Total War Three Kingdoms Fates Divided Cao Cao Schemes Guide Credibility Guide

Cao Cao was renowned as a wily and cunning general, able to manipulate and trick rivals to gain an advantage. Here’s our guide to help you with Cao Cao’s schemes and credibility mechanics in Total War: Three Kingdoms – Fates Divided.

Note: For more information, check out our Total War: Three Kingdoms – Fates Divided guides and features hub. Likewise, please be reminded that this guide is based on Romance Mode playthroughs with VH/VH difficulty selected.

 

Total War: Three Kingdoms – Fates Divided – Cao Cao’s Schemes and Credibility

Just to be clear, the rework to Cao Cao’s credibility mechanic and inclusion of schemes are part of a free update that coincides with the release of Total War: Three Kingdoms – Fates Divided. You don’t actually need to own the DLC to try these features.

Still, picking the 200 CE start date (made available via the DLC) does give Cao Cao a leg up when it comes to his schemes. This is due to the “pawn slots” which show the number of schemes that have been used and are on cooldown. If you choose an earlier start date, Cao Cao’s lower faction rank would limit you to just two pawn slots. In the 200 CE start date, however, he’s already a Duke who has four pawn slots. With all the active schemes you can have at the same time, your campaign to eliminate Yuan Shao should be a breeze.

Tw3kfd Ccschcred 1

As for credibility, the mechanic has been around since the vanilla days of Total War: Three Kingdoms. Back then, credibility increased gradually each turn, and it was primarily used for proxy wars and manipulation. Thanks to the free update that goes live alongside the Fates Divided DLC, the credibility mechanic has been reworked.

Now, the proxy wars and manipulation choices via the diplomacy tab are still there. But, there’s also an option to “trade credibility.” This lets you use these excess points to gain positive factors in diplomatic wranglings.

Likewise, the rework means that credibility decays/decreases over time, though higher values and thresholds increase your Imperial Favor.

Note: Speaking of Imperial Favor, you can combine both the “trade credibility” and “imperial decree” options in a diplomatic deal to really push the AI to agree to your demands. Just remember that using an “imperial decree” is only possible if Cao Cao controls the Han Emperor.

Tw3kfd Ccschcred 2

So, what exactly affects credibility gains and losses? Well, for that, we’ll go back to discussing schemes. There are four categories denoting what the schemes affect. Schemes also have a particular requirement before you can activate them, a cooldown, and a value that represents whether you’ll gain or expend credibility.

The idea in your Cao Cao campaign is to use schemes when necessary, oftentimes considering when you have to trick an enemy versus when you need to boost other factors. It’s a balancing act since you want to stay at higher thresholds to avoid Imperial Favor drops. You may also take a look at various parts of the HUD, such as army nameplates, settlement nameplates, or the character list to see if any schemes can be used at that given moment.

Target: Character Schemes

Scheme Target/Requirement Effect and Duration (turns) Cooldown (turns) Credibility Gain/Loss
An Owl to Seek an Owl A character in a known faction who’s not deployed as a general. +25% redeployment cost; 5 turns 15 -5
Mountain Air will Harm the Body A character in a known faction who is deployed as a general. +50% recruitment cost; 5 turns 15 -5
Feast for the General A character in a known faction who is below level 5. +50% retinue upkeep; 5 turns 10 -5
Gift of Honor A character in a known faction who is higher than level 4. +50% salary; 5 turns 10 -5
Eyes and Ears Within A character in a known faction who has less than 25 satisfaction. -25 satisfaction; 5 turns
Note: This can easily make an officer defect (leave their faction) or become recruitable as a spy against that faction.
10 -3
Flatter the General Own character with a salary greater than 300 gold. -15k population growth (local);
-50% retinue upkeep; 5 turns
10 10
Knowledge of the Ambitious Own character with less than 10 satisfaction; desires a higher position. +15 satisfaction; +25% character salary; 5 turns 10 10

