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Yuan Shao
Dynasty Warriors 9 artwork
Character Information
Force(s): Han
Yuan Shao's Forces
178 cm (5'10")
Weapon Type: Sword (2)
Longsword (3~6)
Rapier (7)
Extension blade (8~9)
Significant Battle(s):
Playable Debut: Dynasty Warriors 2
Historical Information
Real name:
Yuán Shào
Chinese name:
袁紹 - 袁绍
Style name:
Chinese name:
June 28, 202
Warriors Orochi Info
Wu Territory (WO1)
Shizugatake (WO2)
Jiange (WO3)
Luoyang (WO4)
Character Type:
Technique (WO1~2)
Speed (WO3~4)
Personal Item:
Crest of Nobility
Sacred Treasure:

Yuan Shao (onyomi: En Shō) was a nobleman and ardent supporter of the Han Dynasty who raised a large, powerful army in response to the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Initially born of low prestige, he grew to be a kind-hearted figure of charisma and went against the tyranny of Dong Zhuo. During the twilight years of the Han Dynasty, he eventually grew more arrogant and corrupt as he reigned as a supreme northern power until his death. His territories were eventually claimed by his former friend, Cao Cao. He is the father of Yuan Tan, Yuan Xi, and Yuan Shang. His younger half-brother is Yuan Shu.

His Dynasty Warriors incarnation is forty-first place in Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll and fifty-fourth in the Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends poll. The latest poll for the eighth installment puts him in sixty-third. The character poll for overseas fans puts him in eighth place for the Other division. This counterpart has a character image song, Majestic Beauty.

Role in Games[]

"Your noble blood shines like precious metal!"
~~Yoshimoto; Warriors Orochi

Dynasty Warriors[]

Yuan Shao is a proud nobleman who wants to uphold his prestigious family name. When Cao Cao gathers the surrounding regional lords to take a stand against Dong Zhuo's tyranny, he nominates Yuan Shao to be their leader. In honor of his family's reputation, Yuan Shao leads the Allied Forces at Si Shui and Hu Lao Gates. He tries to restore order in the capital, but ultimately loses his trust in the Han Dynasty. With his own ambitions, he often conquers Gongsun Zan in the north and becomes one of the largest forces in the land when he suppresses Hua Bei. He attacks the central plains and confronts Cao Cao at Guan Du. In most scenarios, he either dies or suffers a grave defeat from the battle. A few titles mention a follow up campaign to completely destroy his family.

In Dynasty Warriors 3: Xtreme Legends, Yuan Shao, instead of dying at Guan Du, defeats Cao Cao, who fades temporarily into obscurity. He then moves to wipe out Liu Bei, who leaves his service after encountering Guan Yu at Guan Du. After destroying Liu Bei at Chang Ban, Yuan Shao heads to Fan Castle, defended by his general Zhang He, to reinforce him against the allied armies of Guan Yu, who escapes Chang Ban alive, and Sun Quan, who rules in the Wu kingdom. After he defeats them and takes over much of Wu, Sun Quan marches against him at He Fei Castle, but Yuan Shao defeats him again, destroying the Wu kingdom. Yuan Shao's final enemy is Cao Cao, who not only takes over most of Yi Province from Liu Zhang, but also manages to raise a large army to confront Yuan Shao. Though the efforts of Cao Cao and his strategist Sima Yi are fierce and determined, Yuan Shao is victorious and unites China under the Yuan family rule.

Dynasty Warriors 4 has Yuan Shao participate in the Han's forces during the Yellow Turban Rebellion. He continues to lead the Allied Forces and completely destroys Cao Cao at Guan Du. As the ruler of northern China, he proceeds to conquer Liu Bei and Sun Jian to unify the land. While Yuan Shao is an unavoidable obstacle in Wei's story, he can also be fought as an optional foe during Wu's third act.

His Legend Mode in the Xtreme Legends expansion takes place during the Battle of Jieqiao, one of the conflicts between him and Gongsun Zan. The cavalry general assembles his fearsome "White Riders" unit to charge through Yuan Shao's army. Although the horse riders are known for their skill, Yuan Shao refuses to withdraw his troops and orders his army to stand firm. With the pride of his family on the line, Yuan Shao personally counters the famed cavalry. He encounters Zhao Yun, Liu Bei, and Liu Bei's brothers trying to stop him, but he eventually faces Gongsun Zan's personal unit and cuts his adversary down.

In his story in Dynasty Warriors 5, he subjugates the Yellow Turbans in Ji Province and personally lead the Allied Forces at Si Shui Gate. Yuan Shao doesn't destroy Dong Zhuo personally since his army does it for him in the capital. Realizing that the Han Dynasty is losing its power, Yuan Shao decides to create a new land. As he returns home, Zhang Yan and Gongsun Zan invade his home with former Yellow Turban members. Taking pity on the general, Yuan Shao temporarily shelters Lu Bu and orders him to join the march in Chang Shan. Deciding to prevent the general's defection is optional as Lu Bu does not appear in Yuan Shao's army after the battle. Soon afterwards, he faces Cao Cao at Guan Du and slays his rival to claim the central plains. Rewarded with various imperial rewards and titles, the land's wars end and Yuan Shao is named the land's new emperor. He swears to his army that he will create a land worthy of the Yuan family.

He shares his Legend Mode in the Xtreme Legends expansion with Dong Zhuo. Both men desire to save the emperor from the plot of the Ten Eunuchs, but the two of them have different desires in the battle. Yuan Shao wants to save He Jin and liberate the court from the eunuch's influence. Punishing the eunuchs, he declares that the land should better know his family name but worries about the Han's decline. To prevent such an event from happening again, Yuan Shao reasons that it may be time for his family to shine.

Yuan Shao's ending scene in Dynasty Warriors: Online has him hold a public meeting with his soldiers. Praising them and the player for their steadfast loyalty, he officially welcomes them as part of the nobility as a sign of gratitude.

Yuan Shao continues to be the army's commander at Hu Lao Gate in the following title and fights Cao Cao at Guan Du. He play a bigger role in Lu Bu's story. When Lu Bu interferes at Guan Du, Yuan Shao joins forces with Cao Cao, commenting that they could both lose to him. However, this proves unsuccessful, and Yuan Shao leaves in disgust while warning Lu Bu and his army they don't know of the possible damage they are causing. He returns at Hulao Gate, where he is part of a large coalition group along with Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Sun Quan, Dong Zhuo and Zhang Jiao. Although Yuan Shao retreats after being unable to stop Lu Bu's advance, he works with the other Warlords to attack him at once. However, Yuan Shao and the others are slain as a result, thus ending the conflict at Hulao Gate. In Special, he survives his defeat from Cao Cao and makes a final stand against his enemy's forces at He Bei. He works together with his family, relying on his sons to aid him.

During Wei's Story Mode in the seventh title, Yuan Shao can be seen ranting to Cao Cao during his stay in the capital. Yuan Shao reviles the Ten Eunuchs for their corruption and despises Dong Zhuo for his underhanded methods of gaining power. When Cao Cao is unmoved by his speech, Yuan Shao yells for him to join his cause to eliminate Dong Zhuo. Like other titles in the series, he is then seen as the commander of the Anti-Dong Zhuo Coalition. However, he is commander in name only since he would rather flaunt around his title and dramatic words of inspiration than lead the men. He throws a fit when Hua Xiong and Lu Bu prove a threat for their march. After the coalition disbands with Dong Zhuo's death, Yuan Shao learns that Sun Jian possesses the Imperial Seal and demands the warlord to fork it over to him. His declaration is answered with Sun Jian seeking shelter under Yuan Shu.

