Total War: Three Kingdoms – How to play to win

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Welcome to the Total War: Three Kingdoms guide. The traditional set of tips and description of the transition is not applicable in this type of game, but nevertheless, we decided to prepare a number of the most important tips related to the basic rules of the game. We indicate what to look for and how to play so that opponents do not scrape our country off the map of China.

The basics are similar to what you may already know from the previous parts of the series, but we will approximate the most important rules of the game. Total War: Three Kingdoms may seem complicated at first glance, and in practice it is probably one of the simpler strategies that offers such a large scale of struggle and conflict.

Total War: Three Kingdoms – Heroes

Generals saw significant changes in the new version of the Total War series. Now you can compare them to characters known from the Warhammer series, for example. They don’t use magic and are slightly less powerful, but they can still pose a threat – even to basic infantry.

The most important hero, of course, is the leader of the faction – it could be Liu Bei or Cao Cao. They start with good gear that will make them perform well during duels, which is another new addition to Three Kingdoms. The hero’s equipment consists of weapons, armor, a mount and a special object, as well as one supporter. Each of these elements offer some statistic bonuses or even the ability to use special formations during battles.

Cao Cao is the best choice to start with

Hero development occurs over time and successive victories on the battlefield, although sometimes completing missions assigned by the council will give an influx of experience points. We spend them on talents, visible on the right side of the character description screen. They can affect various functions and be useful in battles or diplomacy.

When fighting heroes, it’s always a good idea to bind to a single unit, although in theory they can act alone for a long time. However, if we have a hero on horseback and in good armor, then it would be a logical decision to direct him and at the same time control the cavalry unit.

When choosing a hero during skirmishes, we can use his skills shown in the bar at the bottom of the screen – these abilities usually affect the morale of the units, but they can also activate a more powerful charge or a special strike. Also during a duel, which you can lead to by pressing the “Duel” button and selecting an enemy general from the list.

Generals like us may refuse to duel or fail to accept a challenge if they are actively fighting our units. However, if the duel takes place, the characters come face to face and begin to fight. Then you should pay attention to the health of our hero (seen on the right side of the screen) in order to simply escape if necessary. A stain on honor is sometimes a better choice than losing an experienced hero.

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Total War: Three Kingdoms Campaign

Each faction starts the campaign in a different location, but we recommend one of the easier ones to start with – when choosing a hero and faction, we can see exactly if the difficulty level is Easy, Normal, Hard, or Very Hard. The latter are best left for later.

At first, the gameplay on the campaign map can seem chaotic, because a well-defined goal appears only after a few dozen turns – we must restore order, create a kingdom, and thus face the race with two other warlords for the imperial throne. We can see our rank by clicking on the portrait of the faction leader at the top left of the screen. The title increases prestige.

In addition to battles, we need:

  • army recruitment
  • urban expansion
  • relocation of branches
  • negotiations with other leaders
  • choice of reform.

Economy and development

A well-functioning economy is the foundation of every kingdom. In Three Kingdoms, you can click on the coin icon in the top menu of the screen to go to the Vault panel – here you can view a summary of all our current income and expenses.


The storage screen contains all the details

The main sources of income are, of course, taxes – set from the start of the game by default, but if we want we can reduce or increase them (for our entire faction or liberate only one city, which is the last resort in case of very low social mood and threat uprisings).

Other sources of income depend on us, but in general these are buildings and reforms. When in a given city we have free space for a new building, it is worth carefully reading the descriptions of the available buildings. For example – a tavern increases income from trade and reduces the cost of building agricultural facilities. Some buildings, such as the magistrate, in turn receive income from all sources. Reforms work in a similar way—allowing us to increase revenue in the areas of our country that we want to focus on. We can also, for example, reduce the cost of maintaining troops and so on.

Cities are no longer ordinary cities. Here, following the example of the Thronnes of Britannia solution, some points on the map are support areas. In one province, this is usually its main center, but we also see all the places associated with it – it can be a sawmill, animal husbandry, a fishing port or a farm. These places, although they are not cities, play a key role in the development of the entire province. They are a source of raw materials and food, as well as additional income.

That is why it is extremely important to plan conquest correctly. Sometimes it’s not worth starting a war with a very strong enemy when we want to capture his territory – because it may turn out that the rest of the province belongs to someone else. However, if we already have an entire province, food production should always be a priority.

Diplomacy and espionage

As with every installment of Total War, diplomacy is also important in the three kingdoms. In this part, the creators have added a number of new features to this aspect of the game. To turn on the diplomacy screen, simply tap the tied hands icon on the top bar of the screen.

