Elven Plot Armour – Total Warhammer 3 Diplomacy Guide
Full Video Presentation
Welcome to the total Warhammer 3 diplomacy masterclass where we will cover everything from basics to advanced play in a video with this indepth guide, written separately to accompany. This guide is part of a tightly scripted playlist design to take you through legendary difficulty, so please check the playlist and feel free to jump back to an earlier step if you’re feeling ungrounded.
If this written format proves useful to many viewers I'll venture more down this path of written content.
If you’re even a bit experienced, I highly recommend watching the video through as it will leave no stone unturned and is designed to arm you with the ability to assess the world and the strategies to best exploit it. This guide will first go through the mechanics, how to best use the available options, then finally how to make global strategies, so stick to the end, I promise it’s worth it!
Diplomacy, A Tool For Good AND Evil
Every race in total war Warhammer can use diplomacy to assess and manipulate the factions around them. Even the most ruthless races that don’t negotiate can use indirect actions can create bonds or divisions between other factions with the overall goal of keeping your hostilities manageable whilst turning the odds on your enemies.
Even evil factions can read the situation to divide and conquer and ensure your biggest threat can grind itself down while you expand without attracting alliances against you.
So in summary, diplomacy is your way of managing your engagement as well as manipulating your biggest threats to also feel challenged.
The Right Number Of Wars
In Total War, you never want to collapse your main army so you’ll always want at least 1 direct conflict so the loot can pay for it. You typically want to be the aggressor, earning profit by taking settlements and an army staying around to guard is costing you money.
By using diplomacy to create friendly borders, you can save on defensive armies and instead direct all your military into profitable invasions.
During your current invasion you can plan ahead to ensure your future enemies stay divided and potential allies stay strong... but not too strong.
Critical Tip: Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish!
Use this guide’s techniques to assess a faction’s strength and location of armies to ensure any conflict can be won or at very least, decisively turned in your favour from your initial invasion. Long wars are dangerous and risk new wars exposing you as well as others joining in. Overall, DON’T start a war unless you can finish it! Better to stay safe than taking a gamble that overextends your territory and economy!
Critical Tip: Let Races Guide You
If you’re akin to particular race, including your own, try to avoid war outside of any initial conflicts. Good races should avoid joining wars against other good races and evil races need to consider their popularity is also joined to
Relations? What’s Good? What’s Dangerous
Before we go over when you should or should never take particular deals, just a quick UI introduction. If relations are positive and green, you are typically never at risk of war. However if you are below “0”, then this risk exists. If you keep this above 10, you’ll be safe. But by acting friendly or hostile to their others they like or dislike will influence whether this score trends to the positive or negative over the coming turns. This typically evolves via having existing shared friends or hostilities and then signing agreements. Even just landing basic treaties will tend to skyrocket your relations to safe place.
Critical Tip: Trends Matter
Hover over the number next to the portrait and it’ll show the sum of their attitude towards you. Not only the current score matters, but also the trend does too. If someone is say, “-15” towards you, try offering x2 small gifts. If you can get the trend to show 2 upward green arrows, this won’t guarantee but will typically save you from attack. Every race has it’s own historical prejudices and will have an easier time getting things signed with some races over others. For this reason it’s logical to align yourself with natural friends to avoid the racial penalties as making a long term agreement with powers that don’t want to get along will leave you trying to please friends who you’re making eternally unhappy. For example, trying to be friends with a High Elf and Dark Elf? The Dark Elf is expensive to keep on side anyway, but this also poisons the High Elf’s opinion of you. The better option would be to look elsewhere for a Dwarf, Human or better yet, a fellow High Elf which will naturally foster friendly relations, rather than be an expensive, volatile mess.
But the best thing with trends, if you see them going down, gift before they go below zero and/or make plans to share a common enemy with them or even prepare for a world without them…
Critical Tip: Don’t Sign EVERYTHING
While it’s a good idea to check what’s available each time, a classic beginner mistake is to simply see a green option, click the balance button to earn some quick gold and just sign whatever they can. This is because signing a deal with 1 faction will effect how you are viewed by others. Don’t underestimate this.
Why Won’t You Take My DEAL!?
A faction’s willingness to sign a deal is based on more than just their current relationship score. The biggest element is the number of threats they’re facing relative to their strength. If they’ve lost their main army and have hostile forces on their border, they’ll be far more interested in treaties, and this will increase the closer the enemy forces are to their holdings. So simple timing is often the key ingredient as to when a deal is appealing or not. Once your relations are above 200, chance are they aren’t taking your deal because they don’t need to, not because they don’t love you. As your empire grows past # and then # settlements, you’ll become increasingly more intimidiating and alienate yourself from the world who fear becoming a vassal in the long run.