Yuan Shao meets his end in Story Mode at Guandu. During Shu's Story Mode, he offers shelter to Liu Bei after the latter's failed attempt to declare independence from Cao Cao in Xu Province. Once Yuan Shao learns that Guan Yu is serving within Cao Cao's forces, an angered Yuan Shao calls Liu Bei a traitor and chases Liu Bei away from his patronage. In Wei's Story Mode, he opposes Cao Pi's march and is defeated. Infuriated by being beaten by his nemesis's offspring, Yuan Shao curses that he will never forgive the indignation. However, he dies a few years later. His death is reported to Cao Cao and Cao Pi.

His first Legendary Battle lets players fight for Yuan Shao and his army at Luoyang alongside to topple Dong Zhuo for good. During his second Legendary Battle, Yuan Shao leads an army to take the Imperial Seal away from Sun Jian. His last Legendary Battle gives players the opportunity to defend against and defeat Cao Cao's Army at Guandu.

The Xtreme Legends expansion has him star in a Hero Scenario regarding his suppression of Gongsun Zan. Thinking the braggart shows disrespect to his family name, their armies clash at Jieqiao. Aware of the reputation of Gongsun Zan's cavalry, Yuan Shao first prepares his formations to deal with the threat by defeating the charging generals in the south. Although his men, including Zhao Yun may struggle, the ploy succeeds if the player acts quickly. With the horsemen's ferocity numbed, Yuan Shao's forces charge Gongsun Zan's main camp. Liu Bei and his brothers, who are friends of the enemy general, attempt to intercept them.

Ultimately, Yuan Shao succeeds and gloats with his superior might and reputation over his adversary. His family's name is untarnished and shines brighter than ever. Thus is how Yuan Shao has earned his nickname, "The Head of Hebei".

Dynasty Warriors Next introduces Yuan Shao in the second chapter where he rallies the other warlords following the formation of their alliance against Dong Zhuo. He vows to deliver them victory, though Cao Cao's group scoffs at his arrogance. Throughout the campaign, Yuan Shao makes questionable decisions that would have hindered the coalition's progress if not for Cao Cao's resourcefulness.

He becomes Cao Cao's final opponent during the fourth chapter. Using his superior numbers to attack Guandu Castle, he is forced to retreat after sustaining casualties from Wei's ballista attack. Deciding to take matters into his own hands after losing Wuchao, Yuan Shao challenges his rival to a duel only to die in the end. He also serves as an opponent for Lu Bu in the latter's own chapter. Yuan Shao can only be controlled by the player in Conquest Mode.

In Dynasty Warriors 8, his role remains similar to that of before, where he leads the coalition at Hulao Gate and proudly opposes Dong Zhuo. An important figure in the early part of Wei and Shu's story modes, his appearance fluctuates as either an ally or an enemy, such as appearing to take the emperor from Cao Cao's care or turning on Liu Bei because he discovered that Guan Yu was with Cao Cao. The key difference in Wei's story is that he is killed by Cao Cao upon his defeat at Guandu. His original scenario details the battle of Guandu from his perspective, where his army and Liu Bei need to push back Cao Cao's men. With Yan Liang and Wen Chou slain by Guan Yu, Yuan Shao personally heads out to deal with him and any other problems such as Guo Jia and Yue Jin before Liu Bei notices. By thwarting each of Cao Cao's tactics, morale of generals such as Zhang He and Zhenji will rise and Ju Shou will praise Yuan Shao. By defeating Cao Cao, it ends with Yuan Shao the triumphant winner.

The Xtreme Legends expansion has Yuan Shao play an important role in Lu Bu's story. First coming to help with the subjugation of the Ten Eunuch's rebellion, he immediately gathers a coalition to oppose him during the war against Dong Zhuo in Hulao Gate. The two of them resume being allies when Lu Bu is landless and out of desperation, offers his services to fight alongside Yuan Shao at Changshan. At this point, he no longer appears in Lu Bu's historical route. On the hypothetical route, Yuan Shao arrives to Lu Bu's defense against Cao Cao at Puyang. He also arrives with reinforcements at Dingtao, preventing them from losing the battle as in the historical route. However, they are once again on opposing sides, contending with one another at Guandu. Losing the battle, Yuan Shao joins forces with the remnants of Dong Zhuo's army as well as Lu Bu's previous allies and enemies only to die defending Chang'an.

Yuan Shao is also given two additional what-if scenarios in Story Mode. The first stage pits him against the forces of Sun Ce in Chibi where he finds out about their fire attack and manages to thwart it, thus leading to Wu's defeat while the second has him challenge the other notable families in the land to prove his clan's superiority.

During the retelling of Guandu in Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed, Yuan Shao initially trusts Liu Bei enough to lead an expedition to Baima on his behalf. However, his belief turns into animosity the moment Yan Liang and Wen Chou lose their lives to Guan Yu, leading him to confront Liu Bei and the player as a boss at the end of the campaign.

Much of Yuan Shao's bond story focuses on his efforts to further his family name from leading the Alliance against Dong Zhuo to absorbing Gongsun Zan's territory. His tendency to ignore sound advice is emphasized with Ju Shou discouraging his attempt to install Liu Yu as emperor and Tian Feng warning him not to squander an opportunity to surprise Cao Cao. He pays for his arrogance by losing to Cao Cao's smaller forces, crushing his belief in the nobility before dying.

In Dynasty Warriors 9, Yuan Shao starts as the most vocal opposer of Dong Zhuo, who is unable to act against the Yuan family's influence. Yuan Shao would vehemently state his unhappiness with the deposition of Emperor Shao. Because of his friendship with Cao Cao, Dong Zhuo finds a reason to push the nobleman out of Luoyang when his friend launches a failed assassination attempt.

In response, Cao Cao spurs Yuan Shao to write a missive to governors across the land to slay Dong Zhuo, and warlords that arrive elect Yuan Shao as their leader, save for his relative, Yuan Shu. Despite the coalition's attempts, Dong Zhuo evades their grasp and meets his own end at Lu Bu's hands, ending any reason for the coalition to stick together.

Learning from Feng Ji that Sun Jian had obtained the Imperial Seal, Yuan Shao attempts to secure the seal as the leader of the coalition and return to the emperor. Initially, Yuan Shao asks for Sun Jian to side with him due to the rift with Yuan Shu, but when Sun Jian leaves, Yuan Shao stops the Tiger of Jiangdong and demands Sun Jian's honesty regarding the Imperial Seal. Seeing Sun Jian and Yuan Shao's argument, Yuan Shu takes advantage and grabs the warlord as an ally. Seeing that everyone was now moving on their personal desires, Yuan Shao sees no alternative but to return home and assemble an army to subdue them and pacify the chaos himself.

Upon returning to Ye, Guo Tu informs his lord that Gongsun Zan had allied with Yuan Shu and attacked them upon returning home. At the same time, Zhang He arrives with news of Zhang Yan's Heishan bandits which has already dealt with the local force sent to stop them and now has Yuan Shu's support. By coincidence, Lu Bu's forces visit Ji Province and request to be allowed to fight Yuan Shu on their behalf. Following Zhang He's advise, Yuan Shao chooses to use the general to eliminate the Heishan bandits quickly, but does not wish to have an uncontrollable beast in his army and only gives the general a monetary reward before ordering him to leave.

