Total War does China - Three Kingdoms Catch All

The game really is a gem. Atmosphere is great and I think they really struck a great balance between combat and diplomacy. Hoping to get some more time in this weekend. Can't recommend Italian Spartacus' 3 videos enough. He does a basic, an advanced, and a battle video. Definitely worth it, even if you are a long time player.

Man the AI does not seem to let up strategically. I'm having a real problem getting a bit of a breather to consolidate my empire. Enemies and allies seen to change on a dime, and they tend to pounce when you're weak. With expansion just causing more enemies and food crises. Enjoying it immensely so far.

Ok, I need to back off a little. I didn't do anything all weekend except play this. 16 hours to complete my first campaign with Cao Cao. I need to watch more of those videos because half the system I didn't really understand or just glossed over quickly.

Balthezor wrote:

Ok, I need to back off a little. I didn't do anything all weekend except play this. 16 hours to complete my first campaign with Cao Cao. I need to watch more of those videos because half the system I didn't really understand or just glossed over quickly.

His videos are good, but also there are a whole bunch of bite sized videos under the Total War Academy YouTube channel. They are excellent and well.

Wow, I went from not knowing this game existed to impulse buy in about 1 hour. Thanks for all the impressions, this seems like something I'd enjoy.

I'm probably going to have to resign my campaign with Cao Cao.

I lost a battle and was weakened. It seemed like all of the AI ganged up on me to declare war. I'm not really sure where I went wrong.

The game is great but I have a couple of minor challenges for me. It still suffers from the classic Total War "set up your formations until it turns into a blob of a battle" syndrome.

Also there's so many redundant names. I speak Chinese semi-fluently and even I get lost in the Dong Min/Dong Zhuo/He Li/He Dong repetition of the names.

Maybe it's because I'm playing Cao Cao right now and getting my butt handed to me.

Overall the game is great and believe the hype the turns process SO much faster.

PWAlessi wrote:

I'm probably going to have to resign my campaign with Cao Cao.

I lost a battle and was weakened. It seemed like all of the AI ganged up on me to declare war. I'm not really sure where I went wrong.

I was in the same position for a bit. What got me out of it was diplomacy and selling off land. It hurts like hell but it can help you recover. Then you stabilize and eventually turn the tables.

On that note I finally one. I managed to keep the peace with the north for long enough to conquer the south. Who eventually abdicated to me. Once they folded the rest of the game was a cakewalk. Either vassaling or conquering my way until the end.

Great game and I think it has the best campaign mode in the series. Never has the AI pushed me so hard in a total war and that was on normal.

I started a new campaign with Sun Jiu. Interesting campaign mechanics. Anyways, Yuan Sho, literally has everyone else as a vassal. If I start a war in one, Ill be in a war with 8 others lol.

They did pick the right period. It was constant warfare and intrigue between multiple states, over and over again.

Yeah I love the diplomacy in this one.
Everyone seems to be wheeling and dealing with each other. Lots of fun and the ai behaves more realistically.

I do wish they had a summary screen for various things. Hard to tell state of things at a glance. And when your empire gets big it gets unmanageable. By the end I stopped buying upgrades or equipping generals.

I feel like this game has a stronger itch for one more turn than Civ does. Holy crap, I just want to keep playing.

This game is great. Calling it now - it's the Shogun II successor I've been waiting for.


Currently up to 203 AD as Cao Cao. I have a small but prosperous realm, running from my starting area down along the northern banks of the Yangtze River (+2k gold & 37 food per turn). To my north is one of the two big blobs in the game - Yuan Tan, heir to Yuan Shao, and my coalition partner. South across the river is the other blob - Sun Jian, whom I've been keeping happy using Cao Cao's 'manipulate' ability and who has an NAP with me.

After fighting mostly small-to-medium sized enemies so far (with the frightening exception of Sun Jian when his coalition partners dragged him to war against me - luckily he wasn't seriously interested in fighting!), I'm getting ready for a major offensive to the west against Yuan Shu. Swapping out militia for better quality units and moving my main armies (Cao Cao / Xiahou Dun / generic strategist in one, Xiahou Yuan / Zhang Yun / generic strategist in the other) into position. When the dust settles, I want to be master of the Central Plains...

