175 cm (5'9")
|Playable Debut:||Dynasty Warriors|
July 18, 155
March 15, 220
|Posthumously known as Emperor Wu (武皇帝).|
Journal of Cao Cao
Cao Cao (onyomi: Sō Sō) was the Chancellor of the Han Dynasty who laid the foundations for the future kingdom of Wei. A clean-cut, tall, and crafty individual, Cao Cao excelled in war and politics. He was loved and feared for his perceptiveness and swift retaliations, as well as his very close relationship with many of his retainers. Chen Shou commented that he was a leader who possessed a unique mindset and was a timeless hero.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms famously villainizes him to be a hot-blooded, sly, yet occasionally dumbfounded schemer who sometimes survived his hardships on luck alone, said to be from the heavens themselves being right beside him. His legitimate successor is Cao Pi, born from his consort Bianshi. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, and Cao Hong are his well-known cousins.
His Dynasty Warriors incarnation ranked in seventeenth place in Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll and is twenty-sixth in the Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends popularity poll. In Famitsu's character survey, he is the number one character fans would want as their boss. The latest poll for the eighth installment puts him in fifteenth. The character poll for overseas fans puts him in third place for the Wei division and fourteenth in the semi-final round.
His character's height in Kessen II is 180 cm (5'11"). In recorded history, he was 155 cm (5'1").
- 1 Role in Games
- 2 Character Information
- 3 Quotes
- 4 Gameplay
- 5 Weapons
- 6 Historical Information
- 7 Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- 8 Gallery
- 9 Trivia
Role in Games
- "Well fought, you who would be Emperor."
- ~~Nu Wa; Warriors Orochi 2
Cao Cao is a leader who dedicates himself to his ambitions. A childhood friend of Yuan Shao, he joins him at the Yellow Turban Rebellion and in the Allied Forces. After Dong Zhuo's death, however, Cao Cao disagrees with Yuan Shao and they face one another at Guan Du. Cao Cao wins the conflict and gains Yuan Shao's territory soon after. A few titles also state his army capturing Guan Yu and having the general momentarily serve within his army during this time. Cao Cao often desires to have the brave general to serve him, but he respects Guan Yu's wishes to depart from Xu Chang.
As the largest force of power in the land, he then targets Liu Bei and chases him at Chang Ban. His naval fleet suffers defeat at Chi Bi, and Cao Cao's army is crippled from the loss. Even so, Cao Cao is able to rebound from the loss and orders Ma Teng's execution. His order sparks Ma Chao's rebellion and he gathers the regional lords around Quan Zhong to be his allies. In most titles, Cao Cao has the opportunity to speak to Han Sui, and the latter's defection at Tong Gate turns the tides against Ma Chao. With Tong Gate under his control, Cao Cao may participate in Wei's battles at He Fei or Mt. Ding Jun. In most titles, he lives to end either Shu or Wu. In recent scenarios, he may pass away due to illness after the events of Fan Castle.
His Legend Mode in Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends details his escape from Chi Bi. With the army already faltering from the Allied Force's fire attack, Cao Cao runs for his life to escape Shu's generals. Cutting his way past Liu Bei and Sun Quan's generals, he faces Guan Yu guarding the exit. Mentioning the kindness he previously treated the general, Guan Yu turns his back on his duty and repays the debt that he owes Cao Cao.
Described as a scholar during peace and a villain during chaos, Cao Cao is a talented leader in Dynasty Warriors 5. Knowing that a better land lies beyond the chaos, he joins the efforts to defeat the early insurgents of the age. Zuo Ci magically appears near Cao Cao and repeatedly asks the warlord his vision for the land. Cao Cao does not grant him an answer, yet he is offended when the elderly sage compares him to the rogues he stands against. After assisting Liu Bei's request to slay Lu Bu at Xia Pi, he sets his sights on the nearest enemy to him. Knowing that Yuan Shao only believes in his family pride and neglects the good console of his advisors, Cao Cao believes his former friend to be threat to the land. For these reasons, he slays Yuan Shao at Guan Du.
He then attacks Liu Bei, but his forces lose horribly at Chi Bi. Narrowly escaping with their lives, he rebuilds his forces and, to avenge his humiliation from Chi Bi, he claims victory at He Fei. Wu withdraws and Liu Bei passes away. In honor of the only man who he deemed to be the land's hero, Cao Cao decides to conquer Shu at Wu Zhang Plains. Zuo Ci, impressed with Cao Cao's longevity, remarks that he will slay him for the good of the land. Cao Cao prevails in the conflict and Sun Quan dies at He Fei Castle. Though the land's wars are at an end, Cao Cao continues to fight in order to fashion a land worthy of his image.
He has two Legend Modes in the Xtreme Legends expansion. One he shares with Xiahou Dun, Dian Wei, and Xu Zhu. To further his ambitions, Cao Cao leads an expedition to rescue the emperor from remnants of Dong Zhuo's army. With the young highness escorted to safety, Cao Cao designates himself as the emperor's new protector. He shares his second Legend Mode with Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren and Zhang He as they band together against the Five Bushel Sect. Cao Cao has two goals he wants met in this battle. On one hand, he thinks the sect's teachings are preposterous and doesn't want a sham religion to proclaim to help the people. He also wants Yang Ping Gate subjugated as it impedes their march against Liu Bei in Han Zhong.
Cao Cao's ending scene in Dynasty Warriors: Online shows him and his officers overseeing their town above the castle walls. Comparing his ambition to that of an endless wave, the warlord is satisfied with the player's loyalty as he vows to continue his conquests.
Dynasty Warriors 6 has Cao Cao start as a member of the Allied Forces. Although he is interested to end Dong Zhuo, his primary goal in the battle is to judge the other regional lords. He is the only one present who sets his eyes on the future and designates himself the land's hero as a result. To secure his lands, Cao Cao puts aside his fond memories of Yuan Shao and claims victory at Guan Du. After winning victory against Liu Bei and Sun Quan at Chi Bi, the emperor congratulates his efforts and offers the throne to Cao Cao. The conqueror refuses, stating that he only wants to dedicate his efforts to creating the new future that he sees for the land. To do so, he is willing to sacrifice his body and soul for this vision. He then leads another march and claims Mt. Ding Jun from the newly appointed king of Han Zhong, Liu Bei. Although he knows that Liu Bei is weakened, he remains weary of the former's ability to gain the people's trust and leaves Han Zhong in charge of his son.
