Total War: Three Kingdoms Guide - How Wu Xing Works

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Learn more about Wu Xing. Creative Assembly

Total War: Three Kingdoms is a real-time tactics and turn-based strategy game set during the Three Kingdoms period of China. The game is rather large and there are a lot of things to get into. Last time we talked about attributes and classes. This time we talk about Wu Xing, which has an impact on attributes.

To put things into perspective, Wu Xing was the basic governing principle during the Han dynasty. At its core, it focuses on five interconnecting elements that are said to govern all aspects of life. Each element interacts with each other, helping one while being weak against another. The five elements, are Earth, Fire, Wood, Water, and Metal.

To get an idea, let's take Water. It helps Wood since Water nourishes it. It douses Fire and is weak against Metal, considering that Metal chops Wood.

So how does this relate to Total War: Three Kingdoms? Instead of simply looking at how the five elements interact, it adds components to the game. This is shown in the figure below.

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The Wu Xing circle. Photo: Creative Assembly

As you can see, it continues to have the same color scheme as in the Chinese philosophy which makes it easier to keep track of:
  • Earth (Yellow)
  • Fire (Red)
  • Wood (Green)
  • Water (Blue)
  • Metal (Gray)

Looking at the circle, the outermost part refers to what unit types relates to what element. Melee Cavalry, for instance, are Earth, while Archers are water. The second circle refers to what character class is best suited to that element. The third circle focuses on the Attribute, while the fourth talks about what the characters can offer if they are appointed as administrator.

To understand better, let's break it down. Let's say your character belongs to the Vanguard. Looking at the circle, it means that your character works well with Shock Cavalry. We also know that as a Vanguard, the main attribute of your character is Instinct which gives your character better melee damage defense. As administrator, your character focuses on the Military aspect, particularly lowering the recruitment costs of the army.

What this also tells us is your Vanguard character is rather weak against the Strategist and the units against Archers. However the Vanguard is rather strong versus the Sentinel and the Shock Cavalry works well against Melee Infantry. 

To be clearer, let's take a hero example. Below is Xiahou Yuan.

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Hero example. Photo: Creative Assembly

As a Vanguard, we already know that his main attribute is Instinct. However, this does not mean the character has no other attributes. As a Vanguard, the character helps lower recruitment cost and reduces upkeep. Xiahou Yuan also improves both Charge Speed and Charge Bonus.

Overall, what we are saying is that while it helps to know about attributes and classes, understanding Wu Xing gives you a better advantage. In some games, players tend to choose characters solely on classes. For Total War: Three Kingdoms, putting in Wu Xing allows you more freedom. You can choose a character you like not simply because of the class, but based on what gameplay style you want.

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