Josh Plays Shogun 2 Part 14: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before…

By Josh
on Feb 15, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

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And so here we are – once more unto the breach, as it were – as yet another Scary Enemy Army shows up on our doorstep and moves to attack our territory in the seemingly ceaseless border conflict into which we’ve become so entangled.

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Oh, and this particular Hojo army is composed of seven veteran katana samurai. Fantastic!

To be fair, I’m really just stalling for time until I can get Nobunaga’s force together, but it would sure be nice if the AI would give me a break. Then again, I was the one who picked legendary difficulty for this campaign, for some reason…

In any case, while Kai province does have a garrison of roughly equal manpower (and composed of more experienced units), they don’t have a general around to keep them encouraged, and the advantages of castle fortifications probably isn’t enough to balance out the much higher stats of so many katana samurai. I suppose pitched battles do make for some interesting reading, but… I already have a whole other video series dedicated to demonstrating how remarkably I can fail at simple tasks like “dropping heavy items” and “being a mercenary.”

I want to win, damn it!

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And since Nobuhide can’t reach Kai this turn, I pull the whole garrison out of the castle and consolidate the two forces into one giant army. It seems as if my best option is to simply cede Kai to the Hojo for this turn, and then roll up to the castle and steamroll them next turn. It isn’t the most ideal of strategies, especially since capturing and (presumably, though I haven’t explicitly checked) recapturing provinces adds to your clan’s fame.

And, as an aside, whose dumb idea was it to add a stat to the game that you absolutely do not ever want to increase in any way – let alone max out – and then give it a name like “fame”? I mean, it makes sense in context, but really? You’re going to make “fame” the doom-stat?

Right, where was I? Oh yeah, the Hojo were about to capture Kai…

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Except, you know, one of my ninjas finally comes through when it counts – not by killing some nobody enemy ninja, but by actually sabotaging an enemy army right at the perfect moment. They won’t be able to reach Kai before Nobuhide can reach them, now. This is the first long-shot ninja action I’ve actually had succeed through this whole campaign. And knowing my luck with ninjas, it’s probably the last too.

It must really suck to be the Hojo right now, though. Surging ahead with such an act of defiance against the Oda, and catching us momentarily off-guard too, only to be halted at the cusp of their (momentary) victory by a level one ninja with a 30% chance of success. A “shameful display,” to be sure.

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At the end of the turn, the Date come to me and ask us to join them in a war against the Uesugi, whom they’ve had some difficulty fully wiping out – and in exchange, they’ll declare war on the Hojo.

This isn’t exactly an ideal arrangement for us. It isn’t that I’m concerned about upsetting the Uesugi, mind you – they kind of hate us now – but they are currently one of our trading partners, and breaking trade agreements can have diplomatic repercussions with other allies down the road. And really, Date, what’s your problem? Your power rating is “terrifying,” and you’re not fighting on multiple fronts, go wipe them out yourselves. I’m busy plotting to take over the country.

And what really drives this home is their other demand. Really? You want me to pay you money so I can come help you finish the war you can’t on your own? Come on!

Naturally, I refuse the request. It’ll put a dent in our relations for a while, but they already love me so much that I sincerely doubt they’ll kill Taneyori before he’s returned to us.

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Oh. Also, suddenly the Ikko-Ikki (awesome name, right there) declared war on me for no reason. Despite the fact that we are their only trading partners and everyone else on the entire map hates them. Uh, Create Assembly, you do know that the whole Bushido “seeking death in battle” thing wasn’t really as prevalent at this point as later historians played it up to be, right? Most clans weren’t actually stupid enough to simply attack everyone without any aim or reason – you know that, right?

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For kicks, here’s the relational map for the Ikko-Ikki (with their territory shown in white). To clarify, red on this map means “I hope you get eaten by a grue.”

That’s a lot of grues.

I’ll be fair enough to point out that the Ikko-Ikki aren’t really acting out of character here. They weren’t actually a clan, but a religious and socially-motivated rebellion against the Daimyo and Samurai of the period, precipitated by followers of the (then fairly obscure) sect of Jodo Shinshu Bhuddism and the preachings of the monk Rennyo (whom, hilariously, was a pacifist). They also did clash with Oda Nobunaga for a number of years.

