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Thread: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

  1. #1

    Default An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    帝国分裂: An Empire Divided

    "The Emperor and I are the two pillars of the Han. Destroy one of us, and the Han shall crumble. If you are loyal to the Emperor, then you must be loyal to me as well. There is no other alternative." - Dong Zhuo, speaking to an unnamed court officer

    This AAR will no longer be updated, and has been moved to this thread

    This is my first-ever AAR, and one I've been planning to do for a time. I've always been fascinated with Dong Zhuo and the opportunities that he and the people around him had. For those who don't know who Dong Zhuo is, here's his entry. I will be starting as Dong Zhuo's faction on Romance mode with Very Hard difficulty. I'll also be using plenty of in-game generic characters as well. For the sake of realism, I will be referring to army sizes that are multiplied by ten (For example, 300 men becomes 3,000 men) as well as ultra unit-sizes. This means one army will usually hover around 20,000 men, which is more in-line with what the various states of China were fielding around this time. Without further ado, let's begin with the prelude.

    Dong Zhuo Usurps The Han And Burns Luoyang



    Prelude: Dong Zhuo Usurps The Han And Burns Luoyang

    Domains under heaven, once divided, must unite; after a long period of union, they must divide. And so this cycle has continued since antiquity. When the rule of the Zhou kings became decadent and weak, seven nations sprung up from the chaos and warred amongst one another until the great nation of Qin prevailed and laid the foundation of empire. But after the Qin fulfilled their divine destiny, two more kingdoms arose; Chu and Han, to fight for supremacy. And Han emerged victorious.

    The rise of Han occurred when Liu Bang, the Supreme Ancestor, slew a white serpent. The morning after this occurred, he saw an old woman weeping by the road. When his followers asked the old woman why she wept, she only replied, "My child, the White Emperor's son, has been slain by the son of the Red Emperor." She then disappeared. And so it was to come that Liu Bang, the Supreme Ancestor, raised his banners in uprising, and campaigned for many years until the entirety of all under heaven fell under the Han. This majestic legacy passed down for two years, till the rebellion of Wang Mang caused disruption and chaos to spread throughout the empire. But soon Liu Xiu defeated the usurper, and restored the peace of the Han, and the Emperor's continued their benevolent rule for another two centuries until the days of Emperor Shao, who saw the Empire rot from within and collapse again into chaos.

    The Emperor Shao cannot be blamed for this chaos, as the descent into misrule was hastened by his predecessors - the Emperor Huan, and the Emperor Ling - who ascended to the dragon throne during the latter second century. The Emperor Huan did not rule at all - instead, he passed the scepter to his palace eunuchs and paid no heed to the conditions of the common people. The Emperor Ling had two great advisors; the Regent Dou Wu and the Imperial Guardian Chen Fan. Both men were disgusted by the excesses of the eunuchs, and plotted destruction in order to halt the decline and misrule of the dynasty. The plot was discovered, and the honest Dou Wu and Chen Fan were put to death, leaving the eunuchs more powerful than before.

    Above: Emperor Ling of Han, who's reign allowed the eunuchs to take over the Imperial government.

    Faced with the corruption and abuses of the eunuch faction, the common people could take no more. The Yellow Turbans arose from the provinces, disrupting the peace and order of the Han. The Emperor Ling, having allowed the Imperial Army to fall into decay, could not handle this catastrophe. And so he called upon the governors of the Han to send forth their own armies to quench the rebellion. They did so successfully, bringing the rebels to justice wherever they could find them. And thus the Han was restored to stability; but still yet the issue of the Eunuchs remained.

    After the death of Emperor Ling, He Jin, the Commander of the Imperial Army, again conspired with Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu to remove the power of the eunuchs. But as they could not persuade the Empress Dowager He to support their efforts, He Jin summoned the General of the Vanguard, Dong Zhuo, to the capital with his elite Xiliang troops to assist him in this task. The eunuchs, fearing for their lives, forged an edict in the Empress Dowagers name and summoned He Jin to the inner palace. Although Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu saw through this hidden plot, He Jin insisted on going. And it was that He Jin was assassinated by the eunuchs, whom threw his severed head over the palace wall. The hundreds of elite troops that Yuan Shao had placed in wait outside were enraged, and stormed the inner palace, killing any and all eunuchs they could find. Thousands of eunuchs were slaughtered, and in the midst of the chaos, the Emperor Shao was kidnapped along with his brother, the Prince of Chenliu.

    Above: The Infamous Chancellor Dong Zhuo

    And so it is that the Emperor Shao fell into the hands of Dong Zhuo. Shao, however, had the makings of a weak Emperor. Although young, he was unlike his brother; he had hid from Dong Zhuo's Xiliang troops whereas the Prince of Chenliu had personally greeted them with courtesy. And so Dong Zhuo, believing that the Han needed a strong Emperor to survive it's weakened state, deposed the Emperor Shao and raised the Prince of Chenliu, whom ascended the throne as the Emperor Xian. Dong Zhuo thus appointed himself the Chancellor of State, and so the decline of the Han continued for he surrounded himself in excesses just as much as the eunuchs once had.

