Diplomacy has gotten a major overhaul in Total War: Three Kingdoms. It’s definitely a lot more in-depth now. The Quick Deals panel lets you see every type of diplomatic arrangement you can try, whereas the Negotiations panel offers more options.
You can trade for gold, food, ancillaries, arranged marriages, and the like. You may also vassalize, annex, confederate, or support someone’s independence or claim to emperorship. Players may also form coalitions with one another against a common foe, or upgrade that into a military alliance. The former still allows members to avoid participating in a war, whereas the latter will lock down a partner if you commit to an alliance war.
You can mix and match some of these proposals to come up with some hilarious results. For instance, I once managed to nab Zhang Fei from his sworn brother, Liu Bei, due to shenanigans:
Zhang Fei was supposed to be Liu Bei’s sworn brother. They ended up listening to Father and Son by Cat Stevens. Zhang Fei found a girl and he settled down since he wanted to get married. Look at Cao Cao, he is old, but he’s happy (after recruiting the mighty warrior).
One of the most anticipated features in Total War: Three Kingdoms is the new espionage system. Unlike previous Total War games where agents or heroes are completely separate from generals leading an army, Three Kingdoms can have anyone as an army leader, and also as a possible spy.
You can send your officers to spy on a faction and, after a few turns, that leader might recruit them (or they’d go back to base empty-handed). Once recruited, they’ll begin building their undercover network and cover. Spies can also end up getting captured, or they might decide to fully join their new master.
Lu Bu is probably the most conspicuous spy around. Then again if he gets caught, he can easily escape – because no one pursues Lu Bu.
There are four different roles that they can have:
Court Noble: The spy is just part of the faction, lounging around. You can fiddle around with trade, lower officer satisfaction, boost your undercover network, or even steal an item.
Administrator: The spy has been assigned as an administrator for a city. This allows them to poison the garrison, start an uprising, or welcome you as a liberating conqueror.
General: The spy is leading forces in the field. They’ll be able to poison surrounding armies, slow down movement, stunt unit replenishment, or start a military revolt which detaches all other retinues, sending them back to base.
Family: The spy has become a member of the dynasty. This has some nifty options including killing the faction leader, the heir, instigating a civil war, or surrendering the entire faction completely. This last one is possible if the spy manages to become the faction leader.
There seems to be a problem, though, as you can see below. My spy, Han Chong, ended up becoming the leader of Yuan Shao’s forces. Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to surrender the faction completely.
My spy, Han Chong, was leading Yuan Shao’s faction after killing the leader and his heir. There’s no option for me to surrender his forces though.