on Feb 29, 2012
Picking up from where we last left off, Nobuhide and his grand army has just crushed another Hojo force. What strength they have remaining is scattered and impotent, and it’s left Musashi province open for attack.
Still, there is that nagging risk of prematurely triggering realm divide, so for the moment, I pull Nobuhide back to Kai province to guard against any further Hojo aggressiveness.
Also in Kai province, I’ve begun recruiting yari cavalry for use in Nobunaga and Nobuyuki’s armies when they attack the capital region. These are spear-armed heavy cavalry, powerful in a charge; and with their spears, they excel at fighting other cavalry. Once they’re locked in melee combat, though, their strength diminishes, so the general strategy is to charge at a unit and then retreat, and charge again. They’ll be excellent for taking out enemy generals and crushing katana-armed units.
Just north of the Hojo, the Date have the Uesugi in dire straights. The once mighty clan has been reduced to a single province with a smattering of battered units. They won’t last long.
To the west, the Ikko-Ikki are pressing an attack on the Hatakeyama-owned province of Omi. Despite declaring war on us several turns ago, they’ve shown no interest whatsoever in attacking any of our lands. But they do outnumber the local Hatakeyama forces, so this may yet prove interesting. If we’re lucky, both sides will spend their strength on each other and leave a direct path to Kyoto completely undefended.
And there it is. The Uesugi clan has been exterminated and all of their holdings are now controlled by the Date.
The Date now want military access to our lands in exchange for their help in all of our current wars. This is actually a remarkably savvy move for the AI in this case – they need military access to reach most of their eastern enemies easily. And if it makes the Ikko-Ikki think twice about interfering when I attack the capital, then more power to them. I accept the offer without a second thought.
Now that the Date have openly declared war on the Hojo, I’m going to take the fame hit and capture another Hojo province. Better to snap them up while they’re held by the weak Hojo than wait for the Date to take them and have to wreathe them from the control of our much more powerful neighbor.
Musashi is just as ripe for the taking as it was a few turns ago, and honestly, taking it is a bit of a conceit of mine: The castle town of Musashi is Edo – which you might know better as Tokyo – the city that would become the capital of the Tokugawa Shogunate and is now one of the largest cities in the entire world.
Additionally, we’re now nearly at the end of the peasant uprisings that began last post, so I’ve returned to taxing all of the affected provinces and finally making some money again.
Back in the west, the Ikko-Ikki have managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, losing a battle between their main force and the Hatakeyama army. Inexplicably, the smaller of the two Ikko-Ikki armies is now laying siege to Omi rather than meeting up with its beleaguered larger counterpart and attempting to overpower the Hatakeyama force. It’s almost like they’re trying to lose.
With the onset of summer, Nobuhide reaches Musashi with a detachment of the Kai and Sagami garrisons. The Hojo can’t even mount a proper defense, and Edo falls to Nobuhide’s assault in short order.
It seems our benevolent treatment of our merchants is paying off now, as they’ve managed to procure supplies from neighboring provinces for much cheaper than normal, and with them we’d be able to reduce the recruitment cost of new troops by 25%. Of course they want two-thousand koku for them, which normally wouldn’t be enough to give me pause, but most of the units for our western invasion force have already been recruited and are now slowly making their way across our territory. I’m not certain I’ll end up recruiting enough units to make it worth the initial investment.
But, on the other hand, it would be prudent to be prepared if something disastrous were to happen, so I opt to pay the merchants.
Somehow, the smaller Ikko-Ikki force managed to take Omi while the larger Hatakeyama force chased its other army north into secure Ikko-Ikki territory. Given the insanity of the Ikko-Ikki’s grand strategic gestures so far, this success is nothing more than extraordinary. Which makes it that much more fitting that the Tsutsui are already marching with a larger army to capture Omi for themselves.
There is an opportunity here to grab Omi away from the Ikko-Ikki and gain a foothold in the capital region ourselves, but only if the Tsutsui actually lose.
And of course they don’t.
Better news comes from other places, however, as we’ve cleared all of the prerequisites and can now directly research gunpowder mastery, which will give us access to arquebus-armed infantry and ships.
