Explains some advance and/or little known tips, tricks, and mechanics to help players through their game.
TLDR; List with only basic instructions
1. You can click backspace to stop movement of your army at any time. This can be used to keep an enemy army from running away by attacking them and then stopping near them.
2. You can press ‘R’ to speed up the movement of armies on the campaign map as well as on the battlefield.
3. You right-click a person in Diplomacy for quicker negotiation and hover over the ‘Propose Deal’ on the negotiation screen to see any factions it would affect your standing with.
4. At the top of the Diplomacy screen there is an option called ‘Quick Deals’ that will let you propose deals and see what factions will accept them or not, or if they can be persuaded to accept them.
5. After selecting to upgrade, demolish, or convert a building, an option in the shape of a tiny coin appears on that building allowing you to speed up the process by paying more money.
6. Corruption is a mechanic in this game where you lose a percentage of your money from taxes and it can RUIN your income. Make sure to properly fight corruption if you don’t want to go into debt.
7. There is an option at the top of the screen called treasury. When used it allows you to change your tax rate which improves/decreases your income from taxes, your public order, and your food production in all commanderies. In the bottom left corner of each commandery, there is also a check-box that says Tax Exemption. This can be used to lose all income/food production in order to increase public order.
8. While looking at a commandery, in the bottom left corner there are buffs and debuffs that affect the commandery. This is a good way of seeing what you should or shouldn’t build there.
9. Check ‘Traits’ on characters. Traits make some characters better at a particular task then others. For example, Zhang Fei is ‘Energetic’ which gives him an extra 5% movement range and has a skill called ‘Reach’ which adds another 25% movement range, thus making him a better Commanding General than someone who only has ‘Reach’.
10. Check for Ancillaries with set bonuses. Hovering over the bonus will tell you if you own all pieces(equipped or not). Some sets or even just Ancillaries have amazing effects so there are a lot of ways to use them to your advantage.
11. In early turns, look for opportunities to marry good units into your faction before they are taken. You can divorce your characters wife to do ‘Receive Marriage’ if you can’t find a single lady to do the job.
12. You can Swap Units to upgrade an army to better units or different unit types rather than Disbanding them. This also gives you more units to start with so they don’t take as long to muster/replenish. This also takes advantage of any bonus levels you normally get when “recruiting”.
13. You can Recall a General to keep the General and his units, but not have to pay upkeep on them. You can Re-Deploy them later and they will have the same units.
14. Generals that are Administrators and aren’t currently in a deployed army have their Retinue added to the garrison of the city they are the Administrator of for no upkeep cost.
15. You can lower Re-Deployment cost by 25% up to 75% by having a General with the ‘Flexibility’ skill as your Faction Leader, Prime Minister, and/or Heir. This can be further improved to 100% or beyond by building 5 ‘Training Camp’ and/or by using Reforms.
16. You can have all your units start at level 7, Level 8 if Infantry or Archer Cavalry, and level 9 if Melee/Shock Cavalry or Peasantry by having your Faction Leader, Prime Minister, and Heir have the ‘Understanding’ skill, building a ‘Training Camp’ then having your units recruited/swapped there, also having a ‘White Horse Fellows Raiding Parties’, and having the proper Reforms for Infantry, Shock Cavalry, and Peasantry. Theoretically, you could get level 7 of any unit/8 Peasantry units by Turn 15 if you do things properly.
17. You can reduce recruitment costs by 116% and Upkeep by 90% on Cavalry by taking the 4 ‘Horse Pastures’ in the north and upgrading them to max, then mixing that with a ‘Blacksmith’ building and getting the proper reforms.
18. You can see most info about anything about the UI by pressing F1 while in it’s screen. You can use this to find things that you may not have noticed before and get a short explanation about them.
19. Strategists (the blue Generals) earn tactics as they level. These tactics apply to all units in their army but some tactics can only be used on certain unit types (‘Spear Wall’ on spear units for example). For this reason, having 1 Strategist in every army is a good idea.
Stop Enemy from Running Away
How does this work? Well when you hover over the enemy unit, you will see that it has a circle. This circle is generally used to indicate it’s reinforcement range, but also determines whether or not it attacks your unit when it moves. If your unit is in this circle during the enemies turn, they are forced to either stay still or attack it.
