Top 10 Generals of the period

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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby XuSheng » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:57 pm

DragonAtma wrote:Well, almost undefeated; he was Cao Ren's assistant at Jiangling 208 (which they lost despite having triple wu's troops).

He does have a very good record, though.


He was undefeated as a commander. Cao Ren was taking most of the decision, not Xu Huang.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby Jordan » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:30 am

screw it, gonna throw out a top 10. I don't feel like ranking them.

lu xun: yiling, shi ting, etc. overall one of the best commanders of the era

cao cao: despite being reckless and at times ridiculously lucky (escaping from rongyang, puyang, wan, etc.), he deserves some credit for defeating numerous rivals during an incredibly long career. unlike other leaders of martial mediocrity like sun quan, cao cao actually directly commanded his troops in the field and at times even had to fight alongside of them. he was an amazing figure who became a better general as he gained more experience. He made some dumb mistakes in his early career but part of what made him great, like Liu Bei, was his ability to bounce back from setbacks and survive disasters to win another day.

sun ce: Sun Ce should be seen in a similar light as cao cao. Unlike other figures of the period, he would directly command his troops instead of delegating authority to others. He won numerous victories over a large variety of opponents but, like cao cao, was also reckless at times. Unlike Cao Cao, his luck eventually ran out...

Qu Yi: Qu Yi was the most OP general of Yuan Shao. His defection from Han Fu alone solidified Yuan Shao's political position in the northeast. Then Qu Yi proceeded to win numerous victories for Yuan Shao including the extremely decisive and significant Battle of Jie Bridge.

Xu Rong: Defeated both Cao Cao and Sun Jian, nearly ending the careers of both of those men. He was the best general of Dong Zhuo, but when Wang Yun launched his coup, Xu Rong made the mistake of peacefully submitting to the traitors. The Dong Zhuo loyalists under Li Jue and Guo Si were able to destroy Wang Yun's government and Xu Rong died in battle.

Wang Ping: Amazing general of Shu-Han who reorganized Shu's forces in the aftermath of Jieting and was instrumental in defeating Cao Shuang's massive invasion of Wei, despite the fact that Shu-Han was vastly outnumbered.

Deng Ai: Routinely kicked Jiang Wei's ass and then embarked on one of the most risky gambits ever to force Liu Shan's surrender. His sketchy gamble succeeded and his efforts resulted in the conquest of Shu-Han and an end to the tripartite division of China.

Sun Jian: Yuan Shu's best general and the only member of the allied coalition to really achieve notable success against Dong Zhuo's experienced troops. He also served with distinction quelling numerous rebellions across the Han Empire. Unfortunately, like Sun Ce he had the recklessness of Cao Cao but not the divine luck.

zhang liao: Against all odds, this man triumphed in some of the most lopsided battles. At Hefei he was vastly outnumbered, and although the Wu army was probably suffering from sickness, his victory over them on multiple occasions proved his competence. He was also the vanguard during Cao Cao's campaign against the Wuhuan at white wolf mountain, which was another ridiculous campaign where Zhang Liao was vastly outnumbered and facing difficult odds, but came out on top.

Liu Bei: Liu Bei, like Cao Cao, Sun Ce and Sun Jian, was often forced to lead troops directly. unlike these others, he was a mediocre general in many respects and suffered numerous defeats for various reasons. However what's amazing about Liu Bei was his ability to rally his defeated troops and continue to put up a fight innumerable times. He eventually carved out a territory for himself from virtually nothing and after years of wandering around and just barely hanging on to his forces, family and life. At times he did show tactical competence such as at Mt. Dingjun where he set fire to several of the enemy's fortifications and at Bowangpo, where he successfully ambushed his opponents. However it's not his tactical ingenuity that's admirable so much as his incredible leadership ability and ability to bounce back from defeats, matched only by Cao Cao.

Notable mentions-

zhang fei: He treated his subordinates too poorly which ultimately led to his demise. Even before that, though, it led to problems for Liu Bei, such as Zhang Fei's squabbling with Cao Bao resulting in Lu Bu gaining power within Xu province. However, Zhang Fei was a highly skilled general who was able to defeat Zhang He, hold off some of Cao Cao's pursuers at Changban and defeat Liu Zhang's general Yan Yan.