Balance Of Power
Other than relationship, the other determinant of how attractive you are to treat with is your military strength. This is measured in one of the most universally useful tools in the entire game known as Balance of Power.
In the diplomacy screen, each faction’s balance of power bar can be seen. This is a relative measure, meaning this is their military power compared to yours. If it is divided in the middle, if you have only one strong army, then that faction also has an army of roughly that strength, or perhaps 2 much weaker armies. This is a vital tool for every race in understanding as intel for how many armies they have and whether or not you’re in a position for conflict.
If the bar is completely yellow, you can assume they’ve just lost some key battles and their primary forces are crippled and need rebuilding. If you lose your key armies, you’ll notice your balance of power looks miniscule compared to theirs. Quite simply, just don’t lose you’re your main army and the premium units in it and you’ll be fine.
So how does this influence diplomacy? Well your potential as a superpower in the world makes you far more appealing to get on side with. Comparative Military Strength is key determinant and you can be compelled to take territory around your allies before they do to ensure you stay the most resourced.
Because balance of power improves your bargaining, consider looking at your deals before your battles as your pre-loss state will be your strongest point for the turn. Hiring units just to inflate your balance of power is unlikely to make any difference and shouldn’t be why you decide to raise forces. Instead, focus on not losing your main army to preserve your faction’s balance of power and you won’t need to worry about this. Most opportune is when another faction loses their main army and will be far more inclined to sign up with you
Major Vs Minor Factions
Major factions, headed by a legendary lord, should always be what you focus your dealings around. Minor factions can be absorbed by their larger counter parts or tend to be destroyed. If a minor faction is liked by someone you want on side, then getting some trade going is a great choice. Just be mindful to check any major threats that such treaties could get on the bad side of.
If you are at war with any faction, the only option is to offer peace. At the height of the war, it’s unlikely this is appealing. Norscan factions are typically raiders and most concerned with pledging. If you destroy their armies you’ll see their balance of power depleted and they’ll usually sign for peace. Press the Balance Deal button and feel free to adjust to make the most out of them. If a war goes cold for a long time without any engagements, the resentment can settle and relations can gradually improve to the point peace can be achieved. Now this is only typical for factions like the Order Races or Norscans. Many factions that have historical grudges with you will never forgive you and the carnage of war is just too far gone. They’d rather risk destruction than ever give you the satisfaction.
Peace is most attractive if an enemy has: lost it’s forces, has settlements under (or in danger of) siege, has several enemies on multiple fronts. Peacing out of wars creates relatively low resentment from your friends who share the conflict, so it’s usually a good idea to leave wars you don’t want to peruse attractive territory.
Declare War – The 10 Turn Rule!
After peace is signed, you must wait 10 turns before declaring war or you will have a loss of reputation. This is also true if you sign any agreement and then cancel it withing 10 turns. So yes, if you sign a non-aggression pact, then change your mind, you need to wait 10 turns to leave the pact, then another 10 to attack after ending your treaties… well not exactly. This penalty scales so even if you can only hold off 6-7 turns, you’ll greatly reduce the penalty to reputation.
Reputation goes from the regular “steadfast” down to untrustworthy to ##. At which point it can take 10’s of turns to recover. The result is a much more difficult time getting anything signed and you becoming a more attractive war target. The biggest penalties are for turning on your allies. Always break your treaties before you declare war, even if just by a few turns if you can’t do the full 10. So, what happens if 2 allies attack each other? Easy, side with the Defender and you won’t lose any reputation at all. Siding with the aggressor or walking away will ruin your reputation. There may be times the reputation is better than joining a war on your key ally, and yes, you’ll survive this and eventually recover, but try to plan to avoid this situation. While evil factions tend to care less about reputation, remember this will still make it harder to sign new agreements with your existing friends and allies.
Your Size Matters
Under your portrate you can see the size of your kingdom which will intimidate and put a slight penalty against you. This is relatively minor, but you should know it exists. Also, the potential system in WH3 means the larger you get, the more the AI’s buffs scale up. Whilst this sounds unfair, in reality this only partially dampens the snowball effect ever present in every Total War game.
