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Li Yan
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV/100man-nin no Sangokushi portrait
Character Information
Force(s): Liu Biao's Forces
Liu Zhang's Forces
Weapon Type: Sword
Unit Type: Strategist
Significant Battle(s):
First Appearance: Dynasty Warriors 3
Historical Information
Real name:
Lǐ Yán
Chinese name:
李嚴 - 李严
Style name:
Chinese name:
Changed his name to Li Ping (李平) during 231 AD.

Li Yan (onyomi: Ri Gen) is an officer who served Liu Zhang. Both he and Fei Guan later join Liu Bei. Zhuge Liang claims him to be on par with Lu Xun, but Li Yan is shown to be a failure at a critical juncture during the northern campaign.

Role in Games[]

Li Yan wears yellow even after he joins Liu Bei in Dynasty Warriors 3.

In Dynasty Warriors 4, he is one of the defenders of Cheng Du fighting for Liu Zhang. During the fighting in the Mian Zhu forest, Zhuge Liang plans an ambush for the general. If it works, Li Yan will fight to the last but is eventually captured. Li Yan will appear as the first wave of Shu reinforcements at the battle of Xin Castle in Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends and reinforce Zhang Lu at Yang Ping Gate. In the sequel, he is the lieutenant for Ma Dai at the Battle of Wu Zhang Plains.

Dynasty Warriors 7 has Li Yan appear for the first time at Xiakou, facing the Wu forces. He then appears at Chengdu fighting for Liu Zhang. For his service in Shu, he arrives as enemy reinforcements at Yangping Gate and participates in the Battle of Mt. Dingjun.

In addition to appearing at Chengdu and Mt. Dingjun again, Li Yan also appears as an enemy at Yiling and Jing Province in Wu's story in the sequel. In Shu's hypothetical path, he also participates in the subjugation of Nanzhong and the attack on Luoyang. In Wei's hypothetical path, he is among the officers who protect Liu Bei during his escape at Nanjun.

In Dynasty Warriors 9, Li Yan and Wu Yi are tasked with protecting Mianzhu as it leads directly to Zhang Ren's base at Luo Castle. The pair can be defeated and made to surrender. Doing so will make Zhang Ren an easier target. Additionally, Ma Dai can help attack the pair if he has found the secret path to Mianzhu.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Li Yan is a very good officer with his stats ranging from the high 70's to the mid 80's overall save for his charisma which rests around the low 50's, likely in reference to his uncooperative nature. He performs well with infantry and archer units and can be found at Wan in the early scenarios. Later on, he will serve Liu Biao, Liu Zhang and Shu. In the "Gathering of the Heroes" scenario, he is usually a member of Meng Da's army.

For the fourteenth title in the series, Li Yan character traits increase his units defense when deployed (Defense), can build facilities and traps at a faster rate (Castle Builder), increase his units mobility when assigned to transport supplies (Transporter) and increase the rate public order rises in areas he is assigned as overseer (Lawful). Conversely, his unit will suffer a decrease in morale when troop count decreases to a certain threshold (Haughty). His selection of formations include the balanced Fish formation, the ranged Goose formation, Crane formation and also the ability to deploy Siege Towers. These qualities alongside his good stats across the board make Li Yan a very effective general for different circumstances in battle. The administrative policy he offers substantially increases the carry rate and speed of transport units (Develop Transport Lv 04), likely in reference to his role as a logistics officer. In the what-if scenario "Enduring the Autumn Winds" where the setting has Zhuge Liang survive, win the battle of Wuzhang Plains and capture Changan and Shanyong, Li Yan can be found as a free officer within the region of Zitong, referencing Zhuge Liang's agreement to re-appoint him as an officer at a later date.

