You’ve learned about Liu Hong’s campaign mechanics in Total War: Three Kingdoms – Mandate of Heaven. Likewise, you’ve also quelled the Yellow Turban Rebellion. What else is there that’s left to do? Well, our mini-guide lets you know about the continued progression and notable events as you stabilize the Han Empire. There’s even one important event chain related to Liu Hong’s death and the rise of Dong Zhuo.
Note: Many of Total War: Three Kingdoms – Mandate of Heaven‘s core concepts have already been discussed in our previous articles, so check out our guides and features hub for more information. This guide was completed while playing Romance Mode on VH/VH difficulty.
III. Liu Hong and the Han Empire’s notable events and dilemmas
Here are some events to consider while you’re playing through Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign:
- The bandit lord Zhang Yan will appear in 185 CE. He’ll terrorize the mountain passes in Taiyuan.
- Around turn 22, Kong Rong will leave your faction to establish his domains in Beihai. This can’t be avoided.
- Around turn 28, Yuan Shao will leave your faction and ask you to give up the city of Ye (if you control it). This will become his base.
- It’s possible to turn down his request though you’ll incur a diplomatic penalty (against Yuan Shao only). You can even choose to attack him on the same turn. Yuan Shao may continue to pop up in successive turns asking for the same city.
- Around turn 31, Dong Zhuo will have Lu Bu assassinate Ding Yuan. The would-be tyrant will acquire all of Ding Yuan’s lands.
- At turn 34 (or Harvest 189 CE), Liu Hong will die. But, this event can be avoided if you pay 1,000 gold. Apparently, this “payment” option is only possible while playing as Liu Hong.
- In 190 CE, the bandit queen Zheng Jiang will spawn where Bian Zhang’s and Dong Zhuo’s lands are.
Mandate of Heaven: Liu Hong’s death
If Liu Hong dies on turn 34 (ie. you’re not controlling him), the following event chain transpires:
- He Jin gets assassinated by the eunuchs; Empress He takes control of the faction.
- Dong Zhuo will end up taking over Empress He’s lands. He’ll also have the child emperor under his control.
- The Han Empire will be broken up and regional lords will be free to attack each other.
- This will lead to the turmoil that you’ve experienced in Total War: Three Kingdoms‘ main campaign.
Here are some additional notes:
- The Mandate War will continue if the Zhang brothers haven’t been defeated yet.
- If you’re playing as the Yellow Turbans, you can still win Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign regardless of who controls Luoyang. However, you will need to hold 50 settlements at the same time.
- It’s also possible for this event to fire even if Dong Zhuo has been killed earlier. In fact, one of my Yellow Turban playthroughs had Dong Min as the leader of the usurping faction (seen below).
More details about the event chain
Just to be clear, you don’t need to worry about suddenly having Dong Zhuo as the head of your faction if you started out as Liu Hong. Here are some additional tidbits. Make sure to save at around turn 32-33 so you can make different choices down the line.
A. You asked a healer to help out Liu Hong
The Han Emperor will stay alive for maybe a few more turns. In my experience, he usually dies at around 190 to 192 CE. After that, you’ll just follow the outcome depending on scenarios B and C.
B. You named a new (adult) heir other than Liu Bian before Liu Hong’s death
Liu Hong’s death on turn 34 will automatically lead to your heir becoming the new Han Emperor. For instance, if you annexed Liu Chong or Liu Bei, you could make them your heir since they’re considered members of the family or distant relatives. You could also adopt a random adult officer and make them your heir.
C. Liu Bian (or any non-adult character) is the heir before Liu Hong’s death
Since Liu Bian is still a teenager, Empress Dowager He will be able to lead as regent until 193 CE when Liu Bian comes of age. I also attempted to find unmarried lords for the lady regent. Sadly, all the gents were taken. If you want, you could pull a Lannister and marry He Jin.
The heir to the throne will eventually come of age. Liu Bian has no restriction that prevents him from being deployed so he can command your armies. You can also do a couple of things:
- Empress Dowager He can marry someone else from another faction (just a normal marriage and your factions won’t confederate), or, again, just pull a Lannister.
- Emperor Liu Bian needs a wife. Again, the “join faction through marriage” wasn’t available as an option since no female lords remained unmarried. Even Zheng Jiang already had a hubby.
Mandate of Heaven: Post-campaign experience as Liu Bian
Creative Assembly touted Mandate of Heaven as a DLC that will extend onto Total War: Three Kingdoms‘ 190 CE grand campaign. That’s partially correct since you can play after the Mandate War has ended. But, you really won’t be doing much. For the most part, I just tried to strike a balance between gaining political influence (to annex imperial subjects) and making sure to curb corruption.
