Millennia have passed since the Dark Elves, or Druchii In the Elven tongue, violently split from the High Elves. Banished from Ulthuan, the spiteful and wicked Dark Elves plot the demise of their former brethren from Naggaroth, their home continent. They have been ruled throughout their long history by Malekith, the Witch King.
Diplomacy doesn’t come naturally to Dark Elves: they are a cruel people devoted to the pursuit of bloody warfare and conquest is much more instinctive to them. This comes into play during the Eye of the Vortex campaign – to win, the Dark Elves must either complete all the rituals and win the Final Battle, or destroy their rival factions and maintain control of 50 provinces. If you wish to go for the domination victory when playing as Dark Elves, be prepared to steamroll through the other factions as diplomacy isn’t necessarily the best option.
You have the choice to play as either the vengeful Malekith or his exiled mother Morathi, in the North or South of Naggaroth respectively. Malekith is a mighty leader with great loyalty from his subservient lords, as long as they stay loyal, of course. Moving over to Morathi in the South, when playing as the Cult of Pleasure be aware that her forces spread Chaos Corruption, but also gain a bonus to loyalty and hero actions performed by her agents are cheaper.
The Dark Elves are most at home to the North of the Campaign Map and can settle here without worry, but watch out for the desert lands to the East. These harsh sands are uninhabitable to the Druchii, causing significant debuffs to any who may settle there. When expanding your territory, focus on these Northern green areas first to make sure your faction is strong enough to handle the disadvantages.
To perform rituals as a Dark Elf, you must first collect enough Scrolls of Hekarti, shown at the top of the campaign screen. For an early-game boost, try gaining control of Ghrond, as this is a vital ritual location and unlocks the ability to construct a temple of Hekarti within its walls. Make sure you have amassed a sizeable force before attacking though, as they will not be defeated gently.
When capturing a settlement such as Ghrond, you may notice that looting, occupying and sacking will reward you with slaves, these are a resource used by the Dark Elves to boost the tax income of a province, and can also be used in exchange for rites, which we will touch on in just a moment. Slaves can also be gained from victory in battle and raiding – those unfortunate enough to survive a defeat by the Druchii will be worked to death in one of the many mines of Naggaroth. For a quick boost to slave numbers, consider sacking an enemy settlement and taking the inhabitants for work!
To see information about your current slaves, press the slaves button on the bottom right of the campaign interface; this will open up the slaves panel. Here you can see a list of your provinces and the number of slaves in each, as well as their decline per turn. On the right, you can see the effect the slaves are having in each province, including their income and the influence they cause to your public order. The higher the number of slaves in a province, the more detrimental they will be to your public order. If you have a province with a high number of slaves and a low public order, you have the option to halt any additional slaves from entering the province, so any further captured slaves will be shared about your other provinces instead. Also, if a province doesn’t have many slaves at all, consider requesting additional slaves so in future, the provinces become more balanced in number. Remember that the number of slaves in a province will naturally decline over time, as they die from being overworked.
As mentioned earlier, slaves can be used in exchange for powerful rites: when you have amassed 1000 slaves and built 2 Slave Penn buildings, you will have access to the Sacrifice to Mathlann rite, which unlocks the recruitment of a Black Ark. These are great, floating city-ships that can reinforce armies, build new units and even bombard enemy forces during battle. Dark Elves do not have access to global recruitment, so Black Arks form a vital part of any invasion.
Once available, recruit the Black Ark to your faction by clicking on its recruitment button on the province overview panel when a controlled port is selected. From here you can recruit new units to its force and access its building browser. Build up your Ark and armies, sail on over to Ulthuan and claim the High Elf Isle back for its rightful owners!
Technology for the Dark Elves works in tiered upgrades. If your faction is struggling for funds, try researching the “Battle as Business” technology as this will give you a boost of income for both raiding and post-battle loot. For increasing growth in your provinces, research “Founded on Tyranny” as this will give you a plus 10 boost in all of your provinces! When you have more coin in your treasury, then you can move onto Upgrade 1 and above for access to even more powerful technology.
Dark Elf Lords have varying devotion to the leader of their faction, known as loyalty. You can check how loyal a Lord is on their character info panel on the bottom left – this is shown in a measure of 0-10 – 10 being the most loyal and 0 the least. If a Lord reaches 0 loyalty, they will rebel and take their army to form a new faction. Keep an eye on the loyalty of your Lords and if it drops too low, be sure to appease them by recruiting more units to their army, or by gifting them items.