So the DLC Vampire Coast expansion is out, alongside a FreeLC leader for the Dark Elves, Lokhir Fellheart, who is similarly nautically themed (he’s big on Black Arks), and a patch with the following:
You can now do battles at sea without auto-resolve! You fight on an island or, if a Black Ark is involved, on the Black Ark itself (they’re very large).
The Vampire Counts (not to be confused with coast!) have also got a ton of new mechanics to do with Bloodlines and a bunch of balance changes (though the changes to the units themselves are minor). Kemmler also got a new start location (over near Bretonnia) and his own faction.
Plus the usual big patch balances and fixes a ridiculous amount of stuff, not least finally mostly fixing the dread “reinforcement bug”, where reinforcements would appear in totally the wrong place (relative to where all the armies were). Like the big fix to autoresolve, it’s not 100% fixed, but like, 90%, which is a big improvement. Tons of other interesting changes, like you can no longer make $$$ by having a single army-less Lord float around grabbing stuff at sea, because a lot of the sea stuff is now a choice between small gold (1500g typically), or a battle for a much larger amount of gold - 5000g to 20000g depending on how tough the battle is (possibly more, but that battle was too hard so I’ll never know!).
Vampire Coast is ridiculously fun, and like Tomb Kings, feels extremely well-designed and complete. It takes a very different approach though, Tomb Kings had a limited number of clear, unique mechanics, which made them very different to other factions. Vampire Coast, let’s call them Vampirates, goes the other way, and stacks the faction with a TON of mechanics that other races use, linked together in quite a fancy fashion. MOBAs and fighting games often have something which says how hard a fighter is to play, in the sense of how adept at the game you need to be generally, and I feel like the Vampirates would be a “Very Hard” on that (where TKs were a “Medium” and say, High Elves might be an “Easy”). TW does actually have an indicator, but it’s just about starting situation, not actual faction difficulty.
So you’ve got a flagship/fleet, which acts like a horde (i.e. can make it’s own troops, gradually grows etc.), but you can also take territory normally (and should, a bit at least), buuuut you can also raid ports and set up Pirate Coves, which are non-removable parasites, effectively, to those ports (giving you cash, spreading vampire corruption or whatever, your choice). You’re also tracking Infamy, which can go up and down. And normal Lords don’t act like a horde, but you can but you can burn Infamy to get Lords who DO act like hordes. There’s a lot more going on too depending on whether you’re playing on Mortal Empires or er the other one. Oh and they can Raise Dead like other vampires (but not quite as effectively).
And that’s just outside the battles!
In battle, they have a ton of different directions to go, with various kinds of zombie (including zombies with rifles!), elite undersea vampire undead, human pirates (with perfect vigor!), tons of monsters (wolves (“Scurvy dogs”), undead crabs, undead crabs with zombies with guns on them, much bigger undead crabs, undead ogres who are also crabs and sharks, undead transformer pirate ships - no seriously they’re terrifying), spooky ghosts of various kinds, giant bats flapping around carrying yet more zombies with guns, all sorts of artillery (including a terrifying one of a kind supergun, and bigger zombies all toting personal long-range artillery!). And that’s not even all of it. No real cavalry (unlike Vampire Counts) but it’s not a huge issue.
Overall their infantry is kind of weak by TW2 standards (albeit great at tangling up most enemy), but they have tremendous firepower and good access to monsters.
Anyway, it’s huge fun, for me at least.