Here is the issue, you can’t enter this circle without attacking. But once you’ve attacked, the enemy is given the option to Withdraw. The solution to this is the Backspace. If you attack the enemy unit, wait until your unit has entered their circle, but haven’t attacked them yet, then click Backspace and leave the unit where it is; the enemy will not be allowed to move from it’s current position and will either attack your unit or encamp itself. If it encamps itself, then you attack it next turn and then attack it again if it attempts to run away.
Doing this, enemies will no longer be able to run from even the slowest of armies provided you can get close enough to attack at least once.
Press ‘R’ to change speeds
However, most people don’t know you can use this on the campaign map as well. If you press ‘R’ while on the campaign map, it will cause all army movements, both yours and the enemies, to speed up. They won’t become fatigued but it will save you time watching them so your games pace will pick up a little bit.
WARNING! If you are trying to use the previous tip to attack an enemy who is running away, you will have trouble timing Backspace correctly if you speed up your units so try to have armies at regular speed when using this trick.
In order to avoid this time consuming work, you can just go to the top-left corner of the screen and click the option ‘Quick Deal’ next to ‘Negotiate’. This ‘Quick Deal’ screen it like ‘Negotiate’ but reverse. Instead of going to the person and looking to make a deal, seeing how they respond, you go to the deal and the right side of the screen shows everyone’s response to it.
So let’s say you want to see if anyone can be vassalized. You go to ‘Quick Deal’, find ‘Create Vassal’ then see who is willing to become your vassal. If they are colored green, and it says ‘Yes’ next to them, then that means you can vassalize them without getting anything, and they might even pay you something. If they are blue and it says ‘Maybe’ then you will have to persuade them with gifts or force to get them to agree to the deal. And if they are colored red, then ‘No’ means no.
Speed up construction
When you choose to do anything with a building, some new text shows up on the picture telling you what the building is doing and how many turns it will take. An ‘X’ appears in the top right and if you look carefully, a coin appears at the bottom of the picture. When you hover over the coin, it tells you how much money it will take for instant construction.
This price is based on a multitude of factors which I haven’t quite figured out yet, but basically seems to go like this. The more expensive the building, the higher the level, and the more turns it has left until completion, the higher the cost. This cost on average seems to be about the cost of the building itself. So to instant construct a building that costs you 1100, it will cost around 1100 extra to instantly complete. 2600 for the building = ~2600 to instant complete. So this may not be useful very often.
However, if you are downgraded or demolishing something, you get money refunded and if you decide to instantly finish either of them, it will cost you half what you were refunded. So if you’ve taken over a city and don’t want to wait to start building your own stuff, you can still get some profit even if you instantly demolish it.
To combat corruption, you can put an administrator in the commandery which reduces corruption by 30%. You can assign someone to ‘Counteract Corruption’ which is learned from a yellow skill called ‘Stability’ (looks like a mountain) and can be learned by Commanders(yellow) and Sentinels(purple). This reduces corruption in a commandery by 50%.
Those are okay but the real way to fight corruption is through buildings. There are buildings in the ‘State Workshop’ and ‘Administration Office’ branches of building that decrease corruption. The best of these are the ‘Grand Treasury Mint’ and ‘Office for Archives and Seals’ which decrease the corruption of their commandery and every commandery surrounding them by 15% and 20% respectively.
So basically, if you have 1 of the two in every commandery, you will never have corruption anywhere again because they stack with each other. Now you just need to decide which one to build based on what else you build there.
Tax Level and Tax Exemption
At the top of your screen is an option called Treasury, which you can also get to by pressing the ‘7’ hotkey. Inside of the menu that pops up is a detailed account of your Income and Expenses. This includes how much money you had last turn, how much you have this turn, and how much you will have next turn with how things are currently going. On this menu there is also a section called ‘Tax Level’ which has a slider. As you move the slider to the right, tax rate and food from farming increase while public order decreases. As you move the slider left, the opposite occurs.
By using this slider, you can manipulate your income in order to get the most out of your land. If your public order is high while food or money is low, increase your ‘Tax Level’. If your public order is low and you can afford to give up some food and money, decrease it instead. This will help you keep your people happy while also getting everything that you can out of them.
But what if your public order is high in all cities except one? Well if you go to that city and check out the bottom left corner, there is a checkbox labeled ‘Tax Exemption’. If you check that box, then you will lose all income and food generated by that commandery, but gain +25 public order every turn(compared to +15 from having the lowest ‘Tax Level’). This can be good getting all of your commanderies on the same page when it comes to public order so that you can more easily adjust them using the ‘Tax Level’ slider without having to worry about loss of income or a rebellion occurring.
