The new Total War, this time dedicated to Ancient China, brings a colossal amount of changes and improvements to the classic formula of the series. There are so many of them that even veterans of the genre of global strategies will find it quite difficult to get used to the Three Kingdoms. Yes, the game has built-in video tutorials, but these tutorials do not cover all the details that are important to know before starting the first campaign. Therefore, in order to lower the threshold of entry, we decided to prepare for you a general guide to Total War: Three Kingdoms .
Overview of new game mechanics and top tips for survival
The first step is to immediately decide on the game mode (the consequences of this choice are most felt during real-time battles): Three Kingdoms has historical and romanticized modes. Historically, the game resembles classic Total War like Rome 2 or Shogun 2where generals fight accompanied by bodyguards. The battles here last quite a long time, since it is necessary to closely monitor the fatigue of the units: they cannot be forced to run across the battlefield at an accelerated pace, otherwise the soldiers will quickly fizzle out and fight worse. If you are interested in more arcade and spectacular battles, then you should choose a romanticized mode: unit fatigue will then play a lesser role, plus the generals will turn into real demigods, capable of single-handedly changing the course of any battle. Often, the number of soldiers killed by them will be in the hundreds.
Diplomacy in Three Kingdoms needs to be given more attention than ever before: negotiating is critical to how smoothly the early hours of the campaign go. The fact is that the AI in the new Total War loves to unite in alliances and make vassals, so after about 30 moves the entire map of Ancient China will be divided between several large coalitions and military alliances, each of which can have about a dozen factions. When this happens, aggressive generals will begin to weigh their forces and the forces of their allies against the player’s military potential: if they feel even the slightest superiority, they will certainly attack first.
To avoid falling prey to larger predators, it is important to quickly make friends and subjects. The trouble is, most of the selectable factions in Three Kingdoms cannot form coalitions until they gain more prestige points and raise their rating. Therefore, the player’s primary task is to increase the level of prestige. To do this, you need to quickly capture the nearby provinces and set up special buildings that provide prestige points.
As the player gains a higher rank and unlocks new diplomatic options, it’s time to slow down expansion and sit down at the negotiating table. As many acts of non-aggression as possible, coalitions and vassals should be formed. The weaker the faction, the more willingly it will agree to become a vassal. There are several ways to convince the other leader to become your citizenship: by promising autonomy, offering a decent monetary reward, unnecessary territory, or some cool artifact for the hero. You can even put forward an ultimatum to a very weak faction: they say, they will not obey and will not become a vassal – let them prepare for war. In such a situation, the AI is likely to weigh the pros and cons and agree to the player’s terms. By the way, with the help of ultimatums, you can also demand money and food from vulnerable neighbors for your population. In other words,
As in the recent Thrones of Britannia, the units purchased by the player immediately appear in his army. However, new units are never 100% complete: you need to wait a few turns before the number of soldiers in the newly purchased unit increases to the maximum. Therefore, it makes sense to study technologies that accelerate this process so that armies do not sit idle waiting for the end of recruiting. In addition, in the Three Kingdoms, a function has appeared that allows you to recall an army with all commanders and units, and then recruit the same army in any other city that belongs to you a turn: that is, using this system, you can quickly teleport your military forces over great distances. But only after such an action, the army, again, will be staffed only partially, which means that the player will have to wait until it recovers. Accordingly, we repeat,
In Three Kingdoms, almost everything depends on the heroes and nobles in the service of the player: the effectiveness of armies, the satisfaction of the population and the economy of the country. That is why it is important to maintain the loyalty of the characters at a high level by all possible methods, so that, say, not to lose at the most inopportune moment a great commander who decides to defect to the side of the enemy or thinks to raise a riot. Each hero has a detailed description of his personal views and needs – a kind of cheat sheet for the player. The general’s loyalty is falling because he is sitting around? Send him on a military campaign. Is the hero dreaming of a promotion? Make him a provincial administrator, give him a position on the faction’s high council, or give him a new title with a more impressive salary.
Whom to choose?
The best factions for beginners are those that are farther from the center of the map, where the brutal “Hunger Games” begin from the very first moves. For this reason, you shouldn’t choose General Cao Cao as your starting commander. Yes, the game itself says that this is almost the easiest leader, but in practice this is completely untrue. Nobody likes Cao Cao, and after 20 moves the player will have to participate in a complex war on several fronts. To peacefully master the basics of the Three Kingdoms, you should focus on the faction, which is located somewhere in the corner of the map.
Great beginner leaders are Gongsun Zan, Sun Jian, and Kong Rong. The first is located in the upper right corner of the map, where the rear of his possessions covers the Yellow Sea. This is a plus in itself, but Gongsun Zan also boasts excellent horse archers and a unique building that increases financial income and people’s happiness. Plus, the mighty hero Zhao Yun is in his command. Gongsun Zan can calmly unite the north-eastern lands, gain strength, and only then unleash a war in the center of the map.
Sun Jian starts the game in the south of the map. His faction receives huge discounts on the maintenance of units, the more victories it wins in battle. In addition, only Sun Jian’s armies have access to the unique mercenary squads, which appear fully staffed immediately upon recruitment. This allows the player to create a combat-ready army in one move. Well, if war is not to your taste, then in the south and west of the initial location of Sun Jian there are unpopulated provinces: you can start colonizing them instead of squabbling with everyone else for the sake of the central territories. It is also important to know that sometime on the fifth turn, one of Sun Jian’s neighbors will demand the Imperial Seal of China from him – a rather valuable item that provides useful bonuses for the entire faction. However, players who are not ready to fight so early may well sacrifice it.
Finally, the third great leader for newcomers is Governor Kong Rong. The game calls this start difficult, but like Cao Cao, this description has little to do with reality. Kong Rong begins his campaign a little south of Gongsun Zan, which means that his possessions are also covered by the Yellow Sea from the east. Plus, this governor’s faction bonuses, which increase profits from trading, allow him to sit out in peace for the first half of the game and build an incredibly powerful economy.
How to open a secret faction
When the player defeats the army of the usurper Dong Zhuo in battle or increases his level of prestige to such an extent that he is declared emperor, he will be able to start a new campaign already for the tyrant Dong Zhuo. Let’s say right away: this will be an extremely difficult game session that cannot be recommended for beginners, because Dong Zhuo is at war with almost all of China from the very first move. Fortunately, he has a secret weapon that can turn the tide of the entire war – the great warrior Lü Bu, the strongest hero in the game, capable of single-handedly destroying an entire army of a thousand people.
Three Kingdoms can be quite a brutal game, but when it finally clicks, it will be almost impossible to come off. The main advice that we gave for TW: Warhammer 2 in due time – do not be afraid to lose and start over. It’s not a fact that you will win your first campaign even on normal difficulty, but there is nothing wrong with that: Three Kingdoms is much more demanding than many other Total Wars, so you need to be willing to learn from mistakes in order to succeed.