    The abuses of Dong Zhuo infuriated many, and within a year, Yuan Shao had mustered a massive coalition to save the Emperor Xian from the tyrant. Among the lords who supported him were his brother Yuan Shu, the great Cao Cao (Mengde), the White Horse General Gongsun Zan, the Tiger of Jiangdong Sun Jian, and the honorable Liu Bei. With their combined armies numbering over 100,000 men, they marched upon Luoyang with the goal of restoring the Han. The vanguard, led by Sun Jian, soon inflicted a number of defeats upon Dong's Xiliang troops and forced them to retreat to Luoyang. For the court officials whom had suffered much under Dong's regime, it seemed that salvation was at hand. Alas, this was not to be. With his position at stake, Dong Zhuo directed that the Imperial court be moved to Chang'an, that Luoyang be sacked, that the Imperial tombs be plundered, and that the city be razed and left to the coalition. And so it was that Luoyang, a sprawling metropolis whom at one point was rivalled only by Rome, was reduced to ash and cinders. When Sun Jian arrived with the vanguard troops of the coalition, he found nothing but ruins where the capital once stood.

    Above: Dong Zhuo's men set fire to Luoyang

    With Dong Zhuo holding the Emperor as a puppet in Chang'an and internal bickering amongst it's members, the coalition lost it's momentum and disbanded. The centuries-old Han dynasty was now in it's twilight; and soon, a new China would arise from the ashes.
    Last edited by ZhongBoy; June 27, 2019 at 08:44 AM.

  2. #2
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Welcome to the Writers' Study, ZhongBoy.

    This looks great. You've set the scene very well, I think, and given us a good idea of the ruthlessness and ambition of Dong Zhuo. I'm looking forward to finding out whether Dong Zhuo will manage to hold on to power, and what the new China will end up looking like!

  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Welcome! I agree with Caillagh that you set the scene well. This is an enjoyable start for your AAR.

    It sounds like Dong Zhuo faces a formidable coalition of enemies, under Yuan Shao's leadership. You've got me interested in what Dong Zhuo can do, to overcome this challenge. Will he try to divide his opponents, fight defensively to wear down the armies of the coalition or does he have a different plan?

  4. #4

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Chapter 1: Dong Zhuo Consolidates Power From Chang'an; Lu Bu attacks Anding


    Dong Zhuo summoned Li Ru to his office in Meiwo palace. Li Ru was among the few voices that Dong Zhuo trusted within his court; for he saw the ministers that served the Emperor before as nothing but pathetic old men who wept for a rotting corpse of a nation. Although Dong Zhuo, naming himself the Imperial Father, was the de facto ruler of the Han, he cared very little for the people he governed or the Imperial state itself. And thus rule was left to the ministers he trusted, Li Ru among them.

    Li Ru read his report aloud: "My lord. To date, your realm consists of 97,000 households with an approximate population of 320,000 inhabitants. You have 16,000 men in the field, led by the General of the Left Lu Bu, the Commandant of Horse Zhang Liao, and the General of the Rear Guo Si. Currently, Lu Bu and Zhang Liao are leading a force of 7,000 men on campaign, while Guo Si commands 5,000 men in the defense of Chang'an and it's surrounding regions. You have done much to establish your power from Chang'an, my lord, but the question of the coalition still remains."

    Above: Dong Zhuo's holdings in Western China, circa 190AD

    "The armies of the coalition still outnumber us and we are at war on many fronts, but our spies report heavy discontent between the lords of the coalition. Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu have developed a deep rivalry between each other to head the coalition, while Sun Jian and Cao Cao have resigned from the coalition altogether and will be unlikely to give us much future trouble even if they are remaining in a state of open revolt. I recommend that we take a defensive stance towards the east for now, and not to expand eastward beyond the current counties we hold in Luoyang Commandery. Our strength is in the west, and we must consolidate it."

    Above: Dong Zhuo's diplomatic situation, 190AD. Light green are Han governors who are nominal vassals, and red is for factions in open revolt against Dong Zhuo.

    Dong Zhuo nodded along. "Good! I've never cared much for anything east of Mount Hua in the first place - the people there are soft-hard and weak, unlike the men we field in our Xiliang army. I shall see to their demise very soon. However, in the meantime, send a messenger to Guo Si. Order him eastward to guard our counties in Luoyang and prevent any enemy force from sailing up the Yellow River into Chang'an. And what news from Fengxian*? How does he fare in Anding?"

    "The last messages sent indicate that he has passed by Anding city and is headed north to seize one of the industrial counties within the commandery. He indicates that he shall send news of his success in the coming days."

    "Very well! Another matter I must discuss with you."

    "What is it, my lord?"

    "The state is running out of money. My builders have made a grave error in calculating the construction costs of Meiwo palace, for which I had them all executed. What advice do you have for me regarding our financial matters?"

    Li Ru stroked his beard in contemplation. "My lord, your domains are very vast and populous. The common people could certainly foot a portion of the bill without too much trouble. I suggest a increase in the tax by one-fifth of our current taxes. To lower expenses of the army, you may also forcibly conscript thousands of men. The Han treasuries are also vast, and they too were relocated alongside the court when you moved the capital. Many governors hold loyalty to the Han, and therefore they shall hold loyalty to you as long as you protect the Emperor. To demand tribute as well as advantageous commerce agreements from them could bring in an addition source of income. Perhaps you could tax them as well. If they do not go along with your demands, you could order them by force."

