Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 3 (Final): Ride Forth Victoriously

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Total War: Shogun 2

Welcome to the final instalment of my Let’s Play of Shogun 2.

Previously, I stood on the verge of Shogun 2’s endgame — “realm divide”, in which most of Japan joins forces to stop the player. My armies were ready. My treasury was bursting. And so, I resumed the offensive after a long period of peace. Here is the situation, shortly before the end of Part 2:

S2 power blocs

In the east, my armies had just won their first victory against the Hatekayama clan (green). In the west, I was at peace; I shared my border with an allied clan, the Imagawa (grey), and a former ally, the Jinbo (light blue). Further west, past the Jinbo and Imagawa, was the single largest computer player: the Otomo clan (blue, also my ally).

Once I resume the game, Takeda Shingen and his son Nobushige lead my eastern armies against the Hatekeyama’s remaining force.

Continue reading “Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 3 (Final): Ride Forth Victoriously”

Musical Monday: “Bone Wagon” (Grim Fandango), composed by Peter McConnell

In honour of the Grim Fandango re-release, I present one of my favourite tracks from the original. Enjoy!

 

Total War Rome II DLC Campaigns: The Buyer’s Guide

Matchsticks for my Eyes is pleased to present the latest guest post by Rachel “frogbeastegg” McFadden, author of Frogbeastegg’s Guides to Total War. Rome II has smartened up considerably since its release; the article below discusses its add-on campaigns.

I have seen a lot of people asking about the various DLC campaigns for Total War: Rome II lately. Here’s a brief run-down of them all, in order of release.

Caesar in Gaul

Caesar in Gaul is my current favourite out of the Rome II campaigns which I have played.

This is the smallest scale out of all of those available. The map is a very zoomed-in version of France with a bit of Germany, Italy and Britain on the edges. The map comprises of around 50 cities in total, so it’s more than capable of portraying the geography of the area. The victory requirements are low at only 28 cities for victory instead of the more usual 50. The smaller scale makes the map very intimate, and each new advance feels like a good step forward. The map is the most Shogun II-esque in terms of providing choke-point geography and interesting routes.

Caesar in Gaul is small in scale in terms of faction variety as well; it’s Romans versus Gauls with a smattering of Britons and Germans. If you do not enjoy fighting against lots of Gauls you will hate this because most of the factions on the map are, unsurprisingly, Gauls. Playable factions include Rome, Suebi, and two Gaulish factions. Not the Britons, disappointingly; I’d have liked to go fully Reverse-Caesar and this is the one area where I feel let down by this DLC.
Special mention needs to go to the season system; the version seen in the other campaigns is a watered-down version of Caesar in Gaul‘s. Winter? It hurts. Set foot outside of your cities when the bad weather arrives and you will take losses as you march. Spring, summer and autumn all have interesting, if less pronounced, effects. You need to be aware of the time of year and plan for it in a way which the Total War series has never previously asked of the player.

The research system is has a small yet nice modification: you can buy half of the techs for immediate bonuses. It adds a third choice into the spending decisions and in my opinion that makes the strategy portion fly in a way which the others do not. Do I want to build new units, new buildings, or get a useful tech? The economy is quite reasonable on hard mode too, not too restrictive and not overly generous. I recommend building lots of farms and farm boosters because trade is less of an option.

History buffs may appreciate the little quotes from Caesar’s Gallic Wars which appear throughout the campaign.

Note: there is no civil war in this campaign. It is disabled. Instead you will encounter something similar to Shogun II‘s realm divide once your imperium grows high enough. Either the Romans will send Caesar massive reinforcements, or the Gauls will band together to throw you out. For this reason a lot of players consider this to be one of the hardest campaigns.

This campaign also makes three new barbarian factions playable in the Grand Campaign, the Nervii, the Boii, and the Galatians.

