Best Cao Cao Commander Guide: Skills, Talent Builds, Pairs & Roles

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Cao Cao is one of the best legendary cavalry commanders for China in Rise of Kingdoms. He is a specialized cavalry commander who excels at dishing out serious amounts of damage and a very powerful attacker when it comes to fighting against neutral units like barbarians. Due to his skill set, he synergy pretty well with most of legendary commanders in Rise of Kingdoms.

Cao Cao
Best Cao Cao Commander
Title: Conqueror of Chaos
Civilization: China
Base Power: 1,100
Rarity: Legendary
Cavalry ROKPeacekeeping ROKMobility ROK

Cao Cao Summary:

  • Deals 1,400 damage with his active skill.
  • Reduces target’s attack by 40% and march speed by 10%.
  • Increases damage against barbarians by 50%.
  • Increases cavalry march speed by 10% and attack by 30%.
  • 10% chance to restore 1,000 health points.
  • 10% chance to restore 100 rage.
  • Increases cavalry attack by 25% and decreases enemy troops defense by 10%.

Why Cao Cao is the Best Commander?

  • Powerful commander that delivers serious punches.
  • Amazing for farming barbarians, very fast commander.
  • Comes with a lot of attack boost.
  • Greatly reduces your enemy’s attack by 40% as well as reducing their defense by 10%.
  • Has big heals and generates rage fast.
  • Moves around on the map pretty fast, easy to intercept enemy farmers.

Background Information

Cao Cao ROK

Cao Cao, courtesy name Mengde, was a Chinese warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously honoured as “Emperor Wu of Wei”.

He is often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant in subsequent literature; however, he has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family.

Cao Cao had much success as the Haan chancellor, but his handling of the Han emperor Liu Xie was heavily criticized and resulted in a continued and then escalated civil war.


Welcome to our in-depth Rise of Kingdoms guide for Cao Cao. This informative guide was created to help provide an overview of Cao Cao skills, talent trees, gameplay, strategies, and guides in Rise of Kingdoms. The purpose of this overview guide is to help new and experienced players understand how to play Cao Cao right and maximize strategic advantages.

Cao Cao is a legendary commander with China as his nationality. He is obtainable via gathering 10 Cao Cao sculptures. Once you have acquired the required materials, go to the Commander tab to summon Cao Cao. He is an unique commander with above average offensive combat capabilities and can be opted for barbarian hunting in contrast to Aethelflaed and Boudica if you prefer speed.

Since Cao Cao specializes in cavalry, which means your troops will get attack, health and defense bonuses under his leadership. Emphasis on the march speed is also greatly enhanced which makes him one of the fastest legendary commanders in Rise of Kingdoms.

Best Cao Cao Skills

In this part, we are sharing the best Cao Cao skills and dive deep on how you can use them to your advantage. As I pointed out early in the introduction section that Cao Cao is a cavalry-focused commander, which means you can expect his skills to benefit horsemen the most. Ideally, you should be going for pure cavalry troops built to maximize his skills. Here’s list of Cao Cao skills below:

Cao Cao ROK
Dragon Rider
Cao Cao Dragon Rider


Rage Requirement: 1000

Deals direct damage to the target, and decreases target’s attack and march speed for 3 seconds.

Upgrade Preview:

Direct Damage Factor: 600 / 800 / 1000 / 1200 / 1400
Attack Reduction: 20% / 25% / 30% / 35% / 40%
March Speed Reduction: 5% / 6% / 7% / 8% / 10%

The Dragon Rider is one of the most powerful active skills that deals heavy blows to enemy targets. In addition to that, their attack is reduced by 40% and march speed is reduced by 10%. Which means when you are playing Cao Cao, you will be able to crowd control them effectively.

The Qingzhou Army
The Qingzhou Army


Increases the damage on Barbarians.

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Bonus Damage To Barbarians: 10% / 20% / 30% / 40% / 50%

Simply put, the flat 50% damage bonus towards barbarians is too good. This passive skill makes it easy enough for Cao Cao to exterminate neutral units with relative ease.

Tiger Knight
Tiger Knight


Increases cavalry units’ march speed and attack.

Upgrade Preview:

Cavalry March Speed Bonus: 3% / 4.5% / 6% / 8% / 10%
Cavalry Attack Bonus: 10% / 15% / 20% / 25% / 30%

As I mentioned previously that Cao Cao is a cavalry-focused commander, this passive skill further cements the need to use pure cavalry build. All cavalry-type will gain 30% attack bonus and march 10% faster. Which makes him one of the fastest commanders in Rise of Kingdoms.

