'Three Kingdoms' Is the Best 'Total War' Game in a Decade

Ill keep an eye out. You may know, is there spy units in the game, I know theres an espionage aspect but i’m yet to mess with it

Yeah it opens up a bit later, and it’s not really made obvious - you might have access to a spy by now. It’s the eye icon on the top left bar. It’s a neat system that doesn’t feel required but looks like it has cool emergent gameplay possibilities. You can empower your own trade, diminish the other faction’s, discredit them via one of their own characters - this is kind of the run of the mill stuff. You could also have your spy ingratiate themselves so that they’re picked for an open court position, which would give you access to a buuuunch of information for that faction - I have a character who is, now, in line for the next open court position in Cao Cao’s government, but he is not yet a member so I don’t know what information I’ll get access to. You can do the same thing to their armies, and make your spy a general in one. I don’t know if this lets you full on command one of their armies, because I haven’t done this yet, but the possibility space there seems extremely interesting. I know from the tooltip you at the very least can get full line of sight for that army.

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I do have access, just not the funds to justify it yet. But it sounds cool as hell, I look forward to fucking with it tonight

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I’m in the middle of a Yuan Shu campaign, and I don’t think I’d appreciated what people meant when they say Yuan Shao vassalizes everyone and their horse.

The big surprise came when Yuan Shao vassalized Cao Cao, whom I had an ongoing… complicated relation with, and now my vain brother is trying to make every minor lord I share a border with his vassal.

All this while my early friendship with Sun Jian is straining under my growth and my high legitemacy.

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He can get wildly out of control; however, they are actually addressing his vassal-binges in an upcoming patch. Hopefully that’ll even things out a bit. In my current campaign he got vassalized himself, which has pretty much neutered him as a concern, thankfully.

I’m not necessarily worried. Most Total War games need a beefed up ai to be a credible threat. I guess I was just hoping for something slightly more dynamic :smile:

As for Sun Jian, he seems like a slight paper tiger. His lands are vast but poor comparatively.

I get what you mean about needing a beefed up AI but it starts to severely limit your diplomatic options if Yuan Shao gets toooo many vassals and can kinda suck some of the fun of the game out for me.

Maybe i’m not far enough in yet, but me (Cao Cao)and Yuan Shao have become good allies with him only having 2 vassals and it’s been pretty good so far. The most annoying part though is those two he claimed are two right on my vulnerable border. I am just waiting for the knife in my back

It doesn’t happen every time, but I’ve had him get like, 6+ vassals. You might be earlier on, or Yuan Shao might be chill in your game!

Cant wait to see where this campaign goes now i’m essentially land locked by allies

welp

Jesus Christ.

While there aren’t really many complaints along these lines in the total war subreddit, there’s plenty of racist name jokes with no pushback!

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Does anyone know if it is possible to peacefully annex a vassal through marriage? I was playing as Sun Jian and tried to do this with the faction to the south west and it just ended up with the heir that I had Sun Ren married to declaring war on me as soon as he became the faction leader.

Once you marry someone away, they are no longer part of your family. There is no lineage of inheritance

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In theory if you can get your spy to be the heir you can get control of them that way. I don’t think the system works that way for marriages.

One of my favourite things to do is to just buy up huge swaths of territory over time. Like the AIs actually willing to trade bits of territory for money/food and ancillaries. So even though my burgeoning kingdom was mostly at peace for like 15-20 years I had doubled the size of my territory and just had way more money than everyone else. I was then betrayed by my coalition partner who thought he could be emperor, like I was bankrolling your wars and this is the thanks I get.

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I had my very first Ambush battle in Three Kingdoms last night and it was so good! As Cao Cao I waited to ambush a vastly larger force under He Yi.

He Yi had a full stack with 7 archer units the rest were peasant spear and sword and 3 generals.

Luckily one of my generals had a full retinue of shock cav, so in the preparation mode I lined up all my calvary to line up perfectly with their archers to route as much as I possibly could.

My three archer units targeted whichever spears got close to my calvary and my generals took on a sword unit each.

It was a stunning success that left the path to the enemy capital open

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Yeah, the game is much more generous with ambushes than its predecessors. I’ve also used the ambush stance to hide an army from the AI so that they move their armies up to the front and leave their capital undefended, which is neat. Now, if they can just solve the issue of the AI being able to attack and retreat while in forced march stance, I’d have basically no issues with the grand strategy layer.

Also, even though the AI is still fairly dumb and petty in terms of diplomacy, it’s still so refreshing to be able to cut deals with them. Allies won’t instantly turn on you when you share a border! You can trade territories for mutual benefit! The AI occasionally makes equatable proposals! There are exploits, sure (ancillaries are greatly overvalued, especially in the early game, and defeating two or three armies in a single turn is enough to make even a more powerful enemy agree to a peace), but you can ignore them and still mouse over portraits and buttons in the diplo interface to see what effects your different proposals will have.

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The ai doesn’t actually attack in march stance - if it did, it would be exhausted every time. As long as you have not spend more than two thirds of your movement (what would normally be 100% of your movement), you can also change to normal stance. It’s just that the ai changes to normal stance the moment it reaches its target, so it seems as if though it attacks in march stance.

As for retreating in forced march - I don’t think that’s different from what the player can do. The only advantage the ai has in this regard, is that if you attack, then retreat, you have used up your retreat, so when it becomes the ai’s turn, you have no retreat left, whereas if the ai does that, the overall round is reset before it becomes your turn again, so the ai gets an extra retreat (if the ai attacked after your turn).

Edit: in fact, one of the issues the ai has is staying in forced march way more than it should, making some battles much easier than they probably should be.

To your first point, it looks like you’re mostly correct in that there’s a visual bug where AI armies that switch out of march stance immediately before attacking retain the icon and the visual effects of the forced march stance.

To your second, I don’t think that you have it in full. The issue in the three campaigns that I’ve played is that armies in march stance are able to retreat out of the range of the attacking army because the movement bonus from march stance is applied to retreating. You can spend dozens of turns chasing armies around the interior of your empire while being unable to catch them, unless you do the cheesy thing of stopping short in order to trap them in your army’s zone of control. Previous games had harsher attrition systems to deal with that (but the AI here gets bonuses to supply and rarely runs out) and Warhammer 2 made retreat in march stance not an option, but I guess Three Kingdoms branched from the Warscape engine before those changes were made. It’s just annoying and I hope they come up with a better solution for it sometime soon.

I need to give this game another try. I bought it the weekend it came out and was devastated by how disappointing it was to me, as a big fan of the period and the Total War series.

I found it incredibly frustrating that a lot of the quality of life stuff that they implemented in Warhammer 2 wasn’t here and I found myself constantly struggling against the game’s systems.

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