Josh Plays Shogun 2 Part 7: The Rising Sun

By Josh
on Oct 31, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

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Against all odds, we have prevailed. The Imagawa army – despite all of its splendor, superior numbers, and better equipped-troops – has been utterly crushed by our superior strategy. Mikawa is defended by only a spent force less than a hundred and fifty men strong. We have the men, the opportunity, and the initiative. It’s time to retake what is ours.

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Against a force ten times as strong as his, Imagawa Yoshimoto surrenders before we can even reach the walls and commits seppuku. We’ve won the final battle over Mikawa without losing a single man.

With this newest success under his belt, Nobuhide has reached three command stars. There aren’t a lot of options at this level that would really improve his skills in any meaningful way, so I put a point in cavalry commander (a prerequisite for several skills I want to obtain later) and another point in poetry, which will slightly increase the speed at which we master bushido arts.

Now that the Imagawa offensive has been broken, the most important thing to remember is to never lose our momentum. We’ve utterly destroyed nearly every Imagawa military unit, and it might be tempting to take the time now to properly fortify Mikawa and replenish our forces to prevent another disaster like our first conquest of the province. But this is legendary mode – the AI will almost always be able to outbuild us, and if we cede this opportunity to attack the Imagawa while they’re vulnerable, it won’t be long before they send another massive army to attack us. Allowing this to happen would be… unwise.

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Keeping this in mind, our army is in striking distance of the next nearest Imagawa stronghold – Totomi – this turn. Our ninja has confirmed the absence of any military forces beyond the fort’s garrison, and it easily falls to our army.

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Our recent, unexpected success has drawn the attention of the Shogun himself. And this is our first introduction to a new, controversial feature unique in the series to Shogun 2. It’s also the lynchpin that is shaping my entire strategy for this campaign, so now seems like a good time to finally discuss it.

In all previous incarnations of Total War, no matter what difficulty you had selected, you would eventually reach a point in any campaign where your faction had conquered so much territory and had an economy so strong no single opposing faction could ever hope to defeat you. You could be completely tactically inept and lose nearly every battle, but you’d still be able to win every war because your economy and industrial power was so far ahead of your opponents that you could replace any losses you took – even entire armies – without so much as breaking your stride. At this point, the campaign would simply become a grind as you singled out and conquered one faction after another until you inevitably achieved all of your victory conditions.

This was a long-standing problem, seemingly endemic to the nature of Total War, and with Shogun 2, Creative Assembly finally decided to take a stab at solving it. Their solution was… somewhat less than elegant, however – since no single faction could ever hope to defeat you, at a certain point in every campaign (after conquering around 15 – 20 provinces in long campaigns and 10 – 12 in short ones) the Shogun will declare your clan an “enemy of the state” and you’ll take a massive diplomatic relations hit with every single clan in the game, and suffer an additional relations hit every turn for the rest of the game. Predictably, this will very quickly lead to the entire nation of Japan declaring war on you, regardless of all other diplomatic factors – allies, vassals, trade partners – everyone will decide to stab you in the back.

Naturally, this “realm divide” feature is not particularly popular with many players, and there are literally hundreds of mods that remove or alter the way realm divide functions. That said, I’m not using any of those. When I do let’s plays, I prefer to show the game as-is; in the state the developers, for better or worse, intended for it to be.

So am I going to defeat the combined forces of all of Japan? Well, to put it simply, I’m not. This is a short campaign – I only need to conquer 25 provinces to win. My current plan is to expand up to Sagami province in the east to get the blacksmith, and then heavily fortify it as a permanent border. Then I’ll build up my forces and turn to the west, capturing the provinces around Kyoto, and expanding until I’m just about to trigger realm divide. In addition to expansion, taking Kyoto and declaring yourself shogun also triggers realm divide, so I’ll hold out until the last possible moment, and then blitz Kyoto and grab as many undefended provinces as I can. The hope is that I can blitz my way to victory faster than the AI can overcome my fortifications.

Securing enough recognition to be declared an enemy of the state is still a long way into the future, though, and for now, my focus is still securely set upon the faltering Imagawa.