Voice Actors[]

  • Chie Satō - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
  • Yukihiro Nozuyama - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)


  • "Lord Liu Zhang will never hold Yi Province should we just surrender to Liu Bei?
  • "Watching you, I now see the truth. We can't hope to defeat Liu Bei's forces. I've made up my mind. I will join you."
  • "You can give orders, but you can't fight for yourself huh?"
"Hmph, Bark all you Want, dog"
~~ Li Yan and Sima Yi; Dynasty Warriors 5

Historical Information[]

Li Yan was born in Nanyang. When he was young, he served Liu Biao as a secretary and guardsmen. When Cao Cao invaded, he fled to Yizhou and served Liu Zhang. Liu Bei invaded years later and Li Yan was ordered to have his army defend Mianzhu. Rather than fight, both he and Fei Guan chose to surrender. After the siege of Chengdu, he was appointed the Grand Administrator of Jianwei. He worked together with Zhuge Liang, Fa Zheng, and Xu Jing to restore and keep the peace in order for Shu Han. In 218, Ma Qin, Gao Sheng, and others staged a rebellion in Zizhong. Li Yan lead five other Generals of the Right to subdue them and the rebels were quickly dealt with. He was summoned to Liu Bei's bedside in Baidicheng in 222. He and Zhuge Liang were personally entrusted by Liu Bei to guide Liu Shan and oversee internal and external affairs. Li Yan helped perform his liege's last wishes and stayed in Tianshui.

By 223, he was appointed one of the generals who would guard the imperial throne. He continued to gain many great ranks and titles for his contributions, some of which include rescuing Gao Xiang and keeping Wu away from Baidicheng. He was ordered by Zhuge Liang to take part in the battle along Han River against Cao Zhen. When his allies needed to fall back, Li Yan tried to face the enemy to cover their escape. He then returned to Hanzhong after the battle to preside over affairs in the state. He and his troops marched from Hanzhong a year later, but the heavy rainfall made Zhuge Liang call off the attack. Since resources and men's lives were wasted, Li Yan was criticized and ridiculed by Zhuge Liang and the people for incompetence and was exiled to Zitong.

Zhuge Liang wanted to amend for his error and requested him to return, but Li Yan's son, Li Feng, opposed the idea. Li Feng suggested to better his father's reputation before being forced to return in disgrace. Li Yan agreed and sought to redeem himself before returning home. The strategist died before he could rightfully prove himself and Zhuge Liang's successors refused to reinstate him. He grieved heavily and passed away soon after Zhuge Liang's death. His son succeeded him as head of the family.

He once received a letter from Zhuge Liang with high hopes to make him his successor and mentioned the nine bestowments in preparation for the event. The strategist predicted that if they were to destroy Wei, both he and Li Yan would refuse to receive nine and demand for ten imperial awards.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms[]

Li Yan in Romance of the Three Kingdoms is Fei Guan's vassal and friend. He helped reinforce Mianzhu in chapter 64. Together, they lead an army of 30,000. He ordered by Fei Guan to beat Huang Zhong and Wei Yan's armies into a stalemate. The following day, he challenges the elder warrior to a duel and was lured into Wei Yan's ambush in the mountains. Zhuge Liang spared his life as he wished for the warrior to surrender. Allowed to return to his base after he submits, he convinced his good friend of Liu Bei's goodness and they join Shu together. Both generals received the title, General of the Right Army, when Liu Bei became the Imperial Protector of Yizhou.

He isn't mentioned again until chapter 85. The Prime Minister reported to Liu Shan that Li Yan spoke with his sworn friend, Meng Da, and urged him to feign illness and not move his army during Cao Pi's five-pronged attack. Li Yan was in charge of the Palace of Eternal Peace. He is later mentioned to be a worthy match for Lu Xun and was later given the task to deflect Wu's future attacks. Li Yan initially proved this assessment true when he finally convinced Meng Da to defect and return back to Shu following Cao Pi's death. Had Sima Yi not traced the treachery, Meng Da could've easily taken Chang'an and joined Zhuge Liang during his first northern expedition.

He continued to send supplies across the western Riverlands from Baidicheng throughout Zhuge Liang's expeditions. During the fourth campaign, however, since he did not have enough resources to re-supply for another expedition, Li Yan made a false report that Wu was ready attack the capital and urges Zhuge Liang for orders. The strategist, left with few supplies, decided to abandon his position and hurry back to the capital. Once he learned that he was tricked, he ordered for Li Yan to lose his head. Since Liu Bei had previously favored him, his life was spared but he was stricken from his ranks as a result. He died after hearing of the strategist's passing as his promise of a future office went with Zhuge Liang.