Balthasar Gelt came to Altdorf from the city of Marienburg, having bought passage on a merchant ship with gold that he had transmuted from lead ingots. He left the seaport for the Colleges of Magic before the effects wore off, and now rumours abound that the swindled sea captain has placed a rich bounty on Balthasar's head - though few would dare attempt to collect it.
The transmutation of common artefacts into precious metal has always fascinated Balthasar. Driven by his obsession, he spent many years combining his knowledge of alchemy, learnt in far-off lands, with the magical Lore of Metal. Balthasar's fierce intelligence lent him a greater understanding of this branch of magic than any of his fellow students or tutors, and he rose quickly through the ranks of the Gold Order. Within a mere decade, Balthasar had become the Patriarch of the Golden College, the youngest wizard to ever hold the title.
Balthasar's research into new formulations of black powder even made him popular with the Imperial Engineers School, an organisation that often dismisses magic as superstitious nonsense. However, during these studies, a freak explosion almost ended Balthasar's quest for knowledge forever. Somehow he survived, and from that day on he has only ever been swathed in shimmering, metallic robes and wearing a golden face mask. Some say that beneath that mask his skin has turned to pure gold, while others whisper that he is horribly disfigured, though the truth of the matter is known only to Balthasar. One thing is certain: the accident only furthered his will to succeed, and this determination increased his powers to new heights. With a single gesture, Balthasar Gelt can transform his enemies into lifeless golden statues or turn their bones into molten iron. With such power at his command, Balthasar has secured victory for the Empire on numerous occasions.
Colleges of Magic: Harness multiple Lores of Magic to bolster the Empire's strength and destroy its enemies.
Imperial Authority: Develop authority within the Empire by engaging in internal politics and quelling problems to enforce confederation, vassalage or war.
Summon the Elector Counts: Secure the fealty of the Empire's Lords to govern or take over by force, assigning new, more loyal Elector Counts.
Well-rounded unit roster with a wide range of magical Lores and war machines.
The powerful Gold Wizard, Balthasar Gelt, has been sent to the southern border by the newly-crowned Emperor, Karl Franz. Although he has recently fought Greenskins around Altdorf, a further Greenskins threat has emerged to the south, in the old, ruined province of Solland. The Golden Order will continue to show its superiority over its peers; while Franz strengthens his position in court, Gelt plans to stabilize the Empire through might and magic.
The Golden Order plays similarly to traditional Total War factions, with diplomacy playing a major role in the initial stages of the campaign (uniting the Elector Counts with the strength of their arguments or the argument of strength) and strengthening the realm against future threats. Late game focuses on frontline affairs more strongly, as the Empire comes under attack from Chaos.
This faction starts with a fractured Empire, whereby the provinces of the Empire are ruled by Elector Counts over whom the Emperor has tenuous control at best. However, this same situation also allows for plentiful confederation options that allow other Empire factions to be merged via diplomacy. Dwarfs can be a vital ally to the Empire in any game thanks to their strong boost to trade, but unlike Reikland, the Golden Order can occupy mountain settlements without penalty, making it possible to conquer the Dwarfs instead. Bretonnia is an excellent ally as well, but like the Dwarfs, can also be dismembered and annexed for special building chains and raw income (eg. Couronne), while Southern Realms can also play that role. Notably, the Southern Realms and Bretonnia can act as a buffer for Beastmen and the Wood Elves of Athel Loren, which have a habit of stomping neighbors into the ground thanks to the edge they have in low tier battles.
Numerous enemies, dissatisfied Elector Counts to the north, Chaos looming even further up, belligerent Orcs to the south, sinister Vampire Counts in Sylvania, vengeful treemen to the east and Beastmen all around. Bretonnia, Tilea, Estalia and the Border Princes can become your enemies should relations turn sour. Lastly, the Dwarfs and their heavily armoured warriors will stop at nothing to settle any grudges with the other factions, try not to put yours on the list. Reikland has a challenging strategic situation, especially under an AI player.
Overall, The Empire is a very strong race in both singleplayer and multiplayer games. Infantry, especially Halberdiers and Greatswords, can hold the line well, but their ace in the hole is their war machine and cavalry catalogue. Imperial commanders can snatch up Demigryph Knights for wiping out enemy beasts and dealing with large armored threats (though fielding them against Bretonnian massed cavalry charges is a good way to get them killed) together with the Reiksguard shock cavalry (excellent against weaker opponents). The Steam Tank shines among other war machines thanks to its versatility (ram and artillery), with Karl Franz being very powerful (though prohibitively expensive in multiplayer games). Other Lord choices are good, especially Balthasar Gelt after the Lore of Metal improvements. Heroes like the Witch Hunter, Jade Wizard, and Warrior Priests round out the roster for single models, though they might be more useful on the campaign map than in battle.
No flying units other than high level characters mean the Empire is effectively hamstrung when dealing with factions that love flying units, like Bretonnia, Wood Elves, or Vampire Counts. They have to deal with them defensively, using units such as Handgunners (accurate, high AP), Lore of Light, or the Luminark of Hysh to deal damage to the enemy. Combined with a trapping spell like Net of Amyntok enemy flyers need to be wary of wandering into imperial fields of fire.