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Total War Three Kingdoms: Unit Abilities and Unit Types

Unit Types

The armament, apparel and quality of different units grant them specific roles on the battlefield. Getting the most out of an army is all about manoeuvring units into positions where they can optimally perform their roles against targets most vulnerable to their attacks.

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Units may have the terms light, medium or heavy in their title. These refer to the unit’s armour but, by inference, can help you make broad assumptions about other aspects of the unit. Elite warriors tend to get more expensive and effective armour for example, so it’s reasonable to assume that heavy units tend to have higher morale, and will be better fighters. Heavier troops have greater mass too, so medium and heavy cavalry units will generally carry greater momentum, and therefore deal greater impact damage when charging.

Some units carry shields into battle, reducing any melee and ranged damage they are dealt – but only from the front.

If a strategist character is present in an army, units will be granted special formations to enhance their capabilities in battle.

Melee Infantry

Armed with swords or axes and bearing shields, melee infantry are your principle assault troops as they have a good melee charge bonus. They are effective at dealing damage against polearm and ranged infantry but are less effective against cavalry.

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Polearm Infantry

Reasonable all-rounders and your principle defensive troops, pike and spear infantry form the backbone of many armies. While they generally do not deal as much damage as melee infantry, they are much better at fighting cavalry, and when stood still, gain the braced and charge reflection VS mounted abilities against frontal charges.

Ranged Infantry

Infantry armed with bows and crossbows can damage enemy units from afar, but are generally lightly armoured and less effective in melee than other infantry types, and so are best placed behind the front line. They are particularly vulnerable to cavalry, which can swiftly manoeuvre round the front line to access them.

Bows have greater range than crossbows and are faster to fire, while crossbows have a shorter range and deal significantly more armour-piercing damage. Repeater Crossbows have a faster rate of fire than Crossbows, but deal no AP damage.

the faster a unit is moving, the harder it is to hit. Archers will therefore do a lot more damage to a tightly-formed block of static or slow-moving troops, for example, than they will to a loosely spaced unit of cavalry galloping at full speed.


Cavalry units move rapidly, which means they can outmanoeuvre infantry and choose where to engage. This makes them versatile and grants them a range of uses on the battlefield.

Their speed and mass combine to deal major impact damage when they charge, reflected by their high melee charge bonus rating. If cavalry are locked in static melee with an enemy unit, it’s useful to pull them out of combat, set them up to charge again and deal more impact damage. This is known as cycle charging.

Cavalry make an excellent counter to archers, as they can manoeuvre around the enemy army to reach them, and are useful for running down or chasing routing troops from the field, as routing troops will not recover morale while continuously engaged.

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Polearm infantry, with their braced and charge reflection VS mounted abilities, should never be charged face-on by cavalry. They are best pinned by swordsmen or spearmen, with cavalry performing flank or rear charges, where they cannot bring their polearms to bear.

Shock Cavalry

  • Shock cavalry wield lances, and cause tremendous impact damage. They are therefore best used when charging, and are the best type of cavalry to use against other cavalry. When their charge bonus has faded, they do not deal as much damage over time as melee cavalry, and should be pulled out and cycle-charged to maintain optimal damage output.

Ranged Cavalry

  • Ranged cavalry carry bows, granting them the ranged damage of archers combined with the speed and manoeuvrability of cavalry. Due to their cavalry speed and mass, they can still cause impact damage when charging, though are less effective at this than shock or melee cavalry.

Melee Cavalry

  • Melee cavalry are armed with swords and shields, so are better able to weather arrow-fire, and deal greater damage over time when locked in melee than shock or ranged cavalry.

Ranged Artillery

Ranged artillery pieces such as the trebuchet are powerful long-range weapons which hurl large projectiles great distances. They can damage and destroy city walls, bastion artillery, defensive towers and gates, and may be commanded to fire different ammo types. Artillery is extremely vulnerable to melee attack however and should be protected by other units.

Unit Abilities

Many units and characters have innate abilities which grant specific skills and inform their tactical usage in battle. These abilities are noted in the description panel to the left of the screen when the unit is selected.


  • Units with the impetuous trait may choose to charge at nearby enemy units without orders.


  • Units with the unbreakable trait do not lose morale and cannot be routed.
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  • Units with the raider trait are destructive by nature. When stood idle in a siege battle or town and resource battle, they will hurl burning firebrands at nearby buildings.


  • A spear or pike unit which stands still while facing an enemy charge will count as braced. Braced units will maintain a defensive line better when charged, with fewer individuals getting knocked back and displaced by the impact.

Charge reflection VS mounted

  • When braced, spear and pike units gain the charge reflection VS mounted ability. This reflects a cavalry or mounted character’s impact damage back onto itself, provided they charge the braced unit in the front.


  • A unit with the disciplined trait will not suffer a morale penalty if the character leading its retinue falls in battle. Disciplined troops will also recover morale more swiftly after routing.


  • Units with the encourage trait enhance the morale of nearby friendly units.

Fire while moving

  • The unit may fire projectiles while moving.

Fire backward

  • The unit may fire projectiles in any direction.

Guerrilla deployment

  • The unit may be initially deployed deeper into the battlefield, outside the usual green deployment zone, and into the white deployment zone which becomes visible when the guerrilla unit is selected.

Hide in forest

  • Units with this trait who enter woodlands will disappear from enemy view until they exit the forest.

Immune to scare/terror

  • Units with this trait will suffer no morale penalties from proximity to units with the scare or terror effects.

Immune to fatigue

  • The unit will never suffer from the effects of fatigue.

Run amok

  • The unit may become uncontrollable and attack any nearby enemy unit.

Resistant to heat

  • The unit takes longer to suffer from the fatigue effects caused by desert environments.


  • Units with the scare trait will reduce the morale of nearby enemy units.


  • Units with the Terror trait will significantly reduce the morale of nearby enemy units.
Written by CA_OtherTom

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