9 tips to forge a Chaos Dwarf empire in Total War: Warhammer 3

Total War: Warhammer 3 Chaos Dwarfs - A K'Daii Destroyer and Astragoth
(Image credit: Creative Assembly)

The new Total War: Warhammer 3 Chaos Dwarf expansion is here, and with it, the Dawi-Zharr finally take their place in the Darklands' volcanic mines and smoke-belching fortress cities—things are about to get interesting for Grimgor and his ogre neighbours. The Chaos Dwarfs are pretty distinctive as new races go, partly because they have the most complex economy of any Total War: Warhammer faction so far.

To keep their mines stocked with fresh labour and their forges glowing hot, they must maintain a constant supply of workforce and materials. Do you want to capture a new settlement? Well, now you've got to decide whether you want a mine or a factory and whether you have the appropriate means to maintain it. You want to build a new unit? Better increase the unit cap in the Hell-Forge with armaments then.

It may feel a little stifling to those who've played Total War: Warhammer before, but the Chaos Dwarfs are powerful once you get to grips with them, churning out artillery pieces that delete entire units, and a horde of hobgoblins who can overwhelm even the best armies. So, here are some tips that'll help you make heads or tails of the Chaos Dwarf economy, Tower of Zharr, and get forging weapons.

Exploit resources to create super provinces 

Provinces with multiple resources are very powerful (Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Chaos Dwarfs construct outposts and factories to produce raw materials and turn them into armaments, but the best way to expand production exponentially is to get hold of settlements with resource nodes. Iron and Timber produce armaments, Marble and Obsidian create raw materials, while Gold and Diamonds provide income. These buildings are vastly better than your regular factories or strip mines—an Iron production building makes 250 armaments, whereas even a top-level factory only produces 150. 

What's more, once you research technologies like Wagon Engineering and Stockpiling, these resource buildings buff production and output province-wide. Stack that alongside your Miners' Workshop and its raw material bonus, and you can reach some terrifying numbers, especially if you find a province with multiple resource nodes, like the Land of Stone and Steel in Cathay. I'd definitely encourage you to plan campaign expansion around acquiring these resources where possible.

Build a factory in every province 

Outposts are definitely more important than factories—they produce the raw materials you use in building, provide easy income in the form of the Money Pit, and since they don't rely on raw materials for upgrades, it's generally easier to develop them since they aren't competing with your Towers. Still, it's important to have one factory per province due to the Miner's Workshop. This building buffs raw material output by up to 30% in the province, which is a big chunk of free raw materials if you have multiple outposts.

Use Military Convoys to trade for workforce 

Convoys are a great way to consistently get new workforce (Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Military Convoys are the Chaos Dwarfs' answer to Cathay's caravans, letting you send armed expeditions out across the world to trade guns and money for just about anything you need. Most important of all, you can trade for workforce; the backbone of the Chaos Dwarf economy, and something you can only get through taking battle captives or raiding otherwise. A steady supply of workforce will keep your production efficiency at 100%, allow you to staff new outposts and strip mines, and you can always use the Sacrifices for Zharr-Naggrund labour action to turn the excess into Conclave Influence for taking seats in the Tower of Zharr. 

Strengthen your convoys 

If you've spent any time playing as Cathay, you'll have grown accustomed to easy-to-win caravan battles, as a few units of Gnoblars and an Ogre ambush you on the road. Military Convoys are much trickier. While ambushes aren't all that common and you can choose to avoid most battles, if you don't strengthen your convoys by picking up new units in random events, you will eventually face a force you can't beat and lose it all. On the plus side, convoys seem to benefit from Manufactory unit upgrades but don't require armament upkeep to use them, so choose wisely when selecting your convoy master and his roster.

Recruit Hobgoblins and Gorduz Backstabber 

The Hobgoblin stat line can get a bit scary for such a cheap unit (Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Scraping together an army of orc and goblin labourers to overwhelm your enemy may be cheap, but Hobgoblins are where it's really at. Once you unlock their legendary hero, Gorduz Backstabber, by having eight Hobgoblin units in your army, his skill tree lets you buff Hob combat stats into the stratosphere, giving them all stalk, while also reducing their upkeep by 20%. 