Lofty Ambition
Lofty Ambition


Troops’ normal attacks have a 10% chance to heal a portion of the slightly wounded units, restores rage, and increases troops’ march speed by 20% for 3 seconds. Effect can only trigger once every 2 seconds.

Upgrade Preview:

Healing Factor Bonus: 500 / 600 / 700 / 800 / 1000
Rage Restored: 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 100

The fact that this can be triggered once every 2 seconds as opposed to some of the commanders who have 3 seconds to 5 seconds trigger restriction makes this passive skill very powerful. Plus, each time this is triggered, troops get healed for 1,000 and upwards to 100 rage is restored that helps Cao Cao maintain his active uptime.

Emperor Wu of Wei
Emperor Wu of Wei


Increases cavalry attack by 25%, decreases troop defense by 10%

A flat 25% attack bonus towards cavalry and reduces enemy defense by 10% is simply too good. This is an enhanced skill which will be automatically picked up once you unlock and max out all skills.

Best Cao Cao Talent Trees

As you have seen the preview of Cao Cao’s skills, we will be talking about the best talent builds for this legendary commander. He is one of the best peacekeeping commanders due to his unmatched speed and offensive combat capabilities. However, we have 3 best talent builds that we highly recommend for this legendary commander. Without further ado, here’s the best Cao Cao talent builds:

Peacekeeping Talent Build

Cao Cao Barbarian Talent Build ROK

By default this is the best talent build if you plan to roll Cao Cao as a specialized barbarian hunter for speed. The peacekeeping talent build maximizes damage towards barbarians as well as experience gained. Some of the points are invested in building rage and further increasing cavalry damage as well as march speed.

PvP Talent Build

Cao Cao PvP Talent Build ROK

Believe it or not, Cao Cao is great in PvP battles. If you plan to use him for battles in Expedition, then use this talent build. Because expedition is a short battle, often consisting of scenarios and face-offs against other players, you do not need speed. In this talent build, the majority of the points are focused on improving cavalry’s attack, defense and health values. Some of the points also help build resistance against movement impairments which enemy commanders gain damage bonus when slowed as a defensive counter-effect.

Field Talent Build

Cao Cao Field Talent Build ROK

Another great talent build for Cao Cao that focuses on providing support to your friendly commanders and team members. The field talent build greatly increases march speed, providing resistance to movement impairment effects. Not only that it transforms Cao Cao into a lightning fast commander, cavalry also gains bonuses toward health, defense, attack and march speed. An exceptional talent build for any player who wants to provide support with speed in mind.

Star Level & Talent Point Upgrade Priority

In the next part of our Best Cao Cao commander guide, I am going to talk about star level & talent point upgrade priority to maximize your commander’s combat potential. Here’s how to prioritize your Cao Cao effectively:

Peacekeeping Talent Build:

  • Keep Cao Cao at 1 ⭐ until you max out his first skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 2 ⭐ until you max out his second skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 4 ⭐ until you max out all of his skills.

PvP Talent Build:

  • Keep Cao Cao at 1 ⭐ until you max out his first skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 3 ⭐ until you max out his third skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 4 ⭐ until you max out all of his skills.

Field Talent Build:

  • Keep Cao Cao at 1 ⭐ until you max out his first skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 3 ⭐ until you max out his third skill.
  • Level Cao Cao at 4 ⭐ until you max out all of his skills.

Best Commander Pairs

Likewise, there’s a number of commanders that pairs pretty well with Cao Cao. Unless you are rolling Cao Cao for barbarian hunting, he is going to take the back seat. In the other words, he is good as a secondary commander when there’s a primary commander that’s damage-focused especially in PvP battles and alliance wars.

Alexander Nevsky

Alexander Nevsky Commander ROK

Introducing Alexander Nevsky, one of the strongest legendary cavalry commanders in Rise of Kingdoms. Added to the game along with Bertrand, Nevsky is packed with awesome offensive capabilities that puts him in the S rating tier.

If you are looking to take advantage of high damage output mixed with lightning fast mobility, Nevsky will pair well with Cao Cao. With defense reduction debuff, the duo excels at dealing massive damage to the enemy targets.

Which makes this commander pairing an ideal choice for special events like Ark of Osiris and Lost KvK battles.

Mehmed II

Mehmed II ROK

Cao Cao and Mehmed II pairs pretty well. Mehmed II is a very powerful nuker and best of all, he is incredibly flexible. He can easily work with pure cavalry build and stands to take advantage of the passive skill bonuses that Cao Cao gives.

