An explanation of the game mechanics and how they function. This is not a handbook or a beginner’s tutorial. Rather, it should be used as a reference for mechanics that you may have already noticed or are curious about.
Definitive Guide to Game Mechanics
Basic Concepts – Rarity
Things like weapons, items, gems, titles and so on have Ranks, which are represented by colors. These are the same as Dynasty Warriors 9.
- Common – White
- Uncommon – Green
- Rare – Blue
- Legendary – Purple
- Epic – Yellow
Basic Concepts – Fame
There are 6 types of Fames (Until the English version is released, I will be using the 7 Empires terminology):
Unlike 7 Empires where these fames would determine your Stratagem Tree, in here, you are not tied to 1 fame, meaning you can get them all at max in one playthrough, and by doing that, you also unlock all Titles.
Although less important here, but it’s interesting to point out, each of these have “opposites”, they are as follows:
- Brave vs Wise
- Affluent vs Orderly
- Kind vs Evil
Fames will influence your playthrough in the following points:
Interaction with other characters will be easier or harder to improve.
All characters have certain personalities, and you trying to interact with them will result in more or less points depending on your fame levels. All characters have 2 fames that they like, and 2 they dislike.
For example: Liu Bei likes “Kind” and “Affluent”, but dislikes “Orderly” and “Evil”. If your levels are all 10, this means you get +10 (Kind) and +10 (Affluent), but subtracts the half of the other 2, in their cases (10+10) / 2 which is equal to 10. Thus +20 -10 will result on 10. Add 3 as basics for mere interaction and you will get + 13 each time you call him for a lunch.
So who you will be able to befriend early on will suffer some influence based on what status of your fame you will level up first.
Unlock new titles.
More information about these in the next section.
Titles offer Unique stratagems, unlocking them will also reward you with a new stratagem and possibly new types of units beyond the basics Sword, Horse and Bow.
Unlocking new Titles will also increase the amount of actions you can do on strolling (Starts at 3).
To unlock new titles, you have to level up different fames:
- Rare (Blue): You need at least one status, either Kind or Evil at 2, and any of the other 4 at Lvl 2. There are 6 of these. You can now do 4 Actions on Strolling.
- Legendary (Purple): You need Lvl 5 into different fames, there are options for all combinations. There are 12 of these. You can now do 5 Actions on Strolling.
- Epic (Yellow): You need Lvl 10 in 2 fames, any combination just the same. There are 12 of these. You can now do 6 Actions on Strolling.
Equipped titles will grant you multipliers at gaining fame. It’s important to point out that all Titles are either Good or Evil, represented by the twinkles or the purple thunder at its icon.
There is a list of titles next to the option to select the one for your CAW, and you will see a large amount of Epic titles. Those are for the unique characters, and are exclusive to them. Also, the DLC CAWs also have exclusive titles for themselves.
- Rare: +50% to Kind or Evil (-50% to the other), 50% to one Fame (-25% to its opposite).
- Legendary: +65% to Kind or Evil (-50% to the other), 65% to one fame, +25% to another, -15% to either of the remaining 2 fames (0% to the remaining one).
- Epic: +80% to Kind or Evil (-50% to the other), +80% to one fame, 50% to another, and 25% to either of the remaining 2 fames (0% to the remaining one).
The values shown when you are selecting your monthly order or large stratagems are already calculated from this, this means that at any point you can change your title among your unlocked ones to maximize your Fame gain, although that is going to take some annoying micro managing to do.
Titles will also influence your drop rate / gifts. The rates are fixed by rarity, but each of them will push different types of stratagems, so if you want a more specific stratagem, check out some list with their rarity and type (May build one myself in the future).
- Common: 100% Common
- Rare: 30% Common, 40% Rare, 30% Legendary
- Legendary: 10% Common, 40% Rare, 30% Legendary, 20% Epic
- Epic: 5% Common, 20% Rare, 45% Legendary, 30% Epic
The title’s icon already is a representative of their “Way of Life” setting (from 8 Empires). All of them are either Kind or Evil.
