Total War: Three Kingdoms embraces the story it's inspired by, Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, rather than strict historical accuracy. Soldiers can run around the battlefield. Total War Three Kingdoms is a grand strategy game in which you’ll take on the mighty warlords of ancient China in a bid to become Emporer. But you’ll have to rely on more than just savvy.

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Total War Series

Total War: Three Kingdoms is Creative Assembly's 12th major release in the Total War Series, set in ancient China in the Three Kingdoms period, it starts in 190 AD. The game uses the 64-bit Warscape Engine that was developed for Total War: Warhammer. The game was released on 23 May, 2019 for Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam.

Total War:three Kingdoms Codex

  • 4Warlords
  • 5New Features
  • 6Downloadable Content


Whilst still featuring the turn-based strategy, factions, campaign and battle-map play familiar from older games in the series, Three Kingdoms aims to be more 'character focused'. Diplomacy has been re-worked and becomes a more important part of the game, relationships between characters are described as 'Guanxi' after the Chinese concept.

Play Modes

Total War: Three Kingdoms introduces two different modes of campaign play, a 'Classic' version based on the Records of the Three Kingdoms which aims for greater historical accuracy, and a new 'Romance Mode' based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms which portrays generals and faction leaders as powerful heroes with special powers.

Campaign Map

CA's Sun Jian trailer showed views of the campaign map albeit with 'in-engine' shots and not 'in-game'.The trailer included this zoomed out view of the campaign map:

Invicta Gaming has released an interesting analysis of the trailer here which includes comparisons to real-world maps and comments on the differences/similarities to previous game maps.


Generals and leaders seem to be more important than in older titles, and the game includes the ability for the traits and abilities of up to three generals to be used in one army.

Biographical and playstyle details have been released of the eleven legendary warlords you will be able to play as. See full details here.

zoner16 on TWC has provided in-depth descriptions of the historical characters of the time see here.

Cao Cao

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Commander
  • Start Position: Chen - a central position south of the Yellow River.
  • Initial Dilemma: To ride to war and avenge his father's death or to build an empire first.

In History;

Three Kingdoms Imdb

  • Clan: The Cao Clan of Qiao
  • Style Name: Mengde
  • Positions: Chancellor of State, King of Wei, Emperor Wu of Wei (posthumously)

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms;

Portrayed as a cruel and suspicious villain.

Gongsun Zan

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Vanguard
  • Start Position: Youbeiping - defensible position to the north.
  • Initial Dilemma: Attack Liu Yu, or ally with him to attack Han Fu.

In History;

  • Clan: The Gongsun Clan of Youbeiping
  • Style Name: Bogui
  • Positions: Inspector of You Province(self-appointed), General of the Front, Marquis of Yi.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms;

Leads elite cavalry unit, the White Riders.
Joins coalition against Dong Zhou.
Declares war on Yuan Shao for killing his younger brother.

Kong Rong

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Strategist
  • Start Position: Beihai
  • Initial Dilemma: How to use a 'great warrior' who offers his services.

In History;

  • Clan: The Kong Clan of Beihai
  • Style Name: Wenju
  • Positions: Minister Steward, Palace Counselor, Court Architect, Chancellor of Beihai

Liu Bei

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Commander
  • Start Position: Dong
  • Initial Dilemma: To help Tai Qian in his fights against Cao Cao or remain neutral.

In History;

  • Clan: The Liu Clan of Zhuo
  • Style Name: Xuande
  • Positions: General of the Left, Emperor Zhaolie of Han

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms;

Portrayed as a compassionate and righteous leader, endowed with charismatic potency.
Wields a pair of double-edged swords called shuang gu jian.

Liu Biao

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Commander
  • Start Position: Xiangyang
  • Initial Dilemma: Agree to help Yuan Shao against Sun Jian and Yuan Shu, or ignore Yuan Shao's request.

In History;

  • Clan: The Liu Clan of Xiangyang
  • Style Name: Jingsheng
  • Positions: General Who Guards the South and Governor of Jing, Marquis of Chengwu

Ma Teng

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Vanguard
  • Start Position: Wudu - in the west.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to engage in the civil war between the separatist and loyalist remains of Dong Zhuo's faction.

