With our total victory over the Imagawa, our clan’s borders have expanded to encompass a whole host of provinces along the central Honshu coast. But few daimyo would be content with merely a few provinces when the very Shogun himself is such a tempting target, and the Oda are no exception. But a brash, reckless attempt to take Kyoto by force â€" in our current state â€" would doubtless end in complete failure. Though the coastal regions we inherited from the Imagawa have added to both our prosperity and prestige, they are not overly rich in their own right, and they would offer us little true strategic value in a war against the Shogunate.
But right on our eastern border lie the home provinces of the Hojo clan. Sagami, with its skilled smiths, could make our armies the envy of Japan. And Izu is one of the wealthiest provinces in the east, owing its prosperity to its complex of gold mines. Control of both of these provinces would not merely be a boon to our clan â€" it will be necessary in order to defeat the other great clans and establish a shogunate of the Oda. And our ninjas have revealed that neither province is particularly well defended â€" the only Hojo forces in the area are camped outside Sagami’s castle, and while they are large in number, they lack a general to lead them.
But there’s a problem.
The Murakami, the clan that conquered the mighty Takeda, is both allied with the Hojo and not very keen about us. Specifically, they seem to be unhappy with our recent successful conquest of the Imagawa and are wary of us, and they seem to be unimpressed with our clan overall. Perhaps that’s because our power is still rated as “feeble” despite controlling some 30 units of ashigaru. I think the game rates Samurai more favorably in that regard than ashigaru, regardless of whether or not the ashigaru have been beefed up to levels that would make a katana samurai sweat nervously.
Not that we’re quite there yet, but we’re not far now.
In any case, as it stands, declaring war on the Hojo would almost certainly drag the Murakami into it on their side, and while that might not mean instant death for us, it would almost certainly drag on for a long time, and leave us in a vulnerable position if someone else were to declare war on us from one of our other fronts. More than that, though, is the fact that I don’t want the Murakami land. Remember, I want to stave off triggering realm divide until I can equip armies worth of ashigaru with advanced weaponry and training. And I need to expand into the Kansai region surrounding the capital, Kyoto, as well. I’m far less worried about fighting a protracted war than I am about accidentally expanding too far.
And so, we must now turn to alternative options â€" if we could broker a diplomatic solution, perhaps we could come to an arrangement that would benefit both the Oda and the Murakami. We just need to convince them to switch sides.
This means we’ll be having our first real look at the Total War diplomacy system, which is, admittedly, pretty spartan. Total War has never had very interesting diplomacy â€" I suppose the feeling of the developers is that you should, you know, be at war in a game called “Total War.” To me that feels a bit like missing the point â€" in reality, diplomacy has never once, in human history, ceased to be a factor in warfare. “Unstoppable” war machines have been halted in their tracks simply by shifting allegiances and diplomatic overtures. And that’s not even mentioning how much better realm divide would be if it grew organically out of the game’s diplomacy system, rather than just throwing it out the window.
But I digress. Let’s see how receptive the Murakami are to talking.
I start things out by offering them a trade agreement to break the ice, which they are quick to accept.
I then throw a few offers onto the table to see how they react. The only one thing that seems to be worth breaking an alliance to them, though, is granting them unrestricted military access into our territory for 20 seasons.
The diplomacy system in this game seems to place an absurdly high value on military access, but I’ve honestly never seen the AI do much of anything with this. There aren’t any enemies they could get to from our territory that they would have any interest in conquering â€" at least, not before conquering us â€" so at this point the only thing such an arrangement would be good for would be inviting them to stab us in the back, but even then, I’ve never seen an AI really leverage the agreement to get behind any defenses either.
So it’s pretty much a “get my desired diplomatic agreement for free” card.
You may have noticed I also threw the Kiso into the “break alliance” demand â€" it didn’t really increase the cost much. But why would I do that?
Well, the Kiso are these guys. They’re pretty powerful in their own right, but they have a peaceful temperament and I think I’ve only ever seen them conquer anything outside of their one castle once or twice. But more importantly, look at the position of that castle! It’s right on top of the only road that goes directly through the massive mountain range that separates central and eastern Japan. I already control the southern coastal route, so if I had South Shinano, the only way to circumvent my defenses would be to take the northern route past Echizen and into Omi â€" by far, the longest of the three. That province is the perfect place to build up defenses, and the quarry right outside the city will reduce the cost of upgrading the castle. Its too good an opportunity to ignore.
In essence, somewhere down the line, I intend to conquer the Kiso. And it would be very nice if I didn’t have to fight the Murakami to do it.
All that said, I don’t want to break up the Hojo-Kiso-Murakami power block just yet. At this point, I’m not quite sure whether there will be any diplomatic consequences on my end for convincing the Murakami to break their alliances, and if there is, I’m not quite ready for it. I need a few seasons to rebuild our fortifications along the coast and recruit more soldiers to replace those we lost fighting the Imagawa.
