The gameplay of the Knight race has remained almost the same. The race is still based off its mounted knights, which now have different weaknesses and new names. The Knight has been renamed to Knight Errant, Knight Champion to Cavalier and Knight Lord to Paladin. In addition, the Paladin now deals electrical damage, which makes up for the restriction of Inquisitors and helps each knight feel unique.
The main change to the Knight race was the nerf of Archons. An infamous sight in Warlords Battlecry 3 or The Protectors version 0.8.7, Archons were so powerful and efficient that they dominated the game. Buildings crumbled with ease due to their weakness to fire damage and even garrisoned towers struggled to deal damage because each Archon could heal each other. The more Archons a player had, the more health they effectively had. That’s why Archons in version 0.8.8b seem so frail by comparison. They are much more defeatable, and no longer instigate the Doomstack clause (players can’t win as easily by massing Archons anymore). In particular, their usual counters are effective (anti-air units/buildings).
Dwarves feature many considerable changes since Warlords Battlecry 3. Their production tree is different, receiving Breweries at keep level 1 instead of Armories. In addition, Dwarf Runners (now Brawlers) and Berserkers are produced at the Brewery, though the Berserker still has a keep level 3 requirement (requires Dwarven Brew, which is accessed at keep level 3). The production tree change should help to make the Dwarves more stylised and also to make more use of the Brewery. Dwarf Runners have been renamed to Brawlers and given new combat abilities, which they were always lacking. Now Brawlers aren’t so useless anymore, especially alongside Dwarven Brew which gives unique abilities to each Dwarven unit instead of just a blanket combat and speed bonus. We’ve even repurposed the Dwarf Berserker voice from Warlords Battlecry 1 and used it for the Brawler, really making his new role stand out.
The old Warlords Battlecry 2 Dwarf Infantry unit has returned, and the new Warlords Battlecry 3 Dwarf Infantry unit has been changed into an axe-thrower (one of only two in the game!). Because Dwarves now have axe-throwers, the crossbowmen weren’t necessary anymore and have been shifted to the Dark Dwarves, who make good use of them (more information about this change in the Dark Dwarf section).
Due to the lack of elemental damage in the race, Khazrimi Guard now have electrical damage, giving it a new role as a tanky mage-slayer and frontline fighter. Its old concussion-stream role has been given to the Brawler. This allows Brawlers to compete with other infantry units and also allows the Dwarves to counter heavily armoured races like Knights, which they normally lose against due to lack of elemental damage earlier on.
Lastly, the old Warlords Battlecry 1 Catapult model has been brought back and made into the Trebuchet unit, a longer range and more powerful Catapult available only to higher tech races like Dwarves and Dark Dwarves. For such races, the Trebuchet replaces the Catapult. All of these changes have made the Dwarves function better gameplay-wise whilst also improving their theme.
Like many of the races in The Protectors, Undead have received a lot of changes. To begin with, Guardian Skulls are available for Skeletons to morph into. This provides Undead with a basic missile unit with the same theme as the Undead. One of the more controversial changes though, is that Skeletons can’t transform into Wraiths or Shadows anymore. This was done for balancing reasons. With the ability to morph into something resistant to all elemental damage or something resistant to all physical, it meant that Undead had an instantaneous answer to any situation and ended up countering almost any play that could be made. Do not despair however, for Wraiths and Shadows are still accessible from the Barrow.
Another change is the introduction of Cultists. These units are lesser Liches which form the bridge between Wights and Liches. This addition was made because Liches were too easy to obtain, and with their Raise Dead powers they could overwhelm almost any opponent. Their abilities have remained mostly the same, but they are now a little more difficult to get access to. Slayer Knights have also been renamed to Dread Knights for reasons that will be explained in the Minotaur section.
Lastly, almost all Undead units have been recoloured to have darker, rusty-looking armor. This change was entirely thematic, to help the Undead actually look like they have just risen from the earth instead of having bright, shiny new equipment.