Critical Tip: Gifting Is Profitable! *IMPORTANT*
Since relationship will incrementally move each turn, it’s best to stay one step ahead. If a dangerous neighbour is at “0” relations but is going to decrease, a single gift will allow you to sleep easily. That said, if the neighbour is weak or a future target then save your money. While it may seem counter productive to give your money away, remember this is a historic staple of diplomacy. If a small gift is only around 1000 gold, this is a small price to insure against a war that could expose your vulnerable kingdom while you’re armies are out campaigning. A small tribute every 5 turns is far cheaper than having an army raised to guard a settlement. If you’re using gifting to build towards agreements just focus on 1 faction at a time! Secure 1 faction and then let the treaties take care of it for free.
The size of a gift is relative to the funds they have in their treasury. If the faction’s treasury is burgeoning, as small gift will cost say 2k, but if they’ve spent all their money that turn and are depleted, it may cost less than half of that. There are 3 types of gifts: small, medium and large.
• Small anything under a >$1k is a acceptable here and is most common gift you’ll use. Just a single small gift will get relations increasing slightly and can be a great first step when you run into a faction you plan to have a future with. Note, if you already have several friends and enemies in common this won’t be necessary, but multiple small gifts while they’re treasury is low is the best means of quickly getting out of the danger area and raising them to sign agreements, which will then naturally increase relations
• Medium gifts simply give a longer lasting boost and is a great way to keep a suspicious neighbour above that “0” danger line until you’re freed up to deal with them. Again, only use this if their treasury is low.
• Large gifts are rarely used and are typically a late game device or a form of desperation to avoid a war. Keep in mind, if they’re -40 with a tonne of grievances with you this is likely a losing battle, and while you might be successful in holding this off, it’s not guaranteed and is a poor long term strategy.
Large gifts may also be useful to keep your long term allies on side when you’re running low on enemies in common.
In summary, regularly check diplomacy with factions you’d like to get the ball rolling with. If they’re poor and a gift is only a couple hundred gold, try one or 2 to get the ball rolling. Once you can sign agreements it’ll start shooting it up naturally, but this basic start to get that score away from 0 can be very helpful. Note, don’t bother wasting your precious gold on factions you have no intended future with and plan ahead to have 1 or maybe 2 major factions in the big picture as minor factions are typically not going to live come the late game.
Myth: the AI gets FREE money
This is a simple lie! If a faction you want to keep as buffer is getting owned and has no balance of power, even just a small gift or 2 will give them funds to spend of precious troops that will keep them alive. Remember, plaqating a single friendly neighbour is far cheaper than having to fend of 2 other factions who naturally hate you. While you should always keep yourself at war, using your friendly neighbours to keep your future targets occupied saves you ever being exposed and keeps those threats in check. If a faction you wish to confederate or keep around is under serious threat, funding them may be vital to their survival.
Share the Wealth, Even with the Rich!
While sharing long term enemies and friends is the greatest bond, as those enemies vanish your bonds will fade and distrust will build. If you’re the superpower, remember to give the occasional gift to those allies if their trend starts going to the negative. If they aren’t helping you’re wars, chances are you’re hogging all the gold and tradables and you’re being unreasonable asking them to crusade with their entire defensive military.
One of the most overpowered tools introduced in Warhammer 3 was settlement trading. Yes, you can trade a settlement and pay the balance of it’s value or simply just gift the settlement. This is incredibly useful if the climate of said territory is red which doubles your build and recruit times, so instead of grinding away to hold it, just gift it for a bunch of gold and watch your relations sky rocket. You can create instant allies by doing this, but again, work off only having 1 major ally in the area, or perhaps 2 so long as they’re compatible. This is one of the most effective ways of making use of undesirable terrain, creating an ally who can better utilise it whilst cementing a diplomatic front. For example, the Empire can gift mountains to the Dwarfs while they occupy the open plains.
Basic 3 Treaties – Should I Use Them?
Non-aggression, Trade and Military Access are the 3 basic treaties. Having these signed will naturally shoot your relations up so long as you’re not in conflict with their peers. Remember, if you sign these, be prepared you need to let the agreement exist for 10 turns before ending it to maintain “Steadfast” reputation, though falling short at around 8 turns isn’t terrible. To attack someone, you’ll need another 10 turns to avoid reputation damage. Remember, signing treaties will make their friends like you, but will antagonise factions that dislike them. If you can see their neighbour has say -10 relations with that faction, signing agreements will produce small, but gradual degradation in their opinion of you. You may end up having that faction in your crosshair soon enough, but it’s best to only sign treaties that fit YOUR grand strategy. NOT just because they’re there! Unless you’re desperate for cash, don’t sign agreements just to make money! Typically side with your racial friends and don’t be afraid to shun your natural enemies.