Hannibal at the Gates

If Caesar in Gaul is a small campaign, this is a medium-sized one. The geographic area of the map is considerably larger, although there are only a few more cities on the map. The range of factions is larger, and there are more cultures represented. At 50 cities, the victory requirement is midway between Caesar in Gaul‘s and the average faction’s Grand Campaign goal.

Hannibal at the Gates does not have any particular stand-out features of its own so it mostly plays like a smaller version of the Grand Campaign. That makes it easier to know what to expect if you’ve played Rome II already. If you want a smaller, faster-to-finish version of that, then Hannibal is an excellent place to look.

Carthage and Rome both have access to extra legions above the normal cap; if I remember correctly, it’s 2 more each. This makes them more dangerous and helps set the stage for a show-down with a mighty foe.

Diplomacy is relatively pre-set. Rome and Carthage are locked into perma-war, and each have allies assigned at the start. The allies can and will desert their masters, and sometimes change sides if they are hurting badly enough. There can be no negotiation between the Big Two, however. No truces, no temporary trade, nothing; Carthage (or Rome) must be destroyed!

There seems to be an element of luck to the difficulty of this campaign. Depending on what the AI does you will either have a hard fight on your hands, or the main enemy will fail to grow in pace with the player. I suspect that this campaign’s AI is more vulnerable than usual to patch changes. I had an enjoyable, challenging game as Carthage facing an aggressive Rome and an increasingly fraught Spanish situation. I couldn’t get my hands on enough money or manpower to meet my ideal needs until the final third of the game. Conversely, my Rome campaign, also played on hard difficulty, was a complete cakewalk from start to end. I had money overflowing my coffers from turn 1 and that fuelled everything else, although I admit that this might be due to my choosing to disband my starting mercenaries and thus double my income right off the bat. The two Spanish factions reportedly have a tougher time, and Syracuse is considered the most difficult faction of the selection.

This campaign makes two Spanish factions and Syracuse playable in the Grand Campaign.

Imperator Augustus

Imperator Augustus is the FreeLC (as CA call it) campaign which came with the Emperor Edition. If you own Rome II, you own this. It’s basically the Grand Campaign with fewer but larger factions at the start, a few tweaks to city placement on the campaign map, slightly different technology, a different diplomacy set-up, and inevitable war between the assorted Roman factions. Fine, fun, very large in scale and breadth. Huge and time consuming. I have not finished a campaign in it yet, although I have one in progress as Pompey’s Rome.

Wrath of Sparta

This is the newest DLC and I have not had the time to play much of it yet. It’s an interesting twist on the formula … more deliberate, I suppose you could say. Things like recruiting take longer than usual, and as a result each decision carries more weight than normal.

Like Caesar in Gaul, the map is very zoomed-in and geographically intimate. Seasonal gameplay is implemented once again, as is the ‘end-game challenge’, this time in the form of a Persian invasion. Capturing the major factions’ capitals will impose a large diplomacy penalty on the player, so expansion needs to follow a different pattern to the usual “I’ll expand outwards and keep my borders secure, killing one opponent at a time.”

Proviso: you must like hoplite v hoplite warfare. If you find that too slow and static, you will hate this campaign unless you auto-calc all of the battles. Unit types are at their most limited in Wrath of Sparta; hoplites, light cavalry, assorted skirmishers, and that’s pretty much your lot unless you hire mercenaries from the northern areas of the map. The DLC’s store page info boasts of 50 new units; be aware that most of those are minor tweaks on existing units.

Inside The Art of Total War

As promised, here are photos I took of The Art of Total War.

Here is the table of contents. The book focuses on three branches of the Total War family — Shogun 1 & 2, Empire & Napoleon, and Rome 1 & 2. There is less on Medieval & Medieval 2, and less still, a bare few pages, on Attila and the spin-offs (Battles, Arena).

