Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed brings new challenges for Yuan Shu. His ambition knows no bounds, and he may find himself emperor one day. Here’s our detailed faction guide to help you with Yuan Shu’s campaign.
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: Yuan Shu’s campaign moves and events
- Use multiple trade deals to build up diplomatic relationships with neighboring factions. You’ll need Yuan Shu to be likable (which is a tall order) so you can propose “Acknowledge Legitimacy.”
- Yuan Shu’s unique administrative building chain lets him earn a lot of income at the cost of Legitimacy. Since these buildings no longer counteract corruption, you’ll want to focus on the state workshops chain and officers with anti-corruption assignments.
- Construct a Zhong County Office in Yangzhou to complete a mission.
- Move your main army closer to Chen’s farmland and recruit a few cheap units.
- Family: Use receive marriage with Yan Baihu to get Yan Pu; use this on Ze Rong as well to get Ze Yue (generic sentinel, but she can help with construction and industry income).
- Trade agreements: Propose these to Cao Cao and Wu Jing. If possible, use “Acknowledge Legitimacy” on Wu Jing as well.
- Court: Make Lu Fan the administrator of Yangzhou for the extra food, and try to get +industry income once he levels up. Fill up the other positions, but don’t use Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, or Han Dang.
- Assignments: Yuan Yao “Tax Collection,” Lady Feng “Reward the Filial & Incorrupt,” and Ze Yue “Industrial Exploitation.”
- Liu Yao might be very receptive to a coalition offer, so go ahead and propose one. Funnily enough, Sun Ce is hard-coded to fight with Liu Yao even though the latter is a coalition partner.
Turn 2 to 5:
- On turn 2, Sun Ce will give you the Imperial Seal ancillary, so go ahead and equip it. Know that you’ll also lose Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang.
- Pick “Eunuch Secretaries” as your first reform. Don’t worry, we’ll get another commandery capital soon.
- On turn 2, you’ll also get a mission to destroy Liu Chong’s faction.
- Replenish your units for a bit and capture Chen farmland by turn 3. Then, deploy Lu Su’s retinue since he’s got “Fire Arrows” and he can recruit a catapult if you need to besiege cities.
- Move east to capture Pengcheng’s capital. Once you do this, Liu Chong’s faction will get wiped out.
- You’ll get a new mission to take over Liu Bei’s lands.
- It’s still possible for Luo Jun (Liu Chong’s chancellor) to pop up in your court. Employ him and make him an administrator of Pengcheng due to his extra food perks.
- If you check your diplomatic relations, many lords in the Southlands are getting cozy with Yuan Shu thanks to the “treaties with our friends” modifier.
- Because we made a few diplomatic marriages and deals earlier, those leaders will be slightly more receptive to “Acknowledge Legitimacy” requests. See if you can nudge some of them to accept.
- Bug: If you attain Marquis rank due to high Legitimacy before the mission pops up, prestige could get stuck for a few turns. This is fine since we don’t want to rush our rank-ups too fast due to diplomatic penalties.
Troll Emperor Yuan Shu and the Little Conqueror
There’s a reason we’re only focusing on a step by step explanation only up to turn 5. This is because of your Legitimacy bar. Once you reach the maximum, Yuan Shu will get a dilemma to proclaim himself emperor. This will net you extra Legitimacy and a powerful buff. Whether you make your move or keep mum, your two vassals — Sun Ce and Wu Jing — will declare their independence and go to war with you.
Sun Ce can give you a headache, but you can counteract this by reloading a save one turn prior and annexing him outright. This will make you “Untrustworthy” for a short while. Do note that Sun Ce may have some expensive units so feel free to disband those that are ruining your income.
Bug: While you do get Sun Ce and maybe Cheng Pu once more, it seems as though Han Dang and Huang Gai are completely gone.
In any case, you should’ve increased your faction rank by now. Give Sun Ce and Cheng Pu ministerial positions to keep them happy. Zhou Yu also shows up in your court so you can employ him by using some Legitimacy.