Furthermore, Mehmed II covers one of Cao Cao’s hindsight, lack of the ability to deal AoE splash damage. The combination of direct damage factor and splash damage only means this combo can deal massive amounts of damage. Not to forget to mention that Mehmed II is capable of clearing enemy garrison fast thanks to his enhanced skill.

If you don’t have Mehmed II, then Baibars is a good alternative choice that capitalizes on slowing down your enemies and does relatively a good job at clearing enemy garrisons.

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan ROK

If you are in need of a powerful single-target nuker, Genghis Khan pairs well with Cao Cao. Since both deal direct damage factor to a single target and stand to benefit a lot from each other due to dual cavalry-focus specialization.

Genghis Khan is good as a primary commander because of his talent builds are designed around damage-dealing effects. Plus, he has a small chance to activate his active skill for free, which will cause massive amounts of damage. Cao Cao, on the other hand, will benefit from Genghis Khan’s active skill damage bonus. Plus, his healing effects get improved which means more troops will be able to survive during the battle.

While Genghis Khan can be obtained after the kingdom turns 120 days old, an alternative option to this legendary commander is Pelagius.


Lancelot ROK

Another stellar commander to pair with is Lancelot. This commander might come across as a surprise to some of you, but Lancelot is a great starter commander that works exceptionally well with Cao Cao. Especially when you need some extra flat damage and defense bonus in addition to damage taken reduction.

This is where Lancelot shines the most because he makes a great partner to help Cao Cao kill barbarians quickly and even against rivals in early games. Lancelot’s combat potential with Cao Cao still remains strong in mid-game. If you are looking to get some early combat boost, Lancelot is a really good commander to pair because he specializes in cavalry and is super easy to level up.


Best Attila Commander ROK

Lastly, Attila is a solid legendary commander to pair with Cao Cao. He goes into the primary role and will transform this combo into a very powerful debuffer force, thanks to Attila’s active skill. The debuff effects will be able to neutralize the enemy’s combat capabilities, which allows the troops in this combo deal high and sustained damage.

Likewise, both Attila and Cao Cao stand to benefit the most from each other as they both are cavalry-focused. If you don’t have Attila, Belisarius is a solid alternative choice and pretty much does the same as Attila, just slightly less power.

Best Cao Cao Equipment Set

Equipment Name Stats
Vanguard Halberd Vanguard Halberd
  • +5% Defense
  • +4% Health
Expedition War Helm Expedition War Helm
  • +6% Defense
Windswept Breastplate Windswept Breastplate
  • +4.5% Defense
  • +3% Movement Speed
Windswept Bracers Windswept Bracers
  • +2.5% Health
  • +3% March Speed
Vanguard Greaves Vanguard Greaves
  • +4% Attack
  • +1% Health
The Scarlet Hounds The Scarlet Hounds
  • +4% Health

Set Bonus: 

  • +4% Attack
  • +4% March Speed
Overall Stats:

  • +8% Attack
  • +15.5% Defense
  • +9% Health
  • +10% March Speed
Equipment Name Stats
Heart of the Saint Heart of the Saint
  • +13% Defense
Abyssal Visage Abyssal Visage
  • +8% Attack
Dark Lord’s Blessing Dark Lord’s Blessing
  • +8% Defense
Iset’s Sufferance Iset’s Sufferance
  • +3% Attack
  • +3% Health
Gladiator Gladiator
  • +8% Health
Cloud Racers Cloud Racers
  • +5.5% Attack

Set Bonus: 

  • No Set Bonus
Overall Stats:

  • + 16.5% Attack
  • +21% Defense
  • + 11% Health

Best Cao Cao Strategies and Tips

We have assembled a comprehensive list of best Cao Cao strategies and tips to maximize this commander’s combat effectiveness in Rise of Kingdoms. Be sure to take advantage of our strategies and tips:

  • Cao Cao is great for speed killing barbarians.
  • Cao Cao also can be used to harasses enemy farmers thanks to his increased speed.
  • For additional mobility and speed, pair Cao Cao with Belisarius.
  • To level up quickly, pair Cao Cao with Mulan for dual 95% experience gain.
  • Improve his rage generation to maintain high uptime and keep enemies slowed.
  • Pair Cao Cao with Baibars to gain splash damage effect and keep multiple enemies slowed so that you can kill each of them.

Best Cao Cao Review


Best Cao Cao Commander Guide: Skills, Talent Builds, Pairs & Roles
Best Cao Cao Commander Guide: Skills, Talent Builds, Pairs & Roles
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