20150214_101205 The art itself ranges from unit sketches to concept paintings, and even some of the original maps that the developers used as inspiration. Read on:

Continue reading “Inside The Art of Total War”

Clippings

After the disappointment of Beyond Earth, early videos of Sid Meier’s Starships are a bit more encouraging. Start with this overview (skip to about 33 minutes in):

Then watch this video (complete with Sid in Starfleet cosplay) for a more in-depth look at gameplay:

This preview contains a bit more information.

In other news:

  • Still in space, here is a preview of Homeworld Remastered.
  • Not having an N64, I missed The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask when it first came out. This review of the new 3DS version doubles as a retrospective.
  • USGamer lists the essential last-generation console RPGs. It’s a good list, with the proviso that it excludes portable games — my one addition would be The Last Story (for Wii; my writeup here). Including portables, I would add several excellent PSP games — Tactics Ogre, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.
  • Previews (PCGamesN, RPS)are popping up for Act of Aggression, the upcoming RTS from Wargame developer Eugen Systems.
  • A retrospective of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. My take would be: disappointing narrative, great aesthetic, great fodder for a Ghost in the Shell fan, very good overall experience. I even enjoyed the boss battles!
  • The real XCOM underground base?

Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 2: Patience and Preparation

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Total War: Shogun 2

Welcome back to my Let’s Play of Shogun 2.

When we left off, my Takeda clan controlled a modest slice of Japan, to the north and west of modern Tokyo. To the east were my enemies: the Satake and Satomi clans. Further north were my old foes, the Uesugi clan; an uneasy peace prevailed between us, ever since I crushed their last invasion attempt.

My previous victory against the Satomi in Part 1 gave me a window of opportunity. and so, my first order of business is to march east. Takeda Shingen, lord of the clan, is off on another frontier. Command falls to his two brothers: Takeda Nobushige in the north, leading his army out of North Shinano province, and Takeda Nobukado in the south, crossing the river from Musashi.

S2 pt1 end North S2 pt1 end SE Continue reading “Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 2: Patience and Preparation”

Musical Monday: “Melee Cafe” (Rome: Total War), composed by Jeff van Dyck

If you played PC strategy games during the mid-2000s, this (oddly named) song will bring back memories for you. Enjoy!

Clippings

I’ve been juggling several games, lately. On the PC, the run-up to Attila‘s release has seen me replaying older Total War titles: Shogun 2 for my Let’s Play (Part 2 coming soon!), Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai, and Napoleon: Total War. And happily, I’m enjoying Fall of the Samurai and Napoleon a bit more this time around.

On the Vita, I’m a little way into the original Suikoden (pretty decent), Grim Fandango Remastered (still delightful), and Rogue Legacy (courtesy of Playstation Plus).  I don’t think you could go wrong with these if you enjoy their respective genres.

In this week’s links:

What I’ve been reading

  1. The Janissary Tree, by Jason Goodwin (novel). Great concept – detective novel set in 19th century Ottoman Istanbul/Constantinople. Somewhat patchy execution; the resolution of the central mystery is contrived even by the standards of the genre. I think it works best as a love letter to a vanished world.
  2. The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, by Robin Lane Fox (non-fiction). I want to like this book, yet I can’t  make much progress. It feels… detached, perhaps a consequence of trying to cover so much ground. Oh, well, I’ll soldier on.
  3. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, by Robert Massie (non-fiction). Now this is more like it. The first few chapters bring the young Catherine and her world alive; I look forward to consuming more! Worth a look for Empire: Total War and EU4 fans.
  4. Lest Darkness Fall, by L Sprague de Camp (novel – the first Amazon link goes to my paperback edition. There also looks to be a newer Kindle omnibus).  A time traveller journeys back to Ostrogothic Rome, on the eve of the Dark Ages. Luckily, he just happens to have the historical  knowledge to turn the tide. I’ve enjoyed this alternate history romp since I was a teen; it’s clever, funny, and the characters are a blast. Clearly, the author was having the time of his life! Here is a more detailed writeup.