With his forces keeping an eye on Liu Bei, Cao Cao decides to deal with Wu to bring a quicker end to the land's strife. Cao Ren struggles at Shi Ting and Cao Cao decides to personally reinforce his relative. Wu eventually falls in the wars and all that remains is Liu Bei. Deeming his final foe a worthy opponent, he wins the battle, and the new land he envisions is created. He decides to leave the fate of the land to the people. Cao Pi presumably assumes position as the new emperor and his generals protect the land's peace. Left with no other ambitions, Cao Cao removes himself from the capital and declares that he now walks the path of the heavens.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Cao Cao begins his usual role of suppressing the Yellow Turbans Rebellion with his cousins. He desires to create a new world in which one's effort, not status, nourishes the land. Ignoring Yuan Shao's demands to eliminate the Ten Eunuchs as the Han Dynasty falls into decay, Cao Cao suspects Dong Zhuo to be the greater threat and is invited to Luoyang Castle. Using the opportunity to observe the tyrant for himself, Cao Cao refuses to help Dong Zhuo and stages a dramatic escape. He then joins Yuan Shao's coalition to rout Dong Zhuo. The lop-sided balance of power ends with the warlords disputing and Cao Cao low on men. Therefore, he decides to subjugate the remnant Yellow Turbans in Yan Province for himself, gaining Dian Wei and Xu Zhu in his command after compelling them with his resolve. Tao Qian aims to eliminate him at Xu Province, but Cao Cao's forces are too strong to topple.
His influence in the center is undeniable, which is instrumental for his right to house the emperor at Xuchang. Choosing to first deal with Zhang Xiu, he invades the area surrounding Wan Castle. Due to Jia Xu's plot to feign a harmless surrender, Cao Cao and company are unknowingly trapped in an ambush at the castle. Cao Cao barely escapes the attack at the unfortunate cost of Dian Wei's life. Reuniting with his forces outside the castle, they lead a counteroffensive to drive Zhang Xiu into submission. Cao Cao personally corners Jia Xu and, though Xiahou Dun protests, decides to spare the man responsible for Dian Wei's death. While he compliments his new strategist's talents, he grimly warns Jia Xu to never double cross him. Soon after, Cao Cao and Liu Bei deal with Lu Bu at Xiapi.
After he orders Liu Bei to deal with Yuan Shu, Cao Cao learns the emperor had plotted an assassination for his life. He therefore confronts the emperor in person to learn the frightened man's intentions. Learning that the emperor is afraid of being killed by him, Cao Cao affirms his denial of the claim. A land without an emperor would cause the people to riot and render his ambitions meaningless. With the emperor left as his puppet to power, Cao Cao leads his army to conquer his former ally, Liu Bei, establishing Xu Province as his own. Uniting the north by defeating Yuan Shao, the common folk who fear Cao Cao follow Liu Bei's leadership. Demolishing Liu Bei's position in Jing Province, he orders that Liu Bei and the peasants be eliminated at Changban. He reasons that they have made their choice against his vision and are not worth of mercy.
He continues to pursue Liu Bei south and his navy suffers a deafening defeat at Chibi. Although heavily surrounded, Cao Cao escapes to safety. He inwardly feels unease by the losses he experienced and his uncertainties leak through at times, despite his will to suppress them for his ambition. After driving back Ma Chao's army, he seeks to take Hanzhong as his own and orders the majority of his army westward. Upon Xiahou Yuan's death, however, Cao Cao makes the hard choice of avoiding revenge and orders the withdraw from Mt. Dingjun. He does so in order to decimate Guan Yu's position in Jing Province, a man whose prowess stayed with Cao Cao as an impressive yet dangerous threat. With Guan Yu's death at Fan Castle, Cao Cao fortifies a strong future for Wei. Six months later, an ailing Cao Cao drops the pretense of living solely for his ambition. He speaks his honest thanks to Xiahou Dun, looks forward to reuniting with Dian Wei, and apologizes to Xiahou Yuan before he dies in bed.
Cao Cao's first Legendary Battle has him taking down Dong Zhuo before he can retreat to Xinyang. He fights through several officers blocking his path, including Lu Bu. In his second Legendary Battle, Cao Cao fights both Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao to protect the emperor.
Dynasty Warriors Next has Cao Cao first appear as reinforcements near the end of the Yellow Turban Rebellion. His story begins in the second chapter as a part of the anti-Dong Zhuo coalition, seeking to gauge the threat of his future competition. After cutting down Dong Zhuo at Chang'an and assisting Yuan Shu's fall, he conquers the north and confronts Yuan Shao. He has Jia Xu soften the enemy assault before personally joining the front lines at Guandu. His general activities from the previous title are repeated up to Chibi.
His fate is decided by the scenario the player has chosen. Shu's final chapter has him mortally wounded by Liu Bei's army at Xuchang. Sun Quan spares him for his irreplaceable intelligence in Wu's scenario, and he swallows his pride to accept the offer. He and Liu Bei survive under Sun Quan's leadership. Lu Bu's chapter has him unite with the other warlords to eliminate Lu Bu and fail, perishing during his second attempt. Wei's scenario has him attack Shu after Guan Yu's death, Wu's retreat from Hefei, and Sima Yi's strategies to weaken Shu take effect. He claims Chengdu as his own and personally defeats Sun Quan in honor of those who died for his cause. Despite achieving his unification, he ponders a future beyond his conquests. His soliloquy expresses his belief for every person to use their talents to find their purpose in life.
In the eighth installment, Cao Cao is first seen after his failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Despite this setback, he manages to escape from Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo's generals with help from his cousins, Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan with a mysterious dancer's help. He soon joins Yuan Shao's coalition to claim victory over Dong Zhuo. Cao Cao quickly abandons the alliance in search of talented followers and opportunities for conquest, first pacifying the remnants of the Yellow Turbans. Within a few months time, he protects the emperor's carriage and his forces provide him shelter. Cao Cao becomes the emperor's protector through his act, well aware of his lord's disdain for him. His major conquests from the seventh title occur again for the historical narrative, except Cao Cao leads a secondary campaign to dispatch the remaining members of Yuan family and he personally captures Xu Shu at Xinye. Cao Cao passes away off screen shortly after Fan Castle.
The hypothetical route has Dian Wei survive Wancheng, Guo Jia recover from his illness, and Xu Shu join Cao Cao willingly to allow Cao Cao to foil the fire attack at Chibi. Shortly after his victory, he continues his march through Wu and obliterates the Sun Family. While Cao Cao was preoccupied by Sun Quan, Liu Bei conquers the western side of the country, and the two compete for supremacy. Their struggle ends at Baidi Castle. Cao Cao retires and lets his son lead in government affairs, leaving Xuchang with his cousins for other horizons.
In Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, Cao Cao is one of the main antagonists in Lu Bu's story. The Hero of Chaos first appears at Hulao Gate to cut down Dong Zhuo personally after his strategist Chen Gong tests the might of Lu Bu for himself. He appears again later on at Puyang, surprised by the assault and is forced to retreat. After regrouping his men, Cao Cao follows Guo Jia's advice and attacks the undermanned garrison of Dingtao. In the historical route, he wins the previous conflict and regains control of Yan Province. When tensions flare between Lu Bu and Liu Bei, his sends Xiahou Dun along with his other top officers to Xiaopei to assist the latter. In a short amount of time, his men corner the "beast" at Xiapi. With a combination of fire and water attacks on the castle, he captures Lu Bu along with Chen Gong and Zhang Liao while deciding to ignore Lu Bu's daughter and lets her escape. Cao Cao decides to ask them their thoughts on strength to determine their fate and executes his former officer, hire Zhang Liao, and cuts down Lu Bu himself. Noting his wildness to the end he says farewell to "the beast of the chaos".