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With my armies exhausted, the only thing I have left that I can do this turn is fortify Mikawa and Totomi by recruiting more units. Though, one other thing of note did happen earlier this turn…

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Nobuhide now has a third son – and he arrived on the eve of our victory over the Imagawa. Curiously, though Nobuhide historically had twelve sons, none of them were named Taneyori. And all but four of them had names that started with “Nobu-”. I suppose putting such attention to detail into random events like the birth of children in this game was perhaps a bit much to ask for.

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As sure as the sun rises, autumn has come, and with it, the few remaining Imagawa forces have been conducting raids throughout Mikawa.

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Our clan retainers have also come forth, asking for guidance in which art to pursue. Though I do intend to give a strong focus to Chi arts in the near future, at the moment we’re still researching military technology, so I urge them to focus their meditations on martial wisdom.

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With Totomi province in our hands, we’ve come into possession of the same swordsmanship dojo that trained the katana samurai that the Imagawa used to nearly turn the tide of our last engagement. Though eventually there will come a time when I will succumb to the temptation to burn it to the ground and erect a market or sake-den in its place, for the moment, we can turn its services to our own purposes. I’ll recruit a few katana samurai for the campaign against the Imagawa and the Hojo after them – their presence will bolster our offensive power by a large margin until we can build up the infrastructure to train our spear troops well.

While the final Imagawa stronghold in Suruga province is nearly undefended, I’ll still want to commit nearly the entire garrison force I have at Totomi towards conquering it, and I don’t feel good about doing that while there are still some scattered remnants of the old Imagawa army so close by.

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Using Mikawa’s garrison to force them towards my main army at Totomi, I quickly and systematically destroy both groups.

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Still, even with the Imagawa ejected from our territory, all is not yet well in Mikawa – enraged with how many times the province has been conquered and raided in our tug-of-war with the Imagawa, a rebellion seems imminent, even with the large garrison at the castle. There’s little I can do about it but order the recruitment of more troops.

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Some good news has reached us from the west: our allies, the Hattori, have taken back their ancestral home of Iga from our aggressive neighbors, the Tsutsui, and scattered their army. It’s too early to hedge any bets yet, but it seems the threat to our western border is over – at least, for the time being.

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As the first snow begins to fall, Mikawa rises in rebellion, just as I had feared. The rebels consist of several units loyal to the remnants of the Tokugawa clan, though they have no notable Tokugawa family members with them to speak of. Chances are, the defenses as they are in Mikawa will hold against such a force, but I’ll be keeping an eye on how it develops in any case.

We’ve also finished researching Heaven and Earth, meaning we can now build encampments – an important prerequisite to recruiting the Oda Long Ashigaru unit. After we consolidate the holdings we’ve captured from the Imagawa, I’ll look into building such encampments at our major troop recruitment centers.

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Unfortunately, our forces can’t quite reach Suruga this turn, so I’ve stopped them just inside our borders to allow them to continue to replenish their numbers.

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The earth warms, the snow melts, and the sakura blossoms begin to bloom – and our forces are finally in range of Suruga. And, as if to illustrate the point I made earlier, the Imagawa have already built up a force of ashigaru that actually outnumbers our army. Led by Torii Sadanao, and unwilling to retreat to their castle, we have few options if we wish to end this now. We must attack them directly.

This is a bit of a change of tactics from what I normally attempt to do – chances are they won’t blindly attack me on a hill this time – but don’t worry, I still have a plan.

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We’re not going to mess around here – we can’t count on the Imagawa to come to us when we’re on the offensive, so we’re going to head straight down the center to meet them.

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Curiously, the Imagawa have done little to secure a defensive position – in fact, they’re in an absolutely terrible spot, a valley between two hills.

So what exactly is my plan? I can’t just sit in a spear wall formation and hope they charge me, can I?

Actually, that’s exactly what I intend to do. The crux of this plan is that I have the superior missile force. With them, I can kill the enemy archers and then pepper their infantry with missiles until they’re forced to charge my position. The numbers are roughly equal – 240 Imagawa archers to my 245 – but my bow ashigaru are all veterans while the Imagawa archers are greener than the valley they’re standing in, and as I’ve discussed in previous installments, the AI can’t handle archers as well as I can.

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As if to punctuate this point, as I approach, the Imagawa finally start to move, repositioning all of their forces onto a steep, nearby hill. All of their forces, except their archers, which they’ve practically abandoned to the wolves – or in this case, to my arrows.

