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Like other games in KoeI's venerable Romance of the Three Kingdoms
series, Dynasty Tactics is set in ancient China around 189 AD focusing on the fall of the Han Dynasty
. The historical basis determines the recruitment of generals (friends like to fight with friends), availability of generals, stats of generals, economic power and population of towns, etc. However, the main gameplay element in Dynasty Tactics is the tactical combat rather than the strategic diplomatic, economic, and political elements that the series is otherwise known for. There is an overview map of China, but the number of available actions are far fewer.
Combat is arranged in a grid layout with 3D terrain and units. Generals are assigned troops (effectively their 'HP
') and move according to a staggered order depending on their speed and morale, rather than entire sides at a time.
In addition to normal attacks, generals can learn and develop "tactics", which are special moves that deal extra damage or heal/buff allies. Tactics have certain position requirements and may change the layout of the battlefield. For example, "Decoy" requires an adjacent enemy and when activated, the enemy will take damage. After the attack, the general does an about-face and moves 1 space in the direction away from the enemy and the enemy unit follows him. In addition, if an action causes another general's tactic's position requirements to be satisfied, then that general's tactic will trigger as well with the second tactic doing more damage than normal.