Total War: Three Kingdoms has a lot to offer for every fan of the series. It’s got your historical intrigue (in the vein of older entries), but also climactic acts of heroism and larger-than-life characters (i.e. Total War: Warhammer). Of course, this also means there’s a lot more to wrap your head around. With so much going on, you could be forgiven for needing a Three Kingdoms guide to tip the scales of battle in your favor. Which is exactly why we’ve put together this Total War: Three Kingdoms guide for your reading enjoyment. Now take a look, dive in, and prepare for battle in the one of the greatest sagas ever told!
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Mouse Over Everything
Total War: Three Kingdoms is a tremendously dense game. In some ways, that’s always been true of the franchise. Yet this specific outing includes a number of changes and improvements that finally fix many longstanding issues. This naturally means a whole lot of things don’t work the way that they used to. Thankfully, it also means that developer Creative Assembly implemented new ways of unearthing information in Total War.
You can mouse over nearly any UI element in the game to get extra information. Sometimes this is a full Three Kingdoms guide to how things work. Other times, it will break out various details about factors affecting your empire. Mousing over the food tab in the top-left, for instance, will give you a breakdown of how much food you’re actually sending and receiving in a given turn. It’s a handy little feature you should never be afraid to lean on if you don’t know where else to check.
Diplomacy Is Good Now
This would be a weird one for the game to admit too directly. It’d be throwing past games under the bus, after all. But the fact remains: Diplomacy has long been a… dicey option in Total War games. Thankfully, Total War: Three Kingdoms has given the system a shiny overhaul. Concepts like personal reputation and coalitions play a major — and often very useful — role in any campaign. So even if you eschewed diplomacy in favor of battering rams and archers in the past, give it a whirl this time. Total War: Warhammer fans should especially take note!
The Yellow Turban DLC Is Fun, but Challenging
Total War: Three Kingdoms comes with a hefty helping of factions and heroes by default. But if you pre-ordered the game, you also get the option to rewrite history and rise up as the otherwise usually Yellow Turban Rebellion. The faction comes with a different style of tech tree, hybrid class heroes, and a lot of unique flavor.
Of course, there’s always a chance you didn’t pre-order the game. That means you need to shell out a whopping $9 USD for the Yellow Turban DLC. Total War: Warhammer players might be used to that kind of pricing, but it’s still a reasonably-sized barrier to entry. The question becomes: Is the Yellow Turban DLC worth it?
The answer is… probably. The DLC faction is unique and interesting — with a play style not quite like anything else in the game. Fans of Three Kingdoms’ source material will also probably want to play from this fascinating, if historically inaccurate perspective. The only other major factor to consider is difficulty. The Yellow Turban Rebellion begins in some truly brutal starting positions, no matter which one you pick, and has limited diplomatic options at the start. Some players might relish the challenge, but others might want to get their feet wet in the main game before taking the plunge.
Death Is Not the End
Assigning heirs is a big part of Total War: Three Kingdoms. It lets you create a continuity of power and bonuses throughout your campaign. It also plays a role in the Public Order of your empire, however. Assigning an unpopular figure as next in line to the throne will make citizens unhappy. This means there will be times when you hear death come knocking for your current ruler, but don’t want to elect your next of kin as your heir. What then? Are you just screwed into restarting or save scumming?
Thankfully, no. A dead ruler and no official heir is not the end of your campaign. Three Kingdoms will instead elect a random figure from your court as the next ruler. That comes with its own problems, of course, since you don’t have as much control over whoever rules your empire. But sometimes an uncertain future is better than a very certain rebellion…
Rebellions Are a Bigger Pain Than Ever
Speaking of rebellions (again), you might not be shocked to hear they play an even greater role in Total War: Three Kingdoms. Past game simply had them appear as hostile units in unhappy zones. They would go around torching stuff, and you’d eventually have to send an army to squash them. It wasn’t usually a game-ending feature, no, but it was a nuisance.
Rebellions in Three Kingdoms are still a nuisance; that’s for sure. But whether you have the DLC or not, the Yellow Turban continues to appear in every normal Total War: Three Kingdoms campaign. Given enough time, the “normal” rebellions will even swing over to the faction’s side — assuming they successfully siege one of your settlements. That eventually means going to war against a full-fledged faction, if you want your stuff back. This is… not ideal. So don’t think you can just sit on rebellions forever.