- Shogun 2 impressions: THIS is a difficulty spike
- Total War? Only for the undiplomatic: the lessons of Shogun 2
- Total War: Shogun 2 – The Verdict
- Ninja FAIL
- Postcards from Sengoku Japan: The Mori’s Last Stand
- Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai first impressions
- Matchlocks for my Eyes, or Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai – The Verdict
- Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 1: Awakening the Tiger
- Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 2: Patience and Preparation
- Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 3 (Final): Ride Forth Victoriously
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.
In the north, everything proceeds with textbook perfection. The battle occurs on a beautiful spring day:
In the south, Nobukado runs into a little more trouble. The battle starts off much the same way: I occupy a hill, and my archers start skirmishing with theirs. But when I move a squadron of cavalry up to harry the enemy bowmen, their entire army surges forward into melee. Assailed by enemy samurai, the right wing of my army almost breaks; my horsemen sacrifice themselves in a last-ditch charge. Luckily, the enemy general falls just in time, and the left wing of my army manages to break through.
That does for the Satomi. Their Satake allies last a little longer; after mustering another army, they slip past Nobukado and briefly recapture the province of Musashi. In response, the Takeda brothers join up, and wipe out the enemy army while it’s trapped behind castle walls.
An epic showdown? Nah. Storming fortresses in Shogun 2 is a meat grinder… if you fight it out. Instead, I take advantage of the auto-resolve, which tends to short-change castle defenders.
Losing their army seals the Satake clan’s fate. In their weakened state, they are easy prey for the Uesugi, who move down from the north. And after finishing off the weakened Satake, the Uesugi declare war on me. Nobushige races his army back north. Once again, I meet the Uesugi at a river crossing. This time, they outnumber me:
I see two river crossings; my main army defends the nearest, while a small detachment secures the further one. The battle starts. And with their superior numbers, the Uesugi come perilously close to breaking my line. I recall the distant detachment, which makes its way across the river and hits the Uesugi from behind. Slowly, painfully, my troops gain the upper hand.
Then, as Uesugi soldiers appear on my flank, I realise that there was a third crossing.
If the Uesugi had taken that third crossing earlier, I think they would have won. As is, I order my general away from the Uesugi spears just in time; and I pull a few detachments back from the melee at the main crossing to deal with the new threat. Somehow, my soldiers pull it off. When the dust settles, the Uesugi’s final army has been destroyed.
After that, the fall of the Uesugi is an anticlimax. The three Takeda brothers race through the now-undefended Uesugi lands, and 40 turns into the game, in 1554, I seize the last Uesugi stronghold. (To cap off the good news, around this time, Shingen’s wife Kanako gives birth to a baby girl.) At this point, I finally remember to turn the battle difficulty down from “hard” to “normal”.
This is about as far as I can expand before triggering realm divide. It’s time to dig in, consolidate, and prepare for the final showdown. And for that, I have a secret weapon: the spreadsheet.
My starting point is this handy map (credit goes to “TinCow” at TotalWar.org; the original is available here). I have circled my territories in red: Echigo in the north, down to Izu in the southwest, and then across to Fukushima in the east.
Depending on how you count, there are at least five “routes” into my domain:
- Echigo blocks off attacks along the northern coast.
- There is a corridor from the north coast, through Hida, to North Shinano.
- There is a western corridor running from central Japan through South Shinano and thence onto North Shinano.
- Along the south coast, an army can move west from Suruga against Izu or Sagami.
- Finally, an army marching against me from the east will have to take the long way through Echigo (1, above), or the direct way through Fukushima.
That means I need at least five armies. Let’s say I form five defensive armies, comprising 10 units of ashigaru each (eight with yari or bows, two with guns). That should be plenty to hold the walls of an upgraded castle. Each army will cost this much per turn in upkeep:
For the eventual march on Kyoto, I want two “deluxe” field armies, each a full stack of 20 units. My field armies should contain the very best: four heavy cavalry, and at least four units of heavy infantry (samurai or warrior monks). The rest of each stack can comprise ashigaru. This is how much each deluxe army would cost per turn:
All up, my current income will just about support two deluxe armies and five garrison armies, even after trade is cut off by realm divide. Good!
I keep investing in my economy:
My recent conquests give me access to several bonuses: an armourer in Suruga province, a bonus to archers in Hitachi province, and the cavalry bonus in my starting province, Kai. Of these, the single most impressive is the armourer in Suruga; after I upgrade it, it gives all locally trained infantry units +3 to their armour. A basic ashigaru unit has 2 armour; a basic samurai has 5-7. That means that ashigaru trained in Suruga will have 5 armour (2 plus 3) — equal to a samurai. I take advantage of the bonuses to train a few new regiments. Not too many — in time, I’ll unlock even more bonuses.
