Total War: Three Kingdoms – Armies Guide

Armies are used to protect your empire from military incursion by other factions, expand your empire by capturing new commanderies and counties, and defeat enemy armies in battle.

Other Total War: Three Kingdoms Guides:

Action Points

Your armies are granted action points at the beginning of each turn. Select an army and you will see its action points noted in the army panel. These action points are used to move across the map, attack enemy targets, and change stance. An army that has exhausted all its action points can do no more until the start of the next turn, when its action points will be replenished.

Army Cap

The number of armies you have in play at any time is limited. You can view this limit by mousing over your current rank in the faction summary panel. You can increase your army cap by improving your faction rank, assigning administrators to commanderies, and researching certain reforms. Some character traits also provide extra army cap.


Attrition is a negative effect suffered by armies that causes damage over time to its units and reduces its unit morale should a battle ensue while the effect is active. The main factor that causes attrition is low military supplies. This can be remedied by returning the army to your own or allied territory where reserves are present, at which point it will automatically begin to resupply. Attrition is indicated by the shadows of soldiers falling away from the army on the campaign map.


Characters may be recruited into an army as generals. An army may contain up to three generals, each of whom brings his or her own retinue of units. Generals may have up to six units in their personal retinue, and grant bonuses to those units according to their skills, abilities, traits and attributes.

Each army has an appointed commanding general, whose portrait is always placed at the far left of the army panel when the army is selected. The commanding general gains greater experience than other generals in the army and may grant bonuses to the entire army according to his skills, abilities, traits and attributes. A new commander may be assigned by selecting their portrait and clicking the ‘assign commanding general’ button in the army panel.

Generals can be moved out of the army, at which point they will form a new army with their retinue.

An army represents a close-proximity working environment, so character relations are important to consider when choosing characters for these positions.


Armies move at different speeds across the campaign map according to their stance and the kind of terrain they traverse. Difficult terrain such as forests, deserts, mountains and river-crossings will cost more action points to traverse. Grasslands offers swifter movement, and roads swifter still.

Military Supplies

An army requires military supplies to function optimally. Its supply levels are indicated by the military supplies bar in the army panel. When an army has higher supplies, it gains morale and replenishment bonuses. When an army’s supplies fall, it begins to suffer increasingly punitive attrition and morale penalties.

When an army is in a friendly or allied commandery, it gathers supplies. The rate at which it gathers is principally determined by the reserves in the commandery itself, which in turn is dictated by food levels across your empire. Negative reserves means fewer supplies. There are other factors which can contribute to supplies, such as the number of characters in the army, certain ancillary effects and so forth.

When an army crosses into enemy territory, it begins to consume its supplies turn by turn. Long periods of time spent in enemy territory without resupply, such as during an extended siege, can cripple an army, so it is a critical factor to monitor.


When a unit is recruited to an army, it takes some turns to reach its full size, reflecting the time it takes to gather and train new warriors. The number of warriors in an individual unit is represented by the health bar on its unit card. This fills accoridng to replenishment level in the commandery (which may be affected by the presence of certain characters, assignments, building effects and other factors), with a temporary bonus provided by the mustering effect.

Raise Army

New armies can be raised in your territory provided you haven’t hit your army cap. Select a commandery or county, click the ‘raise army’ button in the commandery panel, then choose an individual from the list of characters to become the overall army commander. You can then recruit up to two more characters to lead further retinues in the army, and recruit units into those retinues.


With an army selected and the army panel visible, you will see a button marked ‘recruit’ to the left of the army panel. This enables you to hire new generals and troops into the selected army. These can be added to each retinue by then clicking the plus symbols to the right of existing retinues. Hiring a new general into the army creates a new retinue, and that general will immediately populate their retinue with at least two units of their own, defined by their character class.

When recruiting units into a retinue, you will choose from a roster that the general of that retinue has access to according to his character class. This shows each unit’s recruitment cost, their seasonal upkeep cost and their mustering time. Recruitment can only be performed in territory you own.


An army that is within the zone of control of a friendly army or settlement which is attacked will join the battle as reinforcements. Likewise, an army that attacks a target while a friendly army (or settlement) is within its zone of control will gain the friendly army (or settlement garrison) as reinforcements when the battle commences.

Reinforcements do not deploy at the start of the battle along with the chief belligerents. When battle commences, they will march onto the battlefield from the outfield area. The exception to this rule is when an army has been stationed in a settlement. When a battle over that settlement begins, the stationed army will begin the battle within the settlement, alongside any settlement garrison.

Reinforcements are not available in night battles.


Damaged units and characters in an army will replenish to full health over time when stationed in territory you own. However, newly-captured territory may suffer from low faction support, which can negatively impact replenishment.

Other factors can also influence replenishment, such as military supplies, characters and the commandery’s population. When a unit is replenishing, you’ll see green plus symbols marked on its unit card in the army panel. Mousing over these will reveal the factors that are contributing to – or hindering – their replenishment.

Replenishment is disabled in neutral and enemy territory.


An army is composed of up to three retinues, each of which is led by a general, and may contain up to six units. To add a retinue to an army, you must first recruit a character to become its general. The character’s class defines which units he can recruit into his retinue. For example, only a Strategist may recruit artillery.


A single organised body of soldiers, armed and armoured identically, is known as a unit. In the campaign, units are recruited into army retinues and cost upkeep each turn to maintain.

In battle, the soldiers in each unit move and fight together, responding to orders as a single entity, and have a single combined morale rating which rises or falls according to the unit’s circumstances in the heat of battle. Units also suffer fatigue over time according to the orders they are given in battle, reducing their movement speed and effectiveness in combat.

In battle, units have a front, a flank and a rear. All units fight most effectively and gain the most defence against enemy weapons in the front. Units attacked in the flank and rear will fight less effectively in those directions, will take a greater deal of damage, will gain no bonus from their shields if they are so equipped, and will suffer extra morale penalties.

Units gather experience through battle, and their characteristics improve in line with their rise in rank. You can check a unit’s specific characteristics by selecting the unit in campaign or battle, and viewing the unit info panel on the left of the screen.


Every unit in an army costs income each turn. This represents wages, maintenance and logistics, and is known as their upkeep cost. More expensive and elite troops have a greater upkeep cost than cheaper, lower-tier units. Disbanding units from idle armies is a useful way to keep your running costs down. This can be done using the disband button which appears in the army panel when a unit card is selected.

You can view a unit’s upkeep cost by mousing over its unit card and scrutinising the unit information panel on the left of the screen. You can view an army’s overall upkeep cost in the left-hand section of the army panel. You can view your factionwide army upkeep costs by hovering over the income symbol at the top-left of the main campaign screen.

You can view a complete breakdown of your incomings and outgoings by clicking the treasury button.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13569 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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