And, to be perfectly honest, our relational map…

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…doesn’t look that much better. But still, at least I haven’t thrown away all of my trading partners for no reason. If the AI didn’t get so many generous economic bonuses, playing like this would bankrupt them.

In any case, this declaration of war beings a multi-turn scramble to gather as many of the nearby garrisons and troops to our capital of Owari – one of the more likely places the Ikko-Ikki will strike – before one of the several massive armies my ninjas have sighted decides to march south down the road and attack. I even hire another general when the option comes up – although to be perfectly honest, I really just hired him so I could have someone sit on Kai full time so I don’t need to evacuate the garrison every time a mildly threatening army comes along.

But all of these efforts turn out to be wasted as one such Ikko-Ikki army marches south…

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…and then abruptly turns west to attack the Hatakeyama instead.

This brings to mind several important questions, such as, ”why did you declare war on your only trading partner when you didn’t even have plans to attack them?!”

I swear, sometimes the only long-term goal this game seems to have is to “confuse the hell out of Josh.”

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Oh, and by the way Josh, your peasants are rebelling.

Apparently they didn’t like being barred from migrating to cities and becoming merchants only for me to turn around and give the existing merchants new privileges.

This means that I either have to disperse the garrison at Owari or cut taxes to about half of my provinces for a few seasons in order to keep a proper rebellion from rising up. Though I’m loath to cut taxes when I so need the revenue to continue the training of Nobunaga’s new army, the possibility that the Ikko-Ikki will actually realize they declared war on me and attack is too great to risk. Uprisings won’t start until you have two consecutive turns of unrest, so next turn I’ll cut taxes for three turns for the provinces that don’t have proper garrisons.

Man, between the baffling actions of the AI and my annoyingly ungrateful populace, I need something I can let loose on. Weren’t the Hojo failing to invade?

Yeah, they were. Unfortunately, despite sabotaging the Hojo army on their advance into Kai, I couldn’t quite catch them with Nobuhide when they about-faced and retreated. It took several turns of cat and mouse before our Daimyo’s massive army was able to catch them.

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I could probably auto-resolve this, but… we haven’t had a good battle in a while, have we?

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You know, this is actually the first time I’ll be using the long-yari ashigaru in battle. Have a gander at those spears.

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All right, the enemy has a lot of katana samurai, so my strategy here is going to be a little different from normal. All of my normal yari ashigaru and bow units will accompany my general and advance in the open field to the right, while my long-yari ashigaru and katana samurai will advance across the wooded hill on the left, where they will hopefully remain undetected until they can flank around and strike at the enemy’s rear guard.

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Since the AI can’t see my flanking force, it appears to them as if I have a massively inferior force, which actually spurs them out of their defensive position and into a charge. This is working out better than I had hoped.

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With this in mind, of course I manage to screw up the plan. My flanking force gets caught up fighting one katana samurai and a general unit, wasting precious time they could be using by hammering the rear of the enemy main-line.

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But the enemy main line falters and breaks in what seems like no time at all, and degenerates into a full rout just in time for my flanking force to finally charge down the hill and round up the stragglers. But what happened? The enemy main line was composed entirely of katana samurai – how did my yari ashigaru win?

Well, remember a few posts ago how I mentioned that Nobuhide had levelled up and I’d unlocked the ability “Stand and Fight” for him? That ability gives all friendly units within the general’s radius (the blue circle you’ve probably seen in previous pictures) a massive boost to both morale and melee attack. I actually hadn’t realized just how serious a boost this was until this battle, but apparently it’s enough to make even vanilla yari ashigaru capable of beating katana samurai.

It does help that all of my units are high level veterans, too.

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And so ends a fairly cathartic fight, if I do say so myself. Small bits and pieces of the Hojo force manage to survive, including one of their generals with only a single man left in his unit, but there’s little chance that force will be much of a bother for me again.

So I’ve defeated the Hojo – again – and now, with any luck, I can finally concentrate on finishing Nobunaga’s Shogun Invasion Force. Stay tuned for that.