In the hypothetical route, he loses at Dingtao facing Liu Bei and Yuan Shao's intervention on behalf of Diaochan. Cao Cao is forced to abandon Yan Province altogether and attacks Liu Bei at Xu Province to restore his power base. After losing once more, he is forced to work together with the other warlords by sending reinforcements to his old friend at Guandu, and gather whats left of his army to defend Chang'an with Yuan Shao, Sun Ce, Liu Bei, and the remnants of Dong Zhuo's army. As Lu Bu and his men approach the north-east corner, the Hero of Chaos will try to stop him, only to fall in battle with the other defenders.
Cao Cao is playable in two of Wei's Xtreme Legend stages. In the first one, he works with Dian Wei and Guo Jia to rescue Xiahou Yuan's regiment as well as drive back Zhuge Liang from Hanzhong in "Mt. Dingjun Rescue Mission". In the second one, he appears with Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin defeat Guan Yu and his allies in "Pacification Of Jing Province". After the battle, the Shu and Wu get seriously weakened; allowing Cao Cao to end the chaos and celebrates with his men. Noticing Yu Jin by himself, he goes over to tell him that its okay to relax every now or then. Cao Cao praises the veteran for being at his side for so long.
During Wu's expanded storyline, Cao Cao will appear at Shouchun, fresh from his victory at Guandu being attacked by Sun Jian. During the battle, he will abandon his castle to charge at the allied main camp. He later appears at Runan opposing Yuan Shu's advance. At Lujiang, he is victorious at Chibi, and attempts to pursue the scattered Sun forces. He also appears to reinforce Liu Cong at Xiangyang. In Shu's storyline, Cao Cao reprises his role at the altered Changban, and is present in his final confrontation with Liu Bei at the Wuzhang Plains.
In Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed, Cao Cao first appears in Luoyang surrounded by enemy troops due to his failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Though aided by Liu Bei's party, he still ends up becoming a recurring antagonist starting in the Xuzhou campaign.
The first Wei-focused scenario has Cao Cao suffering heavy losses from Dong Zhuo's forces while taking an arrow injury during his escape. He is only saved thanks the efforts of Cao Hong and the player. Disgusted by the Alliance's indulgent celebrations, he decides to take matters into his own hands by recruiting more troops from Yangzhou and eradicating bandits to earn the trust of the people. His campaign against Yuan Shao is repeated, though he takes considerable efforts to oust Liu Bei from Xiapi with great haste to prevent any distractions.
Cao Cao's bond story starts off with him being given a promising assessment from Xu Shao. Having become a savvy administrator and heroic warlord in his own right, he also sees promise in Cao Pi whose growing skills he praises through poetry. But despite the many achievements he accomplished, his one regret is not recruiting the doomed Guan Yu to his side.
In Dynasty Warriors 9, Cao Cao begins humbly as a minor official called to fight the Yellow Turbans. Sensing further chaos from the fighting, Cao Cao witnesses the dilapidation of the imperial court at Dong Zhuo's hands and attempts to assassinate him. When the attempt fails thanks to Lu Bu coming to his adopted father's aid, he simply joins Yuan Shao's call-to-arms against Dong Zhuo. Returning to his home village to recruit his new officers and family members, Cao Cao is also surprised by the arrival of Cao Xiu, who had travelled several miles to join his uncle's army.
Though they are victorious, Luoyang was in flames, the emperor was in Chang'an, the Imperial Seal lost, and Dong Zhuo already dead at Lu Bu's hands. With nothing left to do, Cao Cao and the rest of the warlords left for their respective domains. Gaining the services of multiple strategists, Cao Cao attacks Tao Qian to take Xu Province in revenge for his father's murder by one of Tao Qian's subordinates. Though he slays the governor, Lu Bu's attack on Yan Province spells the end for the campaign, and Cao Cao returns to retake his lost cities from the Demon of Chaos.
Beginning his claim for the central plains, Cao Cao decides to rescue Emperor Xian from the remnants of Dong Zhuo's forces and warding off other would-be caretakers in Chang'an. When the emperor declares Xuchang as the new capital, Cao Cao allies himself with other warlords to eliminate Lu Bu and Yuan Shu to prepare for the upcoming showdown against Yuan Shao at Guandu. Due to having the emperor under his grasp and a more massive army, Zhang Xiu submits to Cao Cao and invites the warlord to his domain at Wan Castle. As soon as the warlord arrives, it is revealed to be an ambush by Zhang Xiu's forces, but Dian Wei's sudden intrusion allows Cao Cao to escape with his life. Once Zhang Xiu is defeated, Zhang Xiu's strategist, Jia Xu, is allowed to join Cao Cao's forces. To his sudden sadness, Cao Cao learns that Dian Wei has passed away to his injuries.
Pushing on, Cao Cao prevails over Lu Bu at Xiapi and eliminates Yuan Shu at Shouchun in order to pave the way to his confrontation with Yuan Shao. Although outnumbered, the superior quality of Cao Cao's army allows them to prevail over the disadvantage, and Cao Cao becomes the undisputed power of the north. Turning his attention south, Cao Cao proceeds to attack Liu Bei and clashes with him at both Bowanpo and Xinye before Liu Bei flees to Sun Quan of Wu. Content to face the alliance, Cao Cao prepares a fleet and heads south to fight his foes at Wulin.
With his southern campaign failing at Chibi after his naval forces are wiped out by the Liu-Sun alliance's fire attack, Cao Cao has his troops abandon Nanjun to Guan Yu in order to create a rift between their enemies. To aggravate secret dissidents, Cao Cao then declares himself King of Wei, and Ma Teng of Liang Province launches a rebellion against he warlord at Xuchang. Cao Cao, however, is assisted by Cao Xiu and stops the rebellion, killing Ma Teng in the process.
Moving west to defeat the remaining resistance under Ma Chao at Tong Gate, Cao Cao secures Liang Province and takes Hanzhong from Zhang Lu. Negotiating with Sun Quan in private at Ruxukou to cease his alliance with Liu Bei, Cao Cao intentionally gives up Hanzhong to Liu Bei in order to make Guan Yu leave Jing. True to his plan, Guan Yu is killed thanks to the sudden betrayal by Wu when the God of War attempts to capture Fan Castle to secure a clear path from Jing Province to Xuchang and the Central Plains.
Preparing orders that the men are not to mobilize in the case Liu Bei would attack Wu in revenge for the loss of Guan Yu and Jing Province, Cao Cao agrees to Xiahou Dun's request to rest, though he only promises to do so after writing one more set of orders. Shortly after, Cao Cao quietly passes away, but his final orders are issued: That the men and officials not leave their posts and that he not be mourned traditionally and publicly. While many of the remaining officers respect Cao Cao's wish, Xiahou Dun, in a surprising act of defiance, orders his men to pay respects while asking for his cousin's forgiveness.
