Josh Plays Shogun 2 Part 10: Putting the Pieces Together

By Josh
on Dec 19, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

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With the prosperous and strategically vital Hojo provinces of Sagami and Izu under our control, things seem to be – somehow – going almost exactly according to plan. I would have preferred to have avoided conflict with the Murakami, but their forces are probably completely tied up in their conflict against the aggressive Uesugi. And they aren’t winning.

Besides, we have nearly a full stack of veteran ashigaru in the area, and Nobuhide is a very experienced commander. I doubt the Murakami could overcome us even if they do launch an offensive. The belligerent Kiso, on the other hand…

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They’re something more of a problem. And despite their typically peaceful and non-expansionist tendencies, they have a massive army of troops that seem to be massing for an attack.

I say “seem” because I really have no idea what they’re going to do next. The AI can be pretty passive at times, and they may just sit there for a few turns. And I have no idea what the strength, experience, or makeup of their army is, aside from “it’s big,” and that’s what worries me most. The Kiso have been a next door neighbor to our heartland since the beginning, and until now, they’ve been reliable trading partners. But their proximity now puts them within striking distance of our own capital. I’m lucky I was paranoid about the Hatakeyama and Tsutsui, or I might not have very many troops in the area at all.

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For now, I order every available garrison unit in range to converge on Owari, as well as Takayama Tadamoto, our newly recruited general. He’d been on his way east with reinforcements along the Murakami front, but now I’ll need him to lead our defenses at the capital. I also have a ninja on the way that should be able to intercept the enemy army before it reaches any of our castles. With more information, I should be able to decide on a more concrete strategy.

Also of vital importance is the diplomatic quandary of our new neighbors, the Uesugi. They’ve been useful as a distraction and deterrent against the Hojo and the Murakami, but that wasn’t based out of any goodwill on their part. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time to grab up a few territories as our enemies crumbled under the Uesugi assault. Moreover, there’s no reason to expect their aggressiveness to be sated now that they’ve reached our borders.

The recent declaration of war between the Uesugi and their northern neighbors, the Date, puts them into an unenviable two-front fight. They might be open to the idea of an alliance in such uncertain times…

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I propose some modest concessions on our part, including the ever over-valued military access, and the Uesugi quickly accept. Hopefully, this foray into diplomacy won’t end as badly as my last one.

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As summer begins, my ninjas have scouted out the Kiso army. And it’s a relief: mostly untested ashigaru recruits, with a handful of higher quality units. I was worried it might have been a samurai-heavy army, but this? I can deal with this.

Unfortunately, I may not be able to deal with it in time – the Kiso army is within striking distance of Mino, and I’m certain they’ll reach it before fall. Despite a renewed recruiting drive and my continued gathering of troops at Owari, there’s still no way I have the forces to hold Mino. I’m not going to repeat the mistake I made at Mikawa again. With some reluctance, I pull the troops I have garrisoned at Mino back to Owari.

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And, as I predicted, the Kiso army reaches the castle within Mino by the end of summer, assaulting it immediately. The few samurai retainers whom are sworn to tend to the grounds commit seppuku rather than live to see the castle fall. The Kiso are now in uncontested control of the province.

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On the other side of our realm, the Murakami have committed a moderate force to threaten Suruga province. This exposes a vulnerability in my defenses that I’ve already been considering for some time. While Sagami can act as a bulwark against direct attacks coming from the east, their defenses can easily be undermined by going around the northern side of Mount Fuji, through Kai province, and attacking Suruga or Izu directly, bypassing the front line entirely. The Murakami force that’s intruding at the moment is small and will no doubt be easily defeated, but you can imagine the trouble I might have if they had sent a force the size of the Kiso army that just took Mino.

I think I’m going to go ahead and conquer Kai, and take the fame associated with the victory (thus bringing me ever closer to realm divide). Better to take it now and have time to fortify than wait until realm divide hits and have no time to build an infrastructure.

But first, of course, the Murakami intruders must be dealt with, and Nobuhide quickly gathers his forces and sets out to intercept the enemy.

As fall begins, I finally manage to gather together a full twenty units of troops – a full “stack,” or the maximum number of units allowed in one army. Granted, most of them are new recruits – a far cry compared to Nobuhide’s veteran army – and Tadamoto is completely untested in combat. But then, the enemy army is mostly recruits, and as far as I can tell, neither of their generals have been tested in combat either. It seems that this battle will come down to a match of strategy.

And the Oda school of “exploiting the hell out of the AI quirks” has always proven superior.

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I move the entire army to lay siege to Mino, and sure as day, the Kiso take the bait, sallying out of the castle to meet our forces.

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And holy crap is that ever a giant ridge. Seriously, do these things actually happen in real life? Just look at that thing.

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As awesome a defensive position as that ridge might make, its unfortunately facing the wrong direction to be of any use.

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Instead, I’ll be moving my whole force up that hill behind us. It’s quite steep and well forested, and should make for an excellent spot to make our stand.