Zhao Yun: He was able to defeat Cao Cao, which says a lot, and served in several notable campaigns. He was a worthy general by all means.

Sima Yi: Sima Yi was highly competent in a large number of campaigns such as against Gongsun Yuan, Meng Da and eventually Zhuge Liang. However, its clear that he initially struggled to deal with Zhuge Liang and, rather than defeating him directly, sort of just stalled him out defensively. In some ways, it's hard to find fault with this strategy as it was pretty successful, but he did not pull off the amazing kind of victories that the characters on my list did. Usually he had a well-organized and large army at his disposal to carry out his goals

xu huang/zhang he/yue jin: like zhao yun, there's nothing I can really fault about any of these figures. they were all pretty notable and competent.

gao shun: Lu Bu's best general and victorious in several battles. He was ultimately unable to stop Lu Bu from losing, however, and could overall only do so much.

tao huang/lu kang: surprisingly good late wu generals.

lu meng: took several commanderies from guan yu but then wu relinquished some of them after some diplomacy. then lu meng lead forces more decisively and destroyed guan yu's position completely, acquiring jing province for Sun Quan. He was exceptionally crafty and deceptive which made him quite competent as a general.

zhong hui: the mastermind behind numerous victories of the Sima family and a key participant in the campaign against Shu-Han, where he won many victories before being checkmated by Jiang Wei. By forcing Jiang wei to deal with him, however, he allowed Deng Ai free maneuver to approach the Shu-Han capital. Ultimately, I guess it could be said that Zhong Hui had a mixed but mostly successful record. He could have probably been a thorn in Sima Zhao's side if he hadn't died in a mutiny.

kong rong: the greatest hero of the three kingdoms. anytime he was in trouble, he would just insult the enemy troops and his sharp witted articulated jabs would so upset them they would flee in shame. Along with Mi Heng, if he had actually tried, he could have unified the land long before the Simas through his great charisma. However, these were petty goals for petty people so instead he mocked all the try-hards and wrote lofty works of literature.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby capnnerefir » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:55 pm

XuSheng wrote:
DragonAtma wrote:Well, almost undefeated; he was Cao Ren's assistant at Jiangling 208 (which they lost despite having triple wu's troops).

He does have a very good record, though.


He was undefeated as a commander. Cao Ren was taking most of the decision, not Xu Huang.


Xu Huang suffered numerous defeats under various commanders.

He served under Yang Feng from 189-196. During 195 and 196, he was Yang Feng's chief commander during operations to disentangle Emperor Xian from Li Jue and the others. During the journey from Chang'an to Luoyang, Xu Huang fought a number of battles under Yang Feng, suffering several defeats during this time.

As has been pointed out, he served under Cao Ren during the campaign to defend Jing from Sun Quan in 209, which was somewhat of a failure.

In 219, he fought under Xiahou Yuan in an attempt to defend Hanzhong from Liu Bei. This campaign was also a failure for Cao Cao's forces.

In 222 and 223, he participated in Cao Pi's invasion of Wu and was either involved in the attacks on Ruxu or Jiangling. It doesn't really matter which one he was involved in, since both were failures.

Don't get me wrong here, I think Xu Huang was a phenomenal commander, and I'd definitely pick him over just about anyone else. But it's just not true to say he was undefeated. And it doesn't seem fair to excuse all of his defeats as someone else's fault. While it's true he wasn't calling the shots during those times, that would also mean you shouldn't count any of the victories he had unless he was actually the one in sole command. That would wipe away most of his career, since he was usually under the command of either Cao Cao, Cao Ren, or Xiahou Yuan.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby Qu Hui » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:21 pm

capnnerefir wrote:He served under Yang Feng from 189-196. During 195 and 196, he was Yang Feng's chief commander during operations to disentangle Emperor Xian from Li Jue and the others. During the journey from Chang'an to Luoyang, Xu Huang fought a number of battles under Yang Feng, suffering several defeats during this time.