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202020426 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Lord Nyax says:

    It seems that no matter how they try to improve it they just can’t make a Total War AI that doesn’t seem to act completly against their own best interests 50% of the time. I remember playing the Holy Roman Empire in Medieval 2. I declared war only one time in that game, and I soon covered a good chunk of the continent because every time I wiped out a nation another small faction with a miniscule fighting force declared war on me. I started to feel bad. It was like “Jeez, I’m a rich and powerful empire with an army that outnumbers yours by 10 to 1 and instead of trying to make me your friends you go out of your way to make me your enemy? Fine, your funeral. More territory for me.”

    • acronix says:

      That was my experience with that faction, too. And the pope kept excomunnicating me for retaliating.

      • Lord Nyax says:

        Man, the freaking pope. After my empire started rolling I stayed in his good graces by donating massive amounts of cash to him, but he’d still drive me crazy with his requests. Some uppidy little nation would provoke me in cold blood, and just when I get them down to two cities the pope tells me to lay off them. Usually I’d just have my full banner army just sit just outside of their city for 10 turns or whatever the pope asked, and then continue wiping them off the face of the earth. Still, better to have the pope on your side. Theres nothing better than calling a crusade on you enemies and then raising several full banner armies from nothing with hopefuls wanting to join your holy mission.

        • Zombie says:

          The Pope always hated me because I kept sending assassins to kill him, or, as Sicily, taking Rome from him. Would you believe it took 3 armys to capture Rome, with two of them being completely destroyed, Generals and all?

          • guy says:

            It’s his Swiss Pikemen. They are an absolute pain to kill.

            • Zombie says:

              Its not so much the Pikemen, as the fact that the Pope, even though I killed him TWICE, could still raise a huge army that beat mine to a bloody pulp. I also went in with whatever units I could scrounge up, but still, it was cheep.

              • guy says:

                Well, he is the Pope. He literally crowns all the rulers of Europe and swipes ten percent of their income at this point in history.

                Though, admittedly, in Rome: Total War I took Rome with just 1.5 full armies with relatively minimal experience. But that only worked because the enemy general died roughly five seconds after our battle-lines met.

                It was still one of the costliest battles of that playthrough. Triarii with 6 experience don’t break. At least, not for quite some time.

                • Zombie says:

                  I learned from Rome that Archers > Hoplites in a one on one fight. I had a huge army, and I faced another huge army from the Greeks. After roughly half an hour, My generals and men were all dead or fleeing, as were the Greeks, except for my Archers and their Hoplites. Scariest moment in gaming I ever had was when my archers had almost no arrows and the Hoplites didnt look like they were breaking.

                  • Dys says:

                    While hoplite units are devastating against frontal melee attacks, they are horribly vulnerable to missile fire. Even basic javelin units can cut them down, simply because the hoplites cannot move fast enough to engage.

              • acronix says:

                Only twice? I had my top assasin stationed right next to him. He visited Rome everytime I was excomunicated, which was every few turns.

                Of course, it was the last city I conquered, knowing that the Pope would Summon Bigger Fish my army into oblivion.

                • Zombie says:

                  I got lucky my second time because I had some sort of army left (mostly halfs, thirds and fourths of units) and he didnt, so I kicked him out of Rome. Its weird, cause he just sits in your territory, watching you. He never does anything, but he just sits there, looking at you sternly.

    • David says:

      It got to the point for me that I just began installing AI mods, to tweak them into some sense of sanity.

      I modded the crap out of Empire: Total War, but still, you quickly get to a moment 40 turns into the game, on any difficulty, where you’ve “won” and now it’s just a matter of steamrolling the rest of the map.

      Oh sure, the AI cheats, even with mods, and full stack armies appear out of crappy villages on the periphery, but you kill those too, and the grind continues.

      Instead of Realm Divide, what Creative Assembly ought to do is make your last-ditch civilian rabble much more difficult to overcome, to make cities more difficult to conquer. Remember that in ancient times, to overcome a city’s defenses, you needed to outnumber your opponent by about 10 to 1.

      Not so in Total War games, which makes conquering incredibly easy. All it takes is a little momentum, and suddenly you’ve turned a two province nation into a superpower.

      • Ateius says:

        I could never get into Empire. I’ve played to about 1750 in both my significant attempts, but the insanity of the AI just makes it too much. Oh, I’ve completely beaten this enemy but they won’t surrender, and I can’t just destroy them because it will ruin my reputation (even though they attacked ME) and then everyone will cancel my trade and I’ll go bankrupt. And now three other people are declaring war on me for no reason despite great relations. And that just broke two trade compacts and now I’m in the red so I need to disband armies just when I need them the most ….

