The game may be called Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV (RTK 14), but don’t let the word “romance” fool you. You’ll be going to war very often with the conquest of China as your main goal. Our combat guide aims to help you with battles, officer traits, tactics, formations, duels, and supplies/logistics.
Note: For more information, check out our Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV guides and features hub.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: The basics of battle
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, you recruit troops directly from your cities. As mentioned in our empire management guide, you’ll need to assign an officer to oversee recruitment and training to increase your troop count and morale.
As for the entire campaign, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV uses a “pause-and-play” mechanic. During the (paused) strategy phase, you can issue various orders. With regards to battles, using the march command lets you send out armies to attack targets, build contraptions and obstacles, conquer surrounding hexes near cores, or use a relay command in case of multiple locations or directions.
Note: If you made a mistake, you can click on the city to “cancel march.” Your army returns to the city and your action points are refunded.
Your armies will start moving around the campaign map once you hit the “play” button. For the most part, you won’t have any additional input since all the actions are automated. As mentioned in our official review, the automation can become quite a nuisance. In any case, another strategy phase begins anew after 10 days have elapsed.
Note: You can assign officers as Adjutants once you increase your lord’s rank. Adjutants can have tactics triggered manually, but only every 30 days (three turns). As such, it’s still a weird mechanic to implement.
One way to increase the chances of tactics occurring in your Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV playthrough is via officer links (seen above). These links, identified by a small circle, are present among family members, sworn siblings, or those depicted in Sanguo Yanyi as having stronger bonds. Examples include Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei, as well as Cao Cao with his relatives and bodyguards. Conversely, there’s a small “X” mark representing rivalries that make cooperation more difficult such as putting Lu Bu with Cao Cao or Liu Bei and his sworn brothers.
Officer links are extremely helpful and can turn the tide of battle easily. It’s possible to use smaller squads and rout or annihilate entire armies if your officers have the requisite relationships.
Officer traits and duels
Despite the ridiculous randomness in its implementation, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV’s officers do have a lot of traits. Remember to make the most out of these when creating an original officer. Examples include:
- Duelist/Heroic – Makes duels happen more often. Dueling is triggered randomly so this trait does help. You might even see Lu Bu challenging hapless strategists for no reason. Generals defeated in duels will have their entire army annihilated.
- Wicked – All unit stats are increased across the board; does not affect ships and siege weapons.
- Gorgeous – Decreases the stats of all nearby enemy armies led by male generals.
- Divine Eye – All status ailments affecting your units are shortened.
- Bodyguard/Kinsman – The former means officers other than you cannot be killed or wounded, and the latter prevents them from getting captured.
Of course, there are also negative traits such as:
- Reckless/Ambitious – You cannot ignore an enemy and you’ll always rush to meet them head-on; unable to retreat.
- Rash/Heedless – Increases the period of time that your unit is affected by status ailments.
- Vicious Drinker – Unit stats are decreased when supply lines are cut.
Officer tactics and skills
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV‘s officer tactics either rely on the STR or INT stat to determine their effectiveness, and you can only select up to three at a time. Some directly do damage while others provide support buffs or debuffs. Some skills will also affect settlements if they have the “anti-base” modifier.
Again, only officers assigned as adjutants can trigger these tactics manually, and only every 30 days (three turns). The rest will act automatically and are dependent on RNG factors. Also, units with the Awl formation cannot use tactics, and siege-type formations are only limited to that siege weaponry’s attack.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV: Choosing your army formations
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV no longer uses specific unit types, weaponry, or siege equipment that you need to recruit or forge (ie. pikes, bows, spears, juggernauts, or towers). Instead, you simply choose from the various army formations. Here they are:
- Fish – The most dependable unit formation; focuses on attack and defense with average mobility.
- Crane – Decent defense and mobility; lets you occupy more hexes as you move around.
- Arrow – Provides the highest stat bonuses for attacking and has high mobility; low defense.
- Goose – Decent attack, low defense, and low mobility; lets you attack from longer distances.
- Ring – Low mobility but high defense; perfect for soaking damage.
- Awl – Has the highest mobility but cannot use tactics; best used to capture free cores and cities.
- Snake – High mobility but low attack and defense ratings; improved stats on mountain and wood terrain.
- Battering Ram – Low mobility, but it only lets you attack a settlement’s walls.
- Siege Tower – Very low mobility; attacks units for low damage but does better against base troops.
- Catapult – Very low mobility; attacks units for low damage and can attack both base troops and walls.
I preferred using a couple of units in Fish formation flanked by Arrow-type units with high attack stats. A Crane unit might also be important to occupy more hexes as you expand, and Siege Towers or Rams are invaluable when capturing gates and castles. Lastly, you can use improved ships if your “Train Engineers” administrative policy is high enough.
Supply lines, cores, and officer suggestions
In our Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV empire management guide, we discussed cores and supplies. Your armies can’t be given gold or supplies directly. Instead, they’re pulled from their origin city which means you need to take note of your supply lines (represented by hexes in your faction’s color).
If an opponent manages to sneakily cut an army’s supply lines from its origin city — ie. using the “Placation” plot — your units will suddenly become confused and lose morale. This actually happened towards the end of my campaign as Cao Rui when I beelined for one of Sun Quan’s cities:
Although you could send out a transport unit to deliver resources to another city, they won’t be able to resupply armies (such as in Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX). Rather, you’ll have to rely on the Sanction -> Suggestions menu. This may present you with options to boost a unit’s morale, reinforce it with additional soldiers, or cure status effects: