The "What If" Thread

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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby Lord_Cao_Cao » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:39 pm

Time to revive this topic.

What if Liu Bei was the unfortunate general to die at Yan ford instead of Wen Chou? What would probably happen to his former officer core?
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:01 pm

They'll probably get sucked in to Yuan Shao's force. As competent as Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun were to later prove themselves to be I don't see them being able to save Shao's force. However If Cao Cao is still desperate to recruit Guan Yu they may be spared in an attempt to win him over. So my guess is that they'll eventually end up serving Cao Cao.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby VinnyYooo » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:08 am

Sun Fin wrote:They'll probably get sucked in to Yuan Shao's force. As competent as Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun were to later prove themselves to be I don't see them being able to save Shao's force. However If Cao Cao is still desperate to recruit Guan Yu they may be spared in an attempt to win him over. So my guess is that they'll eventually end up serving Cao Cao.


I think that's a fair assumption. But Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun will be a considerable addition to Yuan Shao's force (at least Zhao Yun from a leadership point). So I don't know if he will be so easily wiped out by Cao Cao. You're right, Guan Yu is likely to stay with Cao Cao. I think he'd get along with Xun Yu and other Han loyalists in Cao's camp.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby DragonAtma » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:05 am

I disagree with their presence helping Yuan Shao for two reasons:

(1) Yuan Shao's main battle against Cao Cao -- the battle of Guandu -- he lost because he was unwilling to listen to advice. If he had Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, it'd just mean two more people that he ignored and, possible, two more people scapegoated and forced to switch to Cao Cao's side.
(2) Yuan Shao's force's collapse was from the split between Yuan Shang and Yuan Tan -- and, again, neither Zhang Fei nor Zhao Yun would affect Yuan Shao's poor decision. It could lead to Liu Bei's force outright being split in two (some supporting Yuan Tan and others supporting Yuan Shang), and again, it could lead to them really joining Cao Cao (as Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang did) when Yuan Tan fake-joined him.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby VinnyYooo » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:49 am

I dunno, I'm somewhat skeptical with the view that Yuan Shao was simply a bad leader all around. You've got to have some extraordinary skill to pacify Northern China, defeat Gongsun Zan and unite 18 high-ranking noblemen to push Dong Zhuo out of Luoyang (obv not in that order). This would involve some degree of effective people management. Also, we're talking about the same guy that would've saved He Jin from demise (had he been listened to). Sure the decision to fight Cao Cao at Guandu ended in disaster, but at the beginning, it could've gone either way - and Guo Tu had good reasonings for believing he could've wiped Cao Cao out. I think there's a chance that Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun could've been used effectively by Yuan Shao.

Yes, I agree picking a woosy pretty boy over his 1st born was a bad decision (and of course, Shao made some very bad decisions - I'm not denying this). But not even the most brilliant men were immune to making bad decisions on succession. Remember Cao Cao initially favoured Zhi over Pi (and don't forget Chong); and Sun Quan screwed over his kingdom over succession too. So the succession thing is neither here nor there and isn't necessarily indicative of his decision making competence.

In any case Shao was well and truly over after Guandu - the succession thing was just the final nail on the coffin. Shao had nothing on Yuan Shu when it comes to bouncing back after defeat. Shao wouldn't have died so early had he not lost then. Using Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei effectively could've prevented this.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:32 am

I agree Yuan Shao had shown a degree of competence up until this moment.

His advice to He Jin had largely been solid although it was his idea to invite the generals from the border - ie Dong Zhuo. As for leading the coalition, he was put in that role due to his family name, other than the Imperial line the Yuan's were probably the most prestigious family in the land. Then that coalition just sat still other than Sun Jian who single-handedly scared Dong Zhuo out of Luoyang. Cao Cao also attempted to go to battle and was crushed. Yuan Shao's campaign against Gongsun Zan/Han Fu, the man who was in theory his boss, was impressive.

Anyway we tend to think that Yuan Shao was going senile by the time of Guan Du. His decision making just went down the pan after fighting Gongsun Zan but before Cao Cao. He had some good advisers who made decent suggestions but he utterly ignored them so I don't see what another few generals would achieve. Although at this point Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun were likely Colonel's or majors rather than generals.
Last edited by Sun Fin on Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:37 am

Welcome to the forum VinnyYooo

I think you are overselling Yuan Shao's achievement as Sun Fin says and I don't think most here would say Yuan Shao was a bad leaders. Guan Du doesn't nesccerally mean Yuan Shao was incompetent but Yuan Shao was "merely" an able warlord, one with considerable skill but also big flaws throughout his career, vs probably the best 3kingdom warlord. Against the very best, being good is not always enough, there is debate on who actually was the bigger power going into Guan Du and possibly Yuan Shao was going into decline. Certainly by Guan Du, Yuan Shao's people management had gone badly wrong (loss of his best general Qu Yi, infighting leading to demoting his best adviser, constant infighting during the camapign, the succession mess up) around that time.

