Undercover Network, also known as the Spy system, is a gameplay mechanic introduced in Total War: Three Kingdoms. Similar to the Agent system from previous titles, player can engage in subterfuge and clandestine means such as spies and espionage to gain information, influence and advantages in campaign and in battle.
There are no dedicated Spies or Diplomat in Three Kingdoms, all characters can perform all roles (Unless they don't want to do undercover work).
Completely neglecting spies is reducing the player's toolset, which means you'll have to rely more on traditional methods - Like diplomacy or violence.
If player are too paranoid, placing a closely knit set of people in the important positions, like your family, will probably help because the player can trust family relation by a degree. So, Sun Jian is an excellent faction to play a bit more spy-free game because of his strong family connection.
How does it work
Undercover network points
Once a spy is dispatched, they will begin building a network of contacts, informants and other covert assets, represented by your faction's undercover network value. This is contributed to, and shared between, all of your spies. Spy actions cost undercover network points to perform as noted on each action; the more advanced the action, the higher the cost.
As time passes for an active spy who has infiltrated another faction, they will will seek to establish trust with those around them, and will begin to build personal cover points. The higher their cover points, the more likely the spy is to successfully perform spy actions without being revealed. Each action costs some cover points to execute, as noted on the action.
There is always the risk of a spy being caught in the act and revealed when performing a spy action. The more cover points a spy has, the more this risk is reduced.
If a spy becomes revealed due to an action, the warlord of the target faction will have a choice of executing them, releasing them back to their original faction, or demanding they return to their original faction as a double agent. In this event, the warlord of the original faction will only know that the spy has been returned unharmed to their original service. A spy who has been revealed will never be able to spy again for his original faction.
Factions can make it harder for spies to operate against them by increasing the cover points cost and/or undercover network points cost for any enemy spy actions that target them. The Drum and Bell Tower building, characters inhabiting the ministerial roles of faction leader, prime minister and faction heir, certain ancillaries, certain reforms, and certain strategist assignments can all increase the points costs for enemy spy actions.
List of Spy Actions
Spy actions fall into four categories, based on the position a spy is appointed to in the target faction. Each action carries its own cover point and undercover network point cost, and performing the action generates a dilemma which may increase the risk of the spy becoming revealed.
Court noble actions will be immediately available to a spy if he is recruited by the target faction. These actions include boosting their own faction's undercover network, influencing trade, theft, reducing character satisfaction, seeking a career as a military general, and interfering with the faction's counter-espionage efforts.
Administrator actions become available when a spy is appointed as administrator of a commandery owned by the target faction. These enable the spy to weaken aspects of the settlement and its garrison, pursue a ministerial role in the target faction's court, incite low public order or rebellions, or publicly defect, granting ownership of the spy's administered commandery to you.
General actions become available when the spy is appointed as a general in one of the target faction's armies. These actions offer a range of sabotage options against other armies in the target faction, and inciting a military revolt, which grants ownership of the spy's army to you and causes the army's other generals to be recalled to the target faction.
Family subterfuge actions become available when the spy is adopted as heir or marries into the family of the target faction's leader. These enable the spy to improve the target faction's diplomatic attitude towards yours, assassinate the target faction's heir, and even its warlord.
Total War THREE KINGDOMS gameplay mechanics
|Characters||Ancillary・Attributes・Background・Guanxi・Prestige (Faction Rank)・Legendary・Personality・Resilience・Satisfaction (Title Rank)・Skill・Specialisation・Traits・Unique・Wu Xing|
|Campaign||Assignment・Buildings・Court (Administrator・Council・Family Tree)・Diplomacy (Coalition・Vassal)・Event (Initial Dilemma)・Factions (Leader・Heir・Prime Minister)・Mission (Challenge)・Records・Reforms・Resources・Seasons・Treasury・Undercover Network|
|Battle||Ability (Unit Ability)・Army・Dueling・Formation・Fortification・Morale・Terrain・Siege (Siege Escalation)・Unit (Hero Unit・Retinue)・Weather|