- Kind = 2 twinkles
- Evil = 2 purple thunders
The other 3 icons are (For lack of better translation right now):
- A simple Headgear = Fierce General
- Headgear with a tail = Brave General
- Emperor Hat = “Admiral”
You can see it in all main characters that have their unique titles fixed. I haven’t exactly understood how they are supposed to mean, but the way I interpret it is:
- Fierce – Goes to the frontlines, like Lu Bu, Xiahou Dun and Guan Yu
- Brave – Is a recognized strength, but is more of a leader to the army, like Liu Bei and Cao Cao, although Zhao Yun is also here. For some reason, figures like Dong Bai and Xiaoqiao are in setting too.
- “Admiral” – Is either a pure strategist or a straight out politician, like Chen Gong, Xun Yu, Zhuge Liang, and the non fighters like Diaochan.
In regards to CAWs, do not forget to change their initial Title in Edit Mode after you unlock them, this way, they will appear with the selected Title during new campaigns.
All officers (Originals, Generics and CAWs) will start with a Common Title when you start a campaign as them, so you unlock the rest away, with Originals and DLC CAWs having one Unique Epic Title that only they can unlock.
First, you need a “Vessel”, they have 5 rarities, and one elemental attribute.
There are 7 attributes, just like the main game, thus you will be able to unlock 7 Vessels for each rarity:
Depending on the rarity of the vessel you will be able to have more slots to add Gems.
There are Gems for each of the 7 attributes, but there is a new Gem type called “All” (The icon looks like “Light”), which will boost the level for any element. Not aligning the gem with the element will get you the perks of the gem, but nothing on the attribute, so keep that in mind. Non-Elemental doesn’t have an element, nor a level to fill up.
The vessel will determine what element you will have on your weapon. Keep this in mind, so even if you add Slash Gems onto an Ice Vessel, you will only get Ice, so be sure to set it up with other Ice/All Gems.
There is also no restriction on gem rarity on lower level vessels, so you can have 1 Epic Gem on a 1 slot Common Vessel. This means that after you start getting Epic Gems, you may just want to sell everything lower…
However, although you can have a Common Weapon with an Epic Vessel, you cannot have a Common Vessel outside a Common Weapon (You will unlock the weapons and bows automatically once you get a vessel of a new rarity). This means that if you want to lower your attack power, you can have an epic vessel, and select a lower rarity Weapon. But you cannot select a higher rarity weapon with a lower rarity vessel. This will be useless information for over 95% of you reading this, but there may be some weirdos out there.
Gems have random status effects, and can be equipped on the vessel, so prepare yourself for the hell of random gems from DW9, where you have too many that you don’t care anymore and have to sell, although here selling them is discarding, because they value 0 gold…
You can set up to 4 stratagems, you use them with the Guard button (L1 or LB), and a directional input. They will grant a variety of effects in the battlefield, but unlike 7 Empires or 8 Empires, there is no summoning of external entities.
I tried to keep track of it, but I didn’t get very stable conclusions, but it felt like some of them (if not all) may use your troop count, although you can still use them even when it’s zero’d, they are just going to be very hard to charge again though.
There are different types of Stratagems:
- Attack – Effects like: Releases an Elemental “Spell” in your surroundings (Each attribute has different Ranges and AOE, but they are the same among multiple cards); Embeds an element to your weapon; There are also negative effects like reducing effect or taking longer to charge the more you use it; There are also cases of taking a small chunk of HP for a higher level effect. So be careful.
- Self-Enhancement – Effects like: Increasing your Attack/Defense/Speed; Sometimes tied with a recovery of HP.
- Ranged-Enhancement: Effects like: Increasing Attack or Defense of Allies (usually tied with a Self-Enhancement effect [the bad ones too]).