We will see a list of groups with which we have already interacted – we can negotiate with them. When we select a given faction, the offers available on the left will be highlighted. At first, some options will be unavailable, but over time – as the hero’s prestige increases – they will be gradually unlocked.


The diplomacy menu is legible and categorized – there are offers related to agreements on trade, war and peace. When we select any diplomatic offer and present it to the interlocutor, in the middle of the screen we will see what is the connection of the other side with our offer. On the button “Include in life” we see a numerical value. If it is negative, it means that the other leader will not agree to the terms.

In this case, the contract should be made more attractive – add some gold to it or offer items from the trading tab as a gift. When the contract value is marked in green, it can be included. Later, you only need to remember not to break it and not to do something too quickly, which is somewhat contrary to our conditions.

The most important features of the diplomacy system:

  • coalition formation
  • commercial contracts (ensure regular profit)
  • vassal’s offer
  • military coordination with partners
  • earn by fulfilling the conditions of other leaders for the corresponding payment

The developers have not forgotten, of course, about the espionage system. It has been completely redesigned. In Three Kingdoms, we simply send a spy to a selected province and we have to rely on him being recruited by a foreign warlord. Only then will he be able to start intelligence activities.

An active spy is, above all, a guarantee of valuable information about the state of an enemy state and, most importantly, about the size and condition of its army.

Total War: Three Kingdoms – battles

For many, military competition is the most important element of every installment in the Total War series. On the battlefields, we send up to 30 infantry and cavalry units, the number of which can vary from 20 to 200 soldiers (if we select the Super option in the game settings by the number of units).

At the beginning of each battle, we can freely customize our troops before the battle begins – this is already traditional for the Total War cycle. After the start of the battle, we can also stop, slow down or speed up the passage of time – the buttons responsible for this are located in the lower right corner of the screen.


Battles can take place in different ways, depending on the time of day and whether we are the defenders or the aggressors. However, some assumptions related to the types of people have remained unchanged for many years. You must remember that:

  • spears are effective against cavalry
  • cavalry is effective against infantry without a spear
  • Infantry with swords and axes are effective against spears

These are the most important rules to keep in mind. Spear infantry gains a greater defensive bonus when standing still. Remembering these simple assumptions, you should always react to the opponent’s movements. If the cavalry approaches, pull them forward.

Mounted units are always worth trying to attack from the flanks. They are faster than infantry, so you can send them to the right or left of the enemy army, and only from that moment give the order to attack. It is worth remembering that if there are forests on the map, you can hide units in them. Always check if you can place archers or riders on the sides of the battlefield before the battle begins.

Archers and crossbowmen are effective against all types of enemies, although they have almost no chance against cavalry, but it is worth noting that crossbows are better against targets with better armor. Also, do not waste bullets on troops equipped with shields.

Also, remember that by pressing the spacebar you can highlight all target locations on the battlefield – if you gave orders and don’t remember exactly where you told them to set. It is also very useful to hold down the Alt key when selecting multiple branches – then we can move everything at once, but without interfering with their formation.

It’s also important to keep a close eye on units, not just because we have to keep an eye on their numbers. Sometimes enemy troops can run away – a white flag will appear above them. Then it is worth thinking about a quick change of target for our troops that fought with them, so as not to waste time shooting down a broken enemy squad (although it should also be remembered that a fugitive can sometimes change his mind and return to battle).


Tips for getting started

Cao Cao is the best faction to start with. He is in a good starting position, there are not many enemies, and our hero has a very useful ability to manipulate the opinions of other warlords in the diplomatic panel.

– Try not to fight several wars at the same time. Even when you are in a coalition and an ally asks you for support in your own war, remember that you can refuse it. Focusing on one front means a greater sense of border security, which you can leave without the support of large armies.

– Contact the generals. If you have a huge advantage in any battle, leave the AI ​​clash with peace of mind. You will save time. Also, when we still have a lot of branches, and skirmishes are not particularly interesting.

– Beware of character contentment. Keep track of the satisfaction of all generals and courtiers. When they fall too hard, they may leave your faction or even revolt. Sometimes it is enough to give them an object or offer a position to start looking at us much more favorably.

– Find a powerful friend. Always, for most of the campaign, it is worth taking care of an alliance with one major faction. Then the opponents will think twice before declaring war on us.

– Remember the formations. In the Three Kingdoms, objects and supporters give generals the ability to use unit formation during battles. Free formation is good when a unit is under fire, while a wedge provides more fighting power for cavalry units. So you have to be good at giving items to the characters so that they can really benefit.


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