While Cao Cao is able to take Qing Province against the Yellow Turban remnants, he struggles against Yuan Shu's northern advance, and Yuan Shao decides to aid his friend. Though Tian Feng warns his lord not to turn his back against Gongsun Zan, Yuan Shao departs but leaves Yan Liang and Wen Chou stationed at Ye and at his strategist's disposal. As soon as Yuan Shu is dealt with at Kuangting, Guo Tu arrives and calls for his lord's quick return.

Meeting up with his generals, Yuan Shao decides to stand his ground and find the opportunity to defeat his enemy and unite Hebei. Taking advantage of his enemy's over-reliance on cavalry, Yuan Shao's forces set up palisades and are able to slay Gongsun Zan to unite the north. Shortly after, Yuan Shu declares himself emperor with Sun Jian's imperial seal, and Yuan Shao joins other imperial forces to eliminate his relative for committing high treason against the Han.

During this time, he learns that Emperor Xian was now residing in Xuchang, but he believes the emperor was only pressured to stay there due to Cao Cao. Nonetheless, Yuan Shao prioritizes Yuan Shu's destruction first. Seeing that Cao Cao considered the elimination of a traitor to be a mere trifle, Yuan Shao gathers his forces and prepares for decisive battle. As he is not the only one that resents Cao Cao, he decides to enlist Liu Bei's aid against his new rival. After rescuing Liu Bei and Zhang Fei, preparations for the campaign finally finish, and Yuan Shao marches south.

Despite the deaths of Yan Liang and Wen Chou, Yuan Shao prevails in the opening skirmish and pushes Cao Cao from Baima and Yanjin. Putting his honor on the line, Yuan Shao ultimately chooses the direct approach to finish his former friend against traps or attrition. Upon mobilizing, a scout reports that Cao Cao has fled back to Xuchang, and Zhang He asks his lord how he and Cao Cao had their fallout. Yuan Shao replies that it was due to Cao Cao's inability to tell his place in the world, and Yuan Shao reminds his army of their sacred duty to uphold order and quell the chaos.

In other scenarios, Yuan Shao is depicted as more passive. Hua Xiong's DLC scenario has him defend Luoyang with Cao Cao and Yuan Shu against Dong Zhuo, before being very hands-off with the coalition, leaving it to the subordinate generals and warlords instead to fight Hua Xiong. Yuan Shu's DLC scenario depicts him as being present when the ten eunuchs rebel, but Yuan Shu ultimately wins the day while Yuan Shao refuses to employ tactics against the eunuchs out of pride. Yuan Shu is further slighted when Yuan Shao becomes head of the coalition before Yuan Shu could propose a coalition, refusing to be relegated to supplies and instead tries to seize glory for himself, which proves to be the coalitions' downfall as Shao rightly blames his half-brother afterwards. In the campaign against his half-brother, in Shu, Wei and Wu's story, he simply sits in Ye, letting the other warlords do as they please, but Ji Ling is trying to escape from Liu Bei in order to negotiate with Yuan Shao, so players are advised to stop Ji Ling. In Yuan Shu's story, Yuan Shao, Sun Ce and Cao Cao all converge on Shouchun as one elite, unified force and all three must be defeated near Xiapi.

Warriors Orochi[]

In the first game, Yuan Shao leads a force of warriors, including Yukimura, against troops led by Wei Yan at Cheng Du Castle. Da Ji planted agents among his forces to convince them that they were fighting ghosts resurrected by magic and forced to do Da Ji's bidding. Yuan Shao was defeated and fled from the battlefield, only to be captured and held in Wu territory.

He was eventually rescued by a combined force of Zhao Yun and Yukimura's troops, although they were expecting Liu Bei rather than himself. The general was in fact bait in a trap created by Zhuge Liang, who at the time was serving Orochi. Yuan Shao misconstrued their disappointment as awe over his presence, and volunteered to lead them to Liu Bei (once he remembers where he is). The Resistance accepted Yuan Shao's help. After aiding in the rescue of Sun Ce's forces from Sima Yi, Yuan Shao remembered that he had heard Liu Bei was being held in Edo Castle.

Yuan Shao tries to create his own army once more in Warriors Orochi 2. He stations himself at Shizugatake and gains the traveling Jiang Wei's services. He tries to stop the bickering amongst his family by having Jiang Wei send a letter to his son. If this is interrupted, Yuan Shao will be forced to enter the battle personally. After his defeat, he is pleased to join Wei, as he considers all of the warriors within the faction to be serving him. He shares his dream stage with Nene and Zhu Rong as three charitable warriors. They defend Hideyoshi from Cao Pi's massive army at Mai Castle. His personal goal in the stage is to convince the neutral Dong Zhuo to help them.

Refusing to give up on his dreams, Yuan Shao continues his wish to establish his family's independence and prestige in Warriors Orochi 3. This time he desires to create an utopia in which the serpent forces and humanity can coexist together, trying to take over Ueda Castle for himself in the original timeline. Although he is not aware of it, Yuan Shao is manipulated by a particularly ambitious serpent general to act as his puppet. When Motonari and his party defeat the selfish general at Jiange, Yuan Shao is easily swayed by their words to think for himself and willingly supports the coalition.

He attacks Ueda Castle a second time in the game's first expansion title, being driven back by the heroes once more due to the aid of Seimei Abe.

In the downloadable stage, "Animal Rescue", Yuan Shao drives out animals from their homes to bring peace to the land under his name. But his plots are foiled by Kotarō, Xiaoqiao, and Sun Ce. In "The Rescue of Da Ji", he lends a hand in saving Da Ji from the Mystic Army at Koshi Castle.

Ultimate has him appear in the sixth chapter where he and Dong Zhuo clash at Xuchang though it later turns out that this Yuan Shao is a fake. The real Yuan Shao later returns to his past with Zhurong and Ginchiyo Tachibana to trap and eliminate the demons that deceived him. Initially feigning complete ignorance, he is able to gain the trust of Hammerjaw and after a stern reminder from Ginchiyo, betrays his "allies". Unexpectedly, the conflict attracts Kiyomori into the area, and he empowers the remaining demon army, and they surround Yuan Shao's forces. Despite nearly fleeing, Yuan Shao is victorious, and he celebrates his triumph but is flabbergasted at how both women request rewards for their services.

Yuan Shao's Mirror World counterpart is in an alliance with Cao Cao's counterpart, and the two are positioned at Mt. Niutou when Kyūbi arrives. Selecting the arrogant Yuan Shao, Kanbei tears the alliance apart, and Yuan Shao instead chooses to aid Kyūbi's cause. He later helps her when she invades the Mystic Realm of the Mirror World.

During the events of Warriors Orochi 4, Yuan Shao's men are defeated by Nobunaga, and he joins the Demon King as a result. Highly reluctant to side with both Nobunaga and Dong Zhuo, he deserts them for Liu Bei and Kenshin's rebel army as soon as he is defeated by their army at Luoyang.

He later assists the Coalition in visiting Jing Province when there are reports of a battle in the area. His search yields Koshōshō's recruitment. He also appears as one of the generals who have been brainwashed by Sun Wukong at Kyūshū, his demeanor is mostly the same which draws ire from Kunoichi who labels all the brainwashed allies as a bunch of 'weirdos'.


Although he doesn't make an on-screen appearance, Yuan Shao stages a rebellion north of Wei's territory in Kessen II. In Shu's story, Wei's army concentrates their efforts on him before they move to finish Liu Bei. In Wei's story, Cao Cao leaves the battle of subduing Yuan Shao to Xiahou Yuan and marches to disrupt Liu Bei's attack on the capital. He is defeated in both scenarios and his property is integrated into Wei.