In History;

  • Clan: The Ma Clan of Liang
  • Style Name: Shoucheng
  • Positions: Commandant of the Guards, Marquis of Huaili

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms;

Portrayed as a loyalist of the declining Han dynasty.
Participates in plots to assassinate Cao Cao.

Total War Three Kingdoms Map

Yuan Shu

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Commander
  • Start Position: Nayang - surrounded by powerful warlords.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to help Sun Jian by declaring war on Liu Biao or stay neutral.

In History;

  • Clan: The Yuan Clan of Shouchun
  • Style Name: Gonglu
  • Positions: General of the Left and Governor of Yang, Marquis of Yangzhai

Yuan Shao

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Commander
  • Start Position: Wei - relatively safe area with farmlands.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to help Gongsun Zan against Han Fu, or give Han Fu refuge in exchange for his lands.

In History;

  • Clan: The Yuan Clan of Ye
  • Style Name: Benchu
  • Positions: General-in-Chief, Marquis of Ye

Zhang Yan

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Champion
  • Start Position: Yanman - in the far northern mountains.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to attack Yuan Shao's lands first or northern bandits.

In History;

  • Clan: The Heishan Bandits
  • Positions: General Who Brings Peace to the North, Marquis of Anguo

Zheng Jiang

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Champion
  • Start Position: Taiyuan - remote area in the mountains to the north-west.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to join with Zhang Yan or attack him.

In History;

  • Clan: The Zheng Bandits
  • From zoner16's post: Mentioned only in passing in the biography of Zhuo Xuan, who was an official and something of a soothsayer in the Wei court, the women bandits Zheng and Jiang were executed in Dongping sometime after a local official, Liu Zhen, had a dream about a snake growing four legs and burrowing into a gate. Zhuo Xuan foretold their deaths based on the fact that the snake was the auspicious sign of a woman, yet legs are not something a snake should have, therefore the women who were being bandits and upsetting the order of things would be killed.

Sun Jian

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Sentinel
  • Start Position: Jiangling in enemy lands - homeland is Changsha to the south.
  • Initial Dilemma: Whether to give Liu Biao the Imperial Seal he has requested or decline and make him an enemy.

In History;

  • Clan: The Sun Clan of Wu
  • Style Name: Wentai
  • Positions: Inspector of Yu Province, General Who Routs the Caitiffs, Marquis of Wucheng, Emperor Wulie of Wu (posthumously)

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms;

In the coalition against Dong Zhuo.
Escaped from a battle by giving his distinctive red scarf to Zu Mao
Attempted to keep the Imperial Seal for himself.
Killed in Jing Province after losing a battle against Liu Biao.

Dong Zhuo

In Game;

  • Hero Class: Vanguard
  • Start Position: Chang'an, west of the defensible mountain passes.
  • Initial Dilemma: A series of decisions, dependent on Romance or Records mode -
    • Romance: Conflict over the courtesan Diaochan with Lu Bu.
    • Records: Conflict with Lu Bu over personal differences and the machinations of the minister Wang Yun.
  • Note: Dong Zhuo is not playable until the player either defeats his army in battle or they reach the rank of Emperor in the Grand Campaign.

In History;

  • Clan: The Dong Clan of Liang
  • Style Name: Zhongying
  • Positions: Grand Master, Marquis of Mei

New Features


Diplomacy has been re-worked and is intended to be a more important part of the game introducing concepts such as 'obligations, reciprocity, and trust'.

CA published information about the new system in two blog posts, Part 1 and Part 2, with accompanying videos, Part 1 and Part 2. They claim Three Kingdoms 'marks the single most significant redesign of the system in Total War’s history' with the diplomacy model and AI rewritten from scratch.

Vassal status has been expanded with new possible benefits from either owning vassals or allowing your faction to become a vassal of a more powerful faction.

A new diplomatic status has been introduced, 'coalitions' are now possible as well as the usual alliances. Coalitions being easier to enter and less binding on the parties involved. Both coalitions and alliances establish 'friendly territory' that can ease supply and attrition problems.

