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Warhammer Battle Reports 7th / 8thNauticans / Design Fantasy Gallery

Cathay Warhammer Fantasy Army PDF (2nd edition)

An genuinely amazing (!!!) full-colour comprehensive update for the Cathay Fantasy Battle Army.

Cathay Army Book download PDF
Click the army book cover for the PDF download link or to view the book online. If you have any comments or would like to feedback your appreciation to Mathias for the fantastic job he's done then please visit the Battle Reporter forum below :-

Cathay Army book comments and discussion thread

This army is completely unofficial and is not endorsed by Games Workshop!

The original Cathay book was first released in spring 2010 and took our forum and the Warhammer community by storm. Mathias has revisited his excellent work and greatly improved upon it! It's been given a complete overhaul and is now a more balanced, 8th edition  army and it looks truly stunning - and I'm not exaggerating.

Not only that but Mathias has also taken the opportunity to add a few very interesting new units, characters, magic lore and items.

Here's what Mathias has to say on his Warhammer Armies project blog
    "And not even halfway through April yet! I expected to be hunched over the background section for weeks, but fortunately, it worked out rather well a lot faster than that. This new and much improved version of Cathay includes the following: Additional background for Cathay's history. Every single official mention of Cathay is in there (as far as I know), and all dates are concurrent with the rest of the Warhammer World.
    • New units: Field Engineers, Wu Xia and Brass Titans.
    • New Special Characters: Tian Shi, Huan Bei, Chu-Ye Xian, Cheng Long and Dalan-Tai.
    • New magic items.
    • Completely revised Ying and Yan lore.
    • Lots of balance changes to bring the army better into 8th ed.
    • New full colour layout, filled with tons of new art.
    • Bugs fixes, as usual.
    Again, great thanks to Stefan Wolf who helped me with parts of the fluff, especially that of the special characters! And as usual, let me know of any bugs or other oddities. I shall now feast on toast to celebrate this joyous moment before passing out. Cheerio!"

Sigmar's Cathay Army Book Review

The book is 98 pages long (about 32meg).

The first thing which strikes you about this book is the superb cover which speaks "collect this army". Then when you flick through the pages you notice the highly themed pages with the brilliant headers, footers, choice of font and really, really superb artwork. It's got a very professional feel to it throughout, check this page out to see what I mean (click to open in a new window)

Warhammer Fantasy Cathay Army Book contents

There is an absolute treasure chest of fluff covering all aspects of the Empire of the Celestial Dragon and (I'll say it again) the art is truly wonderful and the best found in any of Mathias's army books. I'll leave you folks to enjoy reading all the background and to soak up history and culture while I move on to the army list itself and focus on some of my favourite units and rules.

Cathay Fantasy Army Special RulesCathay Army Special Rules

The "Glory for the Dragon Emperor" rule enables those units bearing the ability to fight using supporting attacks in three ranks, not just two (even when they charge). Significantly, the core Imperial Infantry have this ability and, while their leadership of 6 is rather weak, I foresee a lot of steadfast horde size unit blocks being used to keep the enemy in place while Dragon Lancers (a reasonably cheap [16pts] core cavalry unit) positions for flank charges.

The "Auxiliaries" rule will help to calm the forces of Cathay and prevent widespread panic from spreading if used wisely. Units with this ability (for example, the Frenzy prone Hill Tribesmen or the blowpipe carrying Monkey Warriors - yes they really are  monkeys) do not cause panic to other friendly units without it.

The Art of War

Mathias has implemented an imaginative and quite ingenious concept into the Cathayan army. It's the use of on-field strategists (a cheap hero level character) who can instruct nearby units throughout the course of a battle. They shout the orders and providing the unit hears them they will benefit from the stratagem that the strategist has employed. There are 11 stratagems, each of which has a different effect and points cost. The strategist is limited to 75pts worth of stratagems and they can only be used to help the more disciplined units with the Glory for the Dragon Emperor rule. All that said, the stratagems still have the potential to come in very useful and could get you out of a hole that would, with any other army, be unavoidable (being charged in the flank for instance).

Amazing Cathay Artwork

The stratagems are really well thought out and it's a great example of what can be achieved by some creative thinking in keeping with the army's theme.

