|Game:||Total War: Three Kingdoms|
|Starting Faction:||The Ma Clan of Liang|
|Title:||General of the Agile Cavalry, Governor of Liang, Marquis of Tai|
Ma Chao is a unique character in the Total War: Three Kingdoms grand campaign.
Born in 176AD in Youfufeng Commandery in Sili province, Ma Chao was the eldest son of Ma Teng, at the time just another frontiersman near the western capitol, but eventually a warlord in the Liang rebellion. Ma Chao grew up during the turbulent chaos of the Liang rebellion and the fallout of the splintering of Dong Zhuo's army. His father and another warlord, Han Sui, went to war with each other over Liang, resulting in the death of Ma Chao's mother and some of his siblings. Peace was brokered between the two men by Cao Cao's agent Zhong Yao in 197AD, and they both acknowledged Cao Cao's suzerainty. Cao Cao reportedly asked for Ma Chao to come to the capitol to serve in the government, but Ma Chao refused. He did however, join an expedition in support of Zhong Yao's administration in the capitol region of Hedong in 202AD, driving away the Yuan forces with his subordinate, Pang De.
His father soon requested and was granted permission to take a post in the imperial court in Ye. Ma Chao was left in charge of his troops. However, when Cao Cao announced his intention to march against Zhang Lu of Hanzhong, Ma Chao grew suspicious that Cao Cao would use this as an excuse to take his autonomy away, and formed a rebel army along with Han Sui, effectively abandoning his father and family in Ye. They opposed Cao Cao at Tong Pass, the gateway to Chang'an. However, Cao Cao outmaneuvered them by crossing the bend of the Huang River twice at Dou and Puban, putting himself behind the pass. Ma Chao attempted to prevent him from crossing the Wei River, the final obstacle between him and the rear of Ma Chao's army, but Cao Cao defeated him in a night ambush. Negotiations followed, where Ma Chao and Han Sui attempted to buy peace with Cao Cao, but Cao Cao instead used the opportunity to begin turning the warlords against each other. Ma Chao then attempted to capture Cao Cao during a meeting, but was thwarted by Cao Cao's bodyguard Xu Chu and negotiations ended. With both sides now arrayed on even ground, Cao Cao pressed the attack and his vaunted Tiger and Leopard Cavalry broke the flanks of the Liang warlords, driving them from the region around Chang'an.
Ma Chao returned to Liang in defeat, but Cao Cao did not pursue him for long, and Ma Chao began forming a new army, this time comprised of many Qiang and Rong auxiliaries along with whatever disaffected Han Chinese he could find. With Cao Cao himself gone, Ma Chao received considerable reinforcements from Zhang Lu of Hanzhong and overran the Wei River valley, besieging and capturing Jicheng, the capitol of Hanyang Commandery. He killed the Inspector of Liang, Wei Kang, and the Administrator of Jicheng, despite the fact that they had surrendered to him, and proclaimed himself General Who Conquers the West and Governor of Bing Province. He also defeated the force under the command of Xiahou Yuan that had force marched across the frontier to relieve the siege but arrived too late. However, these arbitrary executions and Ma Chao himself angered both the leading men of Liang and (famously) their wives, who plotted against Ma Chao. Directed by Wei Kang's former deputy Yang Fu, some of them rebelled in Lucheng, and when Ma Chao went to go put them down, the rest rose up in Jicheng, killed Ma Chao's wife and children, and went to go join the rebels. Just then, Xiahou Yuan returned and the combined force surrounded and crushed Ma Chao at Lucheng. He attempted to return to Jicheng, only to find the gates locked and his wife's body thrown to him from the walls. Xiahou Yuan continued his pursuit and Ma Chao was forced to flee to join Zhang Lu for protection.
Ma Chao remained with Zhang Lu for a short time until he grew wary of Zhang Lu's officers' distrust of him and defected to join Liu Bei, who was in the process of taking Yi Province from Liu Zhang. Liu Bei welcomed him during the Siege of Chengdu, and Liu Zhang capitulated soon after. He and Zhang Fei soon embarked on the first attempt to conquer Hanzhong from Wei, but their flanking attempt was ambushed by Cao Hong and Cao Xiu and they were forced to retreat. Following Liu Bei's victory in at Mount Dingjun and his subsequent proclaiming himself King of Hanzhong in 219AD, he made Ma Chao General of the Left. In 221AD, Liu Bei proclaimed himself Emperor of Han and promoted Ma Chao again to General of the Agile Cavalry and Governor of Liang, as well as enoffing him as Marquis. Ma Chao isn't mentioned as being present at any of the battles after the conquest of Hanzhong, and died in 222AD of unrecorded causes.
Ma Chao starts as part of the family tree of The Ma Clan of Liang as a minor.
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