        At least in RTW/MTW2 you had internal trade so the AI’s insanity could screw you over less. And the doomstat thing needs to straight-up not exist until they code an AI capable of acting rationally in the diplomacy menu.

        (and yet I keep playing)

        • Zombie says:

          Every mode in Empire above “Normal” is just more difficult because the game has almost every faction around you declair war on you. Try it as Prussia sometime, as Austria will just declair war on you, unless you hand over one of your two territories. and Poland-Lithuania does nothing except keep making and braking alliances with you.

    • rrgg says:

      The problem is that every time you conquer a territory it makes other factions hate you, particularly if they are nearby. This was the earlier attempt at balancing out expansionism but it didn’t really go over too well.

    • Ysen says:

      The reason I don’t buy Total War games any more is that the AI is terrible. Battles are just a matter of exploiting the same gaping flaws over and over in exactly the same way, and on the strategic map its actions are nonsensical and it cheats blatantly. Your strategy ends up revolving around meta-knowledge of AI quirks more than anything that actually makes sense in-game.

  2. Cannibal Guppy says:

    yeah that ai isent very good. they have one ai for diplomacy and one for war, so the diplomatic AI doesnt realize that they have no army to deal with you and vice versa. its a very skewed system. josh if i worship you if you train me to beat legendary?

  3. Simulated Knave says:

    Stand and Fight is beautiful. I still treasure the time my four units of Shimazu Katana Samurai, my general, and a really big mountain took out 2500-odd Sagara. Certain horrible annihilation ended in beautiful, beautiful victory.

    • rofltehcat says:

      Jup, it is a complete game changer. Even for offense. I often even had my general abandon their horses already in deployment so they could go into “sit around and make everyone else destroy stuff”-mode more quickly.

  4. Paul Spooner says:

    That final loss ratio doesn’t seem super advantageous, especially since the Hojo were so woefully outnumbered. I’m guessing it reflects the relative value of the units? You lost 550 cheap ashigaru and they lost 850 expensive samurai?

    • krellen says:

      While it doesn’t show up that often in war games, in the real world a 1.5:1 kill ratio – especially in favour of the side with the inferior technology – is kind of a big deal.

      • rrgg says:

        Not quite, usually real life battles will tend to see sort of a snowballing effect: one side starts off with a minor advantage and as the enemy loses men the battle becomes more and more lopsided.

        The real issue with the casualties would be how many there are in the first place. Losing 20% of your army as the victor tends to mean it was a pretty hard fight.

        • krellen says:

          20% for the victor isn’t that far off – the Thirty Years war saw an overall attrition rate for the victor at around 15%.

          The real issue is how many casualties the losers have – historically, those 15% for winners were matched by 30% for losers, while here we have a 20% for 80% situation.

          Of course, that could just be Josh playing a bloody-minded barbarian who hunts down and slays fleeing troops.

          • acronix says:

            Bloody minded barbarian who hunts down fleeing troops? I thought that was what every single Total War player did!

            • Jarenth says:

              It does fit Josh to a tee.

            • Dys says:

              Because if you DON’T, those three hundred men will form a new army, which you will have to waste even more time hunting down.

              Or worse, when an enemy sallies to break a siege and you fail to massacre every last man, the few survivors will run back to the castle and force you to continue the damned siege.

              • krellen says:

                Which I’ve always hated. Some routed soldiers should be able to be rallied to reform, but most of them should just outright desert.

                • Sumanai says:

                  Maybe if the game had a separate morale for how likely someone is to completely desert. Make it drop every turn that they’re defending a siege.

                • avpix says:

                  Ever play American Conquest? Each unit has a chance to desert whenever you engage in battle. Not having generals to rally the troops led to your men casually walking away from the battle lines to the other side of the map en masse.

          • rrgg says:

            20% dead for the victors tends to be really high in real life, but is really low for a TW battle. Especially unheard of in real life is suffering that many casualties that quickly (I don’t know how long the battle lasted exactly, 10-30 minutes?), it’s like both sides are completely suicidal.

