Josh Plays Shogun 2 Part 9: A Roll of the Dice

By Josh
on Nov 29, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

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Behold, it is the triumphant (and belated) return of the Shogun 2 Let’s Play! Yes, it’s a Tuesday, not a Monday, but I ended up oversleeping yesterday and Shamus and I decided to switch the days of our posts. If all things go well, this should return to a regular Monday-morning schedule next week.

Picking up from where we left off last installment; as the first snow begins to fall on the winter of 1548, the Murakami have been convinced to break their alliance with the Hojo by our generous diplomatic overtures. Unfortunately, the full strength of our forces has not yet arrived at Suruga – the launching point for our planned invasion – and it would be unwise to attempt to attack the Hojo with a weaker force. We’ll have to bide our time for the next few turns until everything is ready.

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In the meantime, the Hatakeyama have grown to control almost the entirety of the capital region, and they show no signs of faltering soon. This turn of events has been the impetus of much concern amongst the Shogun’s court, and as a “loyal” clan, the Shogun has generously offered us full permission – and invitation – to curb the Hatakeyama ambition and bring them to order.

This is essentially the AI version of realm divide, and it is far less spectacular than the one encountered by players. I’m fairly certain that the other AI factions aren’t even affected by this; and despite the rather remarkable bonuses completing the mission would provide, given our current conflicts to the west, we won’t be acting on it either. We’ll deal with the Hatakeyama when the time comes, but for the moment, the Hattori and Tsutsui are acting as a good buffer to keep them from bothering us. Let’s not squander the extra time that measure is providing, shall we?

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Unfortunately, despite our past dealings, the Murakami still aren’t interested in an alliance of any sort for any price we can afford. To attempt to smooth things over, I order a gift of 500 koku sent to our neighbors, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on their attitude towards the Oda.

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In the spring, a loyal retainer approaches us, eager to serve as a general for our troops. I don’t need to take much time to think about this before enthusiastically accepting the offer. With the growing size of our realm, having only a single general to lead any of our troops – and in the form of the Daimyo himself, no less – could soon prove to be disastrous. We’ve managed to avoid a two-front war so far, but I’d rather have as many guarantees as possible.

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And as it happens, the warrior is none other than a member of the Takayama clan, the same clan from which our original and heroic general, Takayama Muneyori, hailed. Given his age, I’d like to think he is Muneyori’s brother, seeking to bring glory to his clan and to the Oda much like his sibling.

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Scouting deeper into Hojo territory has revealed something intensely interesting. The Hojo – and the Murakami as well – have entered a war against none other than the Uesugi clan. Moreover, the army that’s currently captivating the entirety of the Hojo attention is led by the legendary warrior-monk, Uesugi Kenshin himself.

The Hojo armies have all been drawn away by the Uesugi threat; their borders towards us are weak and totally unguarded. With their alliance with the Murakami broken, the Hojo will no one to help them. We must strike swiftly, and –

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– Hey wait a minute!

So this was my fault here. When I broke up the original Hojo, Murakami alliance, I assumed, quite unreasonably, that the AI would suffer relations hits with each other because the alliance was broken prematurely, just like they would if a player was involved. Thus, they would not be able to immediately reform the alliance. This is apparently an incredibly stupid assumption to make.

Totally my bad guys.

As it happens, the Murakami have reformed all of their broken alliances, so we’re back to square one, minus the thousand-plus koku we’ve given the Murakami in our various diplomatic transactions. But I didn’t care at this point; it was becoming blatantly obvious that a conflict with the Murakami could not be avoided, and the Hojo are in such a weak position that I couldn’t risk passing it up.

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True to that point, Nobuhide arrives at the gate of Sagami’s capital before the summer is even half over, and it falls with no resistance.

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Ever the student, the massive overpowering assault against a surrendered garrison inspires Nobuhide, giving him a more profound understanding of the minutae of commanding infantry on the battlefield. Are you loving experience point bars as much as I am right now?

Weirdness of levelling-up in such a one-sided fight aside, Nobuhide now has the rank required to grab one of the best abilities in the whole game: Stand and Fight. When activated, he and his men dismount and form a defensive square inside which Nobuhide sits and issues commands, trading mobility for massive morale and attack boosts for all of his men inside his influence radius. This alone can make vanilla ashigaru a force to be reckoned with. Combined with the beefed-up ashigaru that Sagami will soon be providing us – provided everything goes as well in this war as it has so far – and there won’t be an army that can stand directly to the Oda.

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We almost have a close call, too, as another massive Hojo army appears near Musashi’s capital of Edo, and over the course of the fall, the Hojo begin to push back the Uesugi as we fortify in their old capital.

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Fortunately, the Uesugi are not so easily subdued, completely destroying the main Hojo force and scattering the remnants of the army to the wind. It’s not even winter yet, and already the Uesugi are within striking distance of four Murakami/Hojo provinces. This conflict is going better than I could have ever hoped for.

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Of course I say that and the Date – owners of the northern tip of Japan and fearsome fighters in their own right – declare war on the Uesugi.