I would like a source for this, please. Neither the SGZ nor the ZZTJ mention Xu Huang being defeated while under Yang Feng's command or being Xu Huang's chief commander during the liberation of Emperor Xian. In fact, there was no recorded incidents of military conflict between Li Jue's forces and Yang Feng's forces that I can find (unfortunately, my sources are somewhat limited, so this may not entirely be true). Yang Feng did fight against Cao Cao at Liang, but Xu Huang's only involvement was defecting according to the SGZ.

capnnerefir wrote:As has been pointed out, he served under Cao Ren during the campaign to defend Jing from Sun Quan in 209, which was somewhat of a failure.

Without an account of how he personally performed, it's unfair to say that the campaign reflects badly on his leadership skills.

capnnerefir wrote:In 219, he fought under Xiahou Yuan in an attempt to defend Hanzhong from Liu Bei. This campaign was also a failure for Cao Cao's forces.

Except Xu Huang personally performed very well during the campaign, utterly destroying Chen Shi and saving the Wei army from disaster.

capnnerefir wrote:In 222 and 223, he participated in Cao Pi's invasion of Wu and was either involved in the attacks on Ruxu or Jiangling. It doesn't really matter which one he was involved in, since both were failures.

He was assigned to attack Nanjun, and Wei was forced to retreat due to a pandemic, not because they were losing. And again, his contribution is ambiguous beyond an offhand mention in the ZZTJ (his SGZ does not mention him being there) and thus de-meriting him for it is unfair.

capnnerefir wrote:Don't get me wrong here, I think Xu Huang was a phenomenal commander, and I'd definitely pick him over just about anyone else. But it's just not true to say he was undefeated. And it doesn't seem fair to excuse all of his defeats as someone else's fault. While it's true he wasn't calling the shots during those times, that would also mean you shouldn't count any of the victories he had unless he was actually the one in sole command. That would wipe away most of his career, since he was usually under the command of either Cao Cao, Cao Ren, or Xiahou Yuan.

The problem isn't necessarily that he was under someone's command, the problem is that we have no records of his involvement or contribution at Nanjun or Jiangling and thus we have no idea how he individually preformed and, as I said above, he preformed very well at Hanzhong.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby XuSheng » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:22 am

capnnerefir i know he got defeated when working under other generals. We don't really know how much he was part of the battles were the Wei forces were defeated.

My point is: He's undefeated when he's the commander.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby capnnerefir » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:47 am

XuSheng wrote:capnnerefir i know he got defeated when working under other generals. We don't really know how much he was part of the battles were the Wei forces were defeated.

My point is: He's undeafeated when he's the commander.


When he was in charge by himself, I believe you're right. But you can't just pretend that there were no defeats on his record at all. Even if you want to blame them on other people or circumstances beyond his control, there were still times when the army he was a part of lost. I don't think this reflects poorly on Xu Huang at all - that's just the way it goes and there was really very little he could do about these sorts of things. But they still happened.

Qu Hui wrote:
capnnerefir wrote:He served under Yang Feng from 189-196. During 195 and 196, he was Yang Feng's chief commander during operations to disentangle Emperor Xian from Li Jue and the others. During the journey from Chang'an to Luoyang, Xu Huang fought a number of battles under Yang Feng, suffering several defeats during this time.

I would like a source for this, please. Neither the SGZ nor the ZZTJ mention Xu Huang being defeated while under Yang Feng's command or being Xu Huang's chief commander during the liberation of Emperor Xian. In fact, there was no recorded incidents of military conflict between Li Jue's forces and Yang Feng's forces that I can find (unfortunately, my sources are somewhat limited, so this may not entirely be true). Yang Feng did fight against Cao Cao at Liang, but Xu Huang's only involvement was defecting according to the SGZ.


Xu Huang's SGZ says, "He followed the General of Chariots and Cavalry, Yang Feng to fight against Dong Zhuo. Because of his merits in battle, he was promoted to Chief Commandant of the Cavalry. When Li Jue and Guo Si was holding power in Chang An, he persuaded Yang Feng to escort the Emperor to Luoyang. Yang Feng followed his advice. When the Emperor crossed the river and reached An Yi, the Emperor appointed Xu Huang as Marquis of a Chief Commune. When they reached Luoyang, Han Xian and Dong Cheng was fighting for power almost everyday. Xu Huang persuaded Yang Feng to join the Cao Cao. Yang Feng agreed, but decided against it later. Cao Cao attacked Yang Feng at Liang and Xu Huang joined Cao Cao."