            Casualty rate amongst the losers tends to vary considerably depending on the decisiveness of the defeat. Battles between Greek hoplites that didn’t involve much in the way of cavalry or light infantry tended to consistently result in about 7% lost for the winner and 15% for the loser. But that said the chasing down mechanic tends to mean that casualties for the loser in Total War games is almost always way too high.

            For all the complexity they put into their moral system I feel TW sort of really drops the ball when it comes to routing units. So the entire army suddenly decides turn and run, completely oblivious to the fact that one guy on a horse was then able to kill 300 of them and they were only saved by crossing the arbitrary “edge of battle line.”

            Come on, frightened men need to still be a little bit dangerous. Maybe if “fighting to the death” could be triggered and untriggered way more often if light infantry or cavalry got too close to the routing troops.

        • Squash says:

          Yes. I was surprised that Josh thought about auto-resolving this battle. In my experience, this is the sort of battle where you pay heavily for auto-resolving, with smaller numbers of high stat enemies taking a disproportionate toll on my forces. I tend to only auto-resolve when I have such superior numbers that losing more than I kill doesn’t matter.

          • Josh says:

            Shogun 2 is incredibly generous when it comes to replenishing units – as long as they’re in your territory and under the command of a general character they’ll replenish using the nearest castle’s replenishment rate, and if they’re on a castle they’ll replenish even without a general present. On larger castles, you can fully replenish a near-dead unit of samurai in a handful of turns. And the AI can do it even faster, which is why I always make it a point to try to outright destroy units rather than rout them.

            • Squash says:

              Thanks for that, Josh. I am going by older Total War games, not having played Shogun 2. Having to move units back to the nearest fully upgraded town to replenish troops was really annoying in Rome. I tended to just merge frontline units together and use my towns to create new ones to bring up to the front lines. I know that is not the optimum use of resources, but after a certain point in the game, it starts to get a bit tedious to micromanage everything.

  5. krellen says:

    I’m glad to see level really sort of means something. Sure, Hojo had a bunch of level 2 katana samurai, but you had a whole slew of level 5 ashigaru. Your peasants have seen more war than most samurais do in their lifetime; there’s no amount of training that can make up for that.

    • X2Eliah says:

      In the real world that should only amount to the number of broken bones, limbs and received crippling injuries.

      • krellen says:

        They’re largely spear-wielders and bowmen. They probably never got close enough to another combatant to get injured. The ones that survived, that is. All that experience probably breaks down to learning not to break ranks and to attack in unison.

      • Dasick says:

        No amount of training can prepare one for the real experience. This is true for every skill out there, especially in any form of fighting related skill.

        In martial arts, for example, you can run as many drills as you want to, but when it comes to sparring, it will take you many rounds just to stop freaking out everytime your opponent makes a move. And this is just martial arts and sparring, which are highly impractical and a controlled environment respectively.

        So I’m thinking just being at the battlefield is a great advantage over an opponent, even if your opponent has dedicated their life to training for battle.

        • SlowShootinPete says:

          I remember reading on a self-defense website once about this guy who used to be a violent street punk and used his experience to become a sort of counselor. He wrote about how he was frequently able to “kill” highly trained martial artists in sparring matches simply by charging straight at them with a training knife.

          I think it was this: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/streetfighting.html

          • Dys says:

            There’s an awful lot of romantic whiffle surrounding combat, which mostly breaks down to finding a way to hurt someone as badly as possible, as quickly as possible.

            I forget where I heard it, but I believe the phrase ‘if it looks pretty, you’re not doing it right’ surely applies.

            On a battlefield, psychology is likely paramount, and it’s always easier to do things you’ve already done before.

            All that aside, I have absolutely no experience of violence. It’s uncommon these days.

            • Deoxy says:

              There’s this guy at a renaissance festival I go to every few years who teaches about historical combat and swordplay (in full historical/hysterical character). His attention grabbing line is something along the line of “Come support violence in your community.” It’s pretty funny.

              Anyway, one of the things he mentioned was that, if you are disarmed, a great way to deal with an opponent is to grab his fingers, two in one hand, two in the other, and pull apart… there are no bones that hold the hand together. “Much screaming vill commence” or something like that. Seriously, “On a battlefield, psychology is likely paramount”? Yeah, seeing something like that would freak most modern people right out.