In Orochi's scenario, Cao Cao leads one of the main forces who initially opposed the snake demon. At Yi Ling, his army does well until they're bombarded by cannon fire, something that the men of Wei have never seen before. Quick to overcome the shock, he counters with a fire attack. Despite his efforts, he is defeated and wounded to the point of a coma. Dian Wei carries him off to safety and hides from the public eye. Since many reports said that he died, Cao Pi becomes Wei's ruler in his absence.
In Warriors Orochi, he triumphantly returns to reinforce his son's army at Yamazaki in Wei's story mode. Though he is reinstated as Wei's ruler, he lets Cao Pi be the commander in their final attack against Orochi.
Cao Cao resumes his role as Wei's leader in Warriors Orochi 2, joined by the Mystic, Nu Wa. The latter decides to test Cao Cao's might and keeps quiet about the otherworldly events, including the Sun Wukong-led enemy army at Si Province. After defeating Lu Bu at Si Shui Gate, Cao Cao, who had seen through Nu Wa's charade, demands an explanation, and she reveals that Da Ji was planning to resurrect Orochi, prompting the Hero of Chaos to look to merge his forces with other factions.
As the war progresses, Nu Wa finds herself surprised how Cao Cao is able to turn any against-the-odds battle into a gain and opportunity. She fears if ever he would stray from the correct path, furthered by the straightforward words of Da Ji, who herself was scared that Nu Wa would not be able to stop Cao Cao.
After the battle at Tong Gate, he formally establishes and alliance with Nobunaga and the pair launch a joint attack on Orochi X at Guandu. After reinforcements from both Wu and Shu arrive, Cao Cao's army finally slays the Serpent King. While Yuan Shao hosts a banquet for their success, Cao Cao remains with Nobunaga and Nuwa, and he sarcastically asks the mystic if she is still concerned if the world would be in danger.
Cao Cao shares his dream mode with the other Three Kingdoms rulers as they challenge the Three Unifiers of Japan at Osaka Castle. He also appears in another dream stage alongside Guan Yu and Mitsuhide to test their respective offsprings in battle.
After Orochi's second defeat, Cao Cao wanted to unify the land under his country's name in the original timeline of Warriors Orochi 3. He once fought against Nobunaga for control but, during their power struggle, their forces were scattered and obliterated by Hydra and the serpent army. When the coalition return to Da Ji's past, Cao Cao's forces blocks their advance to Chengdu with a staunch defense at Fan Castle. Cao Cao and company oppose them on the assumption that they are obediently following Da Ji.
Although Ma Chao desires to avenge his slain clan when Cao Cao is defeated, the general spares him for the sake of saving the dimensional world's future. Convinced by the act of mercy, Cao Cao repays them by joining their cause. He later leads their army to reinforce Liu Bei and Ieyasu at Chengdu.
Still a major warlord after the Hydra's defeat in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, Cao Cao personally leads Wei in order to continue furthering the pressure against former Orochi associates. He fends off against Ma Chao at Tetorigawa, while the latter is being misled by a duplicate of Nagamasa. Seeing a new development of events, Cao Cao leads his forces to Mt. Niutou where Pang Tong is being attacked by demons. To his surprise, Pang Tong directs the Shu reinforcements sent to rescue him against the Wei forces. When it's revealed that Pang Tong was also a fake, Cao Cao agrees to provide his forces to help stop Tamamo. After Kyūbi's final defeat and being returned to their world, he listens to Cao Pi and Guo Jia's comments on their latest "dream".
Cao Cao arrived late into the parallel world at Warriors Orochi 4, being transported alongside Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan and Xun Yu. Not long after their arrival do they find themselves wedged inside a battle between Ares's army and Lu Bu's. Fortunately, reinforcements from Liu Bei arrive, and two are able to repel both armies. As a result, Cao Cao takes his forces to join the Coalition.
Hoping to figure out his son's reasons for aiding Ares, Cao Cao, along Mitsunari and the rest of Toyotomi armies attacks his son at his castle. Breaking the defenders by his sudden arrival, Cao Cao receives his son's hidden letter, revealing the key to destroying the barriers protecting Zeus.
He also leaves on a journey with Xun Yu to investigate the appearance of a large man with white hair, and a handsome, gentle man. Luring Guo Jia out with Oichi and a jar of wine, Cao Cao defeats Pang De's men and welcomes his strategist back to his side.
During one of the DLC scenarios, Cao Cao and Motonari learn of Yoshitsune splitting from Odin's army to duel Kiyomori, and assist the warrior in his quest. He also appears in a mock battle between the heroes of the Three Kingdoms against the heroes of the Warring States, leading the chinese forces at Ōsaka alongside Zhuge Liang. After his forces are defeated, Kiyomori appears to try and attack the exhausted japanese forces, but Cao Cao leads his allies to return and rescue the other Coalition members.
Dynasty Tactics begins his story with him defeating the forces of Li Jue. At one point, he may subjugate Lu Bu into servitude under a warning. In one of the game's scenarios for Wei, Cao Cao begins to feel ill while at war with Sun Quan and Liu Bei. Even if he wins that war, Cao Cao will eventually die of illness, leaving his son Cao Pi to succeed where he failed.
In one of his story routes in Dynasty Tactics 2, Cao Cao spots Sun Shang Xiang fighting on the battlefield. He is amused by her abilities and desires to have her in his army. During a later stand off with Liu Bei, she proudly stands by her husband and declares her loyalty to him. Cao Cao is startled to learn of her relation with his rival but continues his conquest to end Shu. If he wins, he spares the fleeing Liu Bei and Sun Shang Xiang, stating that he's content with being the land's ruler.
Cao Cao is one of the protagonists in Kessen II. He is a feared conqueror who wants to conquer the land and eventually travel west to Rome. He is chosen by heaven to rule and befriends Liu Bei in an attempt to one day overthrow him. After hearing his fortune from the prophet, Himiko, he betrays Liu Bei and kidnaps Diao Chan. He often demands for her to reveal the location of the Imperial Seal. At first, he's cruel but he softens once he spends more time with her. She begins to remind him of his mother, who was separated from him when he was a child.
Later in the game, his uncle, Cao Bu, reveals that he's actually Liu Bei's older brother. His mother gave birth to Liu Bei sometime after she disappeared from Cao Cao's life. He becomes torn by the news as he previously thought he had nothing to live for. Before his last battle with his rival, Cao Cao decides to create a peaceful land. In Shu's ending, he dies due to wounds sustained in battle. In Wei's ending, he becomes the new leader of the land. In gratitude for her support, he sets Diao Chan free and begins to appreciate his steadfast adviser, Xun Yu.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Cao Cao is among the top officers in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. His stats are usually in the 90's, except for his war stat which is in the low 70's. Most games list him as the officer with the highest leadership stat. He has a high aptitude with infantry, cavalry and archer units in most games, making him an excellent commander on the battlefield. His naval capabilities are fairly low in comparison though. His skill in the eleventh game grants a 100% success chance of battle ploys when used against officers with lower intelligence than him, making it quite easy to disable enemy units and allowing allied units to deal with them swiftly.
