Lu Bu has one of the most unique and refreshing campaigns in Total War: Three Kingdoms and your campaign in A World Betrayed will present you with numerous challenges. Since you’ve already checked out our guide regarding his faction mechanics, it’s time to focus on your progression.
Note: This guide was completed while playing Romance Mode on VH/VH difficulty. For more information, check out our Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed guides and features hub.
A World Betrayed: Lu Bu’s opening moves
In Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed, try to always play battles manually as Lu Bu. You’ll get the opportunity to duel other generals and winning nets you an extra point of Momentum. You’ve also got the “Military Markets” reform unlocked which adds deployables in battles, perfect for making mincemeat of AI forces.
As for your officers, Chen Gong is with Lu Bu’s army, but he hates your guts so much that he’s probably screaming “Aiya! Fengxian!” each turn. Come to think of it, most of your generals dislike you too. Well, maybe except for Diaochan — she and Lu Bu are lovers even though the latter already has his wife Lady Yan with him. “Among horses, Red Hare; among Chads, Lu Bu,” as the old Chinese saying goes.
- Defeat Xiahou Dun and you’ll get one tally completion for a Greatest Warriors bonus. You’ll also have the “Rebel Leader” buff (seen above) which greatly lowers officer salary and retinue upkeep for 10 turns.
- Choose maintain momentum to reset your movement points and rush Xiahou Yuan to complete this Greatest Warriors set.
- Choose maintain momentum again and use your normal movement to go as far south as possible.
- You’ll get a mission to have a total of 12 units recruited, so go ahead and deploy Zhang Liao’s retinue.
- You’ll notice that you ranked up to Second Marquis, so assign a couple of officers to their new court positions. Once you invoke the council for additional tasks, your mission to recruit 12 units will get completed too.
- Change your heir to Lady Yan (Lu Bu’s wife) due to her bonuses, and the fact that Lu Ji/Lu Lingqi won’t come of age until turn 22.
- Propose trade agreements with Liu Chong and Zang Ba since they’re the only ones who are receptive enough.
- Cao Cao and Xun Yu will attack Chen capital at the end of your previous turn. You’ll likely lose with your garrison forces, but try to inflict as many casualties as possible. After this battle, you’ll notice that Cao Cao marched further north (seen in the image above).
- Once it’s your turn, annihilate Cao Cao’s army (you’ll get Greatest Warriors tallies for Cao Cao and Yue Jin).
- Besiege Chen capital.
- Xun Yu will attack you while you’re besieging the city when you end the previous turn. Annihilate his army.
- Once it’s your turn again, capture Chen capital.
- Check your Momentum bar and start some officer assignments. You should be able to pick the “Inspire Commandery” assignment which confers a lot of boons, including construction perks.
- It’s also a good idea to set Zhang Liao as an administrator (for the construction bonus).
- Field a second army and replenish a bit. You should have enough gold next turn to recruit an extra retinue as well, though your GPT will be slightly in the red.
Turn 4 to 8:
- Move your two armies closer to Yingchuan’s capital. It’s possible that Lady Bian’s army will attack you now, or she could hold steady inside her castle.
- Either way, besiege and capture Yingchuan capital with your backup army and then Chen’s farmland after that. If you have a lot of Momentum, you can use some to annex a settlement guarded by a larger garrison, though I would advise against it since that can lower officer satisfaction severely.
- In any case, continue advancing towards Luoyang’s lumber yard to finally finish off Cao Cao’s faction. This will complete one of your missions. Yes, the Hero of Chaos’ journey ended in just a few short turns.
- Whenever you have some extra gold, use it to increase Chen’s and Yingchuan’s income. Also, consider supporting Yuan Shu’s legitimacy to milk him for some cash.
- Speaking of cash, you could opt to try the Mercenary Contracts mechanic. Take note of the rulers that are fighting one another. If there’s a vulnerable target nearby that’s at war with another lord, go ahead and make your proposal to a prospective employer. Be sure to ask for a lot of gold in return.
- Mercenary Contracts can prevent conflicts from breaking out between you and your employer; strategize accordingly depending on the situation.
- Below, you’ll see an example of the weight of your diplomatic proposal when you combine Mercenary Contracts with the Coerce mechanic. Look at the +20.8 proposal even with the Form Coalition option.
- With regards to the Coerce mechanic, remember that this can’t be combined with peace deals or invitations to join empires. You’re better off using this early in the game to start coalitions before declaring a kingdom and forming an empire, or just to earn extra GPT.