Simple, sign this and you pledge not to attack each other. The AI are reliable with this pact. The unreliable factions tend not to sign it in the first place and they’ll always end the pact before attacking you. If you can see your relations are in the negative they’ll typically end their basic treaties with you… Note, take this seriously! If they’re less than say -20, some gifts to get the double green arrow will usually cool the temperature. If it’s more than this, prepare for war! This pact is a great first step to get relations trending up and reliable means of protecting your border.
Trade between two factions allows the resources you control to be sold between you. Building the resource building at sights with the resource, indicated by the icon at said settlement will allow that resource to be traded. You can upgrade these buidings, but first check to see if you’re exporting all of it. In the diplomacy screen, if you see 100% exported then you can build more and milk that extra demand. While tradable resources shouldn’t be your prime motivator, they’re certainly worth building for extra income and the improved relations with said partners. Note, not all factions can trade. The High Elves depend on trade and keeping their partners alive, while Chaos are most concerned with burning everyone and don’t even have the option.
Too Many Trade Partners?
There are plenty of reasons to disapprove of trade. The trust of foreigners entering and intermingling, potential economic leakage, but one you’ll see in breakdown often penalises a trade proposal with “too many trade partners”. This simply you not having enough resources to trade with the other factions, so why should they trade with you? Simply acquire more resources and you’ll be able to get more partners.
While heroes can march where they like, a lord and their army will intimidate and upset the owner’s faction. A single step on the lands of even a friendly faction will result in a trespass penalty unless you get permission for your military to pass through their lands. This is a much harder agreement to get due to the trust it requires, but it can be vital for you to expand properly of for your friendlies to support you. Always measure out your moves to avoid trespassing whenever possible. Factions like Dwarves and Greenskins who can underpass can use this as a great means of avoiding trespassing. Note that signing an alliance automatically grants this.
Trespassing, Raiding & Hero Actions
Even if you have non-aggression and trade, trespassing is VERY antagonising and provocative. Don’t do it unless you’re ready to fact the consequences! Additionally raiding someone elses lands will stir up even greater hatred. While heroes can move freely, if you use agents on them to assault their garrisons, units etc, you can expect backlash. Remember, doing these will make the target faction’s allies incur a small penalty toward you… but the factions that hate them will approve of such provocation and you’ll see a benefit in their opinion of you!
Critical Tip: Joining Wars
This is one of THE most important tools at your disposal. Before you ever declare war, first check your target’s other wars and join their existing conflict! This is not a formal declaration thus you can completely avoid their allies being forced to rally. A declaration of war is an announcement of hostility that will rally all their allies. By joining someone else’s war, you haven’t started a conflict, but are joining someone else’s, thus allies won’t be involved. Ok, declaring war is going to make their friends despise you, but this is less intrusive and you can usually make a quick buck by getting them to pay you to enter the fray! Getting another faction to join one of your wars is a great way to ensure they stay on side, but this is often to expensive to bother with.
Join War is a Treaty!
By entering the war by joining someone elses, this will also endear them to you more as your military action was negotiated with them. Another reason to always explore joining wars.
Defensive Alliances will shoot your relations to the roof and mean any time you are the victim of a war being declared, your defensive allies will rally to your defence and also declare war on the instigator. Note that if you declare war, there is no obligation for a defensive ally to follow you, but this is a 2 way benefit of reducing your likihood of being dragged into unwanted conflicts. Once an alliance is formed, you can see their territory, planned movement and you can each replenish when in each other’s territory which is very useful. This agreement can be very useful to have with iscolated friendly factions that are far away from the action. Any attack on you will rope them into the conflict. Any alliance assumes non-aggression and free military access so they’ll be able to run across your lands to join you on the front lines. Your armies will also replenish in their lands as if they were yours which is very useful. Do not just sign these unless you’re inevitably going to war with the enemies of the faction your signing up with. Sign this when you can best rope others into wars and avoid signing to avoid more wars. The less wars you have, the better! Many wars is viewed as a sign of weakness so try to have some say in the ones you enter! Not joining a defensive ally when they’re attacked is one of the greatest sins and is a death sentence to your reputation. Defensive Allies will allow you to build outposts but these can’t be upgraded past level up unless you become Military Allies with that faction.
A Military Alliance identical to a Defensive Alliance except parties are also prompted to join the war when they are the aggressor. While you should avoid having allies that hate each other, if 2 allies attack each other, siding with the defender will not impact your reliability. This can be very useful to draw passive friends with no hostile borders into conflicts, giving you extra backup as well as ensuring your interests stay aligned. It’s typically good to share at least 1 enemy with your friends your relations shouldn’t decline, though in the later campaign as superpowers form, trust requires more gold or dedication to keep.
