Honestly I don't like the typical mass combat, I just want to win battles with generals alone if I can, because that minimizes my casualties. And this is a guide on how to optimize your play for that goal.
Other Total War: Three Kingdoms Guides:
- Getting Started.
- Advanced Tips and Tricks.
- Beginner's Guide (Tips and Tricks).
- How to Unlock Dong Faction (Easy Way).
- Resources and Campaign Maps.
- Damage Types and Effects.
- Spies & Espionage Guide.
- Zone of Control Guide.
- Administrators Guide.
- Unit Types.
Stats and Equipment
The official help and guides are actually quite misleading in terms of what type of generals are better at what. They say that red is the best at taking out troops and green is best at taking out enemy generals etc, that's actually quite inaccurate.
First of all, we don't really care about dueling power because it is often the entire point of initiating duels to stop what we are trying to achieve here. We don't want to get stuck with a single general, we want to go in there and kill everybody.
Now let's look at the stats:
- Purple: Increase melee evade
- Green: Increase HP
- Red: Increase melee damage
- Blue: Increase ammo for ranged units
- Yellow: Increase morale
For our purposes, morale is the least important and often useless. If you got to the point where you are relying on your moral to not run away, you're doing it wrong. Blue is obviously useless unless you have archers under that specific general, which you may or may not need.
The official tutorials will have you believe that red is the best for killing people but it's just not true, this is because regular units have very low HP compared to generals, and having 1k or 2k damage makes no difference, both will kill them in one hit.
In fact for the purpose of killing people and single handedly winning battles, you want these stats:
- Attack speed
- Horse speed
- Horse mass
- Melee evade
- Charge bonus
I have found that the best general for slaughtering troops is Zhao Yun, who has very high purple and green stats. Zhang Fei can also generate high kill numbers but that's mostly inflated by the kills he gets from chasing down units after the battle has already ended, since he gets a huge buff to speed after you win. Zhao Yun since he is a purple general, he can equip swords which attack faster than the weapons used by red and green generals which is also a huge advantage for him.
The reason you want highest purple and green is because any general can one shot a bunch of troops so attack doesn't matter, instead you want to last for as long as possible, be incredibly tanky so you have more time to attack yourself.
Attack speed should be self-explanatory, since regular troops are so weak, the more you attack, the more you can kill.
Horse is actually very important for generals because like any other cavalry, you don't want to just have your general be in melee and fence with enemy troops, instead you want to cycle charge your generals as well. So horse mass and speed will allow you to do that better without getting stuck in the crowd.
Some equipment in the game reduce some of your stats, for example -15 intinct (red). You want to give these items to generals that are weak in that stat anyway. For example Zheng Jiang is actually so low in purple that she has zero evade anyway, so a weapon with -15 experience (purple) would just be perfect for her. Even if you got a +15 purple weapon for her, it won't boost her evade in any meaningful way.
Also you want to evenly distribute the stats rather than maximizing one stat, unless that one stat is purple. So for Lu Bu it is more important that his equipment give + purple rather than + red because his attacks are already so strong he can one shot some yellow generals there is no point getting any more attack, any soldier his attack touches will always be dead anyway.
Also like I mentioned, blue and yellow are basically useless for our generals. If you want a proper army with good archers, bring a strategist instead of trying to add blue stat to your fighting generals.
It's not a good idea to go into battle with just generals because then your army is technically outmatched and your generals get a morale debuff from the disadvantage. Also not every enemy will be weak enough for you to beat with just your generals, unless you have Lu Bu + Zhao Yun + Zhang Fei in one army.
The first most helpful unit to have in your army would be light melee cavalry, and their job is quite simple, chase after routing units until you shatter their moral. When units first rout their icon will still be red, this means they can still regroup after they run away for a while, you don't want this to happen so what you do is once a unite routs, you assign a cavalry unit to chase it down while your generals concentrate on fighting everyone else.
Obviously as mentioned above, if you want your troops to really help, bring loads of archers because when the enemy units are swarming all over your generals, they are extremely vunerable to missile fire because they are so bunched together, but I think that's already going outside of the scope of what we want to accomplish here. Ideally what we want to zero casualties AND zero troop involvement.
In the image you can see I've just got a bunch of elite all-purpose polearm guys, they're just there to increase my army power so I can auto-resolve better. Usually they either guard my archers or just stand around and watch my generals slaughter everyone.
Do not dismount your generals and fight melee combat
While generals are strong in this kind of melee, they won't usually be strong enough to win the battle simply by fighting like this, even if against spear infantry.
Instead you want to take maximum advantage of two key abilities generals have:
- Generals can somehow kill people simply by running over them, without attacking.
- Generals can sometimes do an explosive charge when charging into infantry.
As you can see, both of these have to be performed while mounted, so again, don't dismount! And also don't duel people because that dismounts your general and you have to get back on to the horse which you sometimes cannot do because you are getting swarmed. In addition, like with regular cavalry, foot soldiers and other cavalry have less chance to attack you while you are riding on your horse so you just take less damage overall.
This image basically sums up what you want to be doing with your generals the WHOLE TIME. You want to charge people, and you want to run through a lot of enemies while doing so. This is because like I said, you can kill people simply by running over them, and they get no chance to attack you, and you can use your explosive charge attacks more often, and you use your charge bonus more often, and you can trick enemy archers to friendly fire into their own troops.
It is better if the enemy units are close together like this, and make sure you give the attack order onto the enemy unit in the back, because when you give attack order, cavalry goes into "charge" mode as they approach, doing more damage to the unit in the front. If you simply give the move order, they move slower and do less damage.
Once you are stuck in, lost your momentum, you DO NOT stay and melee fight the enemy, instead you give more attack orders to other units far away, so again you push through the crowd, run over a bunch of enemies and do another charge attack.
If you have to manage your own troops rather than micro manage your generals, a good trick to use is you just give an attack order to an enemy general. What this does is the generals will try to keep riding past each other to trade blows, and this will do a bunch of run over damage to the surrounding troops without you having to give a bunch of attack orders.
Ways to Heal
There are no heal spells for most factions but there are two ways to heal, one is you can just duel an enemy general, you take their health low so the dual will be short (because you have to win within like 90 seconds to get the most healing). You do have to be careful with this however, since you may end up losing more health from the duel than the heating bonus. Also the AI might not want to duel when their generals are about to die. Another good way to heal is if your generals have the oathsworn ability. Basically if you play as Liu Bei and your army consists of him with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, you can just let Liu Bei get stuck in, fight and die before the other two (because the other two have stronger base stats), and the other two will get the massive buff of immediately +50% health and +100% damage. This buff is so strong it's basically impossible to loose once you trigger it. Although sometimes Zhang Fei has morale issues, so you do need to have troops to keep up his morale.