And then spring comes, and it’s all I can do to not stand up and give a whooping hollar of “Finally!”
After twelve years, some forty-eight turns, and almost at the end of the gunpowder research tree, we have finally received the Nanban Trade event.
Now what does this mean?
Well, in short, we can now upgrade one of our ports into a Nanban Trade Port and open trade with Europe directly. This will give us access to gunpowder based units through the port, but they’ll be expensive to recruit. But, for our trouble, they will give us a free unit of matchlock-armed ashigaru. The downside is, of course, that at this time in history European intercontinental trade was as much about spreading Christianity as it was about acquiring wealth. The trade port will spread Christianity to the province it’s located in, so if you don’t want to commit resources to deal with that or – and perhaps more deviously – convert to Christianity yourself, then it’s going to cause problems for you.
But gunpowder units are paramount to our success, so of course I’m going to say yes.
I’m now treated to a short cinematic with this particularly hilarious line of dialogue. Historically, the Japanese were quite receptive to gunpowder-based weaponry – at least, in this time period. And really, if shooting a man with a gun at range is dishonorable, is it any more honorable to shoot a man in the back from a hundred paces with an arrow? Because archery is one of Japan’s oldest methods of warfare, and Samurai were originally trained more with the bow than the sword.
Only a few months after Nanban traders arrive in Owari for the first time, I receive word that “the Black Ship” has been spotted heading east across the Japanese coastline. This is an event that occurs periodically, and is an opportunity for non-Christian clans to get their hands on a European ship. Apparently it’s supposed to be some sort of Portuguese merchantman, and the name is an obvious reference to the “black ships” of American Commodore Matthew Perry’s fleet that opened Japan for trade for the first time in two hundred years in 1853.
Now, European galleons in this game are incredibly powerful compared to the oar-propelled coastal ships of traditional Japanese design. But that also makes it extremely difficult to capture this ship, even with a full fleet matched against it, and I’ve never succeeded in my own attempts, nor have I ever seen any AI clan ever capture the ship. And if you convert to Christianity and fully upgrade your Nanban trade port, you can just build your own Galleons, so I never really saw the point in going after it.
While I was busy gushing over the concept of proper European trade, the Ikko-Ikki drunken-warfare strategy suddenly turned the tide against the Hatakeyama, as they’ve struck into the heart of the latter’s territory. They now have significant holdings inside the capital region, and, well…
Just look at the rank and traits on their daimyo! This guy is going to be a challenge to beat.
Partially to get the newbie general I had sitting on Kai some experience, but mostly just to break up the monotony of this “hurry up and wait for more troops” thing we’ve been doing for the last two posts, I send Toyotomi Tanefusa to intercept the latest attack force the Hojo have conjured up. Though his army outnumbers the enemy nearly two to one, the Hojo army is all-samurai, so I decide to play this one in real time rather than roll the dice on it.
Honestly, this fight wasn’t really very interesting. I didn’t want to attack head on and hiding my units in the forest to bait the enemy into advancing on my position wasn’t working, so I decided to ride my general and his bodyguard into the range of the enemy archers and then pull him back, hoping to draw them in one at a time so I could deal with them with my own archers. And it worked.
Once I dealt with most of the archers, the Hojo charged my lines with their katana samurai.
And it was a simple matter of encircling their force with my superior numbers and killing their general.
Not exactly the most exciting of fights, but I’ll take the win.
By summer of 1558, the Hatakeyama have been reduced to a mere two provinces, and I think the time is finally right. Previously, I’d been reluctant to attack the Tsutsui because of their alliance with the Hatakeyama, which would inevitably draw me into a war with both clans. But now the Hatakeyama are in no position whatsoever to fight me, so their protection is worthless for the Tsutsui. Omi is within easy striking distance of our now-almost complete western force, and from there, Nobunaga can strike at much of the rest of the capital region.
Finally, we stand at the cusp of making our true bid for power. Everything is in place, or soon will be. The Hojo have been reduced to nothing, the Date are moving against our enemies in the north, and the Ikko-Ikki and Hatakeyama are occupied fighting each other. The time to strike is upon us.