Of the issues that plagued Yuan Shao, I don't see Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun (who would have been fairly low rank at this point) making the difference.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby VinnyYooo » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:29 pm

Yuh - I think that's probably a fair assessment. I think how he's depicted tends to highlight his flaws more so than his abilities, which isn't fair. This is maybe because of the very high expectations people had on him at the beginning of the period - because of his name and family background. I'm also a bit skeptical about the way that Yuan Shu is portrayed, which tends to be a bit two-dimensional.

Anyway, I forgot to take into account Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun's ranks. Ok, I guess they wouldn't have been quite as useful without Liu Bei being there. Well, unless they lop the heads off Cao's valuable generals in a duel or two.
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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby DragonAtma » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:43 pm

The way I see it, Yuan Shao USED to be competent, but entered senility (and was firmly there by 200).

He got Jizhou because Han Fu panicked and gave in.
He got Qingzhou because his son Yuan tan defeated Kong Rong -- who's not exactly known for leading armies.
He got Bingzhou because it had fallen apart (and only had 600,000 people or so -- much less than Jizhou had)
He got Youzhou because Gongsun Zan may have been good at combat, but was poor at governing and made an idiotic decision.

As for the later days? Remember that Yuan Shao was given these pieces of advice:
* Ju Shou and Tian Feng saw Cao Cao as a threat and suggested attacking him while Cao Cao was still weak. Yuan Shao didn't do so.
* Liu Bei recommended attacking at the same time Liu Bei took Xuzhou in rebellion; Yuan Shao did nothing.
* Afterwards, Tian Feng said Yuan Shao missed the chance to attack Cao Cao. Yuan Shao ignored that and started the Guandu campaign anyway.
* Ju Shou said that Yan Liang was too impatient to lead the battle of Boma alone; Yuan Shao ignored that, and Yan Liang died in battle.
* While advancing on Yangwu, Ju Shou warned Yuan Shao that leaving Cheng Yu's small army alone was a bad idea, in case things went bad. Yuan Shao ignored that, and stripped Ju Shou of his men.
* Ju Shou said that Cao Cao was running out of grain at Guandu, and it's best to deny Cao Cao an actual battle. Yuan Shao refused that advice.
* Yuan Shao's first food supply, at Gushi was guarded by Han Meng. Xu Huang routed him and burned the supplies.
* Yuan Shao's second food supply, at Wuchao was guarded by Chunyu Qiong. Ju Shou said that Chunyu Qiong was unequal to that and she be reinforced. Yuan Shao ignored that.
* When Yuan Shao heard of the raise, Zhang He urges Yuan Shao to support Wuchao, as the campaign depended on it. Instead, Yuan Shao sent forces to attack Guandu and only sent Wuchao a token force. Surprise, surprise -- Chunyu Qiong was captured, Yuan Shao's second supplies went up in smoke, and the attack on Guandu failed.
* Guo Tu slandered Zhang He and Gao Lan. Yuan Shao believed them, and the two were forced to defect to Cao Cao.

Like it or not, the Guandu campaign was one blunder after another.
Unless I specifically say otherwise, assume I am talking about historical Three Kingdoms, and not the novel.

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Re: The "What If" Thread

Unread postby Han » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:42 pm

Shao should be commended for being able to form a proper and loyal alliance with the northern ethnic minority that lasted even past his death. China struggled with the northeners throughout the Han, Wei and even Jin dynasties. There are however zero records of the ethnic minorities raiding Yuan Shao and Yuan Shao was even able to command them directly in a few battles.

Yuan Tan also defeated Tian Kai.

Guan Yu killing Yan Liang was something unexpected and obviously surprising. The effect on morale as a result of Yan death was probably not taken into account. After all no one goes into battle thinking what would happen if their star generals died.

GuanDu was a blunder definitely. But some factors were out of Yuan control. His greatest mistakes were listening to slander and purging his greatest general Qu Yi.
Liu Bei did nothing wrong.
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