I'm playing Sun Jiuan. Not sure how Cao Cao got near my area of south China. I will own it all. I even own that little island off the coast.


Gray is me. Can't even fit north China in the map.

Okay, I'm abandoning my current run (my second - maybe playing on hard was too ambitious while I'm still learning the game?). Game itself is excellent - clearly I need to learn more!

What went wrong:
- I was unable to expand quickly enough into Han Empire territory early on, as I had to keep fighting off attacks from all sides;
- By the time I was ready to expand, the smaller factions nearby had all been vassalised or joined coalitions with stronger powers.

End result: I couldn't reach the critical mass needed to stand up against the true powerhouses like Sun Jian and Yuan Shao. In this case Yuan Shao's kid left the coalition and attacked me with his vassal swarm; I managed to fight off 5-6+ stacks, kill the guy in battle, and force a peace treaty, but that still left me locked in by his vassals and unable to expand. My economy could never support more than 2 stacks, which was just not enough to fight on multiple fronts.

A few tips:
- Understand the importance of different settlement types. Due to the vagaries of early expansion, I ended up with too many farmlands - and much more food than I could use or sell to other warlords - but not enough settlements that brought in income.
- Unrest becomes increasingly vicious as the game progresses due to overpopulation. Don't forget to upgrade cities (and maybe eventually demolish buildings that add population).

Balthezor wrote:

I'm playing Sun Jiuan. Not sure how Cao Cao got near my area of south China. I will own it all. I even own that little island off the coast.

Congrats! I think Sun Jian is currently the most powerful lord in the game. He has almost no competition south of the Yangtze, so he can really snowball.

More people need to play this game. This thread is eerily quiet!

I'm not quiet...I'm concentrating (on not losing my 2nd campaign)...

I'm posting but powers out in my building for a couple days. Was planning to yellow turban next.

Barely played with the various units really. Was always short on cash and ran mostly militia.

After three games got cut short by Yuan Shao and all his vassals, I decided to just play as Yuan Shao. Things are going much better. I'm really in love with the diplomacy in this game, especially after the relatively simple diplomacy in games like Warhammer and Rome 2.

I loved Warhammer and Rome 2, but Rome 2's diplomacy was just "nobody likes you, but maybe you can convince them to fight you one at a time". Warhammer's diplomacy was more complicated but it played out the same way every game. Three Kingdoms is really fun by comparison.

I started to play this weekend but had a raging cold that sucked the life out of me and left me brain dead. I gave up after an hour. Now that I'm better, I'm looking to dig back in and kick some butt!

Get better soon, Godzilla Blitz!

I started a third campaign as Cao Cao (initially on hard, dropped down to normal at the game's suggestion). Third time turned out to be the charm! Here's the map in 210, after a successful march on Luoyang and Chang'an:

- Dark green is me.
- Light green is my vassals. There is one more guy off screen in the far SW.
- Blue is my ally, Liu Bei (we've been besties through the game, although I don't anticipate that lasting once the three kingdoms kick in).
- The big scary blob to the south is Sun Jian, who controls southern China and has tendrils + vassals (those two guys in the middle - Cai Mao and Huang She) north of the Yangtze.
- There are almost no independent factions left other than Liu Yao (minor faction in the SE allied with Sun Jian); everyone else is a vassal of either myself, Liu Bei, or Sun Jian.

There have been epic battles along the way: Cao Ren and Cao Ang leading my capital's battered garrison to a Heroic Victory against IIRC Yuan Shu's invading army; Cao Cao and the Xiahous thinning out Liu Biao's hordes with forest ambushes; Xiahou Yuan fighting off counterattacks along the road to Luoyang...