Cao Cao serves He Jin in the Yellow Turban Rebellion scenario and leads his own force in the subsequent scenarios. Some games have him serve Dong Zhuo in the second scenario, only for him to carry out the assassination plot and failing in it, causing him to flee and create his own force. Cao Cao is usually the easiest ruler to play as, especially in the later scenarios when he owns a very large territory, additionally to his pool of talented officers.
Cao Cao is seen as a cunning yet feared man. Relentless in his desire to end the land's chaos, he will use any means to achieve his plans, even if it makes him an enemy to the other kingdoms or to the Han Empire. However, he also has a fierce temper and will often scold his men's incompetence if the battle goes badly for him. In newer installments, Cao Cao is able to show more self restraint in terms of his emotions, being able to still act normally and rationally even when close aides such as Dian Wei or Xiahou Yuan die. In his eyes, as the lord of men, he must act to achieve his dreams lest his men simply die for no reason. Said newer installments also show Cao Cao to be much more just in his actions and more serious about ruling the land for the sake of stability, justice and order while almost being as emotional towards the well-being of some of his retainers as he was historically.
Caring little about status or olden traditions, he judges men solely based on their achievements and skill. Belying his bad reputation, he treasures his retainers and will treat them with generosity. He's particularly close to Xiahou Dun, as they seem to instinctively understand one another. Cao Cao also treats Dian Wei as a bodyguard and trusted right hand. Guo Jia acts as Cao Cao's most trusted tactical adviser and the two are implied to share drinks frequently. Many of his retainers admire his integrity and swear to never abandon him in ode to Cao Cao being very close to several of his subjects. He respects his son and is confident that Cao Pi will one day be his able successor. In some dialogue, he is also fond of the various arts such as poetry and military tactics, akin to his historical counterpart.
Humorously, Cao Cao as a nod to the novel has a bit of a desire for married women, as his desire for the Two Qiaos is a small running gag within the series, and his advances often make both women and their spouses squeamish; his son's playable incarnation also has not stopped Cao Cao's desire for his son's wife, and Cao Cao still makes advances in later installments. Despite knowing Guan Yu's loyalties, Cao Cao shows no restraint in inviting the general to join together, and soldiers from both Shu and Wei often report of how highly Cao Cao thought and treated Guan Yu during his temporary stay.
Despite being an enemy in Liu Bei and Sun Quan's eyes, he shows notable respect for both them in any final moments between them in Dynasty Warriors 8. He often deems Liu Bei to be his biggest rival and threat alike. He also shares a similar dynamic with Nobunaga Oda in the Warriors Orochi series. In the third installment, he respects Ieyasu's style of leadership as well as acknowledging how they could still be companions even with the major differences in their ruling style. In the fourth installment, he is impressed by Motonari's studious nature and passion for history and wishes to have the man act as the world's historian. He also expresses genuine happiness to be working alongside Chen Gong even after the strategist's desertion.
His personality in Kessen II is similar to, yet slightly different from his Dynasty Warriors counterpart. He's depicted as a ruthless tyrant with "a heart of ice". Harshly changed by war and forced to suppress his emotions, he's arrogant in his rightful rule with the Mandate of Heaven. However, he privately mourns losing his mother from a young age and truly wishes to make a world of peace. Meeting Diao Chan and learning his relation with his rival helps him overcome his warmongering bravado.
In the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Cao Cao is given the nickname of "The Majestic Premier" while the English version changes it to "The Hero of Chaos". As a dominant ruler in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, he along with Sima Yi and Dong Zhuo call their five greatest warriors the "Five Great Generals".
The swords famed to have been wielded by Cao Cao in Romance of the Three Kingdoms appear in both Dynasty Warriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The one he had by his side, the "Beside Heaven Sword", acts as his third and Standard weapons in Dynasty Warriors, with a variation of it being his fourth. Treasured by Cao Cao, its name implies the ability to "cut through" the heavens and it could slice through solid rocks with ease (and coincidentally ties into Cao Cao's luck pulling through for him several times in the novel).
Its counterpart is literally translated as the "Azure Band Sword", with the "Sword of Light" being one of its number of monikers, along with the name used for Dynasty Warriors version, the "Azure Crimson Sword" which was likely either a translation error or in ode to its crimson contrast (commonly used in Japanese media involving the said sword). Cao Cao wields the blade himself using its aforementioned crimson naming in the games as his Strength weapon, as well as a variation of it as his original fifth weapon. He left this sword in Xiahou En's care. When he heard Zhao Yun had ran off with it, Cao Cao immediately wanted the valorous warrior to be captured and brought to his side.
His Skill weapon, the Seven Star Sword, is a long sword of legend said to be engraved with the mythical Big Dipper constellation. Just as how the constellation is said to protect highest power of the universe, the sword is fabled to do the same for the land. It has the power to mystically guard a nation's prosperity and ward off any enemies. The particular star set in the center of the formation is associated as a fierce commander's star, which implies the sword additionally has the power to guarantee victory from any battle. Romance of the Three Kingdoms had Cao Cao tried to use the sword's reputation to assassinate Dong Zhuo, but the sword's glow eventually gave him away.
Cao Cao's personal item in the Asian ports of Warriors Orochi is the "New Book of Mengde". In order to educate his followers in the novel, Cao Cao authored the book for them while taking inspiration from the Art of War. While the intentions seemed righteous, the narrative twists it to instead be just another pompous act of Cao Cao's authority. Its existence caused him to look foolish in an incident when Zhang Song, who was angered by Cao Cao's rejection, instantly recited the book's contents on the spot. Upset by his own writings being used against him, Cao Cao ordered for Zhang Song to suffer one hundred whippings and for his work to be incinerated. The book in the novel is said to be roughly based on Cao Cao's actual notes on the Art of War, a compilation which is commonly titled Emperor of Wei's Annotation of Art of War. The main difference between the two books is that the historical text is actually praised and still being used today.
His personal item in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a direct reference to his exploits at Qing Province, where he responded to Bao Xin's call for aid against the Yellow Turbans in the province. Although Bao Xin was killed, the Yellow Turbans would all surrender to Cao Cao. As a result of this massive addition to his army, Cao Cao reformed the former Yellow Turbans into the Qingzhou Corps.