Commandery Buffs/Building Tips
If a land is high in fertility, it increases food production and peasantry income by 25%. These seem to generally occur in commanderies that naturally have sources of food production and peasantry income, but not always.
If a land is low in fertility, it decreases peasantry income by 25% but not food production. These places tend to not have sources of peasantry income naturally but again, this isn’t always the case.
Some places produce food naturally, some commerce income, some peasantry, industry, and some don’t have any kind of production and just give access to a trade good.
So what should you build where? Well to answer that question fully in detail would require a guide of it’s own, but I can give some recommendations.
1. If fertility is low, avoid making buildings that increase Peasantry Income or Population Growth. Look at it’s extra buildings to decide what should go there.
2. If fertility is high, maybe build some Food Production, Peasantry Income and Population Growth buildings. Try to look at it’s extra buildings first to see if it’s worthwhile then go from there.
3. If it’s neither then build completely based on the extra buildings.
If the building is Commerce(blue) or Industry(purple) build a ‘Grand Guest House'(Inn), ‘Silk Expedition Trading Post'(Marketplace), ‘Office for Archives and Seals'(Administration Office), ‘Grand State Workshop'(State Workshop), and ‘Master Lacquerware Artisans'(Private Workshop) to maximize profits and get rid of corruption.
If the building is Peasantry(green) then depending on how much extra food you have saved up, build either ‘Magnate Estates'(Land Development) and ‘Winnowing Machine Workshop'(Government Support) for more food, or ‘Livestock Market of the Commandery Capital'(Land Development) and ‘Grand Irrigation Canals'(Government Support) for more money at the cost of food. Along with these, build a ‘Office for Archives and Seals'(Administration Office), ‘Province Administration of Han Empire'(Tax Collection), and ‘Grand Temple of Confucius'(Confucian Temples) for maximizing your peasantry income and possibly food production.
Now I understand that you can’t always build all these things because of reform restrictions, so I would go for building a ‘Grand Treasury Mint'(State Workshop) instead of an ‘Office for Archives and Seals'(Administration Office) until you are far enough in the game to have the reform needed to build it. As stated earlier, corruption can kill your game so you don’t want to put it off until it’s too late.
Maximizing Traits/Skills/Attributes/Equipment Sets/Job Positions
Traits sometimes only take effect when the character is performing a certain task and that is why it is important to pay attention to them. For example, if a character increases campaign movement speed, they might do well in the army. If they get extra cover when spying, then they should be a spy.
Also pay attention to how ambitious a character is. If they get “increased penalty from desire for higher office” then you should be sure to check if they will do well in an administration position. If they will, great! Put them in one. If not, then you should be wary that they may defect if you don’t cater to their every need and desire and constantly promote them….might just want to let them go if they are so unhappy and aren’t useful for anything. And if their trait “Increases ambition to gain independence as administrator”, then you should either not put them in an administrator position(unless they are very very good, or have traits to decrease their ambition) or be prepared to either continuously tell them no, they can’t have their own commandery before paying them to be happy, or accept them as a vassal while giving up a commandery to them.
Similarly to traits, there are skills that improve certain tasks. There aren’t nearly as many of these and these are something you have some control over. The can only be gotten on certain character types and at certain levels depending on where their tree starts. If a character has many traits related to their type (blue traits for a strategist for example) then they generally become legendary at low levels.
Now if you put equipment together into this mix, then you can turn a powerful character into a godlike character. For example, you could make a Strategist(blue) who has all blue traits put on equipment that will all come together to have archery units with 200% Ammunition, 50% increased fire rate, 20% Melee Evasion, have fire arrows, perform night attacks, can deploy outside of the normal range for an ambush during battle, and have increased ambush chance outside of battle.
This can be applied to spying, commandery administration, faction leader/prime minister/heirs, and even just people who you send on assignments. While so many things about this are randomized, there is such an enormous amount of traits out there that you can almost always find someone that can be useful, even if they can’t min-max to godlike standards.
- Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Guide for Beginners
- Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Sun Jian Legendary Campaign Guide
- Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – 100% Achievements
- Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Fast Infinite Money Guide
- Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Generals Guide