    Dong Zhuo therefore dismissed Li Ru with orders to draft the relevant edicts.


    On the first day of the fourth month, Dong invited the ministers to court in the Hall of Everlasting Justice. There Dong Zhuo, sword in hand, faced the gathering officials and said, “The previous Emperors have misruled this land and emptied our treasuries. Since the state now cannot pay for it's expenses, the Emperor Xian has issued a new edict to address this issue. Now listen ye to the document I have prepared.”

    And Li Ru began as follows: “The Emperor Ling was deficient in governance and remiss in virtue. Under his reign, the state administration fell into confusion, and the corruption sapped the land and Imperial government of wealth. In a time of Imperial troubles, we must take swift and decisive action. The most virtuous among you have seen this. Therefore, all regional governors and administrators are to pay a special tax to Dong Zhuo. The tax for the commoners has been increased by one-fifth of the original tax, and all settlements are therefore subject to conscription. This is to ensure the safety and prosperity of the realm, and will be enacted immediately."

    Above: The taxes for commoners are increased by twenty percent in order to support Dong's expenses

    Above: Dong Zhuo demands a commercial pact and a special tax from Huangfu Song, the Chief Administrator of the Han dynasty.

    The Minister of the Treasury, Li Cheng protested these demands. "The common people have suffered much under the Yellow Turban revolts. To ask this is them is to ask too much. Many will be left destitute by these new taxes. And to remove the workers from the cities and farms - that does nothing but ensure that many will starve!"

    Dong Zhuo was unmoved by Li Cheng's plea for the commoners. "How can I stop to consider a few common people when the fate of the Empire is at stake? Besides, the Emperor Xian has approved this edict. To stand against him is to stand against heaven and the desires of the Imperial clan. The state has expenses, and they must be paid. Those who do not support me in this matter will suffer death.”

    Dong Zhuo then ordered his guards to take Li Cheng outside of the palace and put him to death. Thus fear seized the assembled ministers and they fell silent. And sothe new tax edicts were enacted, and the soldiers of Dong Zhuo set about his lands in their duties of revenue collection and constructing a large ministry to handle the administration of new conscripts.


    After fleeing to Chang'an during the waning days of the coalition, Lu Bu was promoted to General of the Left Flank by Dong Zhuo and granted command of 800 elite Xiliang horsemen and the Army of Righteous Justice. His first act was to march north to deal with the remnants of the Yellow Turban Rebellion in Anding Commandery, alongside his trusted comrade, Zhang Liao with a combined force of 7,000. They had marched into the land of the Yellow Turbans and had arrived outside their main settlement in the region. They then laid siege to the settlement, but Lu Bu was growing impatient as he wished to return to Chang'an. Lu Bu and Zhang Liao soon prepared their forces for a nighttime assault.

    Above: The Capture of Anding Industrial County, 190AD

    Despite outnumbering the army of Dong Zhuo, it was known that Yellow Turban forces often lacked discipline. Thus, faced with the professional troops brought by Lu Bu and Zhang Liao, victory was highly likely. But Lu Bu did not plan to use his army. He was a fighter, one who held titles such as the Warrior Worth One Thousand Men and the Warrior Without Equal. And what good are such titles if not exercised in force? And so he planned to fight the Yellow Turbans alone. He had triumphed over greater foes,and he would triumph today.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Above: Lu Bu's force outside the Red Turban settlement. Note the two wings of elite Xiliang cavalry on both flanks.

    After arranging his army outside the gates of the settlement in an orderly fashion, Lu Bu approached the settlement. He was a conspicuous figure in front of the line. On his head was a curved feather headdress. He wore a warring velvet−red robe of silk embroidered with flowers, which was overlapped by golden mail adorned with a gaping animal's head, joined by rings at thesides and girt to his waist with a belt fastened by a beautiful lion−head clasp. His bow was slung to his side, and he carried a long heavy trident halberd. He was seated on Red Hare; a magnificent steed whom could cross mountains and rivers and gallop one thousand li a day.Indeed, as it was said, Lu Bu amongst men, Red Hare amongst horses.

    Above: Lu Bu plunges into the Yellow Turban Army.

    And so he fell onto the enemy ranks just as a tiger falls onto it's prey. The Red Turban warriors, still drowsy from being aroused by the nighttime sentries, were no match for the Warrior Without Equal. Hundreds fell as Lu Bu went to and fro, slaying all in his path; with each swing of his halberd, he would send horses, men, and limbs flying into the air. The Red Turban horsemen soon broke ranks, followed by their swordsmen, and soon the entire force was in retreat. Lu Bu pursued the fleeing rebels, cutting down any and all that stood in his path.

    Above: You might not pursue Lu Bu, but what do you do when Lu Bu pursues you?

    Faced with the onslaught, the remaining Yellow Turbans broke rank and fled as Lu Bu charged back and forth, cutting swathes through groups of panicked men. And so it was that by daybreak, all that was left of the Yellow Turbans in the settlement were corpses, rotting away in the morning sun.

    Above: Lu Bu well-deserved his reputation of being worth one thousand men.