Military Alliances must be signed carefully to not rope you into too many conflicts, but if you can control the wars, you can use them to shape your neighbours into a coalition, allowing you to forgo spending on defences and dedicate your force outward.
and be prepared you might have to back one.
Check your alliances or even friendly factions by filtering and just check for any downward trends.
Allegiance And Outposts
Allegiance is the currency used to make your allies follow your directives. You can get them to attack a settlement or even occupy an empty settlement.
Every conflict started since your alliance can have missions
Outposts are available once you are allied. Once built, outposts will expand your allies defences with extra troops at no additional expense to you. Defensive allies can only build Tier 1 Outposts but Military Allies can build Tier 3 outposts in each other’s settlements, granting even bigger garrisons and better Allied Recruitment options! If you can’t build an Outpost, it’s probably because another faction has allied and built one there first.
Allied Unit Recruitment
Depending on the outpost level, you can levy troops available at that particular settlement. This means you should aim to build outposts at an established capital to maximise the high level units you may recruit. Also, consider the garrison significantly expands the garrison, so there may be times a minor settlement at a critical chokepoint may be a wise move. Allies will also construct Outposts in your own territory, granting you expanded garrisons.
You can have up to 4 allied units in total in a single army. Ie your lord must remain in command of a loyal army, thus no more than 4 units can be allied. However, you can simply hire another lord and recruit more units this way. Hiring allied units will cost you allegiance, though there is no limit to how many allied units you can hire in your kingdom, provided you have enough lords to watch over them. You can mix units from multiple allies in a single army, but the combined total of all allies must not exceed 4 in a single army.
Allies can be useful to fill holes in your army, such as cavalry for Dwarfs, or your Empire allies may have some Artillery available and mercenaries are a far more timely and cheaper option than globally recruitment in most cases.
This is only available with your own race, with factions who’s DLC you own. This was very easy and overpowered in Warhammer 2 and has been reigned right back in Warhammer 3 to allow the evil factions some much needed breathing room. That said, come the mid game the threats around will build, and this threat level is what largely determines their willingness to cede their power to you. By using alliances to keep hostility around them, having enemy armies nearby or even besieging their territory will lead them to feel weak and seek assistance. Confederating is far more likely with neighbouring factions who’s territory you’re near, as these are the citizens the leader is attempting to protect under your new banner. Some lords are simply too proud and would rather die in exile than serve you, but the best chances come from working up to military allies, sharing outposts before borrowing their army to reduce their balance of power. This isn’t guaranteed, but provides the best chances. With Warhammer 3’s new allies system, confederation isn’t really necessary and a common theme I noticed was people would bulk confederate, then quit because campaigns became to big and slow. So just consider if inheriting everyone elses problems actually sounds like fun as the battles will create hours of additional play time. After confederating there’s a 5 turn penalty to your local control and other race members intimidated by your latest acquisition. A couple of small gifts can be an idea to stop that larger faction getting any ideas.
Evil factions may wish to extract tribute with a threat which will severely diminish relations but will also result in war should they refuse! It’s advisable to use this sparingly as even with very good reputation this will tank it down to low. Note this is still much better than ‘very low’ which will take forever to regain. Only thing ever worth threatening for with good factions is confederation if the deal score is less than -20, but preferably under -10. This will still send your reputation to “low” but 10-15 turns will see this improve to “medium” and beyond if you were very reliable before this! If you can see the confederation target is in the best position to confederate with a decent chance, just save scum and try. You’ll get back to “high” reputation in about 20 or so turns.
See the examples in the video about keeping small and signing basic treaties with factions of your race and alignment to get synergy between them. Only sign few but meaningful alliances with major factions but don't undervalue minor factions either. Keep your fronts limited and you should have no trouble moving at your own pace. Too small is better than overextended and financially exhausted.
More Total War: WARHAMMER III guilds
- All Guilds
- Expert Diplomacy
- Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires Karl Franz - Empire campaign overview, guide and second thoughts
- Compatible Mods for Multiplayer
- Total War: WARHAMMER III Guide 547
- Vampire Coast Immortal Empires Guide
- Ultimate NKari Legendary Guide (3 Provinces, 2 Gates Turn 15 NO DEFEATS)
- DLC buyer guide after 2.4
- Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires Guide to Imrik and the Knights of Caledor
- Community co op campaign guide
- Campaign Configuration User Guide