"Orlais presents a veneer of opulence, but the aristocracy are committed to a system of social one-upmanship they call the game. Sprawling receptions delight friend and foe, while bards strike from shadow with insinuation, larceny, and assassination, often to the strange delight of their targets. Control of these auteur agents is yet another layer of the game.” ― Unknown Fereldan Book
Bonjour and welcome to Dragon Age Total War's first faction preview; although we have been rather quiet on Moddb for the past month, work has been continuing at a steady pace, and a number of unit rosters for various factions have been for the greater part finished, along with plenty of work overall as we progress further and further towards private beta testing and a release. In the last article, Soul took us to the Orlesian Empire, showing us the majestic landscape of Orlais and her beautiful cities. Today I am presenting the Orlesian Empire unit roster in full along with additional information on Orlais' playstyle, and general commentary on what you can expect while playing as the Orlesian Empire in the DATW campaign.
Empire of Orlais:
Leader: Empress Celene Valmont I
Heir: Grand Duke Gaspard
Capital: Val Royeaux
Strengths: Level 5 Smithing, Excellent Tier 3 units, Powerful cavalry legions, Large starting territory.
Weaknesses: High Civil Unrest, Poor Relations with Neighbors, Expensive Units.
Orlais' origins lie in the fate of Maferath, and his wife Andraste, the great prophetess who brought light to a world darkened by the sins of the Magisters. Andraste's vision and the Maker's own designs were cut short by Maferath's sad betrayal, done out of cowardice to consolidate his hold on the lands conquered by the Alamarri. Maferath divided many nations among his sons, and the territory known today as Orlais was given to his son Isorath, who went on to unify the Ciriane tribes in the region. As belief in the Maker spread in the years after Isorath's death, young Kordillus Drakon, considered the first of the rulers of Orlais, became an ardent believer in the Maker's word, and set out upon great conquests. Kordillus was soon crowned an Emperor, and since then Orlais has played host to a great empire, quickly developing a high culture, amassing extreme wealth, and, with the help of the Chantry, becoming the most influential nation in Thedas. Even so, many nations and peoples deeply despise Orlais. The Dalish Elves first and foremost, for the Chantry's role in destroying the Dales, a place where the Elves once brooded darkly in their hatred for humans. Uncivilized Ferelden bears no love for Orlais' high culture, and the diabolical Tevinter Imperium is at opposition as always. The Masked Empire has fought many wars and will fight many more for the sake of continuing the great legacy of Emperor Drakon, and the holy war which must be waged against those the Maker deems foul, be they monstrous Qunari, wicked Tevinter, or heathen Fereldan. Most unfortunately however, civil unrest has recently plagued beautiful Orlais, and some cities seem to no longer heed the Empress' authority. The civil unrest which plagues Orlais must be brought to a close if the great Empire is to propser once more, and bring the Maker's light to the barbarians and evil men outside of it's borders.
In the Dragon Age: TW campaign, the Empire of Orlais, lays claim to a very large starting domain, surrounded by several rebel regions which can be claimed early on, although in competition with surrounding factions. Orlais begins on good terms with the Chantry Divine and the Templar Order, as well as a mostly thriving economy. Building Chevalier academies in settlements that are city/castle and above will allow the Orlesian Empire to train more of the renown Chevalier units, who are arguably the strongest cavalry force in Southern Thedas, and who serve as the core of your armed forces. At the start of the campaign, the Orlesian Empire is on terms of war with the Kingdom of Nevarra due to border disputes and constant Nevarran incursions into Orlesian territory. Orlais will also receive word from the Fereldan Throne as the Fifth Blight begins in the Korcari Wilds, and the Orlesian player may decide whether or not they wish to fortify their own territory, ally Ferelden and send aid, or take advantage of Ferelden's distraction to reclaim provinces across the Frostbacks once owned by Orlais. As the campaign continues, the Mage-Templar war will erupt in Southern Thedas leaving Orlais in a precarious situation with the Templar Order and rebel mage stacks which will spawn across Orlesian regions and possibly besiege towns. The Templars may choose to leave the Chantry which can result in an immediate threat outside of Val Royeaux. As the Mage-Templar war concludes and the Breach appears over the Frostbacks, three new emergent factions will appear within the Orlesian sphere of influence within the next few turns afterward; the Inquisition, the Venatori, and Red Templars. The Red Templars start at the eastern edge of the Dales near the Frostbacks, and are hostile to all factions surrounding them. The Venatori will begin as a horde with a few stacks near the coasts of the Waking Sea and in the Western Approach, and are likewise hostile towards the Orlesian crown, with their goals of destroying the nobility of southern Thedas and the Chantry. The Inquisition begins near Orlais in the Frostbacks, and it may be wise for the player to establish trade and other diplomatic relations with them, as they will prove a powerful ally against the other Breach script-related factions. During this event and several turns prior, civil unrest will increase in Orlais as dissent and rebellion forms amongst the nobles and the War of Lions breaks out. Currently, we are still looking at a number of options for the War of Lions scenario; some of which include faction shadowing, rebel spawns and general defections, and/or various choice scripts for the Orlesian player.