Here are a few examples; The Sleeping Crocodile (25pts) - the unit can reform if charged in the flank so that they meet the charge forward facing;  The Rain of Death (20pts) - the unit can fire even if they have marched that turn; The Running Rabbit (20pts) - until the start of the next turn the unit ignores panic from nearby breaking units or units fleeing through them; The Blinding Light (15pts) - [Imperial Infantry with shields only] enemies charging the unit are blinded by the shields and lose all charging bonuses.

The real drawback of stratagems is that you use up a hero slot for a character that has no martial prowess and no armour and will be a real target for enemy assassins and marksmen. Also, with some stratagems you could go through a whole battle without ever needing to deploy the strategy because there is no need or the opportunity does not present itself.

I really like the concept though and anything that upsets the enemy's plans, when they think they've got you in a corner you cannot get out of, is a good use of points allowance as far as I'm concerned.

Lore of Ying and Yang Cathay Magic Art
Lore of Ying and Yan 

The implementation of the Magic Lore system is tidily in keeping with the Cathay philosophy. It works on the basis of balance, in that when you cast a Ying spell it must be followed the next time you cast by a Yang spell and vice versa. To facilitate this when you roll on the Magic Lore for spells you get both the Ying and Yan version of each spell. Ying spells are typically hex and direct damage while Yan spells are more often augment spells.

It's a clever system and while it might seem like you're getting a lot more spells for your buck, you are being limited to some extent which could provide a few conundrums and tricky decision making when it comes to timing your magical attacks and defence.

Well done Mathias.

Treasures of the Seven Heavens

Cathay has a somewhat limited array of magical items, there are but 10 of them (plus of course those from the core rule book). I don't see this as a particular disadvantage though because the magical items available for selection are generally of the more powerful (and expensive) variety. There's enough there to buff up your custom character, wizard or a BSB. I'll leave you to check them out in your own time.

Lords, Heroes and Special Characters

There are 8 Lord and Hero special characters, plus the usual standard Lords and Heroes and they vary greatly so there should be a few characters to fit all tastes. My personal favourites thus far have to be Cheng Long (think of a cross between Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee but harder)  and The Great Trickster himself, the Monkey King (like the title character from the late 1970's TV series named "Monkey").

Both characters are oozing with potential for fun Warhammer shenanigans if, like me, you enjoy play acting, impersonating your characters and generally making a fool of yourself during your battles.

Cheng Long (Hero)

Warhammer Cathay Grand Master Warrior Monk
The one hundred year old Grand Master martial artist who has attained such a deep understanding of close combat that it has become an instinct (he even bested one of his former disciples while sleeping !) and single handedly defended a town gate against a horde of beatmen - for several days ! That's what I mean about being hard.

Cheng Long's profile stats look pretty good but when you factor in his unique version of the Martial Arts Fighting Styles special rules (a bit like the Wood Elf Wardancers variant) they look great.

Cheng has a solid 4, str4 attacks with a weapon skill of 7 and can alternate each turn between adding D3 attacks, +2 to his strength, Always Strikes First and +1 to hit, Heroic Killing Blow or a 4+ ward save (by using the Praying Mantis style). What a cool character.

The Monkey King (Hero)

Cathay Monkey King ArtThis fellow is a completely different kettle of fish to Cheng, first of all he has the ability to fly, he can also taunt the enemy resulting in them losing control and charging him (unless they are Immune to Psychology). He has 3, Ws5, str4 (+2 str thanks to his magical telescopic rod) attacks and as a one off, can use a magically enchanted item to get his out of a sticky situation.

The enchanted item is his hair :-)  he simply pulls a hair from his head to create a doppelganger of himself which doubles his number of attacks and grants a very handy 4+ ward save until the beginning of his next turn.

He certainly embodies the spirit of Monkey from the TV series, a well thought out and inspiring character.

Another character I really like is Dalan-Tai (Hero) who is a nod in the direction of the real world Mongols and their influence on Chinese (sorry Cathay) history.

He and any unit of Steppe Archers (Fast Cavalry) he leads benefit from his masterful husbandry and horseman-ship (they can re-roll failed dangerous terrain tests). This should allow said unit to more confidently charge through woods and the like in the knowledge that they stand a decent chance of getting to the enemy before the woods get to them!