Barbarians function in almost the same way they used to in Warlords Battlecry 3. They still use a lot of cavalry and they are still just as effective against aerial targets thanks to the javelineers. They have however received multiple upgrades. Reavers are no longer General units, rather they are advanced infantry. This was an extremely beneficial change which was lore-friendly too. Reavers in other Warlords games were never more than just advanced infantry units, so it never made much sense for them to be the Barbarians’ General unit. This gives the Barbarians a strong infantry unit which is reliable in melee confrontations, especially against large units. In their stead are Rock Giants, the original Giant unit from Warlords Battlecry 1. This change was quite controversial and some did speak out against it, whether because they don’t like the model or it doesn’t fit the Barbarians. In the lore, there are some tribesmen who live alongside Giants, but this will likely be relegated to the faction system. In future, a different General unit may appear for the Barbarians though what it’ll be is currently unknown.
The last significant change to the Barbarians is the addition of the Witch Doctor unit. The Witch Doctor is a shamanic, support spellcaster which can cast curative and defensive spells. The unit was considered so vital for the Barbarians that it was included with a recoloured model based on the Plague Priest. We understand that the recoloured model is not liked by all, but it was deemed a necessary implementation to help address Barbarian gameplay and lore. At some point, the Witch Doctor will have a new model.
Herein lies some of the most controversial changes in The Protectors. The Minotaurs have had some of the largest changes in the game, and some of them are not as liked as others.
All basic Minotaur units such as the flail-wielding infantry, the axe-thrower and the shaman are all near the size of an ogre and have brown-coloured hides. With this size increase, they now cost 2 unit cap and have the stats of a 2 unit cap unit, such as an ogre. Because the models used are the same as the old ones, they have lost some of their quality. These resized models are temporary and will be replaced with completely new models in future. Now that they are larger, the Minotaurs are much more fearsome and embody the strength and brutality they always desired. This is also a lore friendly change as well, because the Minotaurs have always been large creatures in almost all other Warlords games, including the newest installments (Puzzle Quest). For now, they are somewhat like marmite to many players: either like them or hate them.
Now it's time to talk about one of the most if not the most controversial change in The Protectors, the new Minotaur unit: Slayer Knights. That’s right, Humans in the Minotaur race! Unthinkable! Why have we made such a heinous change? Well, believe it or not, this question was one of the main reasons for this entire article! Almost no-one who plays Warlords Battlecry knows or remembers the history or lore of the Realms of War. They can’t really be blamed, for this was both an incredibly controversial change and well, the lore of the Warlords franchise is concealed almost as well as the alleged official Warlords Battlecry 3 version 1.04 or its expansion pack (all that is known is that a Monk and Time Magic would have existed, and that the Goblins would’ve been split off into a new race).
To understand this change, we must go back to Warlords 3, which was the origin of the Slayer Knight unit. This unit was used exclusively by Sartek and Bane. Both Undead and Minotaur factions in Warlords 3 had access to the Slayer Knight, and its alignment was somewhat ambiguous. They embodied the slaughter of Sartek, the god of war, yet they also used an Undead portrait. Both Bane and Sartek’s factions laid claim to the Slayer Knight, but in Warlords Battlecry 1, this lore would be disregarded and the Slayer Knight would find its home in the Undead arsenal. Looking back into the lore of Warlords 3, there appeared to be many Humans in the Realms of War, working for or enslaved by Sartek. Some of these Human settlements do have access to Slayer Knight productions, which only raises the ambiguity of the unit even further.
Because The Protectors is designed to be built upon Warlords lore, we needed to include the Humans and knights of war in Sartek’s factions in one way or another. What we did was to create a new unit for the Minotaurs and call that the Slayer Knight and rename the old Slayer Knight the Dread Knight. Along with this, the old Slayer Knight voice moved to the Minotaur one and the old received the Slayer Knight voice from Warlords Battlecry 2. This decision was based on the portrayal of Slayer Knights. Their very name is something more indicative of carnage, strife and war rather than the cold, calculated theme of the dead. This solution solved this ambiguous Slayer Knight issue in the game’s lore, dividing the old Slayer Knight concept into two different units rather than giving it to the Undead and ignoring Warlords 3 lore. In addition, the new unit solves their matchup with the Orcs, who normally resisted and countered most Minotaur strategies.