"I remember, as a child, watching a column of chevaliers parade down a wide avenue in Val Royeaux Dashing knights on armored steeds, pennants snapping in the breeze. I have never forgotten..." -Revered Mother Laeticia
The roster of the Empire of Orlais is among the larger rosters in DATW, for the Empire owns many cities and fortresses from which an incredible army can be sourced from. The Imperial Army of Orlais is rather well-rounded, however, cavalry forces are the core of Orlesian military tactics, with infantry archers serving as the backbone. In particular, the Chevaliers feature prominently in the Orlesian roster; the Chevaliers are what makes an Orlesian fighting force a true power on the battlefield, for while the Imperial Army troops form a line and rain arrows upon the enemy, the Chevaliers and supporting cavalry are able to flank, commit to organized charges, and crush enemy troops beneath the weight of their wing. The militia tier of Orlais is likewise well-rounded, however, morale is often poor, as outside of the Chevalier academies and fortresses, the peasantry of Orlais lacks a strong martial culture. Orlesian armies place an emphasis on archers and cavalry, which are, outside of tier 3, the strongest bits of their roster. Additionally, the formidable and unique Orlesian trebuchets are highly effective against even the most powerful fortresses and cities.
Below are screenshots of all units on the Orlesian roster. Do note that additional polish and changes may be made to units as last minute touches before the release of 1.0, as is to be expected with most rosters. For the sake of brevity, and because many of the unit descriptions are moderately lengthy, only the short descriptions will be posted here, although you will of course see the full unit description in-game.
---Tier 1 Militia----
Forcibly levied Orlesian peasants armed with a shortbow and dagger.
Poorly armored Chevalier servants with swords and wooden shields.
Decently equipped and trained militia troops with shields and spears.
---Tier 1 non-militia----
Orlesian Army Swordsmen:
Medium Orlesian swordsmen armed with dependable swords and shields.
Orlesian Army Archers:
Reliable and well-trained archers from the army of Orlais.
Orlesian Army Halberdiers:
Medium Orlesian infantry, armed with halberds.
Orlesian Army Lancers:
Medium lancer cavalry with good charging power and swords.
Aspiring mounted Chevalier recruits armed with swords and shields and antiquated armor.
The renown Chevalier Knight cavalry of Orlais equipped with a strong shield and well-made swords
Powerful Chevalier lancers serving as the vanguard of Chevalier hosts.
Skilled mounted Chevalier horse-archers armed with well-made bows and swords.
Cunning marksmen and ambushers with the ability to inspire nearby units.
Orlesian Army Crossbowmen:
Orlesian infantry armed with powerful crossbows adept at destroying heavy infantry.
Garde Impériale Halberdiers:
Elite and incredibly well-disciplined halberdiers in golden armor drawn from Val Royeaux.
Garde Impériale Arbalesters:
Elite crossbowmen of the Orlesian Imperial Guard equally skilled with both crossbow and sword.
Order of Ser Aveline:
The finest of the female Chevaliers armed with excellent weapons. Provides a massive morale boost to nearby troops.
Powerful mages from Montsimmard able to summon spectral blades from the Fade and strike down foes with powerful magic attacks.
Chevalier Honor Guard:
Elite Chevaliers armed with heavy maces and shields acting as the bodyguard of an Orlesian general.
(Note: Ballistas for Orlais do indeed have a unique model, however I forgot to take a picture of it and the current design may be scrapped later)
This is article is by no means meant to be an exhaustive overview of Orlais, there is more that will be revealed and seen in the future and in 1.0, and perhaps even more afterwards, as there is always room for improvement and additions. Not shown are armor upgrade models, captains, generals, officers, and various other tidbits that you will see for yourself while playing as the Orlesians in roughly 6-8 months, give or take. As for now, our heartfelt thanks for continuing to track this mod through it's already 2.5 years in development! We hope you have enjoyed reading through this article. Soul will likely be showing off more areas of the map in the not to distant future, and the next Faction Preview article will likely be for either Tevinter, Ferelden, or the Grey Wardens.
Maker smile fortune upon you all.