Dalan-Tai and his unit also have the ability to make a Stand and Shoot reaction before fleeing from a charge, an attribute that I suspect could become very annoying for the enemy :-) Oh, and before you think this isn't much of a bonus, he has a Bs of 6, his shots hit with a Str of 5 and they ignore armour saves.In my opinion, he's worth taking into battle with a small unit of Steppe Archers just to get your enemy's back up ;-)

Cathay Fantasy Battle Artwork

The Emperor's Army 

You will find a wide variety of different units to choose from which should provide for an array of different battlefield tactics. There are 6 different core units, 10 special units and 5 rare units. The prevalence of specialized gun powder weapons (such as rockets, cannons and hand mortars) and existence of battlefield support engineers lends the Cathay army an Empire feel. Indeed the unbreakable Terracotta Warriors could be likened with Flagellants although they are harder hitters and more resilient (Str4, T4) but unstable so when they start to lose they will quickly crumble.

Core Units

Cathay Imperial Infantry
I think the core of the Cathay army are more important than some other Warhammer armies. For instance, when I play High Elves I generally like to allocate as many points as possible to the special units such as Sword Masters, Phoenix Guard and White Lions. I don't think this will be the case when selecting a Cathay Army, the core infantry are nice and cheap and will allow you to field horde units and thus benefit from the steadfast rule without really eating into your points allowance.

The basic profile of the Imperial Infantry with their relative low leadership and weapon skill is not as good as that of most other human units such as Empire Halberdiers or Spearmen. However, when you include the benefit of fighting in 3 ranks and the potential benefits of a nearby strategist the unit as a whole becomes better (potentially !)

Cathay Repeater Crossbows
The Chu Ko Nu are also a must have core unit in my opinion if used with great care (and a bit of luck). They are archers with a Bs of 3 that carry Repeater Cathayan Crossbows (3 shots, 16", Str3) and they cost 5pts. The unit cannot put up a fight against anything but the weakest opposition so you'd better try to keep them out of combat and definitely away from any large units that they won't be able to kill outright. They are ideal against small unarmoured vanguard units and the likes of war dogs, dire wolves and flyers trying to get to your war machines.

 The remaining core units; Dragon Lances (with a small charge bonus), Steppe Archers (especially when combined with Dalan-Tai - as mentioned above); the frenzied Hill Tribesmen ambushers and Monkey Warriors (poisoned blow darts) all have their uses for support attacks, flanking, war machine hunters and monster killers and they make for a nicely balanced army core.

Special Units

Cathay - Celestial Dragon Monks
There are lots of exciting options to choose from when it comes to special units. You can opt to go in hard with some fast and furious attackers or take a somewhat subtler approach with Hero buffed units of stubborn Emperor's Guard and unbreakable Terracotta Warriors to hold the line while your ranged artillery and wizards get to work and your poison users (such as Monkey Warriors and  Nightblades) take on enemy monsters.

Of course you'll need to consider your flanks whether you attack or defend but then you do have relatively cheap Dragon Lancers (Core) and a Dragon! (Rare)
Emperor's Guard Artwork
The special units all offer something very different to your army in terms of both looks and tactical application. From the very skilled but totally unarmoured, skirmishing Celestial Dragon Monks to the Wu Xia (Monstrous Cavalry - resembling Giant Toads) that can literally jump over intervening units to get to their target. There are rock hard Foo Statues (think Troll but immune to psychology), unbreakable but unstable Terracotta Warriors, a chariot, a ballista and for those preferring sharp steel and the gleam of fine armour there are the Emperor's Guard and Swordsaints (similar to Swordmasters). Nightblades provide the scouting option and Field Engineers the specialist infantry support with a variety of highly mobile war machine-like options.

Warhammer Fantasy Cathay Ballista

Rare Units

Your selection of Rare Units really depends on whether you want to sit back and take a defensive posture or  you're more inclined to take the fight to the enemy. The two more defensively aligned units are the Fire Arrow and Dragon Cannon.

The Fire Arrow is really a rocket launcher which fires multiple armour piercing projectiles but suffers from the Slow to Fire rule so cannot be used for a stand and shoot reaction. The Fire Arrow is also subject to the Black Powder War Machine Misfire chart which, for me, makes it a risky choice. I generally prefer more reliable troops on the ground than risk/reward units, having said that at 110 pts with the possibility of firing 30 rockets (3 x artillery dice) I can see it being a popular choice.

