Initially, you will fight solo factions, which is not a big threat to your growing faction. After dozens of turns, you will have to deal with many larger opponents who often enter into military alliances with neighbors. Before starting a war with this type of enemy, it is worth preparing and taking care of three things: the economy, the security of the conquered areas and the corresponding army.
Preparing the economy
When thinking about the economy, there are several factors to consider in Total War: Three Kingdoms. In the first place is the state of the treasury. Ensuring that income before military operations is profitable is not that important – even if you lose a few hundred gold coins per turn, this will not be a problem if there is enough supply in the storage. However, if the state of the treasury drops to 0, the faction will go bankrupt. Taxes will be levied in your settlements to reduce the problem, which in turn will affect public order. You won’t be able to recruit troops or build new buildings (and repair damaged ones), and relations with other factions will deteriorate. Plus, you will lose some of your troops every turn.
Therefore, it is worth taking care of the state of the treasury before the start of the conquest of other territories. Look at potential settlements that you need to conquer (or that you want to capture before accepting the enemy’s surrender), calculate how many turns it will take to conquer, and then calculate how much gold in storage you will need to prepare for such a scenario. Throw in a little extra for emergencies and you’ll have the amount you need to conquer. It could be 5,000 gold, or it could be 20,000. The problem goes away if your income is on the positive side – then you generally don’t have to worry about the state of the treasury.
A separate issue is the state of nutrition and public order. If the sudden fall of the first does not threaten you, then you should take care of public order. Look around the conquered settlements and see if the order falls in any state. If this situation occurs, then it is worth disabling the collection of local taxes or quickly build a building that will provide a significant increase in public order. Remember – when public order drops to -100, a settlement revolts and you can lose control of it, and there’s nothing worse than a civil war. As a rule, the level of public order is affected by:
- Level of tax – the higher the tax, the greater the punishment. Turning off taxes (on the calculations screen) will give an increase of 20-30 points of growth;
- Heroes and their armies located in settlements, as well as armies located inside the settlement itself;
- Buildings that are built around the commander;
- New occupied territory – for a short time, such a settlement will carry a huge minus in public order.
Surrounding area security
When you create a stable economy, you must think about securing your land. The first thing to do is to check which garrisons located on the outskirts of your territories have settlements, especially near diplomatically unstable neighbors. If the garrisons are properly expanded, an attack by a small army is unlikely to be formidable. Also, if the settlement is in a narrow passage that is likely to pass along the route of the enemy troops, you can properly secure this settlement by focusing on buildings that expand the garrison. In a pinch, you can also leave a large, preferably full army, which will give you an extra boost to public order.
However, the most important thing is to take a look at the world map and check their diplomatic relations with the surrounding factions. But one should not look at the level of relationships – be they positive, neutral or rather negative – and how they will change in a short time. This refers to moments when an ally has drastically lowered their attitude level – by declaring war on someone, making an alliance with an enemy, and so on. If relations have deteriorated in recent rounds and subsequent rounds indicate a similar trend, you can be almost certain that your neighbor will attack as soon as your army leaves the area.
Before the start of hostilities, it is worth warming up the relationship a little by coming up with a slightly unfavorable plan (for example, offering food to the enemy for free) to stabilize the relationship. You can also quickly form an alliance with another neighbor – in case of an attack, you can count on his help. Remember also that newly formed alliances and completed wars are practically a guarantee that your relations will not deteriorate over the next 10 turns. Breaking an alliance or declaring war immediately after making peace ends up being a powerful punishment for diplomacy with other factions – no one will allow this.
The last and most important thing is, of course, the preparation of the army for an armed conflict. If you can afford it, then go for the most technologically advanced branches – in most cases, these are the most powerful versions of the units currently available, which are likely to give you an advantage over your opponent. However, remember also that you should not focus insanely on buying the most expensive units, especially one type. The cost of a unit does not always mean its effectiveness on the battlefield. An army with one type of unit is likely to lose to a more balanced army.
The second is to have several armies. One army is not enough to conquer larger groups – their settlements often have large garrisons, which are additionally supported by a neighboring army. In such a case, it is best to take at least two full armies, preferably those in which the generals have already won several additional ranks. If you’re planning a really big conquest, it’s worth taking extra armies with you – they’ll allow you to quickly conquer smaller settlements, as well as secure those that have already been captured.
When to fight and when to let go?
In general, whether it is worth starting a war with a certain faction and the moment when this needs to be done depends on several factors. The first is the fraction size. If the faction you want to take over has 2-3 settlements (while you have a dozen or so), you can try to take the ego as your vassal in order to annex it. This way, you will capture the settlement without starting a war – but this comes at a significant cost in diplomacy and the potential deterioration of relations with other factions. If you prefer to capture by force, it is better to defeat this type of faction – in combat they will not have a chance with you, and you will save a lot of time and gold on diplomacy.
If, in turn, the faction is too big for you, then, naturally, it is better not to oppose it. Of course, you can win the war with a stronger faction, but you will need many valuable turns during which another opponent can attack you or support the enemy. It is also worth checking in what relationship, and what kind of neighbors live near your potential target.
Last but not least, remember the factors described in the previous paragraphs. If your economy is not ready for war (public order is broken, or the treasury is empty), you do not have a ready army, or your districts are not sufficiently protected, it is better to postpone conquest plans first and take care of these problems.