With Nobunaga’s victory at Okehazama, the way has been opened for us to finally conquer central Japan. Nobunaga’s exploits have garnered a fearsome reputation for him amongst his peers – although that reputation might not be completely accurate…
Yep, he goes into harm’s way all the time. He didn’t spend the entire battle sitting in a forest at the top of a hill at the very rear of his army or anything, I don’t know what you’re talking about…
Ruthlessness, on the other hand, is a trait that our Nobunaga possesses in similar excess to his historical counterpart, and he and his brother corner and crush the single Ikko-Ikki unit that managed to escape from Okehazama.
Knowing how the AI plays, though, it would have just run around my territory raiding farms until I killed it anyway.
Further good omens come as we learn that war has erupted between the Mori and the Ikko-Ikki. With luck, this will keep the remaining Ikko-Ikki armies occupied while we scoop up their undefended territories around Kyoto.
On the other side of our domain, the Satomi – whom you may recall as the clan that overthrew their Hojo overlords and retook their home province of Kazusa and then swiftly conquered the rest of the Hojo holdings – has decided to rekindle the old Hojo tradition known as “complete stupidity” and declare war on us.
They march on Edo with a debatably-superior army to Nobuhide’s garrison, but I’m able to scramble some reinforcements from Sagami before they reach the castle.
I hate playing siege battles if I can help it, because honestly, I find the fortifications more of a hindrance than a help, but it’s been a long time since I played one in this campaign and I could swear that at least a few of you have been asking to see one, so here’s a brief look.
The enemy has a lot more archers than I do, and they’re mostly samurai, which should win outright against my inferior ashigaru. So the general deployment strategy I’m using here is to keep all of my bows on the walls where they can do the most damage, and the rest of my units are sitting in a big, loose blob in one corner of the castle. Hopefully, this will prevent my melee units from taking very many casualties while my archers soak up the enemy fire.
The AI tends to deploy its forces erratically during sieges, attacking from multiple angles with subgroupings that may or may not make sense. Sometimes it puts all of its bows together with absolutely no melee support. Sometimes it deploys its forces sensibly, but leaves all of its generals on the other side of the map for the entire fight. And it doesn’t seem to know what gates are, preferring to have all of its men climb ten meter tall, seventy-degree inclined walls – a climb that usually kills ten or twenty men in each unit even if they aren’t under fire.
This is even more ridiculous since any melee unit can spontaneously generate an infinite supply of Molotov-cocktails or torches or whatever and throw them at a gate until it catches fire and burns down, leaving the way open for them without requiring a precarious climb over a giant wall and a fight with all the defenders at the top.
But whatever. My opponent hammers at my archers and sends most of his melee units at my walls. Every time a melee unit makes it to the top, I pull back the nearest bow unit from the walls and send one of my melee units to deal with them.
This is another area where the siege AI doesn’t really play sensibly. The defender has a significant advantage when fighting inside the castle, particularly on the innermost level of it (or the entire castle in this case, since it has only one level), because any defending units near the keep will almost always fight to the death – that is, they won’t ever rout, and the attacker will usually need to destroy them outright. This means that even a cheap, vanilla yari ashigaru can be a threat to a katana samurai – all it has to do is kill enough of the samurai for them to rout, and its own numbers aren’t a concern as long as it isn’t destroyed completely.
To boil all of this mechanics discussion down to a single point, this means that in a situation like this, where the attacker has massive archer superiority, the best thing to do is to hold its melee units in reserve and use its archers to destroy first the enemy archers, and then all of the melee units hiding inside the castle that they can before they run out of ammo.
Instead, the AI rushes its melee units in first, and they’re all slaughtered.
Even if I wasn’t winning the infantry battle handily, I still have this detached force of reinforcements from Sagami. I’ve been marching them to engage the enemy bows, and I’ve detached two melee units from the castle garrison to engage the enemy as well. And this is where my problem with siege battles really comes from. The AI has already lost most of its infantry, and the strength it has remaining is composed almost entirely of bow samurai and generals’ bodyguards. If this were a normal, open field battle, I would have won this already – all I’d need to do is charge my infantry into their archers and they’d rout in seconds.