The Minotaur’s titan, the Skull of Sartek, is expected to be given a graphical overhaul as well. It has been considered a rather bad interpretation of how the appearance of Sartek, or indeed his skull, should look.
Orcs have remained almost the same as they were in Warlords Battlecry 3. They have received the least changes and function in exactly the same way as they did. The only edit made in The Protectors is that the wolf of the Wolfriders is now brown instead of blue. This fits their racial colour scheme much better, and make the Wolfrider feel like more of a natural unit.
In the stead of Unicorns and Wyverns is a unit which to an extent, fills both those roles: the Celestial Hatchling. This unit is based on the dragon-rearing skills of the High Elves, and it functions in much the same way as Wyverns, only it resists magic damage and can be upgraded to deal it. Though Celestial Hatchling cannot cure or heal like Unicorns could, they still can be used as a powerful aerial tank that can deal reliable damage. But why have Unicorns and Wyverns been removed? Mostly just to improve racial uniqueness, which is one of The Protectors’ traits. Now that only Fey get Unicorns, each race is more differentiated. Wyverns simply just got replaced by a real dragon unit which can function differently to Pegasi.
Wood Elves have received multiple edits. Pixies and Sprites can no longer by accessed, to help improve racial uniqueness. The White Tree has been replaced with the Arboreal Henge, a much more fitting structure for Druids. Dryads have lost their General status and have become a secondary spellcaster unit in the same vein as the Spider Priestess and Ice Maiden. In their stead, is the Ancient Treant, one of few 4 unit cap Generals in the game. Treants are now considerably more desirable as a result, as they are the only Treant which is readily accessible.
As one of the elven races, Dark Elves had little or no economy. At later keep levels, they do get access to Slavehorde, but before then they have almost no way of improving their economy bar heroic intervention. In The Protectors, Dark Elves have been given a new way to manage and improve their economy. The more they kill, the more resources they get! When a Dark Elven side kills any unit, it spawns a Tortured Soul which generates an amount of resources depending on the unit killed. This Tortured Soul persists for a time until it is destroyed or the timer ends. The sadistic side of the Dark Elves really stands out with this new feature, and many new hero builds are more compatible too. This type of economy is unique in Warlords Battlecry history, and we would like to do something like this with most races (a unique economy, that is).
In just about every other way, the Dark Elves function much like they used to. They do not produce Imps anymore (they can only be summoned from Daemons), but then again they were almost never used and conflict with the Daemon race. In time, Skeletons, Gravestones and Daemons will also be replaced with unique units and structures. A question that has also been asked quite frequently, is why Spiders are extraplanar. The answer to this again is in old Warlords lore. Aranea and to an extent, Kargoth too are both extraplanar gods. It is not entirely clear which plane of existence they have come from, but the progeny of Aranea are just as otherworldly as the goddess herself.
Dark Dwarves were and still are defined by their ability to form armies which steamroll the map. In Warlords Battlecry 3, a Tinker hero was extremely powerful because it generated free golems which can all hit air. Combined with the siege weapons, these armies were often nigh-unstoppable, especially by aerial forces. Their intense anti-air capabilities made any such tactics near pointless against the Dark Dwarves. That is why the ability for Golems to hit air had to be removed in The Protectors.
Dark Dwarf Crossbowmen, coming over from the Dwarven race, compensate for this in a way that allows aerial strategies to still function against the race. In addition, Dark Dwarf Crossbowmen are the only missile units which can be garrisoned in Dark Dwarf towers, helping the race function. You may be thinking; why add more Dwarves to the Dark Dwarven race? Don’t they fight using Golems? The answer lies with Warlords lore, especially from Warlords 3. In Warlords Battlecry 3, Dark Dwarven warriors are said to be cowardly, and Dark Dwarves are said to use Golems in their stead - but this isn’t entirely true. Dark Dwarves have fought many times in melee and ranged combat. Yes, Dark Dwarves use Golems, but they actually also can fight alongside them as well. The notion that Dark Dwarves use only Golems is false.
