There are currently five different types of faction leaders in Total War: Three Kingdoms.
Members such as Cao Cao and Liu Bei expand their territory to earn prestige. Capturing the city where the Han Emperor resides allows you to vassalize the Han Empire. Once any faction leader becomes king, they declare themselves emperors, along with the two other leaders that are the strongest. To win the campaign, you’ll need to take out the seats of your two rival emperors.
Such as Ma Teng and Liu Biao are loyal to the Han. The same progression for Coalition members still applies for their campaign, including capturing the Han Emperor. The difference is that even if governors do become kings, they do not declare themselves as emperors automatically. Their goal, therefore, is to take out all three pretenders to the throne. If you manage to capture a pretender’s capital, that’s when you’ll declare yourself as their equal.
Such as Zheng Jiang and Zhang Yan have the same progression as Warlords. The difference is that they cannot vassalize the Han. Another key feature is that, at least with Zhang Yan, he can have diplomatic relations with the generic Yellow Turbans faction as well.
Faction leader only has one example: Dong Zhuo. The power-hungry demagogue starts at war with almost every other faction. The good news is that you have the mighty Lu Bu at your side, and your faction rank is higher, allowing for more armies, administrators, and spies compared to your rivals. You already have the Han Emperor under your control and the Han Empire itself as a vassal.
The last type of faction leaders is the Yellow Turbans. He Yi, Gong Du, and Huang Shao are rebels who are counted as a different subculture compared to the Han officers, and thus they can field different units. They also have a slightly different playstyle. They’ll be made playable as an early adopter bonus once the game launches on May 23.