Region trading has been re-introduced as another possible diplomatic tool alongside food and financial trades.

Discuss the new information on diplomacy on TWC here.

Wu Xing

The game applies elemental/color distinctions based on the Wu Xing five powers philosophy to many standard Total War features. Each character has an associated class which corresponds to a particular element(Commander, Champion, Vanguard, Sentinel, Strategist), five attributes that each have a respective element, and all traits, skills, reforms, units, and buildings have their own associated elements as well.

Benefits of any given element are meant to apply to other game pieces of that same element. For example, a Vanguard (Fire class) will likely have high Instinct (Fire trait) which will boost charge damage, which primarily helps Shock Cavalry (Fire unit type), as well as lower recruitment costs, which benefits the Military Recruitment building chains (Fire buildings).

Note: This system only applies to warlords in the base game. Yellow Turban factions do not operate on the same system.


Guanxi is the system that tracks the relationships between all the characters within the game. Characters can grow to like or dislike each other due to traits they have, events that fire, or personal history between them.

Characters will dislike having to fight their friends and relish getting to fight their enemies. They will like being in the same army and faction as their friends and dislike the opposite. Thus, it will be necessary to manage assignments and recruitment based on who gets along with one another and who doesn't, lest Satisfaction levels fall too low.

CA put out a video explaining this system and Satisfaction below here.


Characters have a Satisfaction stat that tracks how they feel about their current status within their current faction. If this drops too low, the character will be in danger of leaving or rebelling. Satisfaction is governed by factors like the relationship the character has with their comrades and enemies, their current rank in comparison to their achievements, and the appropriate reforms, among other things.


The agent system has been replaced by the espionage system, which allows the player to assign characters to attempt to spy on a faction. If a character is willing, they will wait in the other faction's recruitment pool until hired. After which they will take part in the opposing faction as a standard officer, but also giving the player visibility over wherever they are assigned, while also opening up a range of espionage options.

The espionage options require Cover (a resource specific to each spy) and Undercover Network (a faction resource). Each cost is told to the player before initiating an action, but there is an additional hidden cost that the target faction places depending on several factors (traits, reforms, etc). When initiating an action, the player will then be forced to give this additional cost or risk their agent being discovered if they cannot. If an agent is discovered, they can be captured or escape on their own. If they are captured, they may be executed or returned, but returned spies might have been turned into double agents.

Total war three kingdoms forums

Downloadable Content

Yellow Turban Rebellion

The Yellow Turban Rebellion was released at the same time as the main game and was available free of charge with pre-orders and early purchaser of Three Kingdoms. The DLC adds a new Yellow Turban playable sub-culture with three new playable warlords; He Yi, Gong Du, and Huang Shao. The Yellow Turban factions have different hero classes, units, technologies, character skills and ancillaries.

Reign of Blood

The Reign of Blood DLC adds blood and gore to the battle scenes. Depending on the purchaser's country of residence there may be an age restriction on this product.

The Eight Princes

The Eight Princes pack introduces a new campaign set 100 years after the main game and includes eight new playable princes. The new princes come with unique buildings, assignments, court options and new elite units.

Mandate of Heaven

Released in January 2020 with the 1.4.0 patch of the game, Mandate of Heaven provides a campaign starting in 182CE before the start of the Yellow Turban rebellion. The pack includes new characters, six new playable warlords and comes with unique new campaign mechanics, events and objectives.

Tao Qian

Released at the same time as Mandate of Heaven, Tao Qian is available as a free download. Tao Qian is a new playable character with a unique resource called 'displaced population', which provides him with a bonus when other factions conquer settlements!

A World Betrayed

Released in March 2020 with the 1.5.0 patch of the game, A World Betrayed adds the 194AD start date, two new factions specific to that start date (Lu Bu and Sun Ce), 17 new characters, a complete revamp of the bandit factions, new units, a new title system to replace the promotion system, expansions to espionage, and population changes.

Yan Baihu

Released alongside A World Betrayed, Yan Baihu is the second FLC pack for the game. Yan Baihu is a bandit character south of the Yangtze in Xindu Commandery in the 190AD and 194AD start dates. He has a faction resource focusing on coalition building, unique Yue and White Tiger units, and his brother Yan Yu as a starting unique general.

