Choose a strong leader. You can scan scenarios to identify traditional successors or you can select anyone to lead your armies to victory.
Study city statistics. Identify any problems that may be threatening your city, internal and external, immediate or impending. Then find a remedy or prepare for the event. For example if the probability of flood is high, you should invest money in dams.
Look at the loyalty level of your citizens. Raise the loyalty of the citizenry if it is low, do whatever is necessary and within your power.
Increase cultivation. This not only makes the peasants happier, it also increases the value of the land. Your effort, during the early stages of the game, is focused on developing cities and increasing the loyalty of the populace.
Appoint an advisor from highly intelligent generals, the higher his intellect, the better his advice to you.
Find and, hire or bribe, new officers by sending officers with high political skills out to search China. Search for officer's with great ability and for those with nautical skill for naval attacks. Special items may sometimes be found during these missions that have the ability to enhance an ruler's or officer's skill.
Develop an expansion plan. Spy on your neighbors, employ diplomatic efforts or try covert action (e.g. using espionage to trick two strong cities into fighting and destroying one another).
Develop high levels of technology in order to develop devices that will enable you to conquer rival warlords.
Prepare for battle but choose your target carefully. It's best to concentrate your attacks on a single city. Select a city whose loyalty and support levels are weaker than your own if possible.
Only use the Charge command when supplies are low and you need to make a change of venue quickly. Charging results in numerous casualties with little payoff, it may be worth the cost in a desperate situation.
You cannot negotiate a price when a ruler proposes to make an alliance and offers you gold or goods. Your intended ally makes no counter offer if you turn down his proposal. The opportunity will be lost.
Do not let your gold drop much below 100 in the farm, economy, dam, or technology budget areas. Note: If you only have 25 gold pieces left in a city's resources and you add 75 gold pieces, the resource budget will not sum up to 100 gold pieces only the 75 you just allocated.
Do not attack leaders who possess two or more cities until there is no one else left to war upon. Your efforts will prove futile if you attack a ruler with more cities under his jurisdiction because your opponent has greater reserves and resources to draw upon.
Gather information before planning your moves. Send a highly loyal officer on a six month spy mission to an enemy city. You can also spread false information with Gossip and Rumor commands.
Drafting soldiers from the cities you rule reduces the citizen's loyalty. There is a danger of rebellion when Loyalty drops below 50. Raise your popularity by giving provisions or gold to the people.
Focus your investment on cities with at least 200,00 people. Smaller cities just cannot develop the resources and goods you need quickly enough.
Floods and Typhoons often ravage the southern and eastern regions in the summer. The drier western and northern regions are less susceptible to flooding so you need not spend as much on dams for flood control there.
Fire an officer when his Loyalty rating drops below 50 and recruit him anew. He will come back with a higher Loyalty rating. You can also boost an officer's Loyalty by giving him gold or by promoting him.
Drafting more soldiers decreases your army's overall fighting spirit. The troops will be more likely to flee a battle or cave in to taunts and rumors.
Use Taunts to try to force your opponent into a wrong decision.
Stationing your forces in a forest or grassland will make them vulnerable to fire. Stationing them below a mountain makes them vulnerable to enemy troops hurling boulders.
A quick way to end a battle is to challenge the enemy leader to a duel. However, if you lose, it might mean the end of everything you have worked for. Choose your strongest warrior as champion and hope for the best. You cannot go back once a challenge has been made. You might have a chance to flee if a duel ends badly. You can sacrifice officers and troops in order to enable others to flee.