Also important to note, is the Tokugawa rebels in Mikawa are still persisting. They’re unwilling to engage the castle’s defenses directly either, so they’ve been moving from one end of the province to another, raiding the province’s infrastructure. This cannot be tolerated any longer: the massive garrison I have on Mikawa â€" larger even than the one guarding Owari â€" is tying up a large amount of my military resources which would be better spent elsewhere. I need these men to keep order in other provinces so that I can resume their taxation, and I need them for the upcoming campaign against the Hojo. I’m not even going to take the time to bring Nobuhide back to Mikawa to lead them â€" these rebels need to be defeated now, and I’m not going to wait.
As you can see, we greatly outnumber the enemy, but they have better units in the form of two Yari samurai. Neither side has a general leading them, so by my reckoning, we’re about even.
This should be interesting.
The terrain we find ourselves preparing for battle upon is rough and heavily forested, which may grant the rebels something of an advantage â€" our missile superiority probably won’t be winning this battle for us. The key here will be to dislodge the Tokugawa from their defensive position and then destroy them.
Curiously, the Tokugawa do not deploy anywhere near where I thought they would â€" if you look at the above image in its full size, you can just barely see a Tokugawa flag in the distance. They’ve deployed at a far corner of the map, with their backs up to a steep cliff.
I’ve highlighted the position orders for my units here so you can see my general strategy. I want to get the enemy to focus on one of my two infantry groups (the tighter formations towards the front). The other can then swing around on a flank and surround them while the archers lay down covering fire. As much as I’ve talked up the AI in this game, it still can’t handle multiple-front battles very well at all, so I figure I can easily get the upper hand if I play this right.
As I approach the Tokugawa position, they once again surprise me â€" by retreating. They’re moving to take the hill behind them, which, I’ll admit, is a pretty good defensive position. Someone forgot to tell that poor archer unit though, because it’s standing its ground like a champ.
Incidentally, this is what it looks like when you walk two spear walls into a unit perpendicularly. And I do mean walk, yari ashigaru can’t run and maintain the spear wall formation at the same time. Instead, the march slowly towards their opponent, appearing as if an unstoppable onslaught of doom is creeping ever forward.
So those archers got killed real good.
As I approach the hill that the Tokugawa are taking refuge upon, I send my second group around the far side to hit the enemy in the flank. Of course as I do that, the Tokugawa, an ever-flowing fountain of surprises, abandon their position on the hill and charge my main line head on. So I pull my second line back to assist my main line rather than run up the side of the hill just to come all the way back down.
This turned out to be rather unnecessary, however, as the four spear walls were able to make short work of even the Tokugawa yari samurai. By the time I sent my second line back up the hill to attack the enemy archers, the fight was over.
Perhaps I’ve been giving the AI in this game too much credit, because it really shouldn’t be this easy to pull off victories like this on Legendary difficulty. A second engagement destroys what’s left of the rebels, triggering a “military crackdown” in the province which serves to largely counteract the massive “resistance to invaders” that I’ve been keeping the garrison around to deal with. I can now reorganize my troops.
As I end the turn, I get to watch this bit of hilarity:
The Hattori pool all of their troops to go fight the Tsutsui…
Only for the Hatakeyama to show up with a massive army and take Iga again. For being a clan centered around ninjas, the Hattori sure suck at scouting.
As autumn begins, we finish researching “Way of the Spear,” which means we’ve finally finished the mission we were assigned on turn two! Yay for free troops! Now we can finally focus on researching chi.
The Hojo are becoming agitated by our ninjas scouting out their territory, and I’m worried if I wait any longer to convince the Murakami to break their alliance, the Hojo will declare war and drag the Murakami into it anyway.
Unfortunately, the price has increased, and, begrudgingly, I agree to a payment of 750 koku in addition to the 20 season military access. It’s a steep price to pay, but in the end, it was probably worth it. The eastern power block of the Kiso, Murakami, and Hojo has been broken, and we can now pursue further relations with the Murakami. Having an ally to buffer us against more aggressive powers to the east could be very useful. More than that, we now have an avenue open to conquer Sagami, and with it, the province’s ever-important blacksmiths.
It looks as if things might go smoothly this time around.
Skylines of the Future
Cities: Skylines is bound to have a sequel sooner or later. Where can this series go next, and what changes would I like to see?
Punishing The Internet for Sharing
Why make millions on your video game when you could be making HUNDREDS on frivolous copyright claims?
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
This is a massive step down in story, gameplay, and art design when compared to the 2014 soft reboot. Yet critics rated this one much higher. What's going on here?
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.