The Furious Wild

Released in September 2020 with the 1.6.0 patch of the game, The Furious Wild expands the map in the southwest and adds the Nanman culture group. The map expansion includes new commanderies, a new jungle campaign terrain type, and the addition of fortified gate passes in several mountainous areas. The Nanman culture comes with a new unit roster, four factions, six unique characters, and their own campaign mechanics and objectives.

Shi Xie

Released alongside The Furious Wild, Shi Xie is the third FLC pack for the game. Shi Xie is a Han governor character that starts in the extreme south of the map in Jiaozhi Commandery inthe 190AD and 194AD start dates. His unique faction mechanic revolves around putting his family into powerful positions in his faction and others in order to generate a currency he can use to create unique tribute chests with powerful effects.


Reviews so far have been intriguing with PCGamer describing it as 'ambitious, beautiful and confusing'.

System Requirements & Release Details


Total War: Three Kingdoms was released for Windows, macOS and Linux on May 23, 2019.

System requirements/recommendations were posted on the Total War Blog.

Expected around 25-35 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Low”, running at 1280×720

  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Processor: i7-8550U 1.80GHz
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Video Card: Intel UHD Graphics 620

Expected around 25-35 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Low”, running at 1280×720

  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 3.00Ghz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Video Card: GTX 650 Ti HD 7850 1GB VRAM

Expected around 45-55 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “High”, running at 1920×1080

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel i5-6600 Ryzen 5 2600X
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Card: GTX 970 R9 Fury X 4GB VRAM

Expect 60 FPS+ on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Ultra”, running at 1920×1080

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ Intel i7-8700K
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060

Total War: Three Kingdoms Review

Total War: Three Kingdoms




Cai MaoCao CaoDong ZhuoGongsun ZanGuan YuHan SuiHuang ZhongHuang ZuKong RongLi DamuLiu BeiLiu BiaoLiu CongLiu QiLu BuMa ChaoMa TengSun CeSun JianSun QuanSun RenTaishi CiXiahou DunXiahou YuanYu DuYuan ShaoYuan ShuZhang FeiZhang YanZhao YunZheng Jiang

Character Types:



Ji MilitiaJi InfantryHeavy Ji InfantrySabre MilitiaSabre InfantryAxe BandSpear GuardHeavy Spear GuardArcher MilitiaArchersMounted Lancer MilitiaLance CavalryMounted Sabre MilitiaSabre CavalryCrossbowmenHeavy CrossbowmenTrebuchetJian Sword Guard CavalryJian Sword GuardRaider CavalryPeasant RaidersRepeating CrossbowmenHeavy Repeating CrossbowmenPeasant BandSpear WarriorsMounted ArchersAzure DragonsJade Dragons Yellow DragonsOnyx DragonsPearl DragonsDefenders of EarthProtectors of HeavenCataphractsHeavy CataphractsHeavy Mounted ArchersMounted Crossbows

Faction Units:

Xiliang CavalryHeavy Xiliang CavalryTiger and Leopard CavalryHeavy Tiger and Leopard CavalryWhite Horse FellowsWhite Horse RaidersMercenary InfantryMercenary ArchersMercenary CavalryQiang MaraudersQiang HuntersQiang RaidersBlack Mountain MaraudersBlack Mountain OutlawsBlack Mountain HuntersFury of BeihaiThunder of Jian'anInfantry of JingImperial DefendersRapid Tiger InfantryWarriors of the LeftWarriors of YeDefenders of HebeiHidden AxesFists of the Bandit QueenYi ArchersYi Marskmen

Gameplay and Features:

BuildingsBuilding ChainsReformsTraitsUnitsWu Xing

Total War: Three Kingdoms - Yellow Turban Rebellion

DLC Factions:

The Yellow Turbans of RunanThe Yellow Turbans of YanThe Yellow Turbans of The West


Faction Units:

Gameplay and Features:

On the forum: Three Kingdoms Discussion Three Kingdoms Review Three Kingdoms Mods Mod Workshop

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