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With no infantry to defend them, I send Nobuhide and his mounted bodyguard to charge the enemy bow ashigaru directly. Under the hail of my own arrows are the pressure of a direct cavalry charge, they don’t last long, and it’s only when the Imagawa daimyo charges down the hill at me that I pull Nobuhide back.

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And now I’ve accomplished exactly what I set out to do – the Imagawa are charging me full on. I throw my yari ashigaru into the spear wall formation and wait for the enemy to smash themselves into my ranks.

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The battle is pitifully short, as the Imagawa charge my lines in a disorganized fashion. They cluster up on a single unit of yari ashigaru and allow me to partially surround them before their morale plummets and they rout.

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The battle is won with less than a hundred Oda warriors lost. Suruga’s last line of defense now lies with the few scattered troops inside their castle, and I have no intention of allowing them any respite. Oda forces surround the castle and break through the gates, meeting little resistance.

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The last battle cry of the once great and powerful Imagawa clan comes as little more than a whimper.

It’s been just over three years since we began this campaign, drawing our forces together for a harried defense of our home province from attacks from all sides. Our enemies were numerous and much more powerful than we, but in just three years, the Oda have expanded well beyond the expectations of any of our rivals. None remain of those who wished our clan’s destruction just three years ago. The time of constant worry and uncertainty about the future is over – and hopefully, for the last time. For the first time, we can now look outward, away from Owari and its neighboring provinces. And it is difficult to keep our gaze from fixating on the splendor of Kyoto. The Shogun is a mere puppet now, but it was not always this way. The Kamakura shoguns were powerful beyond measure, and held dominion over all of Japan. And perhaps, with an Oda sitting on the throne in Kyoto, that glory can become more than just a memory.

Bonus: The State of the Realm of the Oda Clan (and their Immediate Neighbors) in Central Japan: May, 1548

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Kansai, the ancient cultural heart of Japan, has been embroiled in a state of total warfare for years. Just in the past three years alone, nearly half of the land of the area has changed hands at least once, and a good portion of that has changed hands twice or more.

The Hattori and Tsutsui, both having turned an envious eye at the same provinces, have become embroiled in a long, bloody war. Until very recently, the two have been locked in a stalemate, trading provinces nearly every season, but recently, the Hattori have gained the upper hand and taken back most of their lost territory. Meanwhile, the Hatakeyama, seeing the war between its two neighbors as an opportunity, recently entered the war themselves and took the ancestral Tsutsui home of Yamato for themselves. They seem to have become the imminent power in the area, and anyone wanting to expand into the region will inevitably end up in conflict with them.

The Ashikaga Shogunate, secure behind Kyoto’s stout walls and powerful garrison, have long been merely a figurehead of power. Unable and unwilling to intervene to end the bloodshed, they remain locked behind their gates, content simply to watch on as everything around them becomes embroiled in feudal warfare.

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In the past three years, the upstart Oda clan has overcome its rivals and taken direct control of a large portion of the south-eastern Japanese coast. This is a less lucrative arrangement than one might at first believe, however – to the east lies only the endless expanse of the great Pacific Ocean – virtually all of the trade opportunities lie on Japan’s west coast. Additionally, this large coastline will leave the Oda realm vulnerable to naval attack and thus necessitate an investment in a strong navy to secure it.

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To the east, the Murakami clan, previously an unremarkable minor land-owning clan showed surprising initiative, striking with little mercy at the powerful Takeda clan and taking their home province of Kai for themselves. The Hojo, now allies of the Murakami clan, has recently expanded eastward and taken several provinces east of Musashi – but if the opinion of the Murakami were to change, they could find their realm cut in half by Eastern Japan’s most successful upstart clan.

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From the Archives:

  1. Chris B Chikin says:

    So glad this is back! :D

  2. Ravens Cry says:

    As always, reading this with your mix of gameplay and in-universe commentary is a real treat. Happy Halloween!

  3. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Too bad there aren’t any option to gather the clans to try to invade Korea, eh?

    Keep going, my Lord Daymyo. You will crush these filthy silverspooned lords and establish the Power of the Peasants!

    • UtopiaV1 says:

      I always found this a little odd, as Korea has often come into conflict with feudal and classical Japan.

      The first shogun game had the Mongol Invasion (a what-if scenario, which while interesting and fun, didn’t really keep-in with the historical settings), but why do that when there is a perfectly good historical setting there just waiting to be included?