    With the capture of Anding Industrial County and the victory of Lu Bu, nothing remained between the region's three thousand inhabitants and the rampant looting that Dong Zhuo's troops were notorious for. Fortunately for them, however, Dong Zhuo had use of their county. And thus, beyond an occupation, they were not subjected to further abuse. With control of the county now securely under an administrator appointed by Dong Zhuo, Lu Bu now led his forces south to Chang'an at the summons of his adoptive father. Much work yet remained before they could strike back at the coalition warlords and restore peace and control over the empire.

    Above: Dong Zhuo's territory, 190AD


    Some numbers for record-keeping

    Current Population, End of Chapter 1: 323,000
    Dong Zhuo's Army Size, End of Chapter 1: 12,000
    Current Ruler, End of Chapter 1: Dong Zhuo

    Other Notes

    *Fengxian was the personal name of Lu Bu; personal names are often used by family members and close associates, and since Dong Zhou is Lu Bu's adopted father, he calls Lu Bu by the name Fengxian quite often in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I'm including this name here for the sake of going as close to the source material as possible.

  5. #5
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Man of TWC

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    I too welcome you to the Writers' Study, ZhongBoy!

    A good premise to the campaign and first chapter. Dong Zhou does his tyrant name credit ordering the death of one of his ministers just because he suggests something. Like Caillagh and Alwyn I wonder how Dong Zhou will retain his power over China or if he will fall. By god, those heroes sure are powerful in Romance mode. 1 man versus 880, those are some odds.
    Last edited by Turkafinwë; June 16, 2019 at 07:27 AM.

    Chapter XXVII: The Choice
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  6. #6
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    It's helpful to see the strategic situation. It sounds like the economic challenges are almost as serious as the many revolts, a challenging situation for Dong Zhuo.

    I like the phrasing of 'You might not pursue Lu Bu, but what do you do when Lu Bu pursues you?', both images and text convey the action well.

  7. #7

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Chapter 2: Dong Zhuo Continues His Tyranny, The People Revolt


    "The rebel Dong Zhuo concieved a foul design
    To thrust the Emperor aside and wrong his line
    With folded arms the courtiers stood silent, save one
    Ding Guan, who dared to cry that wrong was done"
    - Chinese poem, Unknown Author


    With revenue flowing in from the high taxes and tribute payments, Dong Zhuo immediately set about consolidating his rule in northwestern China. He directed the recruitment of two units of swordsmen and two units of archers to Guo Si's army for an end-strength of 12,000 men; he also planned to give more men to Lu Bu once he returned to Chang'an. The newly-built Ministry of Conscription would serve as an excellent training ground for the new recruits and ensure that they were at least of semi-professional quality. Although most of the men would be former tradesmen and farmers, they too would soon learn the mastery of arms.

    Above: The expansion of Guo Si's army, which received two new units of archers and two new units of jian (sword) infantry.

    At the further recommendation of the Ministerial Prefect Li Ru, much cash was also devoted to strengthening the defenses in the coastal trading port of Luoyang Commandery as well as constructing walls and expanding the garrison of Anding city. The trading posts in Hanzhong Commandery were also expanded considerably, with new accommodations and marketplaces for foreign merchants to promote revenue for the state. Thousands were conscripted as laborers to build the new projects.

    Above: The three major construction projects undertaken during the Autumn of 190AD.

    Once the news that Lu Bu had been successful in his Anding campaign reached Chang'an, Dong Zhuo was overcome with joy, and feasted the officials of the realm within the Imperial palace. There, despite Lu Bu's absence, he promoted him to General of the East and Commander of the Household Guard and bestowed upon him a gift of three hundred ounces of gold and one hundred bolts of fine silk. Emboldened by the success of his adopted son, he demanded further tribute payments on top of the special tax from the Han administrators in order to fund his ambitions. Two such massive payments were demanded from the regional governors, and when they at first refused to comply, Dong Zhuo sent forth messengers with armed escorts to coerce them. As a result, the treasury was filled with ill-gotten cash and the regional magistrates of the Han left destitute.

    Above: Dong Zhuo, once again, coercing the Han administrators to give massive payments to fund his projects.

    In Chang'an Dong Zhuo's arrogance and domineering spirit had grown worse. In his behavior acted as in Emperor in all but name. A nephew, Dong Huang, was made Court Counselor, and all those of his clan were ennobled. He also pushed forth with the expansion of Meiwo, a massive palace on the outskirts of Chang'an. Within Meiwo he held 200,000 bushels of grain, forcing many farmers to give up their harvests as the people starved during the winter of 190; more than ten thousand died, and many more were reduced to eating blades of grass on the roadside. Moved by this suffering, the Minister Zhang Wen pleaded with Dong Zhuo to release one-tenth of the granaries at Meiwo to relieve the common people. Dong Zhuo steadfastly refused to heed this counsel, once again stating that "Imperial policy will not be decided by the interests of commoners."