  6. Lame Duck says:

    It does seem like their should be some extra benefits to increasing your fame rather than it just being the countdown to doom. Something to encourage you to teeter right on the cusp of Realm Divide for as long as possible so the game can screw you by having you accidently get a tiny bit more fame before you’re ready.

    And speaking of getting screwed by fame and the Hojo, I had a game when I was playing Uesuegi and had conquered most of the north-eastern quarter of the map and had Hojo as a vassal. I was right on the edge of diving the realm and was building up a few big armies to steam-roll west with, as well as a couple of smaller armies to deal with my vassals and the Date’s last remaining province when the time came. I was not aware that if your vassal conquers a province, that also gives you a bit more fame. So fuck you, Hojo!

    • Keredis says:

      It’s worse than that, actually. I had one game where my vassal conquered a province, triggering Realm Divide… and then, since I just said “screw it” and figured I might as well go offense, said vassal eventually betrayed me, with the primary negative diplomacy factors being… territorial expansion and realm divide. That’s right, not only was my vassal the one to trigger Realm Divide, but they then got mad at me because of it.

  7. Grudgeal says:

    Realm Divide always struck me as being counter-intuitive to the way the Sengoku Era went in real life, or how politics are played in general: While humans do have a natural tendency to ‘gang up on the leader’, as it were (especially in ‘only one winner’ scenarios like the current American GOP primaries), we have an almost as strong or possibly even stronger one towards ‘riding the coat-tails of the leader’ if offered the choice (especially in scenarios where the ‘winner’ isn’t clear-cut and/or there’s enough for everyone, like in most political scenarios in the history of ever — you don’t see Germany and Britain and China and Russia all ganging up to take down the US, for instance).

    Oda Nobunaga’s rise to power didn’t really galvanise all of Japan into allying against him — it was a few blocks of his neighbors and some armies from defeated clans at best. Most of the other clans rather allied with him or vassaled themselves willingly when they saw he was so much better off. This was even more pronounced with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who started out owning one third of the country himself and basically went: “You all will jolly well go along with what I say, or I’ll come over there with my armies and kick your hinies” to the other clans. Which they generally did.

    Hideyoshi faced pretty much the opposite of Realm Divide from his ‘fame’.

    • Lame Duck says:

      Realm Divide was included purely for gameplay reasons, but it doesn’t make a lick of actual sense. Total War games have a tendency to effectively end around the mid-game when one faction (the player) becomes powerful enough to steamroll over other factions one-by-one and the game deteriorates into a slog of conquering the remaining provinces without any actual challenge. Realm Divide ensures that there is at least some resistance at the end, but I agree that it’s a pretty ham-fisted solution. It’s pretty stupid that you’re own vassals and close allies, regardless of their own strength, will declare war on you when they have absolutely no chance of winning, rather than enjoying having a good relationship with the biggest military and economic power in the realm who will soon be the new Shogun.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        In my current game, even after becoming full-blown Shogun there has been 0 war declared against me.

        I think I found the trick: I sent missionaries to stir up christian rebellion in every single provinces that borders mine. My closest allies, the Takeda, lost half of their territories to such rebellion and are now in no shape to attack me whatsoever.

        The other neighbour, the Sakai, lost 3 provinces and have to run after uber-stacks of Christian rebels while suffering my Ninja Army- and Castle Gate-sabotage at every turn.

        Result –> A safe Shogun who can gobble up Christian Rebel territory without even declaring war once. I think I am abusing the system.

        • Dys says:

          I tried something similar with the Ikko Ikki, but people really do not like you messing around with their territories. It perhaps matters less in the end game, but maintaining some vestige of diplomacy is enough of a struggle without intentionally pissing people off.

          • SolkaTruesilver says:

            If you are strong ennough, trade and are allied with them, and take away their key provinces, the AI is usually not stupid ennough to declare war on you.

            But on the other hand, you are the Ikko-Ikki.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        The problem with states latching on to the big guy, though, is that the AI would have to guesstimate whether going it alone or vassalising for a cooperative victory would get it more points. This could be very exploitable, if you can manipulate how the AI perceives your power level, to artificially inflate it, possibly leading a cascade under the right conditions. Remember, this would all fall under diplomacy AI, and it’ll be a long while before a clever human can’t easily run rings around that.