Bug: It’s possible to get a second Zhou Yu around turn 16 via an event now that Sun Ce is in your faction.
Anyway, here are the next steps:
- The main army under Yuan Shu waits near Donghai city.
- Detach Yang Hong from Yuan Shu’s army and deploy Zhou Yu’s retinue if you can afford him. Otherwise, just bring Lu Su along. March them to Guangling’s capital to capture it once Wu Jing declares his independence.
- At the same time, use Sun Ce and Cheng Pu to take over Yangzhou’s toolmaker. After this, march Sun Ce’s army to reinforce the Guangling squad if needed.
- Your two other armies should be done before turn 10. Make sure the main army has a strategist with a catapult, and that another army is closer to Donghai’s fishing port. Be ready to fight Liu Bei and co.
Liu Bei and Lu Bu
Remember that mission you got after beating Liu Chong? Well, you need to capture Donghai’s capital and fishing port. Both are owned by Liu Bei at the start of A World Betrayed.
Lu Bu will usually get wiped out around this time as well and he’ll seek sanctuary as part of Liu Bei’s faction. In my experience, Lu Bu usually betrays Lord Benevolence around turn 10 or 11. He’ll have control of Langye’s capital, Donghai’s capital, and Pengcheng’s farmland. Liu Bei, meanwhile, will retain control of Donghai’s fishing port.
Since you’ve got your armies waiting near Donghai, there are multiple ways you can go about completing your mission:
- DOW Liu Bei and capture both settlements before Lu Bu’s betrayal – You’ll get a mission to ally with Lu Bu. This will be next to impossible since he’s not likely to accept your coalition invite. A World Betrayed also has no instance where Lu Bu and Yuan Shu attempt to arrange a marriage for their children.
- DOW Liu Bei and capture Donghai’s capital before Lu Bu’s betrayal; capture the fishing port only after Lu Bu’s betrayal – You’ll get a mission to conquer Cao Cao’s faction; no mission to ally with Lu Bu.
- Wait until Lu Bu betrays Liu Bei and capture both settlements – You’ll have to DOW both Lu Bu and Liu Bei. You’ll still get the mission to ally with Lu Bu afterward which is extremely silly.
Bug: The biggest problem you’ll have isn’t Lu Bu. It’s actually the alliance war bug. If Liu Bei is already in an alliance with Kong Rong, your conflict will escalate into an alliance war. It’ll be impossible to offer peace unless you completely wipe out both their factions or if the AI decides that it’s had enough (which can take a long while).
Cao Cao and Yuan Shao
Your next goal after taking care of the Liu Bei and Lu Bu debacle is none other than Cao Cao. If you used some food or GPT deals, you probably held him back for a few turns and he’s likely fighting Lu Bu. Go ahead and capture some of his settlements. Lu Bu will definitely like that.
If you took Cao Cao’s capital, Yuan Shu will end up controlling the Han Emperor. Sadly, nothing interesting happens. I was expecting him to assassinate the Han ruler considering that you can’t have another lord of a dynasty hanging around.
Fast forward and Yuan Shu will need to eliminate his own half-brother, Yuan Shao. Assuming you protected Lu Bu from being mauled earlier by Liu Bei and Cao Cao, he’ll have reached the opposite bank of the Yellow River by now. In my A World Betrayed campaigns, he usually ended up fighting Zhang Yan in a separate war, leaving me free to take out Yuan Shao.
Yuan Shu and the Kingdom of Zhong
Funnily enough, even though A World Betrayed does focus a lot on Yuan Shu’s proclamation to become emperor, you still need to earn prestige to use the imperial court system. With your southern flank protected thanks to earlier diplomatic deals, your northern incursion will net you enough prestige to form the Kingdom of Zhong.
Finally, Yuan Shu can truly call himself an emperor:
Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed is available via Steam. For more information, check out our guides and features hub.