But despite the fact that the enemy can climb up the walls and come directly at me, I can’t climb down the walls and charge directly at them. Instead I have to detour my units out gates and risk getting them caught in a chokepoint – which the AI, for all of its bemusing behavior, can sometimes manage to take advantage of. Castles make me feel more trapped than safe.
Anyway, my flanking force wraps around, routs one group of bows, and slams into the second, drawing the enemy generals into the fray. There’s a little concern for me as one general manages to get around my spearmen and hit the bows that were part of the reinforcements, but it doesn’t ultimately prove to be much of a problem.
Soon, most of the enemy force is routed and victory is assured.
I come away with a Pyrrhic Victory, mostly because the reinforcements and the units I sallied out of the castle to assist them got pretty banged up, along with my archers. But unit replenishment being the way it is in this game (that is, incredibly fast), it probably won’t be much of a problem after a few turns.
In much graver news, the other shoe has finally dropped – the Mori have declared war on us. They’re the most powerful clan in Japan by far, and worse, they’re the premiere naval power on the island. I haven’t even built a single ship in this campaign.
My hope was that I could stave off a Mori naval invasion through diplomacy until I had a proper naval force built up. That is now going to be difficult. And honestly, even with a proper fleet, I may lose to the Mori’s sheer numbers. But there is one way I could guarantee a victory against them: European ships. But I won’t be able to built the so called Nanban Trade Ships unless I convert to Christianity. It’s decision time.
On the one hand, converting to Christianity will quickly lead to massive unhappiness in our non-Christian population (read: everybody), and will cause a severe hit to our diplomatic relations. Additionally, converting to Christianity will hurt Nobuhide’s honor, which will cause even more unhappiness and could very well crash our economy. It will also stop our assault on Kyoto in its tracks because there is no way I’m going into realm divide with half of my provinces on the verge of revolt.
On the other hand, can I really pass up the chance to troll history with a victorious, Christian Oda Nobunaga?
Of course not!
Nobunaga and Nobuyuki march further east to conquer the province of Yamato. They are, predictably, victorious. This should provide a small boost to our income, at least initially.
And with Yamato under our control…
I’m close enough to initiate trade with the Ashikaga Shogunate itself. It won’t last very long, but every little bit counts.
Incidentally, chasing down and crushing what was left of the Satomi army that attacked Edo gave Nobuhide enough experience to rank up again, opening up the door to…
Put points into the honorable trait in his upgrade tree. This works out perfectly for us. See, Daimyo have a unique trait called honor that subtly affects things like diplomatic relations and such. The base honor level is three, but if it drops to two or below, your people will be very unhappy. Converting to Christianity reduces your Daimyo’s honor by two, enough to cause a lot of unhappiness amongst your population – something you don’t want on top of the unhappiness your unconverted population will already be generating. But with honorable, I can increase Nobuhide’s honor by two – effectively equalizing what I’m about to lose by converting to Christianity, and saving us a lot of headaches in the future.
Nobuyuki continues north and takes Iga, the original home province of the Hattori (our allies from the beginning that were wiped out by the Hatakeyama). We now control a good deal of land bordering Kyoto, and we only need Omi to complete the picture. Taking Omi will trigger Realm Divide, however, so we’ll hold off on that for now.
All right, it’s time to take the plunge.
Well, there we go. No turning back now.
In reality, of course, neither Nobuhide nor Nobunaga ever converted to Christianity, but Nobunaga was quite interested in European culture, and was very generous towards the Jesuit missionaries that had been coming to Japan since the beginning of European contact. He even helped to establish the first Christian church in Kyoto. And if he had seen conversion to Christianity as the only way to move forward with his ambitions, I suspect he might have.
But that’s history. Our version of Nobunaga is fantasy, and only time will tell if this decision will lead us to victory, or disaster.