    Above: The situation in Anding becomes dangerously close to open revolt after the Winter 190 famine

    In the spring of 191AD, a courier arrived at Chang'an with a urgent message from the magistrate of Anding. The people, tired of the burdening taxes and forced conscription, were conspiring with the Yellow Turban remnants to revolt. In response, Dong Zhuo ordered Guo Si north. Dong Zhuo then granted the Minister of Records, Hua Xin, a military tally, and authorized him to lead a large contingent of archers to reinforce Lu Bu's army. Hua Xin then marched north to meet Lu Bu, who had set up a winter headquarters at the banks of the Zhengguo Canal. He was welcomed, as well as news of his promotion and a promise from Dong of more men.

    Above: Hua Xin reinforces Lu Bu

    Furthermore, on Li Ru's advice, Dong Zhuo reformed the Bureau of Banditry in a last-minute attempt to halt the spread of unrest.

    Above: The reforms of Li Ru, intended to stave off revolt, came in too late to prevent bloodshed.

    However, the reforms of Li Ru did little to halt the unrest. On the tenth day of the seventh month, rebels rose up in revolt in Anding. Frantic requests for reinforcements by administrators in Luoyang Commandery and Hanzhong were soon received by the court. Dong Zhuo's disregard for the common people had not been without consequences, and now revolts were beginning to spread throughout his commanderies. Dong Zhuo, once again, responded with force of arms. He was the Imperial Father, and the idea of backing down was unacceptable. Lu Bu was dispatched eastward to Luoyang Commandery with additional reinforcements of spear-men and siege engines to assault rebel encampments, while the garrison force in Hanzhong Commandery was doubled. Thus when the rebels there finally rose in revolt, Dong Zhuo announced to the court that they were of little concern, and that soon, he would hang the heads of the rebel leaders above the city gates.

    Above: Lu Bu's new army, reinforced by two units of spearmen, two units of archers, and four units of siege engines.

    The mass uprisings of 191AD only hardened Dong Zhuo's resolve to destroy his enemies. He accused many officials of conspiring with the rebels or the coalition, and had them executed. The rebel armies themselves also plundered the land of any wealth. And so the common people continued their suffering.


    Upon hearing that Guo Si's army was approaching, the rebels in Anding Commandery began their plan to seize the local capital ahead of schedule. The city garrison outnumbered them, but they hoped that the element of surprise would win the day. The local governor, however, had been tipped off. When the rebels began their advance on the outskirts, they found the garrison already on alert. With no choice, their leader decided to press on with their plans.

    Above: The rebels attack Anding

    Spoiler for Anding Revolt

    Upon hearing of the rebels approach, the city garrison is mustered. With the walls of Anding yet incomplete, they are set behind the defensive towers with the expectation that the rebels would be worn down enough to avoid any serious casualties.

    Above: The formation of the archers and spearmen. Note the rebel army beyond the defensive towers.

    As the rebels charge on foot, they are met by heavy fire from the towers and then the archers. As arrows rain down upon them, one of their units broke and fled from the field. The rest of their units charge, leaving behind a trail of corpses.

    Above: Rebels charge the towers of Anding.

    Roughly two units of their infantry make it past the defensive perimeter established by the towers without breaking. The archers release one last volley, then scatter to the side as the spears charge forth to meet the rebel onslaught.

    Above: The rebels charging into the streets.

    Outnumbered and already shaken by their heavy losses, the rebels are forced into a retreat after a short melee, leaving their wounded to to die.

    Although the construction of walls around Anding had not yet been completed, the city's garrison proved itself more than capable of fending off the rebel force. More than three-fourths of the rebel force was slain, forcing the rest to retreat to the countryside. News of the victory and the decapitated heads of several rebel officers were immediately sent to Chang'an, and Dong Zhuo responded by sending back a gift of one hundred ounces of gold to reward the local governor for his actions.

    Above: In general, attacking a city with a garrison twice your size is a bad idea. Unless your name is Zhuge Liang.

    Although pleased with the news that the rebels in Anding had been defeated, Dong Zhuo remained infuriated that the people had the audacity to consider revolt in the first place. Guo Si's orders to march to Anding remained, but this time he was to destroy the rebellion root-and-stem; the surviving rebels and those in Anding suspected of harboring sympathies for the rebellion were to be arrested and put to death immediately, and he was to establish order in the commandery to avoid a second uprising.

    Soon, the Han empire would die, and Dong Zhuo, like many other warlords, dreamt that one day he would ascend the throne himself and rule China as the Emperor. In his new China, there was to be no room for dissent. Others, however, would disagree.


    Some stuff for record-keeping

    Current Population, End of Chapter 2: 284,000
    Dong Zhuo's Army Size, End of Chapter 2: 22,000
    Current Ruler, End of Chapter 2: Dong Zhuo

    Spoiler for Territory Directly Owned By Dong Zhuo


  8. #8

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Chapter Three: Dong Zhuo Crushes Rebels; Wang Yun Sets A Trap


    "The waters of the mighty Yangzi flow eastward,
    its spray drowning countless heroes.
    Right and wrong, success and failure, become empty in the blink of an eye;
    green mountains are always present;
    how many times has the setting sun been red?
    The white haired fishermen and woodcutters are standing on the sand bars near the banks,
    accustomed as they are to gazing at the autumn moon and the spring breezes.
    By chance, they happily meet with a jar of strong liquor in hand;
    how many things from past and present have they laughed and talked about with each other?" - Luo Guangzhong, Ming dynasty poet


    The resurgence of the Yellow Turbans in the lands of Dong Zhuo concerned Li Ru. As Prime Minister Dong Zhuo's most trusted state minister, it was Li Ru who had proposed and overseen the implementation of the new policies. He had expected some resistance in the form of unruly mobs or disappointed governors, but not anything requiring mustering armies. Three major revolts had occurred, and more were certain to come. One had made a failed assault on Anding and would soon be hunted down by Guo Si. Lu Bu and Zhang Liao marched to quell the second revolt, and the third, in Hanzhong, had been reported by the governor to be nothing more than a nuisance.

