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Total War: Three Kingdoms

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Total War: Three Kingdoms walkthrough and guide

How to Unlock Units in Total War: Three Kingdoms

How to Unlock Units in Total War: Three Kingdoms

To have any chance of rising to the position of Emperor and uniting all the provinces under a single, imperial rule will mean recruiting the best units. This 'How to unlock units' guide will help you to understand the conditions for unlocking them in Total War: Three Kingdoms.


Unlike other games in the genre units in Total War: Three Kingdoms are recruited into retinues of up to 6 units that loyally follow their general both on the campaign map, in battle, and across factions. When recruited these units will be of low health, for them to muster full health will require several turns. In the event of your general dying you can either choose to disband their entire retinue or pick a new general to to take ownership of the troops. It is important to remember that if you decide to select another general, the new generals traits and skills will affect how the existing retinue plays.

Universal Characters

Every character of the Han court regardless of their class and level has access to universal units These are the basic militia units at the start of a campaign. They comprise of:
• Ji Militia
• Archer Militia
• Sabre Militia
• Mounted Lancer Militia
• Mounted Sabre Militia

Class-Specific Units

Class-Specific characters are able to recruit more competant troops. The type of unit though will will depend on their class and rank. A Vanguard for example is able to recruit all the milita listed above as well as the Raider Cavalry unit. There will be instances where some classes have access to additional units as they rank up. When a Champion for example reaches rank 6 they can recruit both the Spear Guard and the Heavy Spear Guard.

Faction-Specific Units

There will be occurances where units can only be able recruited into the retinue of a character serving a specific faction leader. Generals under Cao Cao for example will be able to recruit Leopard and Tiger Cavalry once they reach rank 3, and a heavy variant version of both when they reach rank 6.

Units Available through Reforms

It is also possible for a general to get new units through the reform tree. The powerful Dragon units for example will become available to recruit into the retinue of any serving general once the reform has been completed. There will be times though where units unlocked by reform will be tied to a specific class.

Units for Emperors

A general who is able to declare themselves Emperor will be able to unlock Defenders of Earth and Protectors of Heaven, these are the powerful elite troops of the Emperor.

Remember when recruiting a character, their traits, skills and ancillaries will all contribute to the effectiveness of every unit in their retinue. It will also give the retinue new formations, battleside abilities and stat modifiers.

Check out our Best General page if you are struggling to decide which general to choose.

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