Dynasty Tactics[]

Yuan Shao leads a faction in the north through the Dynasty Tactics series. In the north, he suppresses Gongsun Zan. In Cao Cao's story, he is always scripted to die. In one scenario, Yuan Shao is executed, with his subjects swearing loyalty to Cao Cao.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms[]

Within the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, Yuan Shao is presented as the most eminent leader among factions in the north of China. Beginning as an officer loyal to He Jin, Yuan Shao will lead his own faction from Nanpi once Dong Zhuo usurps power from the Han court, later claim Ye from Han Fu's hands via his schemes and be embroiled in a long conflict with Gongsun Zan for dominion over Hebei before finally facing Cao Cao's army at Guandu, all of which are depicted usually as in-game events. Statistically, Yuan Shao is depicted as a competent officer overall with his Charisma landing in the 90's, his Leadership falling in the low-80's while his remining stats rank around the 70's. While his personal stats do not compare favourably to his rival in Cao Cao, Yuan Shao's faction possesses good officers in both military and strategic capabilities as well as significant advantages in resource thus it is not uncommon for Yuan Shao's faction to overwhelm Cao Cao's army should the two battle.

Within Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, Yuan Shao's positives as a general as well as being a famed member of the Yuan family are portrayed via his character traits. He possesses the rare character trait, Commanding General which increases the Demolish statistic of all nearby allied units, rendering any army led by him effective at impacting the durability of enemy cities and gates while his other character traits increase his units statistics while positioned over a county (Overseer) and the rate of land conquered when assigned as an area overseer (Famous). Unfortunately, his other traits increase the length of time his unit is impacted by the restrained status ailment (Waverer) and his units capabilities suffer when troop count falls below a certain threshold (Haughty). In reference to Yuan Shao's well-documented penchant for sieging enemy cities, the range of formation he commands emphasise drawn out battles via offering him the balanced Fish formation, the defensive and siege-adept Crane formation as well as the ability to deploy both Siege Towers and Battering Rams to damage city troop count and durability respectively. His administrative policy bolsters the strength of all Support category policies (Pen and Sword Lv 03). His unique battle skill, Yuan Majesty increases the statistics and morale of allied units. Overall, Yuan Shao amounts to a capable leader of men in battles on the field with an especial strength for sieging cities and gates.

The fourteenth title features a what-if scenario titled "Yuan Shao: the Hero of Hebei" depicting an aftermath where his army wins the Battle of Guandu, capturing Luoyang while his ally Liu Bei claims Xuchang, ultimately reducing Cao Cao's territory to the lone city of Wan. Conversely, the DLC scenario, "Gongsun Zan: the Hero of Hebei" depicts an aftermath where Yuan Shao loses all of Hebei to the prior, the majority of his generals joining Gongsun Zan while his son, Yuan Tan and his strategists in Tian Feng, Ju Shou and Shen Pei are all slain. His escape secured by Yan Liang and Wen Chou, Yuan Shao is reunited with Yuan Shu at Runan and leads the remnants of both their factions to restore the glory of the Yuan family name.

Character Information[]

Shin Sangoku Musou 15th Anniversary artwork.


In earlier titles, Yuan Shao is portrayed as an honorable and proud general, reluctant to take the role of the alliance's supreme commander during the war against Dong Zhuo. As the series progresses, Yuan Shao's pride and haughty traits have been vastly exaggerated to the point of absolute arrogance and pretentiousness.

Becoming the series' comic relief character, he speaks with a flamboyant and high-and-mighty attitude, which is toned down considerably in his English appearances. He is known to make passionate and inspirational speeches about justice and valor, gaining the love of the people for his impeccable image. Somewhat incompetent compared to other lords and unwilling to take others' advice, however, he is depicted as a man who doesn't completely fit the heroic image he claims to be.

He retains his prideful side in the Warriors Orochi series while displaying rare instances of humility and compassion to other heroes. In the third title, he is one of the few characters to form friendly relations with demons who no longer associate themselves with Orochi.

Yuan Shao is a childhood friend of Cao Cao, but their relationship is strained at best. Yuan Shao in particular deems his friend to be of inferior rank and considers his friend to be a rude upstart. Cao Cao in turn criticizes him as a man who relies too much on his family past and is too inept to survive in the land's wars. Even so, Yuan Shao does express regret when they face one another at Guandu.

Character Symbolism[]

In the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Yuan Shao is given the nickname of "The Sword of Honor" while the English version changes it to "Man of Lineage, Man of Honor". As a dominant ruler in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, he calls his five greatest warriors the "Five Generals of Yuan".

The original names for his third and fourth weapons are references to his relationship with Cao Cao. If his childhood friend is his rival for supremacy, it is fitting for Yuan Shao to dedicate the names of his swords for his own path of military conquest (覇道, badao/hadō, lit. supreme path). Likewise, his weapons when localized as of the fourth installment, are themed after nobility and sovereign motifs. The Asian name of his level 11 weapon likely is themed after an emperor with illusions of grandeur, owing to Yuan Shao's mindset over the years of his life.

In contrast to his third and fourth weapons, Yuan Shao's Standard weapon in Dynasty Warriors 6 is named after the method of rule that relies solely on nobility and status (王道, wangdao/ōdō, lit. king path). As opposed to trying to wrestle the right of the land away from his rivals, this path implies that he need only state his family's name to be accepted as royalty. Since he doesn't require the use of brute force, it is, in theory, a serene way of gaining control of a country.

His Skill weapon is originally named after Xuantian (Occult Heaven), one of the nine heavens. Within this area of the sky, a god named Emperor Xuantian is said to rule. During King Zhou's reign, the Jade Emperor ordered him to suppress to an army of demons. Donning black robes and leaving his hair as it was, he wore a helmet that covered him from injury from head to toe. With other heavenly soldiers, he imprisoned his foes with sublime courage. As a reward, he was given his emperor rank. Named a courageous and skilled man of war, Emperor Xuantian has been said to be a water or star god of the north who grants his divine protection at Wudang Mountains. Since he acts as Nezha's superior, some people think that he maybe an alternate form of Bishamonten. According to legend, his mighty footsteps walked across the land and Xuanwu was born from them; or Emperor Xuantian is alternatively the personified version of the tortoise god and is actually named Emperor Xuanwu. He maybe another form of Yuanshi Tianzun in Taoism. During the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Xuantian was also heralded as the god who protects treasure vaults from robbers.

Yuan Shao's original personal item in Warriors Orochi is literally called "Supreme Path Armor", which is a direct contrast to the connotations tied to his English item.