In 1556, my buildup is briefly interrupted; my smaller neighbour to the east, the Mogami clan, decides it can do better than the last three clans that picked a fight with me. Not wishing to trigger realm divide, I refrain from the offensive. Instead, I reinforce my border fortresses and let the Mogami stomp around the countryside. Eventually, the Mogami fall into my trap: they move up a second army and assault the castle defended by Takeda Nobukado1.
The Mogami soldiers storm the outer walls. They bleed. Under a hail of arrows, they fight their way towards the inner walls. They bleed. And eventually, they break. Even I’m taken aback by the virtual carnage; the inside of the wall is carpeted with bodies:
With both their armies wiped out, the Mogami are quick to accept my proposed cease-fire. Soon afterwards, their neighbours, the Hatakeyama clan, gobble them up.
The Calm before the Storm
Now left in peace, I resume my buildup.
As the seasons roll by, new children are born. Older siblings grow to maturity…
… and become a little too accustomed to peace. Total War veterans will remember generals’ tendency to acquire traits over time, some better rthan others. Shingen’s eldest son Yoshinobu develops an “eye for the ladies”, giving his army a trivial movement penalty. Grr…
I recruit new, ever more lethal units. Some are new unit types, such as warrior monks and the unique Takeda unit, fire cavalry. Others are old staples such as ashigaru, heaped with bonus after bonus.
The Takeda domain flourishes — note my income, bottom right. And this is after splurging on heavy cavalry and samurai.
Some of the surplus wealth goes to religious rites. Some goes to other clans as a gift. Some goes to as tribute to the jealous Shogun. Most goes into my army, my treasury, or further development:
During this time, a handful of behemoths consolidate their control over Japan: the Otomo (blue, to the west), the Imagawa (grey, centre-south), the Jinbo (lighter blue, centre-north), me (red, east), and the Hatakeyama (green, far east). I have alliances with all three of the western clans: Otomo, Imagawa, and Jinbo.
Eventually, the Jinbo and Otomo fall out, forcing me to choose sides:
The Otomo are clearly at fault here. They are also the more dangerous of the two clans, and the Jinbo are sitting on top of one of my victory provinces. I will need to break my alliances with the Jinbo and Imagawa anyway, in order to win… and this gives me an excuse. I bid the Jinbo farewell.
By now, my army is up to its target strength: two full, elite stacks, plus garrisons in every border province. In fact, my my economy is doing so well that my army is a little bit above its target strength. There seems little need for a further buildup. And the clock is ticking; sooner or later, I’ll have to march to war again.
The perfect opportunity comes when the Hatakeyama clan, to my east, decides to take me on. Takeda Shingen, commanding one of my new model stacks, catches the Hatakeyama in an ambush:
I array my anvil, the infantry and archers, on the open field…
… while my cavalry hides in the forest a little further away.
In the end, the anvil does pretty well on its own. My troops have so many bonuses, even the humble ashigaru can hold off the enemy samurai.
The moment comes. The enemy army is fully committed. I order my cavalry out of the woods:
The enemy army disintegrates. Entire lines crumple as the horsemen punch through; and the battlefield becomes a sea of Takeda red, enveloping the fleeing Hatakeyama. My “dream army” has passed its first test with flying colours.
As I survey the aftermath, I note that it’s turn 79, or 1565 — two-thirds through the campaign. I have forty turns left to win the game. Given my flourishing economy and vast, well-equipped army, I’m confident I can do it.
Here are my borders, as at the end of part 2. In the east, I have one and a half stacks fighting the Hatekayama in Miyagi province. My plan is to quickly finish off their armies, leave a modest force to mop up, and hurry my main force west. A smaller half-stack garrisons Echigo:
In the west, Takeda Nobukado has another super-stack poised to march west the moment realm divide begins. The partial stacks nearby can reinforce Nobukado, hold North Shinano, or pick off an undefended province.
Here is the upkeep calculator I created. Input your income and desired army composition into the grey cells, and it will estimate your net cashflow per turn after realm divide. Note that I made it specifically for the Takeda, who receive cheaper cavalry as their bonus.
- In fact, I went overboard in reinforcing Nobukado. I should have received several free garrison units, but apparently they had nowhere to spawn. ↩