This topic filled me with fond memories and I decided to boot IX up again.
I decided to play as the yellow turbans in 184 on Expert. My created offiers are all historical figures and none of them start out working for Zhang Jiao; I did find and hire a few, but none are super amazing (the best was Wei Yue, who was a 70s lead and war guy). It's definitely a somewhat different game than most others. You start with an obscenely high troop to officer ratio. There's a ton of free officers in your cities, but your advisor is pretty bad. You'll do very little domestic work; it's a short game and sheer number of cities helps you go for a while, and you can grab tons of free cities to keep up supplies while spending money on rewards and drafting. I noticed He Jin seemed to ignore his officer's loyalty for the first few seasons; I was eventually able to get Dong Zhuo to defect as a result, and I've never been happier to see him!
I knew that Xun Yu was in Ying Chuan, and that I'd need him for my new advisor. Luckily I got him and he helped me recruit the various Wei int and pol officers in Xu Chang, who I began shipping north to hire the Yuan Shao aligned officers there.
Eventually the Han sent forces to take Ye; Lu Zhi and Yuan Shao were leading two big tower units from Shang Dang and Jin Yang respectively, while Chunyu Qiong and Guan Yu brought foot soldiers from Ji. I charged in troops from Ping Yuan and Nan Pi; had a lot of troops but few good officers; I hadn't found the Xiahous yet (I assumed they'd be in Chen Liu; turns out they're in Qiaoxian near Ru Nan!) and my only really good fighter was Wen Chou, who joined very recently--in fact I hired him during the battle and moved him to Ye, rewarding all the while. I had a nail biting moment when I had to send him out with 89 Loyalty, knowing that if he betrayed me I'd lose Ye, and if I lost Ye I lost He Bei and probably the war. Thankfully he stayed loyal and smashed up the big Han units. I managed to get more good generals soon after; the two Xiahous, Ju Shou, and Yan Liang. Yuan Shao was captured at Ye and surrendered, too.
Angry at this failure, He Jin sent massive forces from Luo Yang and Wan to take Xu Chang. I'd been anticipating that for a while, though, and Xu Chang had tons of soldiers. I concluded that He Jin's attack was an "all-in"--he couldn't attack any of my other cities with the number of troops, so I sent all my good combat officers to Xu Chang. The Han armies got crushed--the highlight was He Jin's 40,000 man tower unit eating an Illusion from Zhang Bao and losing nearly half his troops.
He Jin was taken and beheaded (a mistake, in retrospect--I knew it would make it impossible to hire his officers for a few seasons, but I was hoping from of his cities would split off) and Liu Biao took over.
After this victory, I knew it was time to take the capital. I decided to march from Yan province rather than Xu Chang, as I miscalculated and figured I'd be able to capture Hu Lao gate before any serious reinforcements arrived then quickly hit Luo Yang.
I gathered over 120,000 troops in Yan and stormed Hu Lao gate. As mentioned, I miscaculated and it turned into a bloodbath with Liu Biao sending almost every soldier he had south of Jin Yang to the battle. Lu Zhi defended it well but Liu Biao took over the defense personally, and with his poor Leadership, war, and bow exp, the gate fell surprisingly quickly and took down over 40,000 members of Liu Biao's rapidly shrinking army with it. He'd thrown basically everything he had left into defending the gate; one big army remains in Jin Yang but the Han south of the yellow river only have about 10,000 troops in each city. Luo Yang fell in one turn, and the Han dynasty officially ended. The remanants of it's army prepare themselves, but must know they cannot win, Zhang Jiao's forces grow daily, while the Han cannot even replenish the losses they've suffered in the recent battles.