Voice Actors[]

  • Avi Landau - Dynasty Warriors 2 (English)
  • Paul St. Peter - Dynasty Warriors 4~5, Warriors Orochi series; first and second games only (English-uncredited)
  • Dave Wittenberg - Dynasty Warriors 6 (English-uncredited)
  • Christopher Corey Smith - Dynasty Warriors 7~8 (English-uncredited)
  • Dietrich Grey - Dynasty Warriors 9 (English)
  • Feodor Chin - Dynasty Warriors Live Action Film (English)
  • Kyle Hebert - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (English-uncredited)
  • Shen Guangping - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Chinese)
  • Lu Li - Dynasty Warriors 9 (Chinese)
  • On Yeong-sam - Dynasty Warriors 2 (Korean)
  • Jang Seong-ho - Dynasty Warriors 3~5, Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed (Korean)
  • Jeong Jaeheon - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
  • Osamu Ryutani - Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi series (Japanese)
  • Hirohiko Kakegawa - Dynasty Tactics (Japanese)
  • Hisao Egawa - Romance of the Three Kingdoms drama CD series
  • Tsuguo Mogami - Sangokushi Legion
  • Ryūsei Nakao - Shin Sangokushi
  • Motoki Sakuma - Sangokushi Heroes
  • Susumu Akagi - Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (Japanese)
  • Ryota Asari - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
  • Kenjiro Tsuda - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)

Live Action Performers[]


See also: Yuan Shao/Quotes
  • "Don't pursue Lu Bu!"
  • "Go to Hu Lao Gate and attack Dong Zhuo!"
  • "To have to slay my own friend by my own hand... I suppose that is the price that I must pay. Cao Cao, please forgive me. I yearn for the day when we can meet and talk again as friends."
  • "My lord! Please withdraw for now!"
"What nonsense! I am of the esteemed Yuan Family! A nobleman cannot run from his enemies in fear!"
~~Tian Feng and Yuan Shao; Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends
  • "Such strange sorcery... Why do you seek to ruin the land?!"
"Those who know not the hearts of the people have no business leading. It is people such as you that have ruined the Han!"
"Eh?! Silence! Silence, you impudent fool! I shall show you the true power of the Yuan Family!"
~~Yuan Shao and Zhang Jiao; Dynasty Warriors 5
  • "If we don't do something, we shall both lose to Lu Bu. The heavens do not wish that."
"Right, old friend. Then let us join forces to stop that beast!"
~~Yuan Shao and Cao Cao; Dynasty Warriors 6
  • "I don't care who you think you are! I'm plucking your feathers, you preening peacock!"
"Ah, the bitter words of a jealous man. Dealing with your kind has always been a challenge."
~~Zhang Fei and Yuan Shao; Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends
  • "Master Yuan Shao, you are always so well dressed... How do you do it?"
"That is an excellent question! The Yuans have used the same tailor for generations."
"The average person simply cannot grasp the beauty of your gaudy style."
"Err... Yes, you are right. I will introduce you to him sometime."
~~Zhang He and Yuan Shao; Dynasty Warriors 8
  • "Master Yuan Shao, you have absolute confidence in yourself at all times. Is that due to being a noble?"
"Of course. The pride I feel at the long noble bloodline flowing in my veins cannot be substituted for anything. With this pride, I can overcome any obstacle! Even threats to my life or my family line!"
"We face such threats daily, of course. In this chaos, you can never know what is waiting for you the next day. However, we have enemies who burn with selfish ambition. Is simply being a noble truly enough to defeat them?"
"It's true, I'm seeing more and more infidels who resist my noble aura. What a sad state of affairs. Yet that is also why we must fight! We shall show the world that nobles still rule, and take back our dominance!"
"I am impressed by how firmly you hold on to your beliefs. There are still some things that I can learn from you."
~~Xu Shu and Yuan Shao; Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers
  • "I am a true noble! Do you really think that a few ghosts will frighten me?! Show them the courage of the Yuan family, and send their spirits hence!"
"Sounds like your family was a little too exclusive, if you know what I mean."
~~Yuan Shao and Yoshihiro; Warriors Orochi
  • "Is this... the end...?"
"Do not be foolish! How can we lose this battle when I am at the helm?"
"What confidence and courage... how could I give up now with such a man as my leader?"
~~Hideyori and Yuan Shao; Warriors Orochi 2
  • "For the sake of my followers, the Yuan family pride shall remain unsullied!"
"Your pompous enthusiasm slays me..."
~~Yuan Shao and Hanzō; Musou OROCHI Z
  • "You know, Lady Tachibana, I think I'll start relying more on pride than prestige, just like you."
"Well done. For someone like you, that's an excellent idea."
"If I hold on to my pride, my prestige will shine brighter than ever. The glory of the Yuan family will live forever!"
~~Yuan Shao and Ginchiyo; Warriors Orochi 3
  • "You really helped me back there, Yuan Shao. In this new place, we must all redouble our efforts. I bid you farewell!"
"Hm? Where do you think you're going? It seems a little cold of you to just leave like that..."
"Hehe, that's what girls are like. You'll never be popular with the ladies unless you face reality, you know!"
"Hmm... I see, you just wanted to show what you've learned."
"Oh...! Argh! You see everything, don't you, Yuan Shao? Is there anything about me you don't know?"
"Of course not. A true nobleman must unite and lead the people. Seeing the truth in your soul is a simple task. And that is not all! I am skilled in the military arts, and possess greater wisdom than all the sages combined. If I did not, I could not call myself a nobleman!"
"Incredible! Okay, I've decided! I want you to teach me all you know!"
"Hmm... Well, I suppose it's a natural desire. Just don't get in my way, all right?"
~~Gracia and Yuan Shao; Warriors Orochi 4


See also: Yuan Shao/Movesets‎‎

Dynasty Warriors 9[]



Keys: Square Flow Attack • Triangle Reactive Attack • Circle Musou X Jump/Mount

Yuan Shao is affiliated with the extension rapier in this appearance.

Unique Flow Attack:
Unique Trigger Attack (R1 + ):
Special Technique (R1 + Circle):
Musou (Circle):
Aerial Musou (X + Circle):


See also: Yuan Shao/Weapons

Dynasty Warriors 8[]

Yuan Shao now uses the extension blade as his default weapon in this title.

Historical Information[]

Service in the Court[]

Yuan Shao was a powerful warlord who controlled the northern territories of China during the late Eastern Han Dynasty era. His bloodline had massive influence and occupied incredibly influential positions within the Han court ever since the beginning, and Yuan Shao's grandfather, Yuan An, was appointed as one of the three Dukes of the Han Court, with Yuan An's sons also holding the same position afterwards.

However, Yuan Shao's childhood was supposedly quite rough as he was often treated poorly (as Shao's mother was likely said to be one of Yuan Feng's concubines, or Shao was actually Yuan Cheng's son). Yuan Shu in particular, called him "the family slave" in some records. Yet despite his aforementioned childhood, Yuan Shao grew up to be a notable figure, said to have a handsome face and mingling well with subordinates, which earned him a good amount of notable friends (including Cao Cao).

Around 160, Yuan Shao even established a network that helped transport people wrongly-imprisoned by the Ten Regular Attendants to safety, risking his own life in the process. However, Yuan Shao would soon enter a state of mourning due to his mother passing away (and also performed rites for his father as well, displaying great filial piety). Eventually, several summons to court were sent to Yuan Shao, but he ignored these appointments even after the period of mourning had passed. The imperial court felt both frustrated and assumed that Yuan Shao plotted treason. Yuan Wei, one of Yuan Shao's uncles, chastised Shao for this disrespectful behavior and encouraged him to accept the summons. Yuan Shao also raised an army to combat the Yellow Turban Riots.

During the power struggle between He Jin and the Ten Regular Attendants, Yuan Shao often pushed for the elimination of the Ten Eunuchs faction. He went as far as to ensure palace guards were placed in Luoyang who were loyal to He Jin and his allies instead of the eunuchs. Despite his pleas for action, He Jin ignored Yuan Shao and was later assassinated by the Eunuchs. Yuan Shao and his half-brother Yuan Shu responded by rushing their forces into Luoyang and slaying the palace eunuchs. Yuan Shao himself however, went above and beyond the necessary actions to end this faction of Eunuchs by rounding up every Eunuch he could find, regardless of fault, as well as any male without a beard, unable to prove their innocence. All told, the massacre was thought to be over 2,000 in number.