    However, what concerned Li Ru the most concerning the revolts was the depopulation of Liang province*. The harsh winter, heavy taxes, famine, and revolt had taken a toll, and there were whispers that many tens of thousands had died. Furthermore, Liang province was not famous for fertile soil, and with the eastern lords in open rebellion, every worker was needed to ensure that the nation would not starve.

    In Chang'an, Li Ru requested an audience from the Prime Minister. "My lord. The common people have suffered greatly from a harsh winter. May I suggest a reduction in the grain tax in order to relieve their troubles? You may demand double the grain in order to make up for our losses next year. The revolts and famine have killed many, and there are rumors in the court that as many tens of thousands of commoners have perished."

    Dong Zhuo replied with contempt. "Bah! We have many more. And besides, the entire Han empire is at my command. I have the Emperor! And do you know how many people were recorded during the time of Emperor Ling? Sixty million! There are more commoners in Tianxia* than there are stars in the sky. If worst comes to worst, I can simply order some to settle in Liang province, and be done with it. Many of your colleagues have already petitioned me on this matter. I do not care for it, and so not trouble me with it again."

    Spoiler for Hanzhong Revolt

    Above: The initial strength of both sides during the Hanzhong Revolt

    The governor of Hanzhong, confident that the rebels were no threat, ordered his men to sally out of the fort to face them in the open field. And so they did, and marched to meet the enemy outside of the defensive walls.

    Above: The garrison sallies out to meet their attackers.

    Despite heavy fire from the archers, the infantry continued their advance to meet the enemy in the field. The rebel archers soon break ranks as the garrison empties their arrows into them, and infantry on both sides engage in combat.

    Above: The infantry on both sides fight intensively.

    The rebels, outnumbered, soon falter and begin to retreat. The garrison give pursuit, but soon fall back to their lines for fear of an ambush. The rebels, having lost the majority of their forces, are left to slink back to the countryside unhindered.

    Above: The casualty report from the Hanzhong Revolt

    News arrived the next dawn from Hanzhong. The rebels, hearing that Lu Bu's army had departed the capital, had thrown themselves into a excited state and attacked the local garrison with little preparation. The governor handily defeated them in a pitched battle, and sent a messenger to ride day and night to inform Dong Zhuo of their victory.

    Spoiler for Luoyang Revolt

    Above: Initial strength reports during the Luoyang Revolt

    Eager to test out the new siege engines assigned to them, Zhang Liao gives orders for the catapults to fire at a distance of 300 meters. The catapults are extremely effective, and the rebel force, most made up of undisciplined laborers, is put to a rout.

    Above: The flaming projectiles rain down upon the advancing rebel force.

    Above: Shan Yang, the captured rebel chieftain, is executed for his crimes.

    At noon the same day two more couriers arrived, the first sent by Lu Bu. He and Zhang Liao had launched a surprise attack upon the rebel encampment one hundred li east of Mount Hua, and had emerged victorious. The siege weaponry Dong Zhuo had given to Hua Xin performed admirably, and the rebel chieftain had been captured and executed.

    The second courier, sent by Guo Si, echoed the same message. The rebels had retreated to the country and had replenished their ranks to 4,000 men, but had been caught by Guo Si's force while en route to Anding. Guo Si, with the aid of Cavalry Commandants Niu Fu and Li Jue, had wiped out the rebel force and killed three rebel chieftains in battle, with their heads sent to Chang'an as gifts. Furthermore, many rebels had laid down their arms and surrendered to his army.

    Spoiler for Anding Revolt

    Above: Initial Strength Report, Anding Revolt

    Guo Si deploys his force with four units of cavalry on the left flank and archers in front of the spears. The cavalry lies hidden on the forested hill with orders to advance behind the enemy force and strike them from the rear.

    Above: Guo Si's army is arranged to meet the rebels in open battle.

    As the enemy marches to meet Guo Si's army in battle, the cavalry begins to move, taking care to hide their position from the enemy.

    Above: Cavalry moving through the trees.

    Once the enemy is within range, the archers release their arrows. Several volleys are exchanged with the enemy archers, but Guo Si soon orders them to focus their arrows on the melee troops advancing upon them. The enemy archers will be dealt with separately.

    Above: Archers fire at the enemy

    As if on cue, horsemen thunder out of the forest and fall onto the rebel archers. With no melee troops to guard them, the rebels panic and break formation. Some attempt to fight the onslaught, but are instantly slaughtered. Others drop their weapons and flee. Within minutes, one hundred men are slaughtered by the assault.

    Above: Niu Fu and Li Jue lead the horsemen and charge the rebel archers.

