Total War: Three Kingdoms Cao Cao Guide – Resource Credibility, Campaign, Allies

In Total War: Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao is regarded as a strategic genius and powerfully cunning statesman who pursues a victory at any cost, as he believes that the ends always justify the means.

Despite being considered ruthless by some, he still *treats his followers well* and is considerate while protecting his supplies and people. This Total War: Three Kingdoms Cao Cao Guide will tell you all you need to know about the faction.

Total War: Three Kingdoms Cao Cao

When we talk about Character Specialization that comes with Cao Cao:

  • -10% Upkeep Cost
  • +15 Military Supplies

Resources Credibility

When you have 25 credibility, you can boost your diplomatic relations with another faction. You can also influence and manipulate them into disliking another faction and thus, bringing them closer to war.

With 75 credibility, you can trigger a “Proxy War” in which your rivals will battle each other for supremacy without any fallout on you. Your rivals will be weakened and easy pickings by the end of this war.

Campaign Difficulty

Going through Cao Cao’s campaign is not exactly a piece of cake. You are in the middle of all your enemies at your base in the city of Chen Liu.

Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan are to the north, Liu Bei and Kong Rong to the east, *Yuan Shu and Dong Zhuo* to the west, and Liu Biao and Sun Jian are to the south.

Mengde is your go-to guy for Battle Royales since he is the hero of chaos. He loves being in the middle of action that almost never lets up. We would suggest giving Sun Jian or Ma Teng a try if you are new to this though.

Getting Started

Your main adversaries are Dong Zhuo and the passive Han Empire territories. The latter has a strong grip on Yangzhou to the south so you will have to capture those settlements.

First, consolidate your power in Chen commandery and then prepare for He Yi’s attack on the westernmost settlement. He is a Yellow Turban commander that you will have to go war with eventually.

However, you will become a target for six vengeful leaders after you obtain control of Chen, Yangzhou, and Runan. Use credibility to manipulate leaders or start a Proxy War if needed. You can also resolve this with some non-aggressive options such as trade agreements.

Faction Dilemma

Cao Cao’s faction dilemma starts when Tao Qian murders his father Cao Song. You can choose the historical route of engaging in war with him or simply leave it be.

Lu Bu assassinates Dong Zhuo around the same time, therefore, take advantage of this to cease some territory. However, this will stretch your forces further to the west, away from your power base.

Defeat Tao Qian and then focus your efforts on destroying Yuan Shao’s forces to the north. After this is done, finish off anyone who tries to falsely declare himself or herself as Emperor.


You get support from three stalwart generals who are forever loyal and indebted to Mengde. They are Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, and Cao Ren. Cao Cao’s wife Lady Bian can help boost peasantry income.

Army and Strategies
Sao Sao has two unique units:

  1. Tiger and Leopard Calvary
  2. Heavy Tiger and Leopard Calvary

These are both solid with a devastating charge and a shield to protect them from in Archers. The ideal force is Cao Cao as Commander and Xiahou Yuan as your Vanguard with a handful of melee and shock cavalry troops.

Cao Cao should keep a couple of archers as well while Xiahou Dun should focus on spearmen and melee infantry. Be careful about stretching your forces too thin since you are right in the middle of where the action happens.

Focus your attention on attacking in one direction before moving to the next so that you do not get overwhelmed.