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. You could also encounter a bug such as Yuan Shao popping up every few turns or so to keep asking for the 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).
From what I’ve noticed, the “Dong Zhuo takes over the Emperor’s lands” event doesn’t happen if you’re playing as Liu Hong.
More details about the event chain
I’ve also added some tidbits depending on certain choices that you’ve made. Try to keep a save at around turn 32-33 so you can make different choices.
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 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. You could also adopt a random 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. As a joke, you could also change your heir beforehand (maybe another kid like Liu Xie). Since Liu Xie was the son of Liu Hong and a concubine — and the emperor’s favorite child — it led to Empress He’s plots to have Liu Bian installed as the heir. She won’t seem to mind it at all if you do this in Mandate of Heaven.
Anyway, 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.
Following scenario C, 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.
Every now and then, I’d convert some Secretariats/Directorates to Judiciaries/Courts lower corruption if it gets too high, or I’d mix things up by constructing or converting State Workshop buildings. Combined with multiple officers that are on assignment, corruption was easily curbed. Also, do note that the AI’s quite poor when managing corruption and you might annex lands with upwards of 90% corruption already.
There’s also the “Mandate of Heaven” reform for the Imperial Palace building that can be very time-consuming. It’s mostly for fluff and bragging rights as it can only be built once throughout your empire… and because the building itself takes a whopping 38 turns to get finished!
I spent the remaining turns just annexing Han lords. For instance, in one playthrough, I had already annexed Liu Chong. I made him my heir and he subsequently became the Han Emperor. Later on, I ended up annexing Liu Bei. If you want to have a foothold in the south, go annex Sun Jian. Alternatively, take the entirety of the NPC Han Empire.
I don’t think there are any downsides to multiple annexations. Although your reputation goes down the dumps, the main drawback is 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.
Mandate of Heaven’s R and A: Rest and Annexation
There are times when a Han lord might leave the empire voluntarily. They don’t go to war with you automatically, though, and you can crush them with impunity. Since they aren’t part of the Han Empire, no one would care. 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 was at an “Untrustworthy” status after annexing Liu Chong and 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.
If you’ll end up in a war that’s not of your choosing, then it’d likely be against the Yellow Turban remnants. Some of them are still 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’re playing “whack-a-mole” until Liu Bian’s an old man.
A wild Lu Bu appears
There was one negligible challenge that presented itself randomly after Mandate of Heaven‘s campaign at around 192 CE. That challenge was none other than Lu Bu.
Lu Bu first appeared as a free officer whom I recruited. Even though I offered him a court position, he left after one turn. Then, an event popped up where he asked me for Yingchuan. I declined and he automatically declared war. Since he didn’t have a full stack, I just mauled him within a couple of turns. It’s like Yuan Shao’s petition all over again.
It did lead to a strange result since Dong Zhuo’s family tree showed that Lu Bu died in battle… against Sun Jian’s faction. I’m guessing this is more related to a random event where Lu Bu asks different lords for a city since this event isn’t unique to Liu Hong.
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. These were all enumerated in our Mandate of Heaven guides and features hub.
I genuinely couldn’t find anything else 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’s possible that some events broke because of certain decisions I made. But, 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.
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.