- For your first tech, “Foreign Envoys” does seem tempting to get an extra trade agreement. However, there are relatively few people around who’d want to be trade partners with you for now. Alternatively, you could go with “Shock Warfare.” This lets you use additional deployables in battles which is ideal since you’re manually fighting most of Lu Bu’s engagements anyway. You can create chokepoints that’ll utterly confuse Total War: Three Kingdoms‘ notoriously silly battle AI.
- Later, you should definitely consider techs that lower character salaries and corruption. In several playthroughs, I found that keeping friends close as Lu Bu can be very difficult due to the diplomatic penalties from the Personal Victories mechanic. In turn, this means fewer trade opportunities.
Turn 9 to 12:
- Around this time, chaos will continue to engulf the northwest. Li Jue, Guo Si, Yang Feng, and other minor lords will have petty squabbles to control the Han Emperor. For some reason, the emperor fled to Luoyang’s capital. That allows you to capture him and vassalize the Han Empire. This might sound good on paper (especially considering the extra gold provided by your vassal). But, you’ll also end up in a lot of wars whenever it gets attacked.
- Also, your vassalization of the Han won’t last forever. Even with high prestige values, it’s possible for the emperor to escape to another faction.
- Basically, whoever grabs Luoyang around this time gets to puppet the emperor. Keeping him around, though, is an entirely different challenge.
Note: Don’t forget to look at your Momentum and Personal Victories scores. A combination of low Momentum and high Personal Victories scores leads to very disloyal officers. There’s even one particular event where a general, Hao Meng, attempts to betray Lu Bu. He’s only saved by the timely arrival of a new officer that gets recruited automatically, Cao Xing:
Turn 13: Major event – The war with Liu Bei
Yuan Shu, historically, was a jackass. In Lu Bu’s case, it takes one to know one. The two were previously at odds, although circumstances led to a short-lived alliance. In Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed, you do get to partake in his folly.
By turn 13, Yuan Shu suggests that you should go to war with Liu Bei. You’ll get 3,000 gold if you accept and a malus to your relationship with Yuan Shu if you decline. Speaking of the emperorship, Yuan Shu will proclaim himself emperor after he defeats Liu Chong. He’ll earn the ire of most Han lords.
Don’t forget that all three sworn brothers are Lu Bu’s targets for one of his Greatest Warriors tallies, and it’s possible to obtain the full set in one battle.
Note: If Lu Bu is controlled by the AI, he’ll probably lose early on and join Liu Bei’s faction. Much like in history, he’ll betray the benevolent ruler, warring with him and Cao Cao at the same time. This takes place from late 197 to 198 CE.
I’ve never actually seen this event chain happen while playing as Lu Bu, even going so far as to lose the game (that just ends in a game over cinematic). Conquering Liu Bei’s faction entirely also doesn’t lead to a possible event where he ends up assimilating the remnants of his force.
Update: Apparently, the event to join Liu Bei only happens if you’ve never expanded further outside of your initial farmland. Lu Bu will be driven away, becoming part of Liu Bei’s faction for a short while. You’ll get the option to betray him which gives you his capital (Langye), though you’ll have to deal with several of his army stacks still roaming around.
The Kingdom of Yin
There are multiple ways a Lu Bu playthrough in Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed can play out. The more you rush with your expansion thanks to Momentum, the faster you’ll carve your own Kingdom of Yin. Again, this means more court positions to keep officers happy which partly nullifies the penalties from Personal Victories.
Sadly, you’ll become a strategic threat and AI lords will become more wary of you, leading to never-ending conflict. It’s like those old, spammy Windows error pop-ups:
It’s possible to slightly delay this by using a secondary army to expand, disbanding Lu Bu’s retinue, or only using him on the defensive. However, you won’t get to experience the might of China’s most fearsome general. It also means fewer opportunities to strike out in case a Greatest Warriors target is out in the open.
The end goal is to stabilize your economy and only expand in one direction, keeping other leaders off your back by way of food, GPT, and NAP deals. Once you’ve found a stable foothold, continue building up your power base. You can also start “farming Yellow Turbans” by lowering public order in some commanderies. Use Lu Bu to attack and duel these rebels (getting at least +2 Momentum at the cost of only +1 Personal Victories), while additional armies march out.
As mentioned in our official review, Lu Bu’s campaign in A World Betrayed presents a refreshing and highly aggressive playstyle the likes of which you’ve never seen before in Total War: Three Kingdoms. You may end up restarting a few times, but that’s fine. The challenges you face are what being a rebel without a cause and a one-man army is all about anyway.
Oh, and your (previous/current) heir, Lu Ji/Lu Lingqi comes of age on turn 22. You could opt for the marriage alliance that never materialized by matching her with Yuan Shu’s heir. Better yet, you could see if Ma Teng would allow you to claim his son Ma Chao. How’s that for having more overpowered vanguards?