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Assuming, of course, that I can actually get my units onto it. It turns out that very steep hills (and, particularly, anything with cliffs) tend to wreak havoc with unit formations. Who knew? Suffice it to say, I end up having to reshuffle my unit groups a bit. I end up with a front line of infantry, a second reserve line to flank, and two groups of four archer units each. And the two archer groups end up sitting on top of each other. Thank god for the trees.

Or Buddha. Or Karma. Or whatever.

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The Kiso army approaches just as I finally get all of my troops deployed properly. My archers begin to open up on the first wave of infantry, and…

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Oh man, I don’t even want to look at this anymore. Throughout the whole battle, I could only barely tell what was going on. My grand tactical maneuvers boiled down to “That looks like a gap. I think. Or maybe that’s one of my spear units there? Whatever, throw a unit at it anyway!” The awkward camera angle didn’t help much, and the trees only added to my obfuscation.

I do know that their cavalry and one of their two generals attacked my flanks in the initial charge, and were quickly mowed down. And their infantry began to break against my spearwall, allowing some of my units to swing around on their wings and flank them.

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This is what the battle looked like towards the end. You can see their other general charging my lines near the center – he didn’t end up lasting long, though I wasn’t able to kill him as he routed.

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The enemy main line, having thrown themselves against a spearwall in an uphill charge, broke rather predictably, and the Kiso threat more or less ended there. My spearmen quickly took advantage of the victory and swept down the hill to destroy the enemy archers.

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All in all, an acceptable outcome. I lost a lot of infantrymen, but the enemy army was nearly crushed.

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Meanwhile, Nobuhide’s forces close in on the Murakami incursion, but the enemy retreats into the forest, foiling my hope of a quick victory before winter.

But as the winds of winter come, Takayama Tadamoto gathers his forces together for a final assault on the remnants of the Kiso army still hiding in Mino’s castle.

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Moreover, as his troops are being repositioned, he discovers a cache of hidden supplies – no doubt munitions the Kiso abandoned during their hasty retreat back into the castle. We’ll put these to use later.

But now, Takayama storms the gates.

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He loses only twenty two men in the process of completely annihilating the demoralized enemy army. The Kiso military has been humiliated. I’m betting they wish they’d stayed simple trading partners right about now.

On the other hand, this has actually worked out better than I had hoped. The Kiso home province – South Shinano – is the final piece in of my plan for my northeastern fortifications, and it was the only one I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach. As a peaceful, unambitious clan, the Kiso tend to make friends with a lot of the nearby clans, meaning a declaration of war against them could potentially irritate a lot of larger, meaner clans. But since the Kiso went to the trouble of declaring war on me first – and throwing their entire army away on a fruitless endeavor of conquest to boot – I shouldn’t have any further trouble taking Shouth Shinano for myself.

The eastern defensive line is nearly complete. Very soon, we will need to turn our attention to the south and west. The Shogun will certainly be on his guard. And the Hatakeyama are certainly a force to be reckoned with. But no clan yet has managed to put a halt on our conquest, and every roadblock in our way has been crushed.

Soon, we shall see: Will the might of the Shogun be able to overcome our grand strategy?

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20525 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Adalore says:

    The RTS skills in use humbles me.

    Throw men at it until it dies, plan outside the battlefield.

  2. fdsafdsafsadfasdfasdf says:

    And that’s why I always try to avoid fighting on large forested hills. The superior positioning is more than canceled out by the inability to sort anything out.

    And try attacking one sometime. Wow does that become messy.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Ugh, I hate forested hill battles like the plague. Even when I’m defending. I’d prefer an open plains battle to that unless I’m hopelessly outnumbered or using an all-melee force. The few times I tried attacking it it all went Charlie Foxtrot. Nowadays I usually try to kite the AI out of them, which is usually easier said than done (but still easier than actually fighting).

      By the by, Oda bow ashiguru make surprisingly good downhill melee shockers in a pinch. Once the spearmen are all stuck in, charge them into flanks and breaches: They’ll usually do more damage that way (morale, in particular) than by continuing to exchange arrows and getting most of it absorbed by the local shrubbery.

  3. Abnaxis says:

    Your posts on Shogun inspired me to buy the game…

    …only to find it take 20 gigs (!!) of space on the (already over-crowded, laptop) hard drive.

    Seriously, what the hell does an RTS need that much storage for?

      • Zombie says:

        Yeah, for once it looks like the guys in your army have actual human faces, not just mean European faces with beard/beady eyes

      • Bubble181 says:

        Which, to someone like me, who loves the Total War games in his very own way – namely, I’ve played maybe 2 battles and for the rest I just play campaign and make sure the auto-resolve wins – is complete crap. Heck, even those battles I do play: Medieval 2 literally looks better on my computer. Shogun 2 ith all graphics options turned all the way down is worse than Medieval with everything turned to ultra or Empire with everything on medium. *shrug*.

  4. Friend of Dragons says:

    “but they’re forces…”

    *twitch*

  5. Sucal says:

    Damn it Josh. You leave us on a massive cliff hanger, skip several weeks, then come back to say ‘hahahah just kidding’ and completely eliminate the threat you had been facing. That feels me with vaguely rage like sensations, and a desire to see wacky Geisha hijinks.

