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 â€" the launching point for our planned invasion â€" 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.
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 â€" and invitation â€" 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?
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.
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 â€" and in the form of the Daimyo himself, no less â€" 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.
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.
Scouting deeper into Hojo territory has revealed something intensely interesting. The Hojo â€" and the Murakami as well â€" 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 –
– 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.
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.
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 â€" provided everything goes as well in this war as it has so far â€" and there won’t be an army that can stand directly to the Oda.
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.
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.
Of course I say that and the Date â€" owners of the northern tip of Japan and fearsome fighters in their own right â€" declare war on the Uesugi.
On the other hand, the new conflict has opened the Uesugi to the possibility of the military alliance â€" 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 â€" 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.
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.
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 â€" to prevent another disaster like Mikawa â€" 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.
The Hojo never get the chance though. Edo â€" and Musashi â€" 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.
And they’ve been busy. The normally peaceful Kiso have â€" inexplicably â€" 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.
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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