- Yukimasa Kishino - Dynasty Warriors series, Warriors Orochi series, Dynasty Tactics 2, Sangokushi Koumeiden (Japanese)
- Robert Belgrade - Dynasty Warriors 2 (English)
- Lee Jeong-gu - Dynasty Warriors 2 (Korean)
- Li Yingli - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Chinese)
- Kim Hwanjin - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Korean)
- John Snyder - Dynasty Warriors 4 (English-uncredited)
- Jeong Seung-uk - Dynasty Warriors 4~5, Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed (Korean)
- Douglas Rye - Dynasty Warriors 5~8, Warriors Orochi 1~2 (English-uncredited)
- Spencer Howard - Dynasty Warriors 9 (English)
- Zhen Zhang - Dynasty Warriors 9 (Chinese)
- Kazumasa Fukagawa - Dynasty Warriors Live Action Film (Japanese)
- Wayne Lai Yiu-cheung - Dynasty Warriors Live Action Film (Cantonese)
- Kirk Thornton - Kessen II (English-uncredited)
- Makio Inoue - Kessen II (Japanese)
- Junko Noda - Kessen II; as a child (Japanese)
- Banjō Ginga - Dynasty Tactics, Romance of the Three Kingdoms drama CD series (Japanese)
- David Lodge - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (English-uncredited)
- Jeong Jae-heon - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
- Yukitoshi Hori - Sangokushi 12 (Japanese)
- Tomokazu Seki - Sangokushi Legion (Japanese)
- Kazuhiko Inoue - Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII, Sangokushi Strategy (Japanese)
- Shigeru Chiba - Shin Sangokushi (Japanese)
- Kenjiro Tsuda - Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV (Japanese)
- Isshin Matsuo - Sangokushi Heroes (Japanese)
- Yuki Kaji - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
- Kenyu Horiuchi - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)
- Masashi Taniguchi - Butai Shin Sangoku Musou, Butai Shin Sangoku Musou Kanto no Tatakai, Butai Shin Sangoku Musou Sekiheki no Tatakai
- Kazuki Namioka - Butai Shin Sangoku Musou Keishū Soudatsusen IF
- Wang Kai - Dynasty Warriors Live Action Film
- See also: Cao Cao/Quotes
- "A smaller force defeating a much larger army... That is the beauty of strategy."
- "No matter how many bodies you throw in my path, you cannot stop the might of Wei!"
- "I will not give you the Emperor’s seat, but you can have this one."
- "Dong Zhuo lies ahead. Cao Cao, you would do well to commit his image firmly in your mind. If you too stray from the path of righteousness, then you shall suffer the same ugly defeat."
- "How dare you compare one such as me to that wretched pig?! My ambitions are not for personal gain! Wait, and you shall see!"
- ~~Zuo Ci and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 5
- "Cao Cao! I have come for your head!"
- "Hmph... So you've crawled out of your hole in Xi Liang to face me. Try and take this head if you dare, but it will not come cheaply."
- ~~Ma Chao and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires
- "Together we must open a path to a new world! We must let none stand in our way!"
- "What can you do with compassion? Liu Bei, you do not have what it would take to change the world."
- "Cao Cao! People can grow without the change you propose. It is that growth that will change the land!"
- "Can you not see? It is that which invites chaos! Mine is the only way!"
- ~~Liu Bei and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 6
- "My lord, I hear you have taken up writing books lately."
- "You're well informed, as usual. I have been organizing the teachings of Sun Tzu."
- "That sounds... interesting. But couldn't you just leave that to one of your subordinates?"
- "The teachings of Sun Tzu are too important. By my hand, they shall become immortal!"
- ~~Jia Xu and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 7
- "Cao Cao, what is it with you? I'm going to make sure you never bother me again!"
- "I am simply doing my duty of ridding the world of evil."
- ~~Dong Zhuo and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends
- "Shu has been destroyed. Father, your rivalry with Liu Bei has finally come to an end."
- "Yes... The ideals he lived by brought hope to many people. However, his followers need to accept that those ideals were unattainable and would never bring peace to the land. I plan to change the very land itself. I will ensure this sort of unrest never happens again. I will lead the people down a new path, created by reason and truth..."
- ~~Cao Pi and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors Next
- "Cao Cao, I did not expect you to come yourself. No matter! I shall be the one to slay you anyways!"
- "Do you really think you can stop me, you miserable little whelp? Underestimate my might at your own peril!"
- ~~Sun Quan and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 8
- "Orochi 'n me are good pals now, so don't expect to face him until you've dealt with me first. And I promise not to make this easy for you! Ha ha!"
- "Ha! You look like an interesting individual."
- "And you sound like a guy who knows how to enjoy a fight. Pleased to meet ya!"
- ~~Keiji and Cao Cao; Warriors Orochi
- "So, this is the Conqueror who would dare to test the might of Lord Orochi?"
- "Test? You dare relegate the ruler of Wei to something so trivial as that?"
- ~~Kiyomori and Cao Cao; Warriors Orochi 2
- "Having fought alongside you, Master Cao Cao, something has started to become clear to me. I see you, walking alone along the steep and harsh path of conquest, carrying an almighty burden on your back."
- "Everyone has their burdens, and their own solitary journey. Which is why they sometimes wish to share their path with others."
- ~~Ieyasu and Cao Cao; Warriors Orochi 3
- "Ah! Ah! You are Cao Cao, the conqueror himself! I'm amazed to be able to actually meet you! A hero who's name decorates so many books of history. This is such an honor!"
- "I see. The records of our time have been passed to future generations, just like the histories I myself have read. That seems to make sense. So tell me, Motonari Mōri. The histories are always written by the victors. Who was it, then, who left the records of my time for you to read?"
- "Ah, of course. For you, Master Cao Cao, I speak of events that are yet to come to pass. My apologies. I did not give this sufficient thought."
- "Heh. So that's where you draw the line. Very well. In all honesty, it was uncouth of me to ask."
- "There's one thing I can tell you, however. All of this is very different from the history that I know. In other words, no one knows what happens next."
- "I see. Then someone will have to scribe it. The records of our victory."
- "Ah! You're right! When that time comes, I hope you will allow me to hold the pen."
- ~~Motonari and Cao Cao; Warriors Orochi 4
- "Hahaha! You don't have what it takes to handle the Master of Mayhem."
- ~~Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI
- "Xiahou Ba, sometimes a general must choose to act like a coward in the field. You can't defeat tens of thousands by making a mad dash into oblivion."
- ~~Cao Cao reprimanding Xiahou Ba; Kessen II
- See also: Cao Cao/Movesets
Dynasty Warriors 9
|Keys:||Flow Attack •||Reactive Attack •||Musou •||Jump/Mount|
Cao Cao is affiliated with the general sword in this appearance.
- Unique Flow Attack:
- Unique Trigger Attack ( R1 + ):
- Special Technique (R1 + ):
- Musou ():
- Aerial Musou ( + ):
- See also: Cao Cao/Weapons
Dynasty Warriors 8
Cao Cao now uses the general's sword as his default weapon in this title.
- "Lord, your clear-thinking is superior to Yuan Shao. Your daring is superior to Yuan Shao. Your ways of employing men is superior to Yuan Shao. Your decisiveness is superior to Yuan Shao."
- ―Jia Xu at the Battle of Guandu.
Cao Cao was technically born to the Xiahou family, but his father was adopted into the Cao family so Cao Cao name stayed with the latter. This makes him related to two of his most trusted generals, Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan. He was a handful growing up as he was very cunning and mischievous. He had a passion for hunting and the arts as a child and his childhood friend was Yuan Shao (whom who he would later become enemies with). He was said to be kind and fair.