Total War Three Kingdoms Fates Divided Cao Cao Schemes Guide Credibility Guide 1

Target: Faction Schemes

Scheme Target/Requirement Effect and Duration (turns) Cooldown (turns) Credibility Gain/Loss
Pay Rats to Reveal the Snake Any faction known to you. -20 undercover network gain when spying; 5 turns 10 -5
Hungry Snake Over the Full Any faction known to you. +20 cover cost when performing spy actions; 5 turns 10 -5
Relative Above the Stranger N/A (targets a different faction) +50 diplomatic relations with Cao Cao/Wei; 5 turns 10 -3
Mastery of the Dragon’s Way Known faction that has a trade agreement with someone else. -25% trade influence; 5 turns 10 -5
Children in the Hand Known faction that’s not an ally. -50 diplomatic relations with all factions; 5 turns 10 -3
The Cattle Keep the Milk Known faction that has less than 10 food. -20 food production; 5 turns 10 -3
Mastery of the Dragon’s Way Known faction that has a trade agreement with someone else. -25% trade influence; 5 turns 10 -5
Rival Tigers and One Prey N/A (targets own faction) +20 diplomatic relations with all factions; 3 turns 8 10
Dominion Over the Realm Any season except for spring. Instantly unlocks a new reform for you to choose.
Note: This is easily one of the best schemes you can pick whenever it’s off-cooldown. It’s a free reform, allowing Cao Cao to progress further in the tech tree.
20 20

Total War Three Kingdoms Fates Divided Cao Cao Schemes Guide Credibility Guide 2

Target: Commandery Schemes

Scheme Target/Requirement Effect and Duration (turns) Cooldown (turns) Credibility Gain/Loss
Drain the Lake to Lay a Road Your faction’s army is in neutral or enemy territory; population is above 50% of its maximum. -50k population growth; 5 turns 10 -7
Foresight When Blind Your faction’s army is in neutral or enemy territory; public order is below 50. -25 public order; 5 turns 10 -5
Two Bears, One Kill Your faction’s army is in neutral or enemy territory; reserves are above 20. -100 reserves; 5 turns 10 -5
The Wolf Who Provokes the Chickens Your faction’s army is in neutral or enemy territory. +2 construction time; 5 turns 10 -5
Stoke the Fires of Rebellion Your faction’s army is in neutral or enemy territory; faction support for the owner is above 50. -20 faction support; 5 turns 10 -5
Trapped Fish Above a Retreating Tide Own a commandery where reserves are decreasing. +100 reserves; -15 public order; 5 turns 10 10
Tiger Over the Mouse Own a commandery where you have an army, but public order is below zero. +20 public order; -10 reserve capacity; 3 turns
Note: You can activate this by looking for any commandery with negative public order, then deploying an officer with a cheap retinue.
12 15

Total War Three Kingdoms Fates Divided Cao Cao Schemes Guide Credibility Guide 3

Target: Army Schemes

Scheme Target/Requirement Effect and Duration (turns) Cooldown (turns) Credibility Gain/Loss
Changing of the Seasons Neutral/enemy army in your territory. -50% enemy campaign movement range; 3 turns 12 -5
When Near, Appear Far Neutral/enemy army in your territory. -20 morale; 3 turns 12 -5
When Far, Appear Near Neutral/enemy army in your territory. -100 charge bonus for all units; 5 turns 10 -5
Undermine Defensive Ability Besiege an enemy; balance of power is half-filled in enemy’s favor. -5 diplomatic relations; -25% melee evasion; 5 turns 10 -5
Release the Dammed River Besiege an enemy; balance of power is half-filled in enemy’s favor. -25% melee damage; 5 turns 10 -5
Arrows from the Enemy One of your armies is at or below 25 military supplies. +25% ammunition for all units; +25 military supplies; 3 turns
Note: Ironically, this was a ploy that Zhuge Liang used to obtain thousands of arrows from Cao Cao’s army just before the Battle of Chibi.
7 10
Hawk & Tiger Maneuvers One of your armies is below 10% movement points. “Winded” fatigue in battle; +50% campaign movement range; instant
Note: This allows an army to continue advancing, such as when you need to quickly reach a hostile force, besiege a settlement, or provide backup to friendlies.
10 15

Total War Three Kingdoms Fates Divided Cao Cao Schemes Guide Credibility Guide 4


Total War: Three Kingdoms – Fates Divided is available via Steam. For more information, check out our guides and features hub.

Jason Rodriguez
Jason Rodriguez writes for various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella -- Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion. Jason's Steam library has 1,400+ games at the moment so he definitely has a lot of things to talk about. He's also one of only five games journalists from the Philippines. Just kidding. There are definitely more around, but he doesn't know anyone. Mabuhay!

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