Players will also see that Shadows are no longer accessible from the Ancestral Hall. This is because they are resistant to every Golems’ weakness, covering for them so perfectly that they counter the Golems’ usual counters. Gameplay like that is seen as degenerate, as in The Protectors we don’t want an undefeatable strategy.
Possibly the most powerful race in Warlords Battlecry 3, Fey were once what competitive multiplayer were all about. Almost no multiplayer tournament of Warlords Battlecry 3 went by without almost every player choosing the Fey. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it was the insane efficiency and economy that they had. Fey had the best economy in the game and also the best research in the game. By default Fey units were already near the power of other races and cost around the same or little more. By the time Lore has been fully researched however, each unit became capable of slaying a small army - for an incredibly low cost. Combine all of that with a Merchant which can give the Fey essentially infinite resources, and it’s easy to see how they were the most powerful race of Warlords Battlecry 3.
In The Protectors, the Fey work in the same way, only everything has been nerfed. In fact, no other race in the game has been nerfed as hard as the Fey were. Considering their broken power level in the original game, it’s easy to see why. After performing multiple balancing calculations, Fey units are generally weaker and Lore no longer gives near the amount of XP that it used to. The insane amount of value that research yielded broke the game’s balance, but now it sits just right - with early Lore research making Fey units as good as other races, while later research making them a little better and more efficient. They do however have an issue where they use almost no Crystal at all, which will be rectified in 0.8.9.
One of the few races to receive almost no changes at all, Daemons are very much the same as they used to be. They have been slightly nerfed by comparison to other races, but then again this was justified by them leading the metagame just behind the Fey in Warlords Battlecry 3. Their only major change is that all Daemons are produced in a single second. So long as a Daemon player has the resources, they can unleash wave after wave of daemonspawn from the depths of the dark plane of Hadesha. To compensate for this unique ability, Daemon units do cost a lot more than usual.
The Empire have been one of the most difficult sides to incorporate into The Protectors. Because General units had been moved to keep level 5, the Empire had no access to spellcasters or any elemental damage. This has been fixed in 0.8.8b, where the mages are now standard spellcaster units, which has significantly improved the race’s gameplay since 0.8.7. In their stead a recoloured Inquisitor called a Praetor has been added. The model is temporary and will be modified in future patch versions, along with many other features of the unit.
Other than that, the Empire now gets access to the Barn building at a lower keep level and the Mercenary unit has been renamed Imperial Sergeant and moved to the former building. This was because mercenaries already existed (in the form of Foreign Mercenary), so it didn’t make sense that there would also be an individual Mercenary unit. With its name change, the Imperial Sergeant received the much-needed Calm spell which removes any psychological conditions from nearby allied units. The Sergeant has come, restoring order in the ranks!
The Swarm are iconic for their own namesake. Their fast production speed and low costs means that they can usually field more units than any other race. However, in Warlords Battlecry 3, they were slow, weak and had terrible matchups because they had a prevalence of piercing-type damage. Because of these issues, the Swarm were one of the worst races in the game. All of the Swarm’s the new research, units and abilities in The Protectors have all been designed to rectify all the problems the race had. They now use make use of many new researches, upgrades and damage types. Combined with cost-discount research and the Hive’s new ability to increase production speed by its level (instead of restricting unit access), the Swarm can really become what they were supposed to be. Dust Devils are a good air-counter, Devourers create their own swarms by consuming enemies, Corrosive Venom research makes half of the Scorpion’s damage magic type (which will become acid), Hadesha’s Embrace allows Husks to cast Drain Mana and Tombcurse changes their damage type to cold. These changes and many others make the Swarm a dangerous opponent no matter what stage the game is.