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On the other hand, the new conflict has opened the Uesugi to the possibility of the military alliance – something that would definitely be in my favor, as I have no designs on any territory east of Sagami.

It really is no small irony that it is Uesugi Kenshin, of all people, who is turning the tide of this war so far in our favor. Kenshin was the very last of Nobunaga’s great external threat. After defeating Takeda Shingen, the Uesugi were the sole power in the east that could hope to challenge the Oda’s growing might – and challenge it they did. Cunningly defeating both Nobunaga and several of his greatest generals, despite Nobunaga’s overwhelming numbers, Kenshin managed to force the Oda into full retreat, and was preparing a grand army to push the attack when he suffered a “seizure” and died. Though he’d reportedly been in bad health for some time, the timing of his death was so incredibly convenient that it wouldn’t have been a stretch to assume he’d been assassinated by Nobunaga.

I suppose, if he was assassinated, it only really goes to show that valor and cunning on the battlefield aren’t all you need if the enemy can simply assassinate you – and sidestep the whole issue of your cunning and intelligence altogether.

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Drawing some forces together while leaving a sizable garrison in Sagami’s defense, Nobuhide quickly marches to strike at Izu province, which has been cut off ever since we took Sagami. The castle is taken with only limited losses.

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Though the castle at Sagami is powerful and boasts a strong garrison, I’m still not totally confident in my chances of defending it should the whole of the remaining Hojo armies in neighboring Musashi decide to march west, so – to prevent another disaster like Mikawa – I move much of the garrison outside the castle. They can still reinforce the castle if it comes under attack, but they can also retreat if the odds are overwhelming in the enemy’s favor.

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The Hojo never get the chance though. Edo – and Musashi – have been inducted into the growing realm of the Uesugi, and the Hojo forces in this region have been almost totally destroyed. We’ve come out of our little gambit with two of the richest provinces in the east and less than a hundred men lost. I can’t even think of a way that this could have gone better for us.

Our attention should now be focused on the Murakami to the north.

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And they’ve been busy. The normally peaceful Kiso have – inexplicably – declared war on us. It’s easy to suspect the Murakami are behind this turn of events, and it’s probably not an unfounded fear either. Fortunately, we now have a general at Owari who can manage things in that region, meaning Nobunaga can remain at Sagami and watch for a Murakami counter-attack.

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As our fight with the Hojo and our conquest in the east has come to a end, ominous news has reached our daimyo. The Hattori clan has lost all of its territory and much of its army. A small band of still-loyal troops following the Hattori daimyo are all that remains, and given the Hatakeyama’s massive army in the region, it seems unlikely that they will ever succeed at driving their conquerer out.

The war in the east may be winding down, but it seems that war in the west now looms on the horizon.

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201737 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Uscias says:

    Wow, you really make it a suspenseful read…
    Now i’m itching to play it myself.

    • Kana says:

      Same. Going to have to beat my friend into playing Co-Op with me again (We still haven’t technically won a campaign).

      Only problem is having to pick which clan to play as at the start of every game. So many good choices… but I still can’t play the Hattori clan! :<

      This might be the only game I've ever been able to not put down just because someone else keeps making it sound oh so tempting.

  2. Jonn says:

    And no Skyrim references. Well done indeed.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The war in the east may be winding down, but it seems that war in the west now looms on the horizon.”

    So thats what fourth age is about.

    Glad youve found some skyrim-free time to write this,Josh.

  4. AbruptDemise says:

    Glad to have this back, Josh! I’m hoping – once you finish Shogun 2 – that you’ll continue to do screenshot Let’s Plays. There are too few good ones outside of Something Awful, and your prose is always a joy to read.

  5. Sucal says:

    Better watch out, the Hatakeyama are approaching from the south

  6. rofltehcat says:

    And again, there is nothing that could possibly go wrong.

    Like that Kiso threat you think you have nothing to fear about. Sure, they can’t attack you by land but that surely won’t stop them from putting a lot of their troops on a single trade ship and drive around all of Japan just to do a landing operation in the middle of your territory. Sure, they’ll be stomped because the landing troops would have been needed to defend themselves from the other clans but at least they messed up your plans.
    Believe me, I’ve seen the AI do some pretty stupid things. They don’t do naval landing operations very often but when they do, they are up for no good.

    This reminds me about a long coop campaign we played. At one point a few years after Realm Divide, my Daimyo ravaged through one enemy province after another, leaving back nothing but ash, corpses and rebel armies/vassals in the looted provinces.
    Honor? Who needs that when you are capturing a province every turn (and losing them 1-2 turns later) and leaving back provinces that have no infrastructure because all the buildings were torn down. The enemies never recovered from this disaster.

  7. Grudgeal says:

    Didn’t Shingen also die under ‘mysterious circumstances’ (or of dysentery) before the Oda/Tokugawa alliance struck back at the Takeda? Nobunaga never ‘defeated’ him in battle as far as I know, his son commanded the clan at Nagashino.

    Also, I usually save an XP point so I can level Infantry Commander to level 3 right off the bat once I reach 4 stars. That +3 melee attack is not to laugh at.