    The rebel warriors soon panic as they realize their comrades in the rear have been overrun and are routing. After several minutes of pitched fighting, they too break formation as Guo Si orders several hundred unengaged spearmen to roll across the flank and strike into the right flank of the rebel troops. The battle is turned into a rout as the several units of cavalry also join the flanking maneuver.

    Above: The rebel infantry put up a brave fight with Guo Si's spearmen, but are ultimately no match. They break ranks after a few minutes and begin to flee.

    As Dong Zhuo's troops search the battlefield, they find the corpses of the rebel chieftains lying among the dead. All three have been killed.

    Above: Dong Zhuo demands additional tribute from the Han.

    Since Guo Si intended to continue to Anding, he directed that the captured rebels be sent with the messenger to Chang'an. Dong Zhuo's military successes, if even against his own subjects, only encouraged his brazen behavior, and he once again approach the Han governors with demands for additional tribute. The treasuries at Meiwo soon overflowed, and the amount of gold and jade they contained was beyond counting. Dong Zhuo hoarded this treasure jealously, distributing it only to his trusted lieutenants.

    Above: Dong Zhuo tortures his captured prisoners

    Feeling that his rule was secure, Dong Zhuo threw a great feast for the court officers, and while it was in progress, he called forth the captives and meted out to them wanton cruelties. The hands of this one were lopped off, the feet of that; one had his eyes gouged out; another lost his tongue. Some were boiled to death in oil. Cries of agony could be heard around Chang'an, and the courtiers were faint with terror. But the tyrant ate and drank heartily as if nothing was going on.

    When news of what had transpired was found out by the people of the realm, they cursed Dong Zhuo and once more conspired to rise against his tyranny. The work done by Guo Si and the governors unraveled as unrest and revolts reignited in commanderies from Anding to even the outskirts of Chang'an. Facing a threat much closer than he imagined, Dong Zhuo immediately ordered Lu Bu to lead a detachment of horse to the capital to put down the uprising. His search for enemies became even more frenetic, and his desire for revenge against those who had spurned him was not assuaged by the news of victory after victory against the rebels. Four more uprisings occurred, and four more uprisings were crushed.

    Another day Dong Zhuo was presiding at a great gathering of officials who were seated in two long rows. After the wine had gone up and down several times, Lu Bu entered and whispered a few words in his master's ear. Dong Zhuo smiled and said, “He was always so. Take my brother Dong Min outside.”

    The others all turned pale. Within the hour, a servant returned with the head of their fellow guest on a serving tray and showed it to their Dong Zhuo. Terrified murmurs begin to ripple amongst the assembly.

    Above: Dong Zhuo executes his younger brother, Dong Min.

    “Do not fear,” said Dong Zhuo smiling. “Dong Min was in league with the Yellow Turban rebels to assassinate me and take my place as Prime Minister of the Han. He had provided them with information and secret arms to enable them to revolt against our rule. A letter he wrote to the rebel chieftains fell by mistake into the hands of my son, so I have had him put to death. You gentlemen, who have done no harm against me, need not have no fear.”

    The remaining guests quickly dispersed.


    Spoiler for Lu Bu Meets Diaochan
    One of them, the Minister of the Masses Wang Yun, returned to his palace in a state of distress. The same evening, under the full moon, he went for a stroll in his private courtyard. Standing near one of the trellises, he gazed up at the sky and the tears rolled down his cheeks. Suddenly he heard a rustle in the nearby pavilion and the sound of someone sighing deeply. Stealthily moving nearby, he saw a young woman in his household named Diaochan. She had been adopted by him as a infant, and he had raised her as his only daughter. At twenty one, her beauty bloomed like the spring flower, and she was as clever as she was pretty.

    After listening for some time, Wang Yun called out, “What mischief are you up to there?"

    Diaochan dropped onto her knees in terror, saying, “Would your unworthy daughter dare to do anythingwrong?”

    “Then what are you sighing about out here in the darkness?”

    “May your daughter speak from the bottom of her heart?”

    “Tell me the truth, then. Do not hide anything.”

    And Diaochan said, “Your daughter has received uncountable amounts of kindness from you. She has been raised in a noble household of great repute, and has been taught to sing and dance and been treated so kindly that if she could not repay her lord if she died one thousand deaths. She has noticed that her lord has recently been distressed, and knows that it is because the Imperial state suffers, but she does not dare to involve herself in these affairs. Tonight, her lord seemed more distressed than ever, and she became miserable for she felt sympathy for her lord. But she did not know that she would be seen. If she could be of use, then she will not shrink from duty, even if it involves her death."

    A sudden idea came to Wang Yun. And he said, “The fate of the Han lies in your palm. Follow me!” Diaochan followed him into the house. Then he dismissed all his servants, sat Diaochan onto a chair and bowed before her. She was frightened and threw herself on the ground, asking in terror what he meant.

    Wang Yun said, “You can sympathize with the people of Han,” and he began to weep.

    “My lord, your faithful daughter has said, use her in any way, and she shall face her fate bravely” Diaochan replied.