- Recovery – Effects like: Instantly recover HP; Instantly recover Musou; Gradual recovery HP; Recovery of allies’ HP
- Special – Effects like: Increase the Stratagem gauge for the other 3 cards or temporarily disable compatibility of your unit (the “Sword > Horse > Bows > Sword” thingy)
The cards also have “costs”.
In DW8 Empires we had a bar with a number of “ticks”, and the cost would decrease a number of those ticks, meaning you would have to wait to have enough to use the stratagem. But we don’t have such bar anymore, so at best, Cost is likely related to how long it takes to charge the Stratagems (meaning, even Common cards have use having lower effects, but more constant to use.).
Another point to take in is the number of Stars in a Stratagem, as you get repeated ones, they will rank up like this:
- 1 Star > 2 Stars > 3 Stars > 4 Stars > 1 Big Star
However no visible improvement is seen besides “Gotta collect them all”. Cost is not reduced, Rarity doesn’t change, nor are the effects changed.
If you get them a 6th+ times however, you get 100 Gold instead… Quite miserable.
At the start of a battle, you and some officers may offer a Strategy for the battle, these Strategems also build up your Fame and friendship with the officer, the number of the stars is the difficulty. It’s important to point out not all strategies are equal in how they hit the enemy or protect you.
The Large Strategy will involve a small mission, they usually range from:
- Capture 3 or 4 specific bases.
- Protect 3 or 4 specific new non-named officers (Engineers, Taoists, etc)
- A mix between Capture, Protect and Defeat non-named officers.
- Defeat a specific number of enemy officers (named and non-named) that will come at you.
- Defeat a number of enemies while protecting a non-named officer.
- Guide non-named officers to a certain location, protect them from an ambush.
Some example of these strategies (Names are provisional until we get an official English version):
- Night Attack: You have 3 minutes to claim 3 specific bases with no enemy generals around, if you accomplish it, all enemy generals will appear weakened.
- Juggernauts (Attack) / Ballistas (Defense): Protect 3~4 engineers for a determined amount of time, both from generals or exclusive enemy spawns that will aim specifically for each of these engineers. Once summoned, a number of Juggernauts / Ballistas based on the number of saved engineers will spawn and support you for the rest of the battle.
- Summon Elemental Beast: Either protect summoners, or capture specific bases, once finished, a Elemental Beast will support you for the rest of the battle.
- Elemental Field: Similarly, either protect or capture mission, once finished, the field will spawn Elemental attacks for the rest of the fight (Ground Explosions for Fire, Icicle rain for Ice, Thunder Storm for Thunder, Tornadoes for Wind, and Poison Swamps for Poison. No Slash).
- Allied Reinforcements: Get 3 non-named officers to the meeting point, but non-named enemy officers will spawn there, so do help them.
- Show your might: Spawn alone in battle, and kill 3 specific officers or capture 3 specific bases, once you accomplish it, all your officers will spawn strengthened, but if you fail, they spawn weakened.
- Grab the enemy’s attention: Kill a number of enemies while protecting a spawned officer.
The enemy also has their own strategies, which will raise a sub-mission similar to the ones you have to do, but for the enemy side. They usually start slight before yours is ending or after it has been finished. Also, after failing one time, the enemy may try another Stratagem (Usually Bandit rioting). There are 2 exceptions I found that they use and you can’t:
Missions to capture 3 bases, but your real mission is to find the informant, and kill it, meaning, you can finish this in your first capture depending on your luck.
Elemental Beasts will be summoned instantly, and wreck havoc. Just order everyone away from it, and try to deal with it if you are confident. They are the “Do not pursue Lu Bu” of this game at first, and you will likely die the first times. It takes some time, but you get used to fighting them with better weapons and level.
In any case, all of these missions are either time based, are on the survival of the mission targets.
Fighting Elemental Beasts
Unlike other characters in the came that you can mash and stagger, Elemental Beasts aren’t as easy, and they can pack a big punch (They can’t OHKO (One Hit Knockout), but they will instantly leave you at 1HP at worst, so THKO (Two Hits Knockout)). Worst yet are their Ranged attacks, with my opinion the Flame Tiger being the worst.