    • SolkaTruesilver says:

      Damn. I should do this next time I do a Date game. Nodachi Samurais with a + attack forge with this bonus could smash through any spear wall with ease.

      Let’s compare:

      Katana Samurai: 12 Attack skill, 15 charge bonus. 150 Upkeep
      Date Nodachi: 16 Attack skill, 32 charge bonus, 125 Upkeep.

      Add + 6 with superior weaponry, +3 with your general’s bonus, +2 training field… Those who did not ran away from the charge won’t last very long.

    • Josh says:

      The historical account is pretty unclear on the cause of Shingen’s death, though most of the ideas I’ve heard involved battle wounds of some sort. He was in camp with his army as he moved into Mikawa, whereas Kenshin had returned to his home province, Echigo, for the winter.

      Either way, the timing of both of their deaths couldn’t have been better, and Nobunaga was almost certainly some combination of incredibly lucky and dastardly cunning.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Too bad his cunning didn’t extend itself to employee relations, as Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi could probably attest to. I know there’s several historical ‘conspiracy theories’ for Hideyoshi masterminding Mitsuhide’s rebellion by egging him onto betrayal and then sweeping in to pick up the pieces afterwards, which Hideyoshi did because Nobunaga was so disrespectful to him. On the other hand, given that without Nobunaga he’d still be a title-less footman I’d say that argument sounds a bit shaky to me.

        Anyway, without Shingen to bother you this time around (lost to the Murakami… Bit of a historical irony there I should say), here’s hoping Kenshin won’t be too much trouble and that Harumune will keep him nicely tied up. On the other hand, the last thing you probably want is a unified north under Date banner.

        • Josh says:

          It is ironic that the man that had no equal amongst the other clans and was in the perfect position to become the sole rule of the entire country was ruined because he kept harassing his own generals.

          And given how useless monks are in a game where everyone spams bowmen, yeah, I’d prefer to have the Uesugi as my neighbors than to run into the Date blitzkrieg machine later on.

          Well, actually, I’d rather have the Uesugi and Date get stuck in a long stalemate so they’re too busy to fight me when I make a move on the Shogunate. We’ll have to see how it goes.

  8. Adam says:

    Back when I was a student I translated the Japanese wikipedia article on Uesugi Kenshin for practice.

    It listed an unverified story that Kenshin was killed by an assassin who hung under his toilet in his castle, and stabbed him when he went to go to the bathroom.

  9. Paul Spooner says:

    Just wanted to say that I’ve been reading and enjoying this series, but never comment because I don’t really have anything to say.
    So, keep up the good work! Your posts don’t get as many comments as Shamus’, but we still enjoy them!

  10. Jonathan says:

    Wait, these were being posted on a schedule?

  11. Zombie says:

    So, has everyone seen the trailer for Fall of the Samuria? Cause it looks epic. I think it’s going to be fun to play as he clans that side with the western powers, but much more tactical and heart pounding to play as the clans that are trying to keep the old ways.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Um, whatever the trailer and The Last Samurai may tell you, it is nonsense. The Boshin war that saw the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the restoration of the emperor was an industrialized modern war between the imperial throne and its supporter clans, who were backed by the British, and the Tokugawa shogunate and its supporter clans, who were backed by the French. Neither side used swords and bows; all of them used the most modern guns their respective Western sugar-daddies could sell them.

      Likewise, the Satsuma rebellion (which The Last Samurai depicts) was a modernized war between the Empire and the Satsuma domain, which sought to keep power over their own domain instead of giving it up to the centralized government. Again, both sides used modern weapons and tactics, with the Satsuma only fell back on a self-destructive banzai charge once they had run out of bullets.

      Once Commodore Perry opened Japan to the foreigners, there was basically no going back and all the technology the Shogunate had been hoarding and trying to repress spilled all over the place. In both the Boshin war and Satsuma rebellion the ‘old ways’ were simply power blocks trying to keep on to their traditional power: The Tokugawa Shogunate didn’t want to relinquish the rule of Japan to the Emperor and the Satsuma domain didn’t want to give up their old privilegies and relinquish their rule of Kyushu (the southern island of Japan) to the Emperor. I’m sure both would have been happy to try return to the olden days of feudalism and samurai having all the power had they won (neither did), but they weren’t stupid enough to try to *fight* that way. The ‘Fall of the Samurai’ was the loss of *social* privileges in much the same way as the French aristocracy lost their privileges after the French Revolution — the samurai way of warfare was already obsolete in the Sengoku era.

  12. Florin-Vlad says:

    I have yet to complete the campaign on Legendary. I failed miserably when attempting it with the Takeda, lost my capital when my army was 1 step away so they couldn’t reinforce and was soundly beaten on all other fronts, all 4 of them…

    A great series making me want to start all over again with a random clan, maybe I won’t turn into the fail machine again.

  13. Usually_Insane says:

    It’s going good, now all you have to do is strike at the precise moment when both uesugi and date are at their weakest and you will control the whole north of japan.

    I’m still getting crashes about every 15-20 minutes of play otherwise I’d be inspired to follow in your footsteps.

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