Cathay Dragon Cannon
The Dragon Cannon is a standard cannon with an additional explosive effect (d6 str3 hits) on impact, before bounce. Accordingly, it's a quite bit more expensive than your average cannon but I guess it really depends on which enemy you expect to be facing as to whether you take it into battle with you. An average of 3.5 str3 hits isn't going to help much against Giants and the like but it could help whittle down the lesser minions.

The three remaining units are all combat oriented and more to my liking, they all cause terror, pack a punch and the Phoenix and of course the Dragon can both fly.

Cathay Phoenix Rare Unit
The Phoenix is an interesting unit; it has a devastating move attack which allows the Phoenix to fly 18" and inflict a strength 5 flaming hit against all models it flies over (determined like bouncing cannon ball hits). Not only that but it's hard to kill T5, W5 and with -1 to wound for non-magical attacks against it. Last but not least, it can explode into a ball of flames rather than dying just when you thought you had delivered it's coup de grace. It's an especially nasty piece of work against a Wood Elf army with all that dry bark waiting to be ignited :-)

The Phoenix isn't a single-handed battle winner though, it will need support and shouldn't be used in isolation against any large unit with two handed or magical weapons / attacks.

The Dragon is pretty much a regular Dragon, ie. no fun to fight against! (Ws6, S6, T6, W5, I3, A5, Ld9)

Fantasy Battle Cathay - Brass Titan Rare Unit
The Brass Titan is a battle winner if you can position it to face off against the right opponents. It will attract the attention of every single enemy war machine and ranged attack on the battlefield and all monster assassins so it could be tricky getting the desired outcome. It's big problem is instability, it will therefore lose an extra wound if it loses a combat so do not face off against large ranked up units or a monster killer with multiple high strength attacks. I reckon it's best used against "intermediate" units, it should perform well  against units with few ranks and low strength attacks small units of cavalry (if it can avoid being charged). Keep it close to a couple of support units that can deny the enemy their rank bonus and the Titan should come up trumps. The Titan is unbreakable, has a 3+ armour save, Magic Resistance (2), St6, T6, A5 and a combat winning attack if it gets surrounded named the "Clean Sweep" (str6 hit on all enemies in contact) - ouch !

Summary (army strengths and weaknesses)

I haven't played any battles with this army nor have I spent hours delving into the army list and selecting a competitive force so you'll need to take my initial impressions of the army strengths and weaknesses as just that. First thing that you should note is that being a human based army it's inherent weakness will be toughness, as is the case with most but the heavily armoured. There are however, plenty of cheap core troops to choose from and if used in large units it shouldn't be too much of a concern.

Best Fantasy Battle Artwork - Cathay

The army has enough in the way of specialized units to counter any enemy strategy. It could be a tricky job selecting a balanced army if you're not sure who you're facing in battle but then that's the case for several other armies in the Warhammer World (and part of the fun). The special rules, points values and unit choices in each category all seem reasonable and there really is a wonderful selection to choose from. I think the army's greatest strength is it's flexibility to meet any situation (given the right army selection choices). It's a little short of flyers but then you do have access to an ambush unit to help tackle those pesky rear echelon types and you could always take the Phoenix or Dragon.

I'd really like to take this army into battle, I think it holds a lots of surprises in store for the Cathay-uneducated. Also, I think you'll find that small army tweaks (use of stategists and Yong Yan magic for instance) could lead to very different battles even against the same opposition, something which you don't always get with some Warhammer armies in my experience (I'm thinking Vampires, Warriors of Chaos and Dwarfs).

The Miniatures

Ok, this is the tough bit. It's not going to be easy finding Chinese (sorry I mean Cathay) minis but if you're determined and prepared to compromise and improvise it can be done. I managed to build up a whole "Fishmen Army" (which I prefer to call The Nauticans) but it did take a lot of internet trawling to get there.

Your best starting point to discover the company names who produce such miniatures on eBay. I tried the following search which came up with some Chinese "Ancients" Cavalry, Spearmen and Warriors so minis of the correct scale do exist (you might also be able to supplement the force with Japanese equivalents). The War Machines and Monsters should prove easier to find alternatives for.

Chinese 28mm Miniatures on eBay (try narrowing the search to Toys & Hobbies)

Mathias has done an incredible job on this book and it's his finest work to date in my opinion.

All images are from the army book (and credited within)

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