The Dust Devil is a recolour of the Air Elemental and the Devourer is a recolour and resize of Melkor. In time these models may be kept or switched out with new ones, though this issue isn’t as bad with Dust Devils. Devourers aren’t much smaller than Melkor, meaning that they can at a glance be confused with the titan, but the issue here is that Melkor is actually a really small titan. Other units like the Tyrannosaurus or the Elephant are far larger, and they’re just regular units. It’s not known whether the Devourer’s model will be altered or Melkor’s.
Getting only minor tweaks, Ssrathi play in just about the same way they did in Warlords Battlecry 3. The only notable difference is that they receive Basilisks as a replacement for Naga’s, which have restricted access. Due to their stone-gathering ability, Basilisks support much of the Ssrathi infrastructure, accelerating dinosaur and building production.
Sharing the award for most changes to a race alongside the Swarm, the Plaguelords function differently to how they did in Warlords Battlecry 3. In the original game, the Plaguelords had very restricted costs, overpriced research and extremely difficult unit access. Very few units could ever be relied upon and the Hydras were nigh-impossible to get out, as each type requires its own cave and upgrade. If a fire cave is researched, one cannot then get access to the hydras from any other cave type. All these issues made Plaguelords somewhat unfun to play and hence were one of the worst races in the game, above the Swarm. In The Protectors, the number of changes a race has had is usually proportionate to its ineffectiveness in the original game. That certainly holds true for the Plaguelords, as just about every function they performed needed polishing.
Starting with the low-keep level requirement productions, Slimes have been buffed since original 1.03 and massively since 1.03.24. They generally have more stats, their piercing resistance back (since 1.03.24 only. Slimes already have piercing resistance in 1.03) and have magic damage (until acid becomes a new damage type). Plaguelords have much more access and resistance to magic damage, just like the Plague Priest. In addition, Slimes can merge into Oozes, a powerful giant Slime which splits into Slimes. Merging and splitting can be maintained only if the player has enough resources, and the transformation costs a lot. In future, Slimes and Oozes may become special siege units which have a similar role to the Battering Ram (though they may retain some effectiveness against units).
The other parts of the lower tech tree have also been modified. Zombies now receive the benefits of the Laboratory research, alongside Ghouls. Fever research increases the chance Zombies and Ghouls will spawn more Zombies or Ghouls when they kill enemies, instead of giving them speed. Fast Zombies and/or Ghouls didn’t represent the race as well, since Plaguelords are more stylised on the slow and steady creep of decay and corruption.
Eyes of Flame have been turned into Contaminators, which have similar properties except Contaminators are coloured yellow-green and spread disease with their breath attack. Contaminators are what Eyes of Flame should have been, since their attack type is linked with the race’s theme. This way they fit much better with the Plaguelords, rather than being a generic demon-like unit which just happened to be on the side.
Hydras and their caves have also seen a lot of modifications. The standard Hydra is now the Cyst Hydra, a horrible, mutated being with a blue vein-like colour and a peachy flesh colour. This acidic abomination now deals magic damage and will in future splash opponents with caustic blood upon death. Cyst Hydras are much more stylised and work better with the theme of the Plaguelords. Originally, the unit was just a standard Hydra and didn’t even look incredibly mutated. The idea behind the Cyst Hydra was to put the mad scientist back into the Plaguelords. Following this trend, Cryohydras have been replaced with Clot Hydras (which are currently the same except they deal slashing damage. In future they will be coloured a fleshy-red colour and split apart on death) and Pyrohydras have been replaced with Spore Hydras (currently the same except a dark green-yellow colour. They may in future spread disease via a spell). All Hydras are produced from the base cave as well - no more Ice Cave or Fire Cave upgrade, as that proved to be too much of a setback and was seen as unwarranted and unnecessary.
Lastly, Plague Priests follow the same pattern as their Ghoul cousins. Since Plague Priests are actually Ghouls, it makes sense that they’d have similar resistances. In The Protectors, they now have physical and magical resistances whilst being vulnerable to elemental. They also have less speed and have been recoloured with pale white skin and a green-yellow skirt. They now look and act much more like a Plaguelord unit - as difficult to combat as a Ghoul, sickly to look at and afflicting enemies with terrible plague.