Rise to Power
Cao Cao was given a post in now days would equivalent to the police force in the capital Luoyang when he was older, and did not discriminate as to punishments. Once when a high ranking minister broke the curfew he gave him 50 lashes, this troubled the ministers enough that they "promoted" him to get him out that post. Cao did little noteworthy after which until the Yellow Turban where he proved himself as a general and given a high post. From this post he spoke out against Dong Zhuo when he usurped the throne. He joined the coalition against Dong Zhuo and supported Yuan Shao leading the coalition. Although they failed, Dong Zhuo was killed by Lu Bu. In the chaos in the capital Cao convinced the emperor to come to Xuchang under his control. This gave Cao Cao considerable influence in the courts. He thought Yuan Shao to be a good adviser to the Han and tried to put him in that post. This infuriated Yuan Shao as the post was actually lower than his current post. Cao Cao appeased him by giving his title.
Cao Cao was fairly quiet for the next few years till Lu Bu chased Liu Bei out his city. At this, Cao Cao drove an army to Xiapi and besieged Lu Bu's forces, diverting the nearby river to flood the city. After Lu Bu was captured by his own men, the warrior attempted to sweet talk Cao Cao into letting him join his army, claiming that together, they could easily conquer all of China. Cao Cao, always on the lookout for powerful recruits, almost accepted Lu Bu's offer, but Liu Bei reminded Cao Cao that Lu Bu had betrayed and murdered his several previous masters, so Cao Cao had Lu Bu executed as a precaution. Liu Bei stayed with Cao Cao a while but tensions strained and he left. Later on Yuan Shao raised a massive army to Guandu to retake the emperor. Although they overwhelmed Cao Cao's army in numbers, Yuan Shao ignored good advisers and they defected to Cao Cao and told him how to defeat Yuan Shao. Cao listened to their advice and burned Yuan Shao's supplies then chased his army down. Yuan Shao died shortly afterward and Cao Cao extinguished what was left of his army. Cao Cao then expanded his territory south, making use of fear so that military action was unnecessary.
Conflict with the Three Kingdoms
Inflamed by arrogance he started his army into a navy and went south to conquer Wu at Red Cliffs. However due to his arrogance in numbers he was careless and lost spectacularly, virtually wiping out his navy. It was a while before he himself could admit this defeat. A few years after the battle, he was shaken by the news of Liu Bei gaining land as he saw him as a man with potential. Both admired and rejected each other. He would have continued strife and skirmishes with both kingdoms mostly small scale rather than huge battle. In 216, Cao Cao took the title "King of Wei", named so after the districts he governed.
Historically, Cao Cao died in 220 from a severe stroke (thought to be a tumor due to his odd behavior and shaking). There are other ideas of how he died, including the influence of the mystic Zuo Ci. After his death, Cao Cao became part of the Chinese equivalent of the western phrase "Speak of the Devil" ("Speak of Cao Cao, and thus Cao Cao appears"). He governed the Wei district but wasn't a ruler of a kingdom, but was named as such posthumously.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- "In peace you are an able subject, in chaos you are a crafty hero."
- ―An apprehending of Cao Cao by Xu Shao.
Cao Cao, in his youthful years, loved the thrill of hunting, as well as the arts of song and dance. His father, Xiahou Song, was a descendant of the Xiahou bloodline, but was adopted by the Eunuch Cao Teng, and thus, Xiahou Song became Cao Song. Cao Cao was said to be extremely clever, as well as scheming and wild. His uncle, enraged at his nephew's constant antics, complained to Cao Song, who reprimanded his son. The next time Cao Cao saw his uncle, he pretended to be in a fit. The uncle, terrified, reported what happened to Cao Song, who rushed to his son only to find him calmly normal. Cao Song asked Cao Cao what was wrong and he responded, "Nothing of the sort ever happened. My uncle accuses me of everything because I have lost favor with him." Cao Song believed his son, and from then on ignored his brother's claims, leaving Cao Cao to do as he pleased, and grew up uncontrolled.
Around this time, a man by the name of Qiao Xuan said to Cao Cao, "The empire is near ruin only by a man capable of dominating the age. You could be the one." Throughout his youthful years, Cao Cao received much more praise. Another man, He Yu, said, "The house of Han is going to fall. Yet I feel certain this is the man to steady the realm." Cao Cao sought a reading from Xu Shao in Runan, who was known for his insight into one's human character. "What manner of man am I?" he asked Xu Shao, who refused to answer. The fortune teller eventually said, "In peace you are an able subject, in chaos you are a crafty hero."
The Han in Peril and the Seven-Star Sword
When Zhang Jue and his followers rose to cause what is known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion, Cao Cao had already been promoted to the rank of Cavalry Commander, and led five thousand mounted soldiers to the district of Yingchuan for the imperial Han. There he encountered a fleeing troop of Yellow Turbans headed by two of the three rebel leaders, Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang, who were also Zhang Jue's brothers. Cao Cao's troop killed thousands in the ensuing battle, while also taking horses, banners, gongs, and other military apparel. The two rebel leaders escaped, splitting up, with Cao Cao joining with the main imperial force and pursuing Zhang Liang. With seven consecutive victories against Zhang Liang, the Rebellion crumbled with its leaders dying off.
Cao Cao later helped in defeating the corrupt Ten Eunuchs. Though he was called "inferior" by the Regent-Marshal He Jin, he voluntarily helped in guarding He Jin before his death.
With Emperor Xian without close advisers, Dong Zhuo took the position as one and essentially took over the imperial court. Yuan Shao called for the minister Wang Yun to come up with a plan to assassinate the self-proclaimed Prime Minister Dong Zhuo, and under the guise of a birthday, Wang Yun gathered all of the other officials into his home. He and the others began weeping at the thought of Dong Zhuo's tyranny, but Cao Cao mocked them, asking, "This courtful of nobles can weep 'till morning and round to the next evening, too. But can you weep Dong Zhuo to death?"
He later volunteered to assassinate Dong Zhuo, as Cao Cao was close and trusted enough by him. He was given the Seven-Star Sword, a jeweled dagger, and the next day, Cao Cao arrived at the prime minister's private quarters, went behind Dong Zhuo's back, and prepared to stab him. However, Dong Zhuo quickly turned around and asked what Cao Cao was doing, as he could see the weapon from the metal reflectors on his person. Cao Cao saw Lü Bu, the powerful adoptive son of Dong Zhuo, and, shakily dropping to his knees, proposed the weapon as a gift to distract Dong Zhuo. The prime minister accepted the gift, and Cao Cao fled.
Escape from Dong Zhuo
- "I would rather betray the world than have the world betray me!"
- ―Cao Cao's signature quote.