A few tips for anyone else playing Cao Cao:
- March west as soon as you can. Both the danger and the opportunity are in the west:
-----> The dangers are Liu Biao and his vassal swarm (don't be fooled by his pacifist lord tag - he might not start wars but his vassals can easily start a war and pull him in) and Yuan Shu;
-----> The opportunity is the wealthy provinces to the west - Luoyang (trade port), Nanyang (jade mine), and Chang'an (jade mine) are all fantastically rich.
- There's not much to the east (Tao Qian's area), mostly food. It does secure your back though.
- Going SE to Guangling (follow the river to the coast) will get you a trade port and lots of $$$, but it is out of the way and harder to defend. Liu Yao loves raiding you from across the river so be careful.
- Upgrade Chen to a walled city ASAP as it's an magnet for invasions from the West / North. I would consider also adding the red garrison building and a mobile army if you can afford one.
- Ally with Liu Bei if you can - he's very trustworthy and can secure your back

Here is a handy resource map: IMAGE(

Mind Elemental wrote:

Get better soon, Godzilla Blitz!

Thanks, things are fine now. Time to get back to this!

Looks like your campaign is going well, nice work!

And that map is super handy.

Still playing my Sun Jiun campaign. I pretty much hold most of China. Three kingdoms vying for emperorship. Me, Song and Wei (Cao Cao). I destroyed Cao Cao. Song hasn't been that easy to take down.

I have 230K copper and about 23k copper per turn. My problem is the food!

That's great advice. Of course in my first Cao Cao run I did the complete opposite and was shocked that nothing was going right.

Speaking of Cao Cao THEY FOUND HIM

Budo wrote:

Speaking of Cao Cao THEY FOUND HIM

So cool

I beat the Sun Jian campaign. But willing to see if I can conquer all of China. I have about 75% of it. I had major issues with food for a long time but finally got out of it. About 350k in money.

Kingdom of Song fought me for decades for that last seat it owned. They finally succumbed after many wars.

Budo wrote:

Speaking of Cao Cao THEY FOUND HIM

hate to be a downer but I've done some archeological field work in China, including on Han-era sites in around around Xi'an (Chang'an) and the scholarship was guided by political outcomes first and money second. Accuracy is a distant third priority.

I'm extremely skeptical about Cao Cao claims. The linked article sources South China Morning Post which is pretty reliable for such things but digging (ahem) a little more into the debate shows some healthy skepticism.

I'm sure the Henan cadres are counting the revenue of their Cao Cao museum and 三國 theme park already.

Until stronger evidence is presented and widely verified/accepted by archaeologists globally, I'm not sold.

BUT, I hope it is Cao Cao in there - because that would be awesome! I'm just cynical because now, more than ever, nationalism is an overwhelming drive in all aspects of Chinese life and especially in the field of Chinese archaeology.

Thanks for the perspective, TrashiDawa, and congrats, Balthezor! How did you find Sun Jian? I want to try his campaign once CA fleshes out the south with DLC - I find him the most impressive of the historical coalition lords (and he and his family have really cool portraits).

I love this game so much. Reviews have pointed out the 'big picture' stuff it gets right, such as the character-driven system; and it also does a lot to improve the basic Total War mechanics:
- Siege battles are finally as dynamic and interesting as field battles: the maps are large enough to give room for both sides to manoeuvre (I won a defensive battle by moving cavalry through side alleys to mop up enemy archers and charge enemy infantry from behind), and the attacker can use flaming arrows/trebs to reshape the battlefield;
- Moving away from recruitment buildings allows combined arms from turn 1, as opposed to entire unit classes like cavalry being gated off for ages;
- Each commandery is unique and there are strategic reasons to take one instead of another (thanks to the minor settlements system inherited from Thrones of Britannia);
- No more agent spam!

The Three Kingdoms have just formed in my game: myself, Wu (capital off-screen - all the way in the south), and surprisingly, Yan - I think this is Gongsun Zan's old faction. Despite being significantly more powerful than Yan, Liu Bei didn't declare himself king (I had expected Shu-Han to be the third kingdom).

Map below. Despite Wu's huge realm, I'm not actually that worried about them; the Wu armies are thinly stretched trying to cover all that land. The north is a bigger problem - Wu's vassal swarm means there are a lot of armies in a small area. After a disastrous northern expedition cost the life of Cao Pi (Cao Cao's son and IRL successor), I'm playing defensively for now until I can muster enough armies to set foot north again...


Sun Jian bent the knee!


... Now my income has tanked from (a) upkeep on all his armies and (b) rampant corruption. Time to start disbanding! Then I can march north and unite China.