  6. Eltanin says:

    You may chalk me up as another notch on your belt. The, uh, belt that counts how many people you’ve pushed into buying this game based upon your Let’s Play. Not the other kind. Just to be clear.

    Thanks for this series Josh. Fun stuff.

  7. rrgg says:

    At least it doesn’t look as bad as some of the germanic forests in rome tw.

  8. Zombie says:

    I like the Oda clan and all, but….. I kind of want my Date clan to just murder the Uesugi and then come straight for you. Also, where are the Takeda? Have you just not gotten close enough to them? Cause they most likly have good cavalry by now, enough to take on your Ashigaru. Also, thanks for showing me how awsome this game is. If I had to rank the TW games it would go:

    Rome: Total War
    Total War: Shogun 2
    Medieval 2: Total War
    Empire: Total War
    and the glorified expack Napoleon: Total War

    • Tohron says:

      Since you seem to have missed it, the Takeda got killed off by the siege-based clan (don’t remember their name) early on. Josh described it as “Christmas come early”.

    • Zeta Kai says:

      The Takeda were wiped out in part 3, by either the Uesugi or the Hojo. It was unclear exactly which, as it was early in the game, but somebody blitzed them like FFX before they could put their cavalry to bear. An unexpected blessing, from what I could tell, as they appear to be an obnoxious opponent to face in this game.

      EDIT: Tohron, you must be one of Josh’s ninjas. What news do you bring of the enemy’s forces?

    • Josh says:

      They were actually probably wiped out by the Murakami: normally a weak minor clan that’s set up as your first stepping stone to conquest in the Takeda campaign. Figures. Kai province – one of the two provinces I’m looking to capture to complete my eastern fortifications – is actually the Takeda home province.

      But then, the Murakami are easier to deal with than a clan with hordes of cavalry, so it’s not like I’m complaining.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Most great clans in the game are usually paired up with one of their ‘traditional’ neighborhood rivals as a minor clan — the Oda have the Saito, the Date have the Mogami, the Takeda have the Murakami, the Mori have the Amago, and so on and so on. These clans start at war with each other or with very poor relations, and will usually be at each others’ throats from day 1. In real life, most of these minor clans were utterly defeated, vassaled or at least thoroughly defanged by the great clans, in many ways ensuring why they were the great clans to begin with.

        In Shogun 2, this battle can easily go the other way and lead to early wipe-out of the ‘traditional’ victors to the favour of the historical losers — indeed, before the patch the Saito or Imagawa destroying the Oda (as Josh mentioned in the first or second post) was practically inevitable. In the early game, most clans don’t have access or use of their clan benefits (except the Oda) so the AI tend to be on equal footing, thus making it just as likely it’s the great clan that dies.

        The exception to this is the Tokugawa: Their ‘minor clan rival’ is the Imagawa, who are also their feudal lords. The Tokugawa’s initial foe is therefore (as demonstrated) the Oda. It’s very seldom an AI Tokugawa can defeat both the Oda and the Imagawa to become great on their own.

  9. SolkaTruesilver says:

    This game needs more Zombie hordes

  10. Jonathan says:

    “I can’t tell exactly what’s going on once the battle started”
    “We lost a lot of infantrymen”

    Congratulations, this game is realistic.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      For more realism, how about locking the view to first person, and adding runners who carry your orders, and can be killed or suborned by the enemy? This whole “battlefield overview” and “instant battlefield communication” thing is way too unrealistic.
      And yeah, I’m only halfway joking.

      • meyerkev says:

        In Rome (and possibly others), there was a way to lock the camera to your army or in the extreme case your general. Since I tended to split my army and send my generals out on one-unit suicide missions that were rarely suicidal, I turned this setting off. Didn’t have Communication delays, but when your general was out smashing half the enemy army (Early game Generals were way OP in Rome and I tended to walk in way outnumbered early because I was running 4 different offenses at once with only the 2 starting 2 cities) on the other side of the battlefield from the rest of the battle, it was annoying.

        /And for those of you who are wondering how to run 4 offenses with 2 cities, this is the exploit. If 2 allied armies are besieging the same city, the army that initiates the fight gets the city. So I’d wait until my allies attacked a city I wanted, bring a couple units in, attack the very next turn, and then sit back and watch as my “allies” bled out their huge army, and handed me the city.

        So one army hits Syracuse with the Scipii, then ships up to Masailla to block the Gauls, one army trolls the Julii and takes Mediolanium and Patavium, another army starts building up in Syracuse and goes up against Carthage, and the last (most utterly screwed, since it’s about 3 units big) army does a normal Greece campaign. It’s a pain to pull off, but if it works, you can basically eliminate any Roman expansion and make the Civil War about 10 turns long.

  11. Usually_Insane says:

    I once had to fight i a foggy forested area, short story: I lost, long story: I lost horribly…

    You just don’t have the overview of your troops when they are in forests and/or fog

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