Leading the Charge Against Dong Zhuo[]

Despite destroying the Ten Regular Attendants, Yuan Shao was unable to secure the emperor and his family, as they fell into Dong Zhuo's hands who eventually took control of the city and held Emperor Xian hostage. Yuan Shao responded by refusing Dong Zhuo's demand for loyalty by drawing his sword and fleeing Luoyang. Initially Dong Zhuo wanted to kill Yuan Shao, but his secret sympathizers within the court, Zhou Bi, Wu Qiong, and He Yong convinced him to overlook this insult and appoint him as minister of Bohai. From this new staging ground, Yuan Shao began to plot an alliance against Dong Zhuo.

Yuan Shao worked closely with Han Fu as they prepared to resist Dong Zhuo. They approached Liu Yu about becoming emperor to further legitimize their cause, but Liu Yu declined the offer. Word of planned resistance reached Dong Zhuo, who sent emissaries to the warlords, encouraging them not to rebel. Yuan Shao responded by calling for his colleagues to kill these emissaries, which most complied. Enraged, Dong Zhuo had all of the Yuan family still in Luoyang killed, including Yuan Wei. Such a move convinced even more warlords to join Yuan Shao's coalition against the tyrannical usurper. Despite such a powerful gathering of warlords, most would not commit to the attack, including Yuan Shao. Dong Zhuo then withdrew to Chang’an and the coalition collapsed.

Warlord of the North[]

Relations worsened afterwards between Yuan Shao and Han Fu, who suspected would invade and claim Ji Province for himself. Shao turned to Gongsun Zan, another warlord who had long desired to conquer Ji, and offered to help conquer the land and split it between them both. However, when Gongsun Zan subsequently invaded Ji Province, Yuan Shao sent Xin Ping, Gao Gan, and Xun Chen to convince Han Fu to give the whole province to him to "save" it from Zan's invasion. The ploy worked and Yuan Shao drove off the now embittered Gongsun Zan.

Ju Shou later approached Yuan Shao with a plan of action: capture Qing Province, defeat the Heishan Bandits, defeat Gongsun Zan, ally or placate the Xiongnu and Wuwan people, and gather a million strong army to march on Chang'an and secure the emperor. Yuan Shao approved of this plan and began work to achieve it. In the process of looking towards expansion, Yuan Shao faced a new problem; his half-brother Yuan Shu now acting hostile against Yuan Shao. This hostility saw a rush to acquire allies against one another. Yuan Shu had Sun Jian, Tao Qian, and Gongsun Zan on his side while Yuan Shao had Cao Cao, Zhang Miao, and Liu Biao. Yuan Shao made the first move, claiming Yu Province and sending Zhou Yu (Renming) to take the land by force. Gongsun Zan sent his cousin Gongsun Yue to help, but was slain. Yuan Shao's forces were only defeated when Sun Jian arrived with reinforcements, scoring a great victory.

Compounding to this setback, Yuan Shao now had to contend with Gongsun Zan, who accused him of killing his cousin and betraying his trust. Shao scrambled together roughly 40,000 men to meet Gongsun Zan's 10,000 horsemen and 30,000 foot soldiers at the Jie Bridge. At this battle, Yuan Shao was able to turn the tide again Gongsun Zan, thanks in large part to the elite core led by Qu Yi, who devastated Zan's famous white horse riders. During the battle, Yuan Shao himself was caught out, but refused to hide behind a wall as Tian Feng recommended. Shao instead stood and fought his foes until Qu Yi rescued him.

Having better secured his holding in Ji, Yuan Shao continued his plan to subjugate the north. He sent troops to aid Cao Cao at the battle of Kuangting, which resulted in such a bad defeat for Yuan Shu that he fled to Shouchun. Yuan Shao began considering a campaign against the Heishan Bandits; however, a wrinkle in the plan was introduced at the sudden assassination of Dong Zhuo and subsequent flight of the Emperor. Guo Tu advised that Yuan Shao accept the emperor at Ye, but Yuan Shao declined, apparently fearing that keeping the emperor so close to his rule would undermine his authority. When Cao Cao later received the emperor, Shao regretted his decision, but was unable to do anything in response. It was after this event that he and Cao Cao's relationship truly began to deteriorate into eventual open hostility.

Shao continued his plans against the Heishan bandits, attacking and destroying the bandit forces under Du Yu, Zouzi Zhangba, Li Damu, and many other bandit leaders. They all fell to Yuan Shao's forces, unable to give much resistance. Only the arrival of Zhang Yan slowed Yuan Shao's march towards victory. It was during this campaign that the recently master-less Lu Bu approached and served under Yuan Shao (this subordination only lasted until the end of the campaign). At the same time during this campaign, Yuan Shao sent his son Yuan Tan to secure and govern Qing Province, who over the next six years drove out Gongsun Zan and Kong Rong from the land.

Having driven the bandits from Ji Province and began securing Bing Province, Yuan Shao now looked to finish his conflict with Gongsun Zan. For his part, Zan was in a difficult position, as Shao's army was now much larger than his own. Gongsun Zan chose to turtle up at Yijing, relying on raiding forces and hit and run tactics. With the full weight of his army behind him, Yuan Shao managed to capture one of the groups who was looking to create an ambush attack with the recently recuperating Heishan bandits. Yuan Shao used this to his advantage by pretending to be the ambush force anticipated, drawing Gongsun Zan out and utterly defeating him. He appointed his other son Yuan Xi as governor over You Province to keep the old Gongsun Zan supporters in check and Gao Gan over Bing province, guarding against the remaining Heishan bandits. Yuan Shao now had (moderate) control of northern China.

Guandu and Yuan Shao's End[]

With one of his major goals complete, Yuan Shao now faced his greatest challenge; which took form in his old friend and ally, Cao Cao. Starting in 199, skirmishes began to break out between the borders of Shao and Cao. In early 200, Liu Bei rose in rebellion and seized Xu province, forcing Cao Cao to deal with this eastern threat. At the time, Tian Feng approached Yuan Shao about seizing this opportunity to attack a lightly defended Xuchang. Yuan Shao, however, claimed he could not march out yet due to his son being sick (which son this is was not known, although some speculate it was Yuan Shang). Later that year, however, Yuan Shao did have his forces gathered and was ready to set out to defeat Cao Cao.

Shao's camp of advisers were very divided on how to achieve victory over Cao Cao, leading to much debate and scheming. Yuan Shao himself was slow to decide upon a plan, finally settling on launching an aggressive campaign against Cao Cao. He first tried to capture Baima, sending Yan Liang to capture it while his main force held off any reinforcements from Cao Cao's main army. Unfortunately Yuan Shao's own force was outflanked and their support cut short, leading to Yan Liang getting overwhelmed and killed.

Although bested in this fight, Cao Cao chose to fall back, deciding Baima was unsustainable. This lead to the next confrontation at Yanjin, where yet another ambush led to the death of Wen Chou. Like Baima, Yuan Shao was still given the fort after the initial defeat when Cao Cao retreated all the way to Guandu. The standoff at Guandu proved grueling for both sides, with Yuan Shao unable to score any major victories. A drawn out campaign, while good for winning the current battle, would give Cao Cao's other forces the time needed to put the squeeze on Yuan Shao's territories. The deadlock ended when Shao officers in charge of supplies grew slack and allowed Cao Cao's forces to raid and burn the bulk of his army's goods at Wuchao.