This paragraph actually covers several years of his life, from at least 192-196.

Yang Feng was a leader of the Bobo Bandits (Xinping 2, L). The Bobo Bandits were engaged in hostilities with Dong Zhou as early as 189, when he sent Niu Fu to attack them. (Zhongping 6, FF). Since Dong Zhuo died in 192, and Xu Huang's biography says that he joined Yang Feng to fight against Dong Zhuo, then Xu Huang must have joined Yang Feng between 189 and 192.

Yang Feng evidently joined Li Jue, because he is mentoined as one of Li Jue's officers who drove off an attack by Guo Si (Xinping 2, L). After this, he plotted to assassinate Li Jue but the plan was discovered and he led a mutiny instead (Xinping 2, Q). Yang Feng and many other warlords (Yang Ding and Dong Cheng, later to be joined by Li Le, Han Xian, Hu Cai, and Qubei) tried to escort the emperor to Luoyang and fought numerous battles with the pursuing forces. It is very clear that Xu Huang was still one of Yang Feng's soldiers at this time, since his SGZ mentions him being enfeoffed at Anyi and persuading Yang Feng to join with Cao Cao in 196.

The whole story of Emperor Xian's journey from Chang'an to Luoyang is told in Xingping 2 (Passages G-L, Q-T, V-DD) and Jian'an 1 (A-B, D-E, G-H, K-O).

Because we know that Xu Huang joined Yang Feng long before 195 and was present with Yang Feng when Emperor Xian reached Anyi and then Luoyang, it is unarguable that he was a member of Yang Feng's forces during Emperor Xian's flight from Chang'an. This means that he fought in the same battles of Yang Feng, with the same victories anad defeates. During this time, Yang Feng (and thus Xu Huang) sufferred two serious defeats. Both of these are mentioned in Xinping 2, passage X. The first defeat was at Dongjing in Hongong, and the second was east of Caoyang.

Qu Hui wrote:
capnnerefir wrote:As has been pointed out, he served under Cao Ren during the campaign to defend Jing from Sun Quan in 209, which was somewhat of a failure.

Without an account of how he personally performed, it's unfair to say that the campaign reflects badly on his leadership skills.

I'm not saying that it does. I'm sure Xu Huang performed excellently. I actually think very highly of Cao Ren's actions during that campaign as well. He demonstrated a great amount of skill as well as incredible personal courage. I have nothing but respect for both of them.

But they still lost.

Qu Hui wrote:
capnnerefir wrote:In 219, he fought under Xiahou Yuan in an attempt to defend Hanzhong from Liu Bei. This campaign was also a failure for Cao Cao's forces.

Except Xu Huang personally performed very well during the campaign, utterly destroying Chen Shi and saving the Wei army from disaster.

Yes he did, and good for him. He was a great general.

But they still lost.

Qu Hui wrote:
capnnerefir wrote:In 222 and 223, he participated in Cao Pi's invasion of Wu and was either involved in the attacks on Ruxu or Jiangling. It doesn't really matter which one he was involved in, since both were failures.

He was assigned to attack Nanjun, and Wei was forced to retreat due to a pandemic, not because they were losing. And again, his contribution is ambiguous beyond an offhand mention in the ZZTJ (his SGZ does not mention him being there) and thus de-meriting him for it is unfair.

I'm not demeriting Xu Huang here; I'm not sure what he was doing, only that he was involved in the campaign. I'm sure whatever he was doing, he did it spectacularly. And I do agree that Wei's retreat here was due much more to the pandemic than to any losses they were suffering from combat with the Wu forces. Had they stuck it out, they very well might have won.

But they still lost. They retreated without taking the territory they set out to take. That's a defeat for Wei.

capnnerefir wrote:Don't get me wrong here, I think Xu Huang was a phenomenal commander, and I'd definitely pick him over just about anyone else. But it's just not true to say he was undefeated. And it doesn't seem fair to excuse all of his defeats as someone else's fault. While it's true he wasn't calling the shots during those times, that would also mean you shouldn't count any of the victories he had unless he was actually the one in sole command. That would wipe away most of his career, since he was usually under the command of either Cao Cao, Cao Ren, or Xiahou Yuan.