To win, target the enemy to keep him always in check, and keep some distance. After he attacks his surroundings, try doing a combo, but Roll away if it feels like he plans on doing something. Rinse and repeat, taking to long may get other Generals to join the fight, which won’t be helpful at all.
Sometimes specific inputs will appear, telling you to do a Break, Stun or Launch attack. Do those and they will be stunned, but be careful of the timing, if you are attacking in another way, you may lose the chance.
The Lightning Bear is slower and easier to deal with, the Lightnings are easy to predict, and his attacks are open.
The Wind Wolf will summon tornadoes around himself constantly, just keep away from those, or try to approach where they are not.
The Flame Tiger can release a Fireball from his face straight forward himself, it will explode even if no one is there, it can also summon explosions from the ground right under you, so jump away as soon as you see it, and keep on jumping until you are safe. And if he starts summoning fireballs all around himself, run away from him and wait for those to explode.
A mistake may just cost all of your HP when you are starting the game, or you are fighting in a disadvantage.
- Father/Mother – If you CAW was created at the end of another playthrough, they will be tied to those parents. This means that when you play with that character, the compatibility with his/her Father and Mother is 100%. You just need to meet them and invite them into your party. In battle they also have unique phrases about their role as father/mother, or their child prowess in battle. But that’s all there is, I think you can also get them as Sworn Siblings (I had the option show, but I already had everything filled), although you likely can’t marry them.
- Sworn Sibling – This time you can have 3 of them instead of 2. They will always be with you, and never be your enemy. Their favorability will always maxed too, this means that they can never be hired by another Kingdom, and if you leave yours, they will leave together with you. But they can die (in battle to get a specific Event, or executed among captured soldiers), and that slot cannot be filled with someone else.
- Spouse – Same rules as a Sworn Siblings, the different is that they stand by your side on meetings, and you have a child in the post credits of your game, so they will influence the child.
Sworn Siblings and Spouses will sometimes call you to give you presents, certain characters can give you unique gifts, like special horses (Red Hare with Lu Bu, Guan Yu or Dong Zhuo, Shadow Runner with Cao Cao, Hex Mark with Liu Bei or Pang Tong, and White Horse with Zhao Yun).
Unlike the previous recent games that added this concept, in DW9 Empires, a Child only happens at the end of the game, so they will always appear so long as you are married, unlike before where you had to wait until they appeared to then finish the game.
Thanks to the new highly customizable system, the child will have facial characteristics of their parents, even if at least one of the parents are not CAWs, so that’s an improvement (Careful with Lu Bu’s children, mind you, you have been warned).
Another thing is that the child will appear straight in the Edit Mode, meaning you have to give it a name, so although it will give you a full on character just lacking a name, you can still completely edit it, including changing gender (which you couldn’t before), so essentially, the game gives you a Male and Female versions of the child, and you can select which one you want, but the one that appears first is random. One thing you can’t edit is the Base Status type.
As explained before, children have full favorability from their parents, besides unique interactions. Beyond that, there is a chance their base status come as “Genius”, which is the highest ranked for base status, meaning that, if you want to make strong CAWs, you may want to base them from children instead of making them from scratch. However, I have no idea how to trigger that, my first child (Normal CAW + Unique Character) had it, but that one’s child didn’t (Genius CAW + Unique Character).
My current guess is that it may be based either on the Unique Parent (Lu Bu is too strong, thus it got my CAW with the slow but heavy hitter attack (Although Genius still has more base attack power), while more all-around characters may get the improved all-rounder version..
Empires Mode – Basics
A reminder of the basic parameters.
- Gold – Besides required to some orders, you can buy gems and arrows.
- Supplies – Besides required to some orders, you need it to invade other territories (Not defend).
