It’s no secret that I’ve fallen in love with Total War: Three Kingdoms. In our review, I praised how the game managed to capture the spirit and dynamism of the time period. It was no surprise that Creative Assembly’s latest title that’s part of their historical strategy franchise also became a mega-hit. Recently, it’s been announced that Total War: Three Kingdoms would be getting its first major DLC, a “Chapter Pack” if you will. The Eight Princes DLC, which takes place 100 years after the start of the grand campaign, focuses on the Sima clan and the Jin Dynasty. It will be out next month, and it might even be a treat for fans of history and the Three Kingdoms time period.
The establishment of the Jin Dynasty
Historically, the Three Kingdoms of Cao-Wei, Shu-Han, and Eastern Wu were at a stalemate during the 3rd century A.D. The Kingdom of Shu-Han, looking to continue the lineage of the Han Dynasty, collapsed in 263 A.D. after a series of devastating campaigns.
The Kingdom of Cao-Wei which conquered Shu-Han collapsed internally just three years later. After political maneuverings, the Sima family led by Sima Yi and his sons, found itself at an entrenched position, enough to puppet the Cao scions. In 266 A.D., the leader of Wei, Cao Huan, was deposed by Sima Yan (Sima Yi’s grandson), establishing the Jin Dynasty.
Only Eastern Wu was left with the mighty Yangtze River as a natural defense. Unfortunately, corruption and mismanagement also led to its downfall. The generals of the Jin Dynasty invaded and conquered Eastern Wu in 280 A.D. The Jin under Sima Yan became the sole faction in the land, ending China’s Three Kingdoms period.
Eight Princes – Sima who?
The Eight Princes in Total War: Three Kingdoms are all members of the Sima clan. The aforementioned Eight Princes include the following:
- Sima Jiong who uses “Control” as a unique resource. Control impacts the support of nobles (public order) and corruption. It’s gained through military victories and lost due to defeats or by assigning ministers.
- Sima Ai uses “Reformation” as a unique resource. This improves trade influence and research speed while decreasing corruption. Buildings in your commandery capitals also affect this resource.
- Sima Ying will have assigned ministers granting faction-wide effects. Meanwhile, Sima Lun focuses on subterfuge and espionage.
Those are just four of the new warlords included in the Eight Princes DLC. Each will have their own unique units and starting positions. There are also new events which lead to different alignments (a brand new mechanic). Some will benefit Wealth (trade and income), Spirit (food production, diplomacy), Might (army upkeep and movement), Mind (experience gain and research rate).
The reason I can comfortably state that Total War: Three Kingdoms – Eight Princes might be a treat is because there has never been a major game that predominantly highlights the trials and tribulations of the Jin Dynasty.
Many gamers might have been exposed to the Three Kingdoms period solely because of Koei Tecmo’s games — Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors. In the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, the later start dates for your campaign might show that the threeway war for China is still raging. After that, you could have a “Rise of Heroes-style” start date where every major faction leader is present at the same time. There’s nothing that focuses on the beginnings of the Jin Dynasty.
As for the Dynasty Warriors franchise, it does delve a bit more into the Jin Dynasty’s conquests. After all, it does have the Jin as an entirely separate faction with notable characters such as Sima Yi, Sima Zhao, Sima Shi, or generals such as Deng Ai and Zhong Hui. It even has the wives of the Sima family, in typical “waifu” depiction, such as Zhang Chunhua or Wang Yuanji.
But, again, your Dynasty Warriors stories also ended upon the collapse of the final kingdom. Future struggles were only alluded to.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – Old endings, new beginnings
As someone who has been enthralled and enraptured by the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel and setting, the Eight Princes DLC would be akin to a brand new historical setting that’s never been explored before by any game I’ve played. If previous games ended just as the Jin started out, then the DLC depicts the events that would lead to its eventual downfall.
Sima Yan’s successor Sima Zhong was disabled, and the new empress Jia Nanfeng was cunning and manipulative, controlling him at will. Pitting one prince against the other in a bid for power, a newly unified China once again faced turmoil. Princes started their own plots and machinations, assassination attempts, mercenary recruitment, and eventually transitioning into open warfare. Doing away with age-old mandates and policies, corruption and dissatisfaction became rife.
As the saying goes: “The land, once divided, must unite; the land, once united, must divide” — but, I doubt anyone could’ve foreseen just how drastic that would turn out to be.
When the war ended in 306 A.D., it led to the invasion of the Xiongnu nomadic tribes which gained control of the capital Luoyang, as well as the fracturing of the Jin Empire from eight principalities to sixteen kingdoms! All but one of the princes lay dead and the Jin Dynasty had to relocate to a new power base. Known as the Eastern Jin, it was but a shadow of what it once was and what it could’ve been. After a century of disorder, it would eventually be supplanted by the (even more short-lived) Liu Song Dynasty in 420 A.D.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – Eight Princes will provide the opportunity to experience the conflict that would tear apart China just a few years after it had become unified. Who knows, perhaps you can be a new hero of chaos in such trying times. It also opens up new possibilities for future “Chapter Pack” DLC that Creative Assembly can cook up down the line.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – Eight Princes will be available via Steam on August 8. That also means we’ll have more features and guides for you to add in our nifty Total War: Three Kingdoms hub right over here.