Qu Hui wrote:The problem isn't necessarily that he was under someone's command, the problem is that we have no records of his involvement or contribution at Nanjun or Jiangling and thus we have no idea how he individually preformed and, as I said above, he preformed very well at Hanzhong.

That's all true. I'm not in any way trying to say that Xu Huang wasn't an incredibly skilled commander. I can only think of 5 times when he was not completely successful. A handful of defeats don't in any way detract from his abilities or reputation. Every commander of the Three Kingdoms lost a few battles; that's just how it goes.

My issue was mainly with saying that he was undefeated because it's just not true.

And I don't think it is very logical to disregard defeats like 209, 219, or 222 because Xu Huang wasn't in command of everything. I agree that he shouldn't be blamed for these defeats, but I cannot agree with pretending these aren't a part of his record.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby mendedties » Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:50 am

I am opting out of including Cao Cao and Liu Bei due to the fact that I do not yet know enough about what can be attributed to their personal abilities as generals, and what was due to the talent they employed.

1. Lu Meng
2. Deng Ai
3. Ling Tong
4. Xu Huang
5. Yu Jin
6. Lu Xun
7. Zhang Fei
8. Zhang Liao
9. Sun Jian
10. Zhao Yun

This list is pending further reordering, particularly on the latter half. Sun Ce is looking for a spot in there, however, could someone enlighten me on what he did that was so great? Of course I know he managed to conquer a very large area in a very short time, but the impression I have gotten from my brief readings is that he didn't really encounter a heck of a lot of well-organized, competent resistance. I am sure I am wrong, but as for now I am just not seeing it.

I am also considering Huang Zhong. His defeat of Xiahou Yuan was quite impressive, yet his career was fairly short.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:51 pm

This list is pending further reordering, particularly on the latter half. Sun Ce is looking for a spot in there, however, could someone enlighten me on what he did that was so great? Of course I know he managed to conquer a very large area in a very short time, but the impression I have gotten from my brief readings is that he didn't really encounter a heck of a lot of well-organized, competent resistance. I am sure I am wrong, but as for now I am just not seeing it.


Won most, if not all his battles, including against skilled figures like Lu Kang and various skilled leaders in the south like Zhai Rong and Liu Yao, showing bravery, leadership and a great deal of intelligence to outwit the likes of Chen Yu. He took a situation where the armies of competent generals like Wu Jing were struggling to make any headway and smashed the defenders apart.
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby mendedties » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:
This list is pending further reordering, particularly on the latter half. Sun Ce is looking for a spot in there, however, could someone enlighten me on what he did that was so great? Of course I know he managed to conquer a very large area in a very short time, but the impression I have gotten from my brief readings is that he didn't really encounter a heck of a lot of well-organized, competent resistance. I am sure I am wrong, but as for now I am just not seeing it.


Won most, if not all his battles, including against skilled figures like Lu Kang and various skilled leaders in the south like Zhai Rong and Liu Yao, showing bravery, leadership and a great deal of intelligence to outwit the likes of Chen Yu. He took a situation where the armies of competent generals like Wu Jing were struggling to make any headway and smashed the defenders apart.


Thank you, Dong Zhou. I wasn't trying to argue against him, I just didn't really know. My knowledge base on this era is still pretty small. So far I only have the SGZ to go by, and have only just begun to read the ZZTJ, so when I see these names I don't recognize I have no idea who they are or how talented they were, and as an unfortunate side effect of DW I often just automatically assume they were of little importance. If only I had more time on my hands...
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Re: Top 10 Generals of the period

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:28 pm

Yes, I realize you were only asking and sorry if my post seemed argumentative/brusque. I'm glad to try to help expand knowledge as others have and still do for me though I'm hoping someone more specialized in Wu (and Sun Ce) can give a fuller explanation then I did.

We all do (or did maybe) go "well Cao Cao beat Zhang Xiu, Lu Bu and so on" and because we know of them, we have more details about them, they do seem more impressive. Only later do we start to get to know the southern figures Wu faced and through debts that I think most of us started to appreciate them.
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