The result is a cheap early-game army that punches well above its cost and will last you most of the campaign if you supplement it with war engines and big monsters. Since you don't have to worry about expanding unit caps with Hobs, you can use those precious armaments to trade for workforce and expand your overall production at the start of the campaign instead. You can also improve your Hob's stats through certain technologies, and your regular lord's skill tree.

Don't be afraid to get rid of Towers 

Chaos Dwarf Towers are kind of useless—the main settlement buildings don't really do much in terms of buffing outposts and factories, or even in maintaining public order. Their main strength is that they let you recruit higher tier units and produce more Conclave Influence at higher levels. As such, it's well worth converting some Towers into factories or outposts instead, especially in provinces with resource nodes that offer percentage production buffs. Since you can recruit globally in Total War: Warhammer 3, there's no sense in wasting resources by upgrading lots of Towers and unlocking higher tier recruitment for all of them when you only need a couple. 

Sacrifice workforce for Conclave Influence 

The Expounder General is one of the best tower seats (Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Taking seats in the Tower of Zharr is one of the best ways to increase faction-wide resource output and unlock powerful army abilities, but it can be tough to get much Conclave Influence early on to purchase seats. The game recommends using your Tower settlements to produce Conclave Influence, but they take a lot of upgrading and investment to be good at this, especially as the Temple of Hashut building—which produces influence—is only available at the top tier. 

Instead, I'd suggest the Sacrifices for Zharr-Naggrund labour action. You can do this once per province each turn if you have the spare workforce, and you should have plenty if you're fighting battles and using your convoys to trade for more. This will help you get to tier two of the Tower of Zharr, where you can unlock one of the best seats: Expounder General. This gives you +1 Conclave Influence per turn for every factory building you have, letting you generate it passively as you expand your territory and production. This way I got to the top of the Tower of Zharr by turn 60 without having to build a single Temple of Hashut.

Choose Tower of Zharr seats wisely 

There are lots of strong seats to unlock in the Tower of Zharr, offering free ancillaries and weapons every few turns, increased unit caps, or army abilities. If you really want to give yourself a production boon early on, then the Machinator seat in the Industry District, and the Black Smith seat in the Military District are no-brainers, buffing armament and raw material output faction-wide. 

In the second tier, the Industry District helps you lean into military convoys and unlock a second convoy if all seats are filled—or a third if you're playing as Zhatan. In tier three, the Field Marshal seat is a lot of fun, giving you a temporary Hobgoblin stack when you sack a settlement. Remember, you don't need to fill every seat in a district by yourself to unlock its overall perk, and if you leave a seat or two open, other Chaos Dwarf factions usually take them.

These tips should help you get started with the Chaos Dwarfs and establish your production, but the most important thing to remember is that workforce is the most valuable resource, and the more you get your hands on through battles and convoys, the faster you'll grow.

Cheap labourer armies can keep order

Managing public order is a big part of maintaining workload (Image credit: Creative Assembly)

High workforce in a province means lower public order, as all those disgruntled orcs and goblins have to be kept in check, and so the population declines at a higher rate. You can use the Set an Example labour action to vastly improve order in a province for five turns, but it's quite expensive, and paying a chunk of workforce to lose less workforce doesn't make much sense. Instead, I'd suggest garrisoning an army of Goblin Labourers to dispel unrest. These units are extremely cheap, and if you head the army with an Overseer, you only need two skill points to unlock Harsh Master—a further 15% labourer upkeep reduction. 

These tips should help you get started with the Chaos Dwarfs and establish your production, but the most important thing to remember is that workforce is the most valuable resource, and the more you get your hands on through battles and convoys, the faster you'll be able to grow and expand.

Sean Martin
Guides Writer

Sean's first PC games were Full Throttle and Total Annihilation and his taste has stayed much the same since. When not scouring games for secrets or bashing his head against puzzles, you'll find him revisiting old Total War campaigns, agonizing over his Destiny 2 fit, or still trying to finish the Horus Heresy. Sean has also written for EDGE, Eurogamer, PCGamesN, Wireframe, EGMNOW, and Inverse.