Beaten but not defeated, Yuan Shao rallied his forces at Cangting, one of the only bridge crossings for the yellow river into his lands. This battle also went poorly for Yuan Shao, delivering enough of a loss that he had to return to Ye and recuperate before hoping to strike back against Cao Cao. Yuan Shao spent the next year putting down rebellions and forcing his people back into line (especially the factions within Liyang that surrendered to Cao Cao), only to grow deathly sick due to his spirit being utterly shattered and losing his will and purpose in life due to the impact of his loss to Cao Cao.

Soon in 202, Yuan Shao died of depression before he could definitively established who was his successor and heir, and meanwhile, both Shen Pei and Pang Ji took advantage of his death to abuse their power in his vacant court (starting with slandering their rivals).

Due to this failure to establish proper leadership after he died, Yuan Shao's forces, split their allegiance between, Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang, after his death. Tan, the eldest brother, and Shang, the favored son and youngest brother, fought open war over the right to be Yuan Shao's true successor. The Yuan family's influence soon ended when Cao Cao used the conflict between them to slay them both.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms[]

Yuan Shao from Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Dealing with the Eunuchs[]

"Give me five thousand crack troops and I will march into the palace, enthrone the rightful emperor, destroy the eunuchs, and purge the court, thus restoring peace in the land."
―Yuan Shao, enthusiastically offering his services to He Jin.

In chapter 2, Yuan Shao first appears volunteering himself to help He Jin in eradicating the court-corrupting Ten Regular Attendants. His offer was accepted and together with five thousand troops and officials including Xun You, Yuan Shao helped in installing Liu Bian as emperor in the late Emperor Ling's stead. Liu Bian was named Emperor Shao, and Yuan Shao began searching for the eunuch Jian Shuo, who fled and hid, only to be killed by another one of the Ten Regular Attendants, Guo Sheng. The palace guard, which Jian Shuo had once commanded, surrendered. Yuan Shao then recommended to He Jin that the rest of the Ten Regular Attendants should be killed.

He Jin dragged his feet however, as the rest of the corrupt eunuch managed to hide behind the empress' support. He Jin, who was the empress' brother, was thus convinced not to eradicate the eunuchs. Yuan Shao again pushed for their end, only to once again be rejected. Foiled again, Yuan Shao now recommended He Jin call for aid from the other militant forces of the Han as an intimidation tactic.

The plot to kill the eunuchs was eventually leaked in chapter 3 and He Jin was summoned to the empress to lure him into a trap. Yuan Shao, along with Chen Lin and Cao Cao, saw through this summons and attempted to warn He Jin, who in turn ignored them. Attempting to keep He Jin safe, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao had five hundred men each placed under Yuan Shao's half-brother Yuan Shu as reinforcements. They then personally accompanied He Jin on the way to the empress. However, they had to stand down when the bureau noted that only He Jin was asked to come, thus only he would be allowed inside. After He Jin walked in alone, he was assassinated.

Having been waiting for a long time, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao called for He Jin from outside. He Jin's decapitated head was flung over the nearby wall, and Yuan Shao led a raid into the palace to slay every eunuch, whether they be corrupt or not.

Defying Dong Zhuo[]

"The empire is in my hands! If I choose to do as I please, who will dare to say nay? Think you my sword lacks an edge?"
"If your sword is sharp, mine is never blunt!"
―Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao, after the latter questioned Dong Zhuo's decision.

During the eradication of the Ten Regular Attendants, Emperor Shao and his brother, Liu Xie, were taken from the palace and hidden at a farm by Zhang Rang and Duan Gui. Yuan Shao was part of the convoy, which included the likes of Wang Yun and Chunyu Qiong, that searched for the royal pair. The convoy eventually found them, only to encounter a much larger force on their way back to Luoyang. Yuan Shao approached his body of soldiers to learn who they were and who led them.

The leader of the van was Dong Zhuo, and he prostrated himself to the emperor, who was too afraid to speak, relying instead on Liu Xie spoke for him. Dong Zhuo had come to the city at the request for outer forces that was made in chapter 2.

Dong Zhuo's army camped outside Luoyang and every day he came inside the city, causing fear into people's hearts with his circle of accompanying soldiers. Bao Xin recommended to Yuan Shao that Dong Zhuo be killed, but Yuan Shao said that nothing could be done until the government settled down.

Later, Dong Zhuo held a banquet to which every minister attended. At the beginning of the ceremony, he stood up and proclaimed that he would replace Emperor Shao with his younger brother, Liu Xie. Dong Zhuo threatened anyone who questioned the actions with death. Yuan Shao stood up and protested, saying that Emperor Shao had committed no fault, and therefore replacing him would be treason. Dong Zhuo threatened Yuan Shao with his sword, which Yuan Shao returned the favor. Li Ru, Dong Zhuo's advisor, calmed him down. Yuan Shao, with his sword remaining unsheathed, left the assembly and hung up his seals and cords of office, relinquishing his position in the court.

After the banquet and in chapter 4, two officials came to Dong Zhuo and recommended for him to pardon Yuan Shao, whose noted clan was spread all throughout the court. Yuan Shao was also said to be indecisive during the talks. Dong Zhuo then appointed Yuan Shao as governor of Bohai.

Dong Zhuo went through with deposing Emperor Shao and instating Liu Xie as the new emperor, and had Li Ru murder the former emperor and his mother and wife. Dong Zhuo also murdered an official who opposed him, which led Yuan Shao to send a letter to Wang Yun asking him to find an opportunity to kill Dong Zhuo.

The Coalition against Dong Zhuo[]

In chapter 5, Yuan Shao responded to Cao Cao's call-to-arms, along with another sixteen lords, including Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, and Sun Jian, for a coalition against Dong Zhuo.

During a war council being held, Cao Cao recommended that Yuan Shao be installed as leader of the coalition on the basis of his expansive and influential lineage. Yuan Shao modestly declined some few times, but the consensus of the lords agreed that he should be their leader and therefore Yuan Shao was made the leader of the alliance. After an emotional ceremony of accepting the honor, Yuan Shao asked for a man who was willing to provoke a battle at Si Pass with Yuan Shu working the supplies, to which Sun Jian volunteered for.

Yuan Shao later received a letter detailing Sun Jian's defeat at the hands of the enemy's commander, Hua Xiong, as well as the death of Zu Mao. Calling yet another council meeting, he saw three men standing behind Gongsun Zan, and upon learning that one of them was Liu Bei, a descendant of the imperial Han line, bade him to sit down. Yuan Shao openly stated that he respected Liu Bei not for his merit in helping with the Yellow Turbans, but for his relations to the Liu clan. Word came mid-meeting that Hua Xiong was riding along the Si Pass flaunting Sun Jian's turban, so two lords of the coalition volunteered their respective prized generals to fight him, and both generals were slain. Yuan Shao cried that if Yan Liang and Wen Chou, his own renowned fighters, were present, they'd defeat Hua Xiong. The battle was eventually won when Guan Yu slew the feared enemy commander.

Li Ru explained to Dong Zhuo that Yuan Wei, Yuan Shao's uncle and the Imperial Guardian, was within the court, and that he could stage a coup from inside the capital with cooperation with the outer forces of Yuan Shao. As such, Dong Zhuo had two of his generals, Li Jue and Guo Si, surround Yuan Wei's residence along with five hundred soldiers and slaughter the household.