      Just thrown a new campaign map and a couple of new factions, and suddenly you’ve expanded the game, and stuck to real events too! Judging from the new expansion for Shogun 2 though, looks like they won’t head down this route anytime soon.

  4. Even says:

    Reading how all these battles play out make me wanna see them on a video. Would it be too big of a hassle to record (some) of them and upload the file somewhere? It wouldn’t need to have commentary or be edited to look extra fancy or anything.

  5. Falcon says:

    The realm divide feature is endemic of most grand strategy games. The problem is diplomacy is a binary system for the most part. You have enemies, and friends who will backstabbing you at the first sign of weakness. In medieval TW it was getting a crusade called on you as England because the new pope is Venetian and you’ve been in a protracted war with them. So the Poles send an army your way, despite being close allies, and the only thing keeping their government solvent.

    In Civ V the cascading denouncements. Sure Napoleon hates you, you are at war. But because he denounces you, so does Monty, leading to Darius, then finally Ceasar who has been a constant tech, and trade good friend. Goodbye your source of marble, hello happiness problems.

    I get why it happens, it is a kluge to keep one person from running away with the game. Make the most powerful group the enemy of all. In a game where the military power is the focus I don’t know that there is a solution. Some of the paradox titles avoid the problem by virtue of more fleshed out economic and diplomatic models. Still the AI can feel very… troubled. It is incredibly annoying to be unable to access diplomatic, trade, or other game modes because the AI refuses to deal with you because you are simply more powerful, not because anything you did.

    • Zombie says:

      I always found the Crusade system less dangerous then you did, but thats mostly cause I never cared for alliances, and I played as The Norman Kingdoms or whatever they were called, so if I didnt like the pope, I just killed him. Didnt help my problems, but I usually had a veteran army in Rome!

    • Klay F. says:

      The should be ways to secure the loyalty of other clans as insurance for the future. There should obviously some material sacrifices to be made. To me, allowing a once enemy clan to become your vassal should be one of the foolproof ways for guaranteeing loyalty. I mean this is how it was in real life right? You give allow a clan to retain the sovereignty in its home province with your protection, and in return they supply troops and economic aid when the chips are down and every other clan in the nation is after your blood.

      What pisses me off the most is when a clan I’m in an alliance with starts getting the crap beat out of them by another clan I have a trade agreement with. They both start demanding I join them and attack the other. In the back of my mind I’m silently cursing because I know that whichever clan I help, they will end up attacking me in the end anyways.

      Disclaimer: I haven’t played much Shogun 2, as I’m smack in the middle of my first campaign, but I got distracted by other games, and as such haven’t returned to it in a while.

      • Zombie says:

        In Empire, you could make other states Protectorites, but I didnt understand what was gained from doing that, exept closing off direction of expandingyour Empire. I think thats about as close to what your talking about as it has been in any Total War game

        • Klay F. says:

          In Shogun 2, I know you can make enemy home provinces into vassals. In fact every time I conquered the home province of an enemy I was already at war with, the game would ask me whether I wanted to or not. If you select yes, then the province remains controlled by the AI, and you get (from what I could gather) a little tax revenue. As far as I can tell though, they don’t help you against your enemies, and according to Josh, they will turn on you anyway once realm divide triggers, which I think is cheap and stupid. If you go to the trouble of sparing an enemy daimyo in exchange for loyalty, that daimyo should forever be in your pocket as far as gameplay goes.

          I think it would be suitably epic to have half of the country face off against the other half all at the same time.

          • Josh says:

            The only factions that do not suffer from the realm divide penalty are vassals you create after realm divide is triggered. So yeah, all of your early vassals (which can be useful in certain situations – particularly as buffer states between you and more powerful clans you don’t want to fight directly) will eventually hit such a low value that even they will turn against you, although vassals take the longest to hit this value by far, and I’ve heard of people managing to keep vassals friendly by constantly sending them gifts to keep relations up – though that isn’t the most sustainable thing most of the time in realm divide.

            • aldowyn says:

              (yes I know this is 2 and a half years later)

              I’m actually finding it easily possibly to maintain my alliance with the ikko ikki in this game as the Shimazu – they’re now at war with everyone except me, and seem to be working as a fine buffer while I finish off the Chosokabe and invade Kyushu. At this point, I’m not even sure if them invading with their 3 giant armies would be enough to stop me, although it’d certainly be a good try.

