Other Total War: Three Kingdoms Guides:
- Getting Started.
- Beginner's Guide (Tips and Tricks).
- Advanced Tips and Tricks.
- Damage Types and Effects.
- Spies & Espionage Guide.
- Zone of Control Guide.
- Administrators Guide.
- Commandery Guide.
- Fortifications Guide.
- Formations Guide.
- Diplomacy Guide.
- Factions Guide.
- Terrain Guide.
- Fatigue Guide.
- Armies Guide.
- Unit Abilities.
- Battle Types.
- Siege Guide.
- Court Guide.
- Duels Guide.
- Unit Types.
Morale is the measure of a unit’s willingness to fight. Each unit has a morale rating, which generally differs according to a unit’s quality. Inexpensive conscript units will begin the battle with a lower maximum morale than grizzled veterans, for example, making them more likely to flee the battle when faced with the horrors of war.
Understanding how to reduce enemy morale within individual units, across retinues, and across entire armies, can transform your success in battle. The art of Total War lies in stacking negative morale modifiers and creating a force-multiplier for morale loss to swiftly break a unit’s spirit and force it to rout.
The icon that hovers above a unit indicates the weaponry it is armed with, how many men are left, and the unit’s morale. This icon acts as a gauge. As the unit loses troops, the gauge drops. When it begins flashing, this indicates that the unit’s morale is wavering. Shortly after this, a white flag will replace the unit’s weaponry symbol to indicate that the unit is routing, at which point it will turn tail and run from the fight.
There are many events in battle which will reduce a unit’s morale. A unit that stands alone in the field, loses individual soldiers, gets attacked in the flank or rear, or becomes surrounded and outnumbered in combat will suffer morale loss. This makes flanking an important tactic. Three units attacking a single unit in the front, side and rear will rapidly reduce its morale and force it to rout.
A unit that routs will also deal an area-effect morale penalty to any nearby friendly units.
If a character falls in battle, all units within that character’s retinue will suffer a morale penalty.
Some characters and units have the scare or terror traits. Proximity to entities with these traits will negatively impact an opposing unit’s morale. Terror is a more powerful effect than scare.
When a unit disengages from combat, its morale will begin to return. However, a unit that has lost significant numbers of individual soldiers will have its maximum morale level reduced, meaning it will be more likely to rout for the duration of the battle.
Characters can make a tremendous difference to unit morale. Those with a high authority attribute, or with specific skills (such as rally) or traits (such as encourage) broadcast a passive morale-buff in a radius around themselves, which has a positive effect on the morale of nearby friendly units.
When a unit’s morale has been suitably reduced, its unit icon will begin flashing to indicate that the unit is wavering. Unless it manages to withdraw from melee, it will imminently rout. When the unit’s weaponry symbol is replaced with a white flag in its the unit icon, the unit has routed and will attempt to flee the field by the most convenient route.
Routing troops are uncontrollable until their morale rises again to a certain threshold, at which point their armament symbol will return, they will cease fleeing and become responsive to orders once again.
Due to their high speed, cavalry are excellent at chasing off routing units, harassing them so their morale remains below the routing threshold, until they flee the field or become shattered.
When a unit is so reduced in number that it cannot recover its morale, it will become shattered. Its unit icon will disappear altogether to be replaced with a white flag. Shattered troops will flee the field with no possibility of returning.