From there, while Li Jue and Guo Si occupied Sishui Pass with fifty thousand, Dong Zhuo occupied Tiger Trap Pass with one hundred and fifty thousand men. As a response, eight of the coalition warlords marched on Tiger Trap Pass at the suggestion of Cao Cao, and there the three oath brothers were able to repel Lu Bu, an enemy commander, away.

In chapter 6, upon hearing the news of victory, Yuan Shao sent Sun Jian to advance. Dong Zhuo was forced to flee the capital, and along the way he plundered and burned it to the ground. Cao Cao recommended pursuing Dong Zhuo's army, but Yuan Shao refused, claiming their own forces were tired and in need of rest.

Incensed by Yuan Shao's refusal, Cao Cao rushed to pursue Dong Zhuo and was gravely defeated. At the same time, the reclaiming of Luoyang was under way, and a sharp dispute between Yuan Shao and Sun Jian arose, as Shao (quite correctly) suspected Jian of possessing the Imperial Seal. At a banquet designed to console Cao Cao for his loss, Cao Cao revealed that he had a plan for the coalition to achieve victory over Dong Zhuo, but amid the mistrust driving a rift between himself and the other leaders and Yuan Shao's indecisiveness it could not be completed. Other warlords also realized the coalition was dead, such as Gongsun Zan, and marched back to their provinces. As the alliance fell apart, Yuan Shao also looked to return home and build his powerbase.

Liu Biao warred with Sun Jian on word that he had acquired the Imperial Seal given in a letter by Yuan Shao, and the result was that Sun Jian was killed-in-action.

Establishing A Northern Home[]

"The brave person rather faces death in the battle than seeks safety behind a wall!"
― Yuan Shao, when caught out by Gongsun Zan's troops at Jieqiao.

Yuan Shao returned to Henei in chapter 7 and sought to solve one of his greatest problems, a lack of land to supply food and soldiers. Feng Ji approached Yuan Shao with a plan to take Han Fu's Ji Province for himself. This plan involved writing Gongsun Zan and offering to attack Ji simultaneously, splitting the land afterwards, only to turn around and warn Han Fu of Gongsun Zan's attack. In his warning, Yuan Shao had his representatives push for Han Fu to submit to his rule to safeguard Ji and Han Fu himself.

Fu submitted to these schemes, much to the frustration of many of his officers. Two of them, Geng Wu and Guan Chun, lay in wait for Yuan Shao to kill him as he entered the city of Ye. However, when he entered, Shao had Yan Liang and Wen Chou with him, who easily smote the would be assassins in one blow each. Yuan Shao proceeded to strip Han Fu of all real power and give it to his trusted advisers, Tian Feng, Ju Shou, Xu You, and Feng Ji.

Shao's next focus was on Gongsun Zan, who wanted his share of the land. Zan sent his brother, Gongsun Yue, to request this land, only for Yuan Shao to hint at a secret meeting of grand importance once Yue could convince his brother to come in person. On his way back to Gongsun Zan, Yuan Shao had some of his forces ambush and kill him yelling, "we are the guards of Prime Minister Dong Zhuo!" When word got back to Zan, he immediately set out to avenge his brother, seeing through the weak ruse.

Yuan Shao met him at Jieqiao, where the two arrayed for battle. In their first engagement, Yuan Shao sent Wen Chou to challenge Gongsun Zan, who ended up fleeing and was nearly killed except for the last minute rescue by Zhao Yun. The following day, Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan clashed once again. This time it was Qu Yi's that pushed the victory, with Yan Liang and Wen Chou supporting with archers. Yuan Shao, in charge of the reserve force, was told of Qu Yi's initial success, he started forward with little discipline, unaware that Zhao Yun had stopped Qu Yi's advance and slain him, turned the tide in favor of Gongsun Zan. As a result, Yuan Shao found himself under assault by the returned forces of Zan without many guards. When advised to take shelter and hope to me missed in the melee, Yuan Shao boldly declared his intentions of staying and fighting, motivating his men to drive off their foes, even while outnumbered. This victory was great, but short lived, as reinforcements from Liu Bei left the battle indecisive.

A false imperial command from Dong Zhou ended their hostility, as Yuan Shao used it as an excuse to retire from the battle and prepare his forces for future conquest. By chapter 21, he is master of the north, having pushed Zhang Yan deep into the mountains, defeated Gongsun Zan for good at Yijing, and made peace with the nomadic tribes to the north. Animosity was growing between him and Cao Cao, as they maneuvered to gain whatever advantage they could. Shao attempted to receiving his half brother Yuan Shu to gain the imperial seal and increase his authority, but Cao Cao cut off that hope through Liu Bei, who ironically sought Yuan Shao's protection after betraying Cao Cao less then a year later.

Decisive Battle at Guandu[]

"Now I, Yuan Shao, a man of war, have mustered my armies and displayed my might that I may sweep away and destroy the evil opponents of government."
― Yuan Shao, from his letter of declaration against Cao Cao.

Yuan Shao began his campaign after some indecisive debates with a letter condemning Cao Cao for his crimes. He proceeded to march his army down to Liyang in preparation to strike. He delayed further, however, refusing to attack while Cao Cao left his northern lines fairly unguarded to deal with Liu Bei, due to Yuan Shang being ill.

Against the advice of one of his best councilors, Ju Shou, Yuan Shao opened his campaign with an attack on Baima under the command of Yan Liang. Who saw success until Guan Yu killed him to help pay his debt owed to Cao Cao. Yuan Shao retaliated by sending Wen Chou with Liu Bei to launch an attack from Yanjin, only for Cao Cao to leave his baggage train as bait, allowing Guan Yu to slay Wen Chou as well. Despite these setbacks, Yuan Shao was still able to get his army across the Yellow River and set up camp at Guandu.

Unable to convince other warlords to join in attacking Cao Cao, Yuan Shao finally decided that a full assault on Cao Cao's camp was the only solution. He had archer towers built, only to lose them to catapult fire, and tried tunneling into the camp only to meet counter miners. While these attacks inflicted great loss, none of them truly gained the advantage for either side. Yuan Shao did not guard his supply lines well as the siege dragged on, leading to a major defeat.

Infuriated by his struggles to overcome his old friend, Yuan Shao fatefully ignored his adviser Xu You's when he attempted to present the letter from Cao Cao to Xun Yu that explained how Cao's forces were almost out of food. This insult to Xu You was enough to drive him over to Cao Cao's side, leading to the raid on Wuchao and the destruction of his reserve food and supplies. During the raid, Yuan Shao demonstrates more indecisiveness by sending troops to both attack Cao Cao's main camp and save Wuchao, which the split forces were unable to achieve either goal.

Yuan Shao was forced to retreat from Guandu in total defeat. He took up position at Cangting, only to be lured into another trap, this one constituting ten ambushes. This new defeat meant an end for Yuan Shao's southern campaign against Cao Cao for the time being. Shao himself grew very ill after the battle, with blood pouring from his mouth. He returned to Ye, only to fall even deeper into illness and become unable to rise or speak. Because he hadn't properly established who his heir was, his wife asked if Yuan Shang was to be heir, which Shao could only nod his head before fainting and dying a little bit later. Several years after his death, when Cao Cao captured Ye, he insisted on visiting Yuan Shao's thumb so he could pay respect, ordering all living members of his household whom remained in Ye to be spared out of respect to his old friend.

See Also[]


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