Note that some of the featured factions will not be included in the first release. These previews will be divided by factional groupings similar to Rome 2's style. Reposted from TWC team member Lord Giovanni.
Fertile Homelands: +1 food per province
Distinctive Cultures: +30% Wealth from Culture
The Kingdom of Poland
Polish Horses: +15% campaign map and battle movement speed for all cavalry
Diplomatic Inroads: Moderate Diplomatic bonus with all Pagan factions
Grand Dukes: +3 Ambition for all Family Member generals
The land of Poland is situated in the heart of Europe, with powerful peoples and kingdoms surrounding it. It is a land of the meeting and amalgamation of peoples into the prevailing Polish culture, which has strengthened both the people, and the Polish armies. Although Poland can field armies with a variety of forces, the core units of Polish armies are their cavalry. The Polish cavalry horse has been bred for speed, with the stamina to move at surprising clips while carrying a rider in heavy armor. Polish knights, while they don’t have the same cutting-edge equipment as their counterparts further west, can still rival western knights through superior horsemanship. Polish light cavalry can use their speed to better stay out of trouble while harrying enemies, and Polish knights can use their speed to more easily outflank and deliver a devastating charge to their targets.
Poland’s strengths don’t just lie on the field of battle, however. Although Poland has the capacity to expand into the wild pagan lands on its borders, it would perhaps be better served allying with the major pagan tribes and confederacies, and using them as allies and auxiliaries against the more established kingdoms that surround it. With friends such as the Pruteni or the Cumans, the Poles could find themselves with the strength to expand rapidly into lands held by the Danes and Russians. Though the Catholic Poles may find the practices of pagans as detestable, the strength that can come from allying with them to increase Polish power could make any ruler overcome his reservations. Besides, it is surely easier to convert a pagan by preaching the Gospel with words of friendship, rather than at the edge of a sword.
Poland would need the additional strength of its pagan neighbors, if only because of its governmental weakness. At present, the land of the Poles is a kingdom in name only, even a century after it was divided up by King Boleslaw III among his sons, ruling as "Grand Dukes" instead of unified under one king. Time has not improved the situation. Though structured to appear unified to the outside world, the interior politics of the realm are pushing it towards fragmentation and civil war. The complex system of seniority among the most powerful members of the Piast dynasty has done little to assuage their ambition, and contention for the throne of Poland is unbearable. It will take a strong king indeed to not only defeat the enemies encroaching on Poland from all sides, but also the rebellious members of his family, in order to return Poland to its glorious days, before the present darkness fell- reforging Poland into a kingdom worthy of the title- and perhaps even an empire.
The Kingdom of Hungary
Shield of Christendom: +20% Morale when fighting members of a foreign religion
Superior Husbandry: +25% Stamina for all cavalry
Balkan Bureaucracy: +10% Corruption
The Carpathian Basin north of the Balkan Peninsula has long been home to peoples who began as nomads. As the Roman Empire crumbled in the 4th century A.D., the nomadic Huns rode out of the vast Eurasian Steppe and settled in the verdant valleys of Carpathia, raising their horses and using its prime strategic location to launch attacks against both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, thus lending their name to the region: Hungary. The Kingdom of Hungary of today is not ruled by Huns, but by a distinctive people whose path to Hungary was similar to that of the Huns: the Magyars. Though they are a unique culture surrounded by Slavs, they have maintained their cultural identity.
The Magyars originated as steppe nomads, and brought their prized Asiatic steppe horses with them when they conquered the Carpathian Basin. Fortunately for them, their new home had topography very similar to their old steppe homeland, and so the husbandry of their native horses thrived. When feudalism and chivalry were implemented in Hungary by the turn of the 11th century, the bloodlines of hardy Hungarian horses and powerful Germanic warhorses began to mix, leading to potent horses with an abundance of both strength and stamina. The fact that these horses are also raised on the rolling steppe-like plains of Carpathia only adds to their natural stamina, and makes the Hungarian cavalry- both heavy and light varieties- some of the finest on earth.
Catholic Christianity also took strong root among the Magyars with the reign of King St. Stephen I, and has held firm against both the old paganism of the Magyars, and the Orthodox influences out of the lower Balkans, Byzantium, and Russia. Hungary has become the very frontier of Latin Christendom, and its position means that it can begin expanding to dominate the upper Balkans.
Should this expansion be successful, Hungary would do well to ally itself with their coreligionists in the Latin Empire. However, relations with the Latin Empire’s ally, Venice, are particularly strained due to the treacherous Venetian-instigated attack on the Hungarian-controlled city of Zara during the Fourth Crusade. If the Latin Empire were forced to choose between staying friends with a small maritime republic or a powerful kingdom on their doorstep, any reasonable Latin Emperor would choose the latter. And should the Latin Emperor prove unreasonable, he will find the Hungarians more than willing to avenge the sack of Zara at Constantinople…
The Kingdom of Bohemia
Supply Specialists: +25% ammunition for all ranged units
Defensive Mentality: +20% Morale when defending
Heterodox Universities: -4 religion conversion penalty
The peoples who occupied the realm of Bohemia, from the ancient Boii Celtic tribe to the land’s current Czech people, have always valued the uniqueness of their culture, guarding it against the influences of the larger culture groups that surround them. The Bohemians of today have used that mentality to adopt an overall defensive mindset, preferring to decisively react to an enemy’s aggression and lose as few lives as possible.
This defensive emphasis has not only affected the armies of Bohemia, but also to the support of those armies as well. Bohemian supply trains are well-guarded, even going so far as to have a portion of the army accompanying them. This means that fewer Bohemian supply wagons are lost to raids or left behind before they reach the battlefield, and so Bohemian are are on the whole better supplied than others.
Though chivalric piety has been strongly encouraged in Bohemia, most exemplified by the recent founding of the Bohemian knightly order of the Cross and Star, the first unsettling stirrings of theological trouble have begun in these lands. The faculties in universities in Prague have begun to interpret the Bible in a different way than the approved manner of the Magisterium in Rome, and though their new emphases are unsettling, they are not being rejected out of hand in the university atmosphere. Though the prospects of widespread heresy in Bohemia are quite low at present, the lack of a unified presentation of Catholicism will hinder Bohemian efforts to spread the Faith.
This very year was an epochal one for the Bohemia. Incorporated as a hinterland of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, an imperial decree was issued to grant Bohemia status as a fully independent kingdom once again, retaining only a few ceremonial duties to the Empire. Bohemia’s location in the heart of Europe and its relatively small size might make it a tempting target of conquest for the likes of Poland or Hungary, but the Bohemian people are as robust as their culture, and even their peasants will fight with a valor far beyond their station. Bohemia will be able to weather any storm before it launches a decisive counterattack.