- Monthly Gold Income – Once you gain a territory, or work under the ruler of a territory, this will indicate how much Gold you will passively get each month (turn). You also require this to hire more officers. You can still get this value in the negatives, meaning it will eat up from the savings (Gold).
- Monthly Supply Income – Once you gain a territory, or work under the ruler of a territory, this will indicate how much Supplies you will passively get each month (turn). You also require this to hire more officers. You can still get this value in the negatives, meaning it will eat up from the savings (Supplies).
Another important point is that you have a number of troops under each character/general, based on your level, so they will define how much Supplies your and each of your generals will weight on each sortie, so it doesn’t matter if you have 8 generals with maxed troops, if you only have supplies to send 2 of them to battle.
When an officer joins into a new Kingdom, that count will be reset back to 0, and will build up slowly as normal each month, or if you use orders to recover it faster. This rule also includes extra territories that you got by defeating a ruler, even if they did not enter battle and saw no fight, the moment they join your Kingdom, their troops will be reset, so they will be weak and incapable of defending the extra territory.
Unlike previous Empires where you could use troops of adjacent territories to defend from an attack, in the current build at least, that doesn’t work, so you will need enough officers to fill in the places close to enemy territory. This also means that if a vagrant group rebels inside your territory, and you have only some random general in that territory (the minimum necessary), you either let them take it, or waste a turn to move soldiers there to defend.
Invasions from other Kingdoms will usually take only a single month, and if failed, it will only drop the defense level of the territory instead of being taken, however insurgencies are continuous and must be defended or else they won’t stop.
Similar to Officer’s Troop Count, Territories also have Defense Levels, and once they reach 0, the territory will be taken by the invading or insurgent force, otherwise, like in cases where you get multiple attacks at the same time, you have to weight on which is more important.
Empires Mode – Strolling
In this mode you get to interact with other characters, raise your friendship, visit places and so on. All landmarks, waypoints, towers and so on (Hideways have their own rule, explained ahead) that you unlock will remain unlocked for every playthrough ahead (used to teleport), so you are free to run around as you wish, although there isn’t much to do in this open world anymore.
All relevant parts of Strolling mode can be done through the Menu. Strolling is fully and completely optional.
You have a number of Actions that can be done in one turn (the number can be seen at the top right of the menu).
Starting an interaction with someone, or asking them to escort you will require 1 action each. Interactions with an Exclamation Point are actions started by the other side, so they don’t count in your actions.
You can increase the amount of actions by unlocking a new Tier of Titles, as explained in the Titles section.
Exclamation Point events are usually:
- You are building up friendship with someone, and they want to raise it with you too.
- Confession / Sworn Sibling Request.
- Someone selling themselves to join your ranks.
The officers that can be found in strolling mode are usually either Free Officers, or officers of your Kingdom that are not executing an order (You can see their faces next to the orders, which will boost that order’s effects. So if you see them there, you won’t see them on strolling mode).
If you are a Free Officer, you can see and talk with officers all around the map, you can also go all around and enter any city, post at the request board to meet any character. However, the only Hideaway available will be the one in the territory you are currently in.
If you join a Kingdom, all Hideaways in the territory of your Kingdom will be available, with the main one being the territory you are currently positioned at. However all other Hideaways will be locked. You will also be unable to enter cities outside your territory, as all the gates will be closed. This also means that no more talking with Free officers outside your territory, so if you are eyeing someone, either try moving to that territory, and/or don’t get invited to any Kingdom that is not from the territory.
A reminder that all teleportable points outside the Hideways will forever be unlocked, so fell free to unlock those.
Another thing you can do, which can be supported by having an escort, is to go catch Bandits or Hunt. Each Bandit will give you 2 Gold, each Hunt will give you 5 amount of Supplies. So it’s a way to get free stuff (Kill 500 enemies to get 1000 Gold, which can be gotten with the simplest Money Order, although you do spend 1 turn without interacting with others, but even like that, it’s a waste of time).