Other than racial edits, The Protectors also makes changes to some fliers - though most major alterations to fliers have been additions.
The only change of any significance is with the Wyvern. It has been recoloured from pink to a swampy green. It also now inflicts poison, to fit in with its new style. These changes were made both to help make Wyverns a little more unique and also because its old pink colour looked quite ridiculous, like a large flying earthworm.
Otherwise, three new dragons and a new basic flier has been introduced to the game: the Chaos Dragon, Night Dragon, Sol Dragon and Frostbat respectively. Frostbats are similar to their fiery cousins except they have slightly different stats, resistances and the cold damage type. They help to make basic fliers a bit more unique among the races. Chaos, Night and Sol Dragons also serve the same purpose, to increase variety. Two of these new dragons are the first and only ones which do not have a breath attack. The Night Dragon has a powerful melee attack which drains life like a Vampire, whilst the Sol Dragon shoots a beam of light at a single target and can cast a spell which slightly increases its speed and attack speed. Sol Dragons were designed both to be the opposite of Night Dragons (just like Fire and Frost Dragons), and to satisfy lore, since there are gold dragons in the game but only previously existed as the mount of King Lunarion. Contrary to Night and Sol Dragons, Chaos Dragons have a red breath attack which causes the chaos affliction. It is the representation of black dragons in the franchise’s lore, which only previously existed in Warlords games.
Terrain, Features and the Random Map Generator
Terrain has been a big focus in The Protectors. Hundreds if not thousands of new tiles have been made and integrated in the game, including the original tiles from Warlords Battlecry 1 and 2. There are so many new tiles it’s difficult to quantify them all, but suffice to say there have been many hundreds of additions to the official Warlords Battlecry 3 tileset, all made with the same quality as the original developers. Players will encounter Ice terrain for the first time in Warlords Battlecry games - a terrain type that can be walked over but not built upon. New transitions, new hills, mountains rivers and much much more is now available for the Warlords Battlecry 3 tileset. There are also hybrid tiles created based on Warlords 3 tilesets, such as Warlords 3 Dry Grass, Warlords 3 Sand, Warlords 3 Paving and Warlords 3 Ancient Temple. Alongside all of this are a plethora of new features from old Warlords Battlecry games to new community developed ones such as cave stalactites and stalagmites, ancient temple pieces and vegetation. Though most of our work with terrain and features is of similar quality to the developers of Warlords Battlecry 3, we are aware that some do not meet that standard. Certain tiles or tilesets may lack detail, shading, have the wrong perspective or may be distorted. These may be updated in future. For now if they’re not liked, just don’t use them.
In addition to the tiles themselves, we have also implemented improved random map options which let players tweak the randomly generated maps for more balanced and fun gameplay. Players can now select or deselect specific terrain types and neutral utility buildings, that are then taken into account when generating a random map. Starting locations can now be set to be completely random, or evenly distributed, with allies close together and enemies facing each other. Some utilities which are chosen may have some balancing issues and they aren’t yet spawned evenly, but we hope to at least have the balancing issue fixed in 0.8.9.
That concludes this whole document! I hope whatever questions anyone had about our design choices and decisions have been answered, and that this helps to give a better understanding of our views on game design, Warlords games and the history of the franchise. The Protectors is a controversial take on an expanded Warlords universe, made by fans who really love the game and the franchise. The whole team really enjoyed making it (bar a few squabbles!) - and still do, whenever we can find the time. To us, The Protectors is also a means of uniting fans of the Warlords franchise, whether that be Warlords, Warlords Battlecry or Puzzle Quest and it is our intent to make this game a worthy sequel or addition to the Warlords Battlecry series with a modernized engine and streamlined features. We have made it far into the development of the project, but still have a way to go. Any support or feedback is appreciated and really helps us to develop The Protectors in the right direction. Joining Discord, leaving a forum post, posting a comment or even just answering any of our polls all helps in the development of the project and the union of the scattered, divided and oft-forgotten Warlords fanbase.
Thanks for reading and your continued support!
- Joe the Bartender (The Protectors Modding Team)