              Incidentally, Rome 1’s similar civil war system feels better to me. It’s a little weird having the three roman families as different factions, but accepting that having the senate denounce you when you become too powerful seems to work pretty well (especially since the AI for the other families isn’t exactly slow most of the time)

          • Simulated Knave says:

            To be fair, at least one of the major factions has just finished backstabbing its lord at the start of the game, and another starts vassalized with the expectation that you’ll backstab your lord.

            The problem is that they’d rather backstab you even when you’re winning, or even if they’re very loyal, or even if you vassalized them peacefully, have married into their family for years, and have three armies in their territory.

  6. Daktylo says:

    This happens even with the simplest of computer games. Settlers of Catan, anyone? Get too many cities and the AI rolls 7s more often and are sure to take everything you’ve got stored.

    • Bodyless says:

      While the idea of ganging up against the most powerful player is not inheritly wrong (human enemies do the same in the board game Settlers of Catan too), its the implemention that kills the feature here. it does not come from the AI, as it sucks, but from a feature the devs put in to compensate the suckyness of the AI. And to make it worse, it even completely overules the normal AI behavior and the lack of better victory conditions.
      Thats how i understand it.

  7. Garci says:

    I love this series – really, I do. It seems to be a fantastic game, your narrative is terrific, and japanese history interests me a whole bunch, so a triple win! Kudos Josh, magnificent posts.

  8. Zombie says:

    I like the idea of all the Clans uniting to destroy the “upstart” clan at some point, but if you steamroll the powerful ones, dosnt it become even more like lambs to the slughter? Also, is it like the Crusades in Medival, were tons of nations would join, but no one does anything, or does every one, even the ones that are far away from you, march armies towards your cities?

    • Grudgeal says:

      The main problem with Realm Divide is that it kills all your trade in a game where keeping more than four armies stocked at once (unless you’re Oda, who can afford large peasant armies) requires it. While your distant rivals won’t necessarily drop everything to bum-rush you (and in most cases won’t even let go of their own petty grudges with their own neighbours), a clan facing realm divide tends to already have too much land to cover for comfort, and lack the necessary funds and manpower to protect it all.

      You can expect to start losing vulnerable regions to cheap shots, especially at the higher difficulty levels when the AI simply pulls new armies out of a magic hat when needed. Also, unless you play a clan that starts in one end of the country like the Date or Shimazu, you’ll probably be facing a two-front war as well. It also means that gathering vassals and allies is a fool’s errand since they inevitably backstab you and invade at the most inopportune time, and attacking them first is a hit to your precious honour.

      • decius says:

        The ass-pull of increasing armies without resources is what bothers me the most. I typically assume that in strategy games, my opponents have the same basic limitations that I do- they have to train and feed and march armies.

        I don’t mind so much if the primary resources are more plentiful or easier to get for the AI, but when they get not just more things than I would, but things that I could not get in their position, I’m not playing the same game that they are.

        • Falcon says:

          Which is exactly the kind of thing that will ruin a strategy game as soon as you notice it. Even production bonuses are a sore spot for me. Strategy requires for you to trust that the rules are fair. Synergy is one way, consistency another. I don’t mind the faction differences in Starcraft. Sure the resources available to Protoss and Zerg are different, but I know that there is a counter to the differences. Magic stacks are a non-counterable resource. There is no preparing for it, no avoiding it, and no amount of strategy that can counter it.

          The one time magic stacks haven’t bothered me in TW was the Mongols and Timurids in Medieval. You knew magic stacks of doom were coming, that they would be more powerful than you, but you had warning. It was fair because once they arrived they (nominally) followed the same rules.

          • Zombie says:

            I only even got the message that the Mongals were coming, I never actually saw them, but they would have fallen to my mad Scotsmen with cannon technology who control all of France, Great Scotland, and were nibbling away at the Holy Roman Empire. Maybe it was for the best. For them.

          • DirigibleHate says:

            I remember the last time I played Rome: Total War (Barbarian Invasion) – First turn, Rome offers me a Trade Agreement. Second Turn, Rome shows up with TWO full flags and crushes my two provinces utterly. Haven’t played since.

