms, Greenskins, coastal Dark Elf raiders and forces of Chaos, Grand Cathay is also sometimes riven by internal rebellions, Chaos Cults and jealous competition between the dragon siblings. During one period where the Dragon Emperor and Moon Empress were mysteriously absent, the so-called "Monkey King" was for a time able to march on the capital and usurp the throne, before eventually being ousted and disappearing into the south.

Despite these threats, the proud armies of Grand Cathay fight on. At their core are untold legions of soldiers, from Peasant Long Spearmen to highly-trained Celestial Dragon Guard. These are supported by Jade Warrior Crossbowmen, Crane Gunners, Grand Cannons shaped like great bronze dragons and flying Kongming Sky-junks. Perhaps the most feared are the Terracotta Sentinels - constructs that lie motionless for centuries as huge statues until, in times of great need, they are magically animated to fight in the defense of the Celestial Empire. In battle, these varying units work in harmony with one-another, becoming a much more effective fighting force than they would seem individually.


Grand Cathay factions are normal, non-horde factions who occupy settlements and control provinces.

Playable factions[]

In campaign there are two playable Cathayan factions, each with its own starting position, and led by separate Legendary Lords. See individual pages for faction-specific info.

Minor factions[]

Total War: Warhammer III

Factions introduced in The Realm of Chaos campaign:

One faction hasn't been implemented yet:

In Battle[]



Grand Cathay has access to five Lores of Magic:

In campaign[]

Provinces and settlements[]

See also: Grand Cathay (region)

Warpstone Desert

  • Shang-Yang (Spices)
  • Shrine of the Alchemist (Furs)
  • Tai Tzu
  • Tower of Ashshair

Gunpowder Road

  • Nan-Gau
  • Mines of Nan-Yang
  • Nan-Li

Lands of Stone and Steel

  • Po Mei (Salt)
  • Terracotta Graveyard
  • Weng Chang (Iron)

Imperial Road

  • Wei-Jin (Spices)
  • City of the Shugengan
  • Kunlan (Ivory)

Forests of the Moon

  • Zhanshi
  • Xing Po (Diamonds)
  • Ming Zhu
  • Village of the Moon

Celestial Riverlands

  • Bridge of Heaven
  • Shang-Wu (Exotic animals)
  • Nongcheng
  • Shi Long

Western Great Bastion

  • Snake Gate

Central Great Bastion

  • Dragon Gate

Eastern Great Bastion

  • Turtle Gate

Wastelands of Jinshen

  • City of Monkeys
  • Hanyu Port
  • Xen Wu

Broken Lands of Tian Li

  • Qiang
  • Village of the Tigermen (Medicinal plants)
  • Temple of the Elemental Winds (Wood)

The Ivory Road[]

Cathayan players may send Caravans down the dangerous Ivory Road to deliver goods to distant lands. Each Caravan should be armed with a decent amount of units, so in case if the Caravan faces a hostile threat (such as Ogres), they can defeat the threat more easily and gain some loot to further the players' efforts.

Cathayan commandments[]

  • The Sea Dragon's Edict - Income from trade: 5% (factionwide)
  • The Fire Dragon's Edict
  • The Storm Dragon's Edict

Great Bastion commandments[]

  • The Bastion Patrolled
  • The Bastion Enhanced
  • The Bastion Restored



As an empire, a people, and on the battlefield, Grand Cathay is about harmony. They are a defensively focused army, long standing against the tides of darkness that crash against their Great Bastion, over and over again across the centuries. Ranged and melee units receive buffs when in close proximity, their power boosted as the Yin and Yang that runs through every inhabitant of the empire works in concert. This gives them incredible ranged firepower and a stalwart, hardy front-line. They are slow-moving and easy to flank, but their flying machines, alchemists, and dragon sorcerers do much to make the army a formidable one.

On the campaign map, Grand Cathay must use the incredible wealth of the Ivory Road to fund their war effort and defense of the Grand Bastion, the invincible walled fortress that borders the Chaos Wastes to their North. Defending it and launching assaults from it is a key part of their campaign and will make or break the fates of mortals.

Cathay's harmony function is somewhat similar to Bretonnia's Peasant Economy, where the player must maintain a balance between two resources to maximise production and output without penalties.


  • Before Total War: Warhammer III, Cathay is referenced in several items and followers, such as the Horn of Immortals, the Cathayan Slave Dancer, and the background lore for Clan Eshin.
  • In 2018, a group of Chinese Total War fans visited Creative Assembly in the UK, and presented them with a fan-made map of Grand Cathay, to show their desire for Cathay to become a playable faction.[1][2]
  • In 2019, Creative Assembly released Total War: Three Kingdoms, a Total War game set during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history (220-280 CE). The game draws heavily on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a 14th-century Chinese novel which is part history, part myth, and is set in the three kingdoms period. Total War: Three Kingdoms sold 1 million copies in less than a week.[3]
  • Games Workshop and Creative Assembly worked together to create Grand Cathay for Total War: Warhammer III.[4] Previously, Cathay had only existed as snippets of lore in Warhammer Fantasy books.[5]


  • Cathay is strongly based on Imperial China and Chinese fantastical elements. The Great Bastion is based on the Great Wall of China. The Ivory Road is based on the Silk Road.
  • Cathay was China's name in medieval Europe.
  • In Chinese-language editions of Warhammer, Cathay's name is Zhendan (震旦), which is an archaic name used for China.



Creative Assembly art

Games Workshop The Old World art



The Northern Provinces.png Grand Cathay units