I really do my best to like these games, I really really try to ignore how awful they are and just role play. But I can't anymore. Three Kingdoms has the worst mechanics of any strategy game I've ever played. There is no rhyme or reason to anything. It's totally random, the AI cheats, there are endless stupid options that aren't fun at all that are just gimmicks. Leveling up generals is stupid, leveling up the tree every 5 turns is stupid, spying is stupid, diplomacy would be cool but it's stupid. A faction has 1 city left, and I offer peace. Nah, to offer peace is like -80 when they have no allies or army. Makes complete sense. Stupid.
What really broke my will is how badly they program the AI. Like, the first 30 turns nobody attacks me. I steam roll. Then without warning, world war is declared and I'm attacked on all fronts and my ally randomly leaves the alliance and becomes my enemy. So I think whatever, garbage idiotic mechanics by terrible developers, I'll just work through it. But then again like 30 turns in, something flips and all of a sudden an enemy faction that I have been neutral with invades with 7 full stack armies and oh ya, a faction twice their size became a vassal to them. So now like half the map is attacking me, when the turn previous they were all neutral, and even though I have double the territory I can't even field 4 full stack armies. Let alone concentrate them all and just abandon my territories because that triggers another garbage hacky mechanic, the rebellions. I can adjust to hack idiotic programming, but not when it just keeps changing the rules turn to turn. Not when full stack armies come out of nowhere and go right to my capital.
Another thing, the army structure is stupid. The recruitment is stupid. Why the hell do I want three generals having their own units? What purpose does this serve? They don't fight with the units so what the hell were they even going for with that?
Long story short - Too many stupid mechanics that are straight up hacky and stupid gimmicks. Diplomacy is broken as ALWAYS. But what really sets this Total War apart from the others I've played is the extremely hacky triggers that can't be predicted or prepared for. Might as well just send a lightning bolt and destroy my armies. The current system is just as random and unfair.
I just want a war game with diplomacy. My bad for looking to the Total War series. Won't happen again.