Grand Cathay is Warhammer powerhouse that loves dragons

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In the far east of the Warhammer world, beyond the Mountains of Tears and the Great Maw, lies the Empire of Grand Cathay: a vast and venerable nation possessing the kind of swagger that can only come from being ruled by immortal celestial dragons.

Compared to Cathay, even the most established human empires in the Warhammer world look like meowling babies. Cathay’s history predates the collapse of the Polar Warp Gates and the rise of Chaos. When the powers of ruin first swept the world, the Heavenly Dragon Emperor assumed mortal form in order to gather human tribes and defend his fledgling empire. This region became Grand Cathay: a landmass far larger than the Empire and Bretonnia combined, and an ancient enemy of the Dark Gods. Given their sheer numbers, advanced artillery, and devastating magic, the Cathayans could have easily dominated the Old World to the west. Instead, they were happy to turn inward, defend their borders, and remain staunchly isolationist.

(Image credit: Sega)

In order to defend his empire, the Sky Dragon Emperor ordered the construction of the Great Bastion: a mighty wall, imbued with the magic of the Emperor himself, that stands like a timeless edifice against the constant threat of Chaos. Should the stronghold ever fall, the Cathayans believe their empire, and indeed the entire world, will inevitably follow. Despite repeated attempts, the Ruinous Powers have yet to properly challenge the Dragon Emperor. So far, only Tzeentch, known in Grand Cathay as Chi’an Chi, has any kind of claw in Cathay; and even then only in the form of sects and small rebellions.

The reign of the Emperor and his consort, the Empress of the Moon, is absolute. But he is currently absent, instead leaving the governance of Cathay in the hands of his nine children. It might make him look like the kind of dad who plays trains in the shed while his kids defend the house from burglars, they’re more than capable. Each of his children is a born warrior, whose true form is that of a terrifying and powerful dragon.

Of the nine, four were lost to weather and enmity. But Miao Ying, the Storm Dragon, and Zhao Ming, the Iron Dragon, are on the front line in the fight against Chaos. They are beings who are older and, in their own minds, wiser than most gods, but they do not demand or demand worship. In their natural state, the descendants of the Celestial Emperor make normal dragons look like cartoon lizards. And let’s not even talk about wyverns.

(Image credit: Sega)

Harmony is crucial in Grand Cathay, and this is as true on the battlefield as it is in governance. Their units receive buffs for fighting in unison, and this informs how they deploy. Rows of impenetrable spears hold the line as Cathay’s incredible ranged troops tear enemies to pieces from afar. Archers and crossbows are quite effective, but it’s the gunpowder units that set Cathay apart.

Crane gunners can fire at enemies from a terrifying distance, surpassing anything but artillery, and iron hail gunners are close range specialists who can rip through armored units like rice paper – essentially the equivalent cathayen of a shotgun. The Grand Cannon is their most basic form of artillery, but it’s still highly mobile and deadly from a distance. But the Fire Rain Rocket is the ultimate in Cathayan artillery: a battery of explosive rockets capable of wiping out massive troops. Even Cathay’s aerial constructs are deadly from a distance. In addition to revealing hidden units on the battlefield, Sky Junks can shower distant enemies with rockets and drop bombs on those unlucky enough to stand below them.

(Image credit: Creative Assembly)

And it’s not just the big guns either. In addition to the standard horses, Cathay can field the Great Longma Riders: armored, flying cavalry that can trample any units that reach your line without being shot at. And the towering terracotta sentries, Cathay’s ancient protectors, provide an elegant and intimidating defense against most monstrous foes. All of this before we even consider the spellcasters of Cathay: Astromancers, alchemists, and dragon-blood lords have spent thousands of years perfecting their arts, and it shows on the battlefield.

If you want to know what happens if you incur the ire of the Grand Cathay Empire, just ask the Ogre Kingdoms. Legend has it that their forays into ancient Cathay annoyed the Celestial Dragon Emperor so much that his astromancers dropped a literal comet on the ogres, destroying two-thirds of their population and ripping a hole in the planet that the ogres would later come to worship as the Great. Mouth. Dragons, cannons, terracotta giants and armed celestial bodies: you awaken the great Empire of Grand Cathay at your own risk.

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