        • Keredis says:

          Actually, that artificial inflation would be somewhat appropriate. If you can convince others that you’re more powerful than you really are, it makes sense that they’d then react as if you really were that powerful.

        • Grudgeal says:

          Galciv II did a fairly good attempt, and that was several years ago. I’m not saying it was flawless and non-exploitable, but the AI was capable of some quite complex diplomatic thinking, including holding off from killing you (the player) if doing so would let another AI but it win. Different species even respected different kinds of ‘strength’.

  8. Actually, given the “largest nail gets struck by the hammer” conformity inherent to a lot of Japanese culture, I think fame being a bad thing is quite ironically appropriate :D

    Also, “war beings” is inaccurate… I hope.

  9. RCN says:

    The economic advantages are one of the reasons I feel it is pointless playing 4X games against the computer at higher difficulty levels.

    It is not because it is unfair. But because I feel a whole gamut of strategies just shut down away if they’re not even going to inconvenience the AI. Making him lose this trade route? Like he is hurting for money. A blockade? Pfff… he can afford 5 complete armies of elite units with a single of his provinces, this blockade means he can’t afford 2 less units in this equation, loser. You’re razing this farm? The enemy province still outgrow your biggest city and can reconstruct it every turn without breaking a sweat.

    The day an AI needs to disband a SINGLE unit because of an economic setback caused by the player, is the day I’ll finally be happy at last. I find it grating specially in the Civilization games, where the AI can pop city after city like it is no big deal while your economy takes a complete nosedive after your third or fourth city, AND afford to have at least 3 military units defending every single one of them.

    These measures don’t really make the AI harder to beat, it just means you have to beat more of the AI to really beat it. It just means any effort you put into placing the AI into an economic setback is a futile waste of your precious resources. Why are trade embargoes even there? Just to hurt the AI feelings and lose diplomatic points?

    As they say, the AI must cheat. It has to. It can’t think like a human, so it needs some advantages to even make a pretense of competing. But the golden rule, as they say, is to make the AI cheat without the player noticing. And 4X games do this badly. And Total War does it worse. I won’t for a single buy that a single minor nation with a single province can afford to have a full army of cavalry, plus a full compliment protecting its capital, while I blockade its ports, siege its capital and burn its fields (in a test to see at which point economic setbacks actually start affecting the AI. Conclusion: never.)

    On a side note, have you heard of this Oblivion webcomic: The Prequel? (Alternative title: How to make a cat cry: The Adventure)

    http://www.prequeladventure.com/2011/03/prequel-begin/

    I’m burning through it. So expressive and yet so cruel.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its been a long time so I may remember it wrong,but galciv 2 ai doesnt cheat.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        It cheats, but it’s a purely mathematical standpoint, not a gimmick-style.

        GalCiv2 gives it a % bonus to income (and research). That’s it, nothing more. No “automatic +5000$ when you reach 0”. No “Auto-build 2 units after creating a city”. So it means if you strangle them with guerrila warfare upon their economy, you will really hurt their income.

        Hell, you could argue you potentially hurt them more than they may hurt you with the same actions. After all, if a trade route is worth 100$/turn to you, it’ll be worth 150$/turn to them because of their 50% bonus.

        I can deal with GROUNDED advantages to the AI to compensate for their inherent weakness. Feels more like playing a wargame than against a Faction who recieves subsidies from Aliens. But I just can’t stomach silly gimmicks.

        On the other hand, some tactics are plain abuse against the AI. Who can remember the James Bond Villain tactic of Alpha Centauri?

        • RCN says:

          Ah… Gal Civ 2.

          It is pretty much the one strategy game the AI doesn’t annoy me. It has both the personality to keep me entertained and still play mostly by the rules. You know you’re following the same rule as them. You know you can actually get an edge over them in some areas.

        • Ysen says:

          Actually, GalCiv2 allows you to set the intelligence of the AI and its level of cheating independently for each civ. You can play with no cheating if you want. Which you probably will, because GalCiv2’s AI is far superior to that in most strategy games. They sacrificed multiplayer to spend more time on the AI, and it really shows.

    • Squash says:

      I know there may be AI advantages/cheats, but I seem to have had success with economic strategies in the Total War games. Blockading trade routes, pillaging farmland, occupying enemy territory, etc. Sometimes it is hard to know if it’s really working, but it FEELS like it is!

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