    Wang Yun continued, “Our people are on the brink of destruction, the Emperor and all of his officials are in danger, and you, you are the only savior. The tyrant Dong Zhuo wants to depose the Emperor and not a person among us can find means to stop him. But he has a son, a bold and valiant warrior, but both father and son have a weakness for beauty, and I am going to use what I may call the 'beauty' plan. I shall first propose you in marriage to Lu Bu and then, after you are betrothed, I shall present you to Dong Zhuo, and you will take every opportunity to create a divide between them and so that the son may assassinate the adopted father and so put an end to the decline of our dynasty. And so you may save our the Emperor and his dynasty, and restore peace and stability to all under heaven. All this lies within your power; will you do it?”

    “Your daughter has promised to fulfill her duties in any way. I will do my best. And if your daughter does not show gratitude, then may she die by the sword!", replied Diaochan.

    “You have my greatest of thanks” said Wang Yun, and he bowed to Diaochan once more.

    Then Wang Yun took from the family treasury many pearls and gold, then ordered a craftsmen to fashion a decorated helmet, which was sent as a present to Lu Bu. The general was delighted with the gift and came personally to thank the donor.

    When Lu Bu arrived, he was met at the gate by Wang Yun himself who led him within. He was then conducted into the great hall of the palace and placed in the seat of honor. Lu Bu said, “I am a simple general in the service of the Imperial army; you are one of the greatest ministers and noblemen in all of Tianxia; why must you treat me so well?"

    “Because in the whole land there is no warrior that is your equal. Wang Yun does not bow to ones rank; he bows to one's ability“ This answer satisfied Lu Bu, and Wang Yun continued to praise and flatter and ply him with wine and food and spoke of the virtues of Dong Zhuo and his lieutenants. Presently most of the attendants were sent away, only a few kept to press the guest to drink. When the guest was very mellow, Wang Yun suddenly said, “Let Diaochan come in!” Soon appeared two attendants, dressed in white, leading Diaochan between them.

    “Who is this?” asked Lu Bu. “This is my daughter, Diaochan. You will not be annoyed at me introducing her to you, will you? You have been very friendly, and her beauty carries repute, and so I believed that you would like to meet her.

    Wang Yun gestured to Diaochan to present a goblet of wine to Lu Bu,and her eyes met his.

    Wang Yun feigning intoxication said, “My little daughter asks you, General, to take a cup or two. We all depend upon you, all our house.”

    Lu Bu begged Diaochan to sit down. She pretended to be tired, and wanting to return to her chambers. Wang Yun then pretended to press her to remain,saying that she might do so since the guest was a dear friend. And so she took a seat next to her lord. Lu Bu kept his gaze fixed upon the maid, while he drink cup after cup of wine.

    “I am curious if you would be interested in taking her as your wife, if you should accept.” said Wang Yun. The guest looked up. “If that is so, you may rely upon my abject gratitude,” said Lu Bu.

    “Then we shall choose a suitable day, and send her to the palace to be your bride” Lu Bu was overjoyed. He could not keep his eyes off Diaochan, and loving glances flashed from her eyes.

    However the time came for the guest to leave, and Wang Yun said, “I would ask you to remain the night,but the Prime Minister might suspect something. I will send for you when the time comes” Lu Bu thanked him again and again and departed.


    *Liang province was the province that Dong Zhuo controlled and his main base of operations. It was known for producing formidable cavalrymen.

    *Tianxia, or All Under Heaven, was used as a contemporary reference to China in this period.

    *I have decided to spoiler the story of Lu Bu meeting Diaochan since it can be a bit long. I've translated it from the Chinese text of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and since the event in-game follows the story, I have followed the plot of Romance pretty consistently. Interesting events are soon to occur.


    Some stuff for record-keeping

    Current Population, End of Chapter 3: 234,000
    Dong Zhuo's Army Size, End of Chapter 3: 27,000
    Current Ruler, End of Chapter 3: Dong Zhuo


  9. #9

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Alrighty, just an update on this AAR. My savegame got corrupted somehow after moving to the new update_beta, so I am not going to post new updates for now. I still intend on doing a AAR about Dong Zhuo, and will be posting it soon, but since I will be recycling some portions of this AAR thanks to having a same opening strategy and prelude, I won’t post the new one until it has passed a point of divergence with this AAR. I intend to experiment with different strategies and storylines with the newer AAR, and it’ll certainly be one that get’s very, very interesting some time after it’s point of divergence.

  10. #10
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    United Kingdom

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Wow, nothing puts this tyrant off his food! I'm intrigued by the way that the in-game events are following the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

    I'm interested, too, in the player's ability to choose to employ, release or execute captured enemy commanders, I wonder what you think of this game feature. (There's a poll about people's favourite Three Kingdoms feature at the moment).

    These are great updates and I'm sorry too hear about the corrupted save game. I look forward to seeing your new AAR, I like experimenting with different strategies and storylines too.

  11. #11
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Man of TWC

    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Default Re: An Empire Divided: A Three Kingdoms AAR

    Sad to hear your save-game got corrupted. Happy to hear you intend to persevere and not let it get you down. As you say ZhongBoy, it gives you the chance to experiment a bit and like Alwyn I'll be waiting with enthousiasm for your new AAR!

    Chapter XXVII: The Choice
    #JusticeForAkar #JusticeForCal #JusticeForCookie #JusticeForAthelchan

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