Political influence versus Corruption
Liu Hong’s Mandate of Heaven has a couple of important building chains from the Administration Office branch:
- Secretariat/Directorate of the Commandery – +12 to 16 political influence
- Court/Judiciary – +1 political influence only; reduces corruption
A few turns after the main conflict in Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign, take “Eunuch Secretaries” then “Regular Palace Attendants.” This will unlock the Directorate building. Try to construct these Secretariat/Directorate buildings in small regional cities if you have the extra cash. Pretty soon, you’ll amass loads of political influence to be used when annexing entire Han factions.
Even further onwards in Mandate of Heaven‘s mini-campaign, you’ll notice that your income is going down the dumps. The reason for this is due to corruption — not the one from the eunuchs that we got rid of, but the original corruption mechanic in Total War: Three Kingdoms. To curb corruption, you can do the following:
- Convert your Secretaries/Directorates into Courts/Judiciaries.
- Obtain the “Six Bureaus of Bureaucracy” reform so you can build the Office for Archives & Seals (lowers corruption in adjacent commanderies).
- Construct the State Workshop buildings (Currency Inspector Office/Coin Maker) that lower corruption.
- Construct a high-level upgrade to Copper Mines.
- Use the “Counteract Corruption” or “Reward the Filial and Incorrupt” assignments.
Also, do note that the AI’s quite poor when managing corruption. As such, you might annex lands with upwards of 90% corruption already. It might be better to trade away these useless lands to vassals or as part of diplomatic deals.
There’s also the “Mandate of Heaven” reform that can be very time-consuming. It’s mostly for fluff and bragging rights since the Imperial Palace building can only be constructed once throughout your empire. Likewise, it takes a whopping 38 turns to get finished!
Mandate of Heaven’s R and A: Rest and Annexation
I spent the remaining turns just annexing Han lords using political influence. I don’t think there are any downsides to multiple annexations. Although your reputation goes down the dumps, the main drawback is simply that proposing deals will be costlier.
If you already followed my advice from earlier (getting trade agreements, non-aggression pacts, and military access with other lords), then there’s very little to worry about as you continue cleaning up after your Mandate of Heaven run.
There are times when a Han lord might leave the empire voluntarily. They don’t automatically go to war and you can crush them with impunity later on. In my Mandate of Heaven playthrough, Cao Cao was the first one to leave followed by Lu Zhi, and these happened a dozen turns after the Mandate War had ended.
I thought these departures were tied to my reputation. Then again, I’m not so sure. I eventually annexed more vassals and, for a time, I was sitting at “Treacherous” (-180). No other imperial subjects budged. Even Dong Zhuo stuck around and he was probably amazed by my tyrannical rule.
There are still some Yellow Turban remnants. Some of them are roaming around further to the south and east. Perhaps you could also venture west to take out a Liang rebel or two.
Likewise, similar to the corruption mechanic, the AI also does a pretty terrible job at handling Fervor. There are times when half a dozen Yellow Turban remnants are mustering in an AI lord’s territory, and the Han leaders will just watch the world burn. In short, you’ll be playing “whack-a-mole” until Liu Bian’s an old man.
No other events in Mandate of Heaven?
There were only a handful of other events that I encountered besides all the ones I mentioned above. For instance, Jia Xu joined around turn 66, Zhou Yu joined where Sun Ce was, and so on. A wild Lu Bu also appeared to ask for Yingchuan. These were all enumerated in our Mandate of Heaven guides and features hub.
I genuinely couldn’t find anything else that was as important as Liu Hong’s death despite spending a lot more turns than I wanted to after Mandate of Heaven‘s main objective. I’ve been told that additional events would fire in Mandate of Heaven that’ll remind you of Total War: Three Kingdoms‘ 190 CE scenario. That doesn’t seem to be the case after a few runs.
Likewise, I couldn’t find Diaochan, Dian Wei, and Gan Ning anywhere even though it’s past their appearance dates. I didn’t stick around to see if Pang Tong, Zhuge Liang, or Sima Yi would join several years later.
It was surprising to see that nothing else of import happened. It might also be due to incidents that were outside of my control such as Tao Qian’s death, Cao Cao not inheriting his father’s lands, or Lu Bu randomly dropping by instead of staying with Dong Zhuo.
Since you already started Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign as the Han Emperor and your faction still rules the land, there’s no “race” for the Three Kingdoms. Or, rather, you’re no longer leading that race since you won it (you don’t even use the prestige mechanic). In short, Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign will be very dreary and tiresome once you’re done with the main conflict. You’re waiting for several turns to “collect points” and grab lands.
Oh, well, at least you have Liu Bian as a full-fledged Han Emperor who can join battles. Here he is with his stepdad-uncle He Jin:
That does it for our comprehensive guide on how to complete Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign while playing as Liu Hong and the Han Empire. With some careful management and luck with your allies, you should be able to make mincemeat of the Yellow Turban forces within a few dozen turns. After that, you’re headed out for some “R&A” — rest and annexation.