            This problem also strikes in some RPGs (Oblivion), where the enemy has seemingly infinite mana, AND can take more hits from your Greataxe than you can from their Dagger.

            One character I played recently used short swords, and I couldn’t get close to Two-handed weapon wielders because I stumbled every time I parried their blows. So I rerolled a berserker, at which point mages started parrying my Greataxe with their daggers, and never stumbled.

            • Ravens Cry says:

              The Computer is a Cheating Bastard is a frustrating trope, but a necessary one so far. AI is just not good enough to provide a challenge, or the right kind of challenge, some of Shamus posts on the subject are quite enlightening, as of yet.
              Even specially designed chess computers made to beat masters play in a different way, one that works best with a computers strengths, than a human player.

              • MrPyro says:

                The difference with chess is that while the nature of the computation is different, it is still bound by the same rules.

                Deep Blue vs Kasparov would have been a different match if Deep Blue had been able to keep adding new pieces to the board.

                Starcraft on high difficulty settings has the AI have unlimited resources; that immediately negates certain tactics (like turtling and waiting for the enemy to exhaust their resources).

            • Nick-B says:

              These are also not the only genres guilty of this. What turned me off of the Need for Speed series (besides the lurch away from pure car customization in favor of live action cut-scenes and the loss of the PIT maneuver) was the rubber banding. Despite driving a more powerful car, using dirty tactics to catch racers on traffic, and driving perfectly, races still come down to 1-2 second differences in distance.

              Too often today, game companies give up on good AI, and instead give us “cinematic” AI, resulting in “thrilling races” and “epic gunfights.”

              • Tse says:

                But in NFS:Underground 2 the “fastest” opponent was rubber banded to the player and the others to him, which gave me the opportunity to lap all my AI opponents once I slammed the “fastest” opponent into a wall and lapped him before he could recover.

  9. Usually_Insane says:

    Have to say you inspired me to start playing shogun 2 again Josh. I stopped when I couldn’t play more then half an hour before the game crashed, but I manned up and I’m able to play for fortyfive minutes to an hour now :)

    Also, how did you get those nice mapcolors on the bonus section? Is there a toggle or so in the game or did you painstakingly fill in every map by hand?

  10. Rayen says:

    I bought this game a while back becasue it was on sale on steam, i dunno what it is but just can’t wrap my head around it…

    I mean I’m no stranger to turn based or Real timed stategy games but this i find myself outmanned outgunned everytime. and the interface way too confusing So i have a hard time figuring out where to go to do something about it.Is the Tutuorial for this game really poor and i should play another total war game first? Or am i just not cut out for it if i have trouble with the tutorial missions?

  11. Galad says:

    I’m not sure I get the part about realm divide. After it’s declared, does the game simply become “survival mode” – as in, you know you’re gonna lose/die, you just might want to see how long you’d last?

    • Josh says:

      There are victory conditions for every campaign – in this case, I have to hold twenty five reigons total, and some of those reigons have to be specific ones like my home province and Kyoto. As soon as you have met the victory conditions and declared yourself Shogun in Kyoto, you win.

  12. Gand says:

    Love this series. Keep ’em coming!

  13. Dante says:

    I really should get this game.

    A question to Josh: Is Spoiler Warning cutting down ie 3 episodes per week, or is the new posting schedule going to be Wed-Sat instead of Tue-Fri?

    I know you do the brunt of the work, and thank you for doing it.

    • Josh says:

      The change in schedule last week was because of a mistake I made by uploading the video to the wrong account. This week we had some serious technical issues, but you may still see an episode or two later in the week.

  14. Venalitor says:

    That’s what I like about the CodeMasters racing games. they have no rubber banding. Except, that I have noticed in Grid’s Le Mans races, computers are rubber banded up to the back of their pack and will not get very close to the back of the class above them.
    In CodeMasters games you can drive very well and end up many seconds ahead of the computer players. Upping the difficulty also doesn’t give the computer any bonus’ it just makes them drive faster and better. They can still crash, though they are more careful drivers than players. Their cars won’t get faster or have more acceleration than yours even on highest difficulty because the AI can drive well.
    You can also see in game that the AI has to deal with terrain as well and may spin out. without any interference from the player.

  15. Kahshim says:

    How did you get the campaign map to show the clan colors like that? I couldn’t find it in the game options or controls.

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