Because he was found out, Cao Cao was named as a wanted fugitive. He was passing Zhongmou county for his home district when he was arrested by the guards at the gates and taken for questioning. When questioned, Cao Cao said his surname was Huangfu and was a traveling merchant, however, the magistrate recognized him and after folling with him for some while said, "I knew you as Cao Cao when I was in Luoyang seeking office. Why are you concealing your identity? You are under arrest. Tomorrow I will deliver you to the capital for the reward." The guards were sent away by the official, and that night, he took Cao Cao and questioned where was Cao Cao going. Cao Cao responded by saying he'd go back to his village and rally the other lords for a unified military action against Dong Zhuo. Afterwards, the magistrate personally removed Cao Cao's bonds, and introduced himself as Chen Gong. Together and armed with a sword each, they set out for the village.
After three days worth of traveling, they stopped at a location called Chengao, and came to the home of Cao Cao's father's oath brother, Lu Boshe. After conversing of the recent events and welcoming Chen Gong for saving the Cao clan's lives, Lu Boshe went out and said he was going to get wine. After sitting awhile, Cao Cao overheard knives being sharpened, and someone shout "Let's tie 'em up an' kill'm." Cao Cao and Chen Gong both went into the farmhouse where they heard the mumbling, slaughtered everyone in the house, but almost immediately saw a trussed pig for slaughtering. The two fled the scene, and later encountered the wine-carrying Lu Boshe back on the road, while the uncle tried stopping Cao Cao, earnestly saying he was supposed to have his family slaughter a pig for dining. Cao Cao and his companion rode on, but the former rode back and called out to Lu Boshe before cutting him down. Chen Gong, astounded, said, "What had happened at the farm was a mistake ― But why this?"
Cao Cao reasoned with speculation that Lu Boshe after finding out about the killings would have a mob after the murderers, but was met with: "But you murdered him knowing he was innocent ― a great wrong." Cao Cao said, "I would rather betray the world than have the world betray me!"
The next day, Cao Cao realized Chen Gong had left after thinking him inhumane, and went out to his home, relaying the recent events to his father and suggested him to have the family property sold to recruit troops. Instead, a wealthy local by the name of Wei Hong, was convinced by Cao Cao's ambition to donate his funds to the cause of raising an army. Cao Cao forged an imperial decree and had it sent to various areas, recruited some volunteers and raised a white flag bearing the words "Loyalty and Honor." Support came pouring in, and one day, two men named Yue Jin and Li Dian came to offer their service. They were assigned as headquarters guards. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, and Cao Hong, all of whom were Cao Cao's relatives from different sides of the family, also came, bringing a total of one thousand men each. Clothing, banners, grain, and armor later came in from Wei Hong and other benefactors.
The Allied Forces
Yuan Shao arrived later with an army of thirty thousand to form an alliance with Cao Cao, and soon seventeen other lords came and camped outside of the area. Cao Cao recommended Yuan Shao as leader of the Allied Forces, considering his family's importance in the Han court from the previous four generations.
When Dong Zhuo's forces were retreating from Tiger Trap Pass and Luoyang, Cao Cao asked the other lords why weren't they pursuing the confused army of the enemy, but they all agreed it would be better to rest the troops. Cao Cao, disagreeing, led his own force of ten thousand to pursue Dong Zhuo. After being beat back, Cao Cao's army was ambushed by a command led by Xu Rong. Cao Cao rode blindly, running into Xu Rong, who then hit Cao Cao in the upper arm with an arrow. He quickly fled, but was again ambushed by a pair of soldiers who cut down his horse and seized him. Cao Hong rode out, slayed the two soldiers, and the two escaped. Dawn came, and, yet again, Xu Rong appeared to kill Cao Cao. Just in time, Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan appeared with several dozen horsemen scattered Xu Rong, who himself was killed by Xiahou Dun.
His whole force reunited, Cao Cao came back to Luoyang, where the allied forces were headquartered, and was met with a banquet in hopes of cheering him up. Despaired, Cao Cao explained his plan of having the lords occupy and protect each of the surrounding regions, letting their power be known to the land, gain the support of commoners, and eventually defeat Dong Zhuo. He then made clear how the anti-Dong Zhuo armies lost the confidence of the commoners, and his own shame. Cao Cao left his allies, as did Gongsun Zan and Liu Bei.
Dong Zhuo was later betrayed and killed by his own adopted son Lu Bu, and the two remnants of his force, Li Jue and Guo Si seized control of the court and the emperor.
Building His Forces
Cao Cao was recommended by Zhu Jun to put down a Yellow Turban rebellion in Qingzhou. As such, he was sent with Bao Xin, another governor, to put the uprising down. Bao Xin was later killed in his own charge, and Cao Cao soon merged the troops left from Bao Xin with his own. Wherever he went, rebels swore alleigance to him and were merged with his force. In only one hundred days, Cao Cao had the surrender of over three hundred thousand troops, and one million noncombatants. His fame spread through the land, and he was promoted to General who Guards the East.
Xun Yu, and his nephew, Xun You were later summoned into Cao Cao's service. They recommended Cheng Yu, who recommended Guo Jia, who recommended Liu Ye, who in turn recommended Man Chong and Lu Qian into service. Mao Jie was also advised to be accepted. A warrior by the name of Yu Jin entered Cao Cao's service with several hundred troops, and Xiahou Dun had a colossal man by the name of Dian Wei come into the army.
- "Cao Cao in all his vaunted cunning,
- Slew his hosts and kept on running.
- Now that his whole clan's been slain,
- The scales of Heaven are level again.
- ―A poet describing the event.
Cao Cao wished to reunite with his family, so his father and entire clan loaded up and traveled to Cao Cao. They passed through Xu province, whose imperial inspector was Tao Qian, a warm man who had always wished to be associated with Cao Cao. He treated the passing Cao clan with the utmost hospitality, and even held a two-day banquet for them. Tao Qian personally escorted them out of the area and had one of his generals, Zhang Kai, accompany them for safety along with five hundred men. However, during a stormy travel, Zhang Kai and his followers discussed slaying the Cao clan and stealing their goods to become rich. They did so, and burned down the temple they were staying at. Some messengers were able to escape and made their way to Cao Cao to report what had happened.
Cao Cao fell to the ground, crying, and gnashed his teeth together, swearing revenge against Tao Qian, whom Cao Cao believed allowed his family to die. He ordered a full-scale invasion of Xu province, leaving only thirty thousand of his men to guard his territory. His armies slaughtered all of the inhabitants of the province wherever they went. He rejected the pleadings for ceasefire by Chen Gong, who had sought to bring peace, and Liu Bei.
Word soon came that Lu Bu was attacking Cao Cao's territory of Puyang, so Cao Cao withdrew his forces.
Cao Cao would later found the empire that would become the Wei dynasty, with his successor Cao Pi abdicating the emperor after Cao Cao's death.
- His nickname is "Cow Cow" for having his name spelled as written regardless of how it's supposed to be pronounced as tsao tsao in the early games. This correctly pronounced name is the first English dub since Dynasty Warriors 6 to do the same -other than Romance of the Three Kingdoms- was the Warriors Orochi series.
- Cao Cao in his Dynasty Warriors 7 design appeared as a boss character during a collaboration quest in Road to Dragons.
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