Against all odds, we have prevailed. The Imagawa army – despite all of its splendor, superior numbers, and better equipped-troops â€" has been utterly crushed by our superior strategy. Mikawa is defended by only a spent force less than a hundred and fifty men strong. We have the men, the opportunity, and the initiative. It’s time to retake what is ours.
Against a force ten times as strong as his, Imagawa Yoshimoto surrenders before we can even reach the walls and commits seppuku. We’ve won the final battle over Mikawa without losing a single man.
With this newest success under his belt, Nobuhide has reached three command stars. There aren’t a lot of options at this level that would really improve his skills in any meaningful way, so I put a point in cavalry commander (a prerequisite for several skills I want to obtain later) and another point in poetry, which will slightly increase the speed at which we master bushido arts.
Now that the Imagawa offensive has been broken, the most important thing to remember is to never lose our momentum. We’ve utterly destroyed nearly every Imagawa military unit, and it might be tempting to take the time now to properly fortify Mikawa and replenish our forces to prevent another disaster like our first conquest of the province. But this is legendary mode â€" the AI will almost always be able to outbuild us, and if we cede this opportunity to attack the Imagawa while they’re vulnerable, it won’t be long before they send another massive army to attack us. Allowing this to happen would be… unwise.
Keeping this in mind, our army is in striking distance of the next nearest Imagawa stronghold â€" Totomi â€" this turn. Our ninja has confirmed the absence of any military forces beyond the fort’s garrison, and it easily falls to our army.
Our recent, unexpected success has drawn the attention of the Shogun himself. And this is our first introduction to a new, controversial feature unique in the series to Shogun 2. It’s also the lynchpin that is shaping my entire strategy for this campaign, so now seems like a good time to finally discuss it.
In all previous incarnations of Total War, no matter what difficulty you had selected, you would eventually reach a point in any campaign where your faction had conquered so much territory and had an economy so strong no single opposing faction could ever hope to defeat you. You could be completely tactically inept and lose nearly every battle, but you’d still be able to win every war because your economy and industrial power was so far ahead of your opponents that you could replace any losses you took â€" even entire armies â€" without so much as breaking your stride. At this point, the campaign would simply become a grind as you singled out and conquered one faction after another until you inevitably achieved all of your victory conditions.
This was a long-standing problem, seemingly endemic to the nature of Total War, and with Shogun 2, Creative Assembly finally decided to take a stab at solving it. Their solution was… somewhat less than elegant, however â€" since no single faction could ever hope to defeat you, at a certain point in every campaign (after conquering around 15 â€" 20 provinces in long campaigns and 10 â€" 12 in short ones) the Shogun will declare your clan an “enemy of the state” and you’ll take a massive diplomatic relations hit with every single clan in the game, and suffer an additional relations hit every turn for the rest of the game. Predictably, this will very quickly lead to the entire nation of Japan declaring war on you, regardless of all other diplomatic factors â€" allies, vassals, trade partners â€" everyone will decide to stab you in the back.
Naturally, this “realm divide” feature is not particularly popular with many players, and there are literally hundreds of mods that remove or alter the way realm divide functions. That said, I’m not using any of those. When I do let’s plays, I prefer to show the game as-is; in the state the developers, for better or worse, intended for it to be.
So am I going to defeat the combined forces of all of Japan? Well, to put it simply, I’m not. This is a short campaign â€" I only need to conquer 25 provinces to win. My current plan is to expand up to Sagami province in the east to get the blacksmith, and then heavily fortify it as a permanent border. Then I’ll build up my forces and turn to the west, capturing the provinces around Kyoto, and expanding until I’m just about to trigger realm divide. In addition to expansion, taking Kyoto and declaring yourself shogun also triggers realm divide, so I’ll hold out until the last possible moment, and then blitz Kyoto and grab as many undefended provinces as I can. The hope is that I can blitz my way to victory faster than the AI can overcome my fortifications.
Securing enough recognition to be declared an enemy of the state is still a long way into the future, though, and for now, my focus is still securely set upon the faltering Imagawa.
With my armies exhausted, the only thing I have left that I can do this turn is fortify Mikawa and Totomi by recruiting more units. Though, one other thing of note did happen earlier this turn…
Nobuhide now has a third son â€" and he arrived on the eve of our victory over the Imagawa. Curiously, though Nobuhide historically had twelve sons, none of them were named Taneyori. And all but four of them had names that started with “Nobu-“. I suppose putting such attention to detail into random events like the birth of children in this game was perhaps a bit much to ask for.
As sure as the sun rises, autumn has come, and with it, the few remaining Imagawa forces have been conducting raids throughout Mikawa.
Our clan retainers have also come forth, asking for guidance in which art to pursue. Though I do intend to give a strong focus to Chi arts in the near future, at the moment we’re still researching military technology, so I urge them to focus their meditations on martial wisdom.
With Totomi province in our hands, we’ve come into possession of the same swordsmanship dojo that trained the katana samurai that the Imagawa used to nearly turn the tide of our last engagement. Though eventually there will come a time when I will succumb to the temptation to burn it to the ground and erect a market or sake-den in its place, for the moment, we can turn its services to our own purposes. I’ll recruit a few katana samurai for the campaign against the Imagawa and the Hojo after them â€" their presence will bolster our offensive power by a large margin until we can build up the infrastructure to train our spear troops well.
While the final Imagawa stronghold in Suruga province is nearly undefended, I’ll still want to commit nearly the entire garrison force I have at Totomi towards conquering it, and I don’t feel good about doing that while there are still some scattered remnants of the old Imagawa army so close by.
Using Mikawa’s garrison to force them towards my main army at Totomi, I quickly and systematically destroy both groups.
Still, even with the Imagawa ejected from our territory, all is not yet well in Mikawa â€" enraged with how many times the province has been conquered and raided in our tug-of-war with the Imagawa, a rebellion seems imminent, even with the large garrison at the castle. There’s little I can do about it but order the recruitment of more troops.
Some good news has reached us from the west: our allies, the Hattori, have taken back their ancestral home of Iga from our aggressive neighbors, the Tsutsui, and scattered their army. It’s too early to hedge any bets yet, but it seems the threat to our western border is over â€" at least, for the time being.
As the first snow begins to fall, Mikawa rises in rebellion, just as I had feared. The rebels consist of several units loyal to the remnants of the Tokugawa clan, though they have no notable Tokugawa family members with them to speak of. Chances are, the defenses as they are in Mikawa will hold against such a force, but I’ll be keeping an eye on how it develops in any case.
We’ve also finished researching Heaven and Earth, meaning we can now build encampments â€" an important prerequisite to recruiting the Oda Long Ashigaru unit. After we consolidate the holdings we’ve captured from the Imagawa, I’ll look into building such encampments at our major troop recruitment centers.
Unfortunately, our forces can’t quite reach Suruga this turn, so I’ve stopped them just inside our borders to allow them to continue to replenish their numbers.
The earth warms, the snow melts, and the sakura blossoms begin to bloom â€" and our forces are finally in range of Suruga. And, as if to illustrate the point I made earlier, the Imagawa have already built up a force of ashigaru that actually outnumbers our army. Led by Torii Sadanao, and unwilling to retreat to their castle, we have few options if we wish to end this now. We must attack them directly.
This is a bit of a change of tactics from what I normally attempt to do â€" chances are they won’t blindly attack me on a hill this time â€" but don’t worry, I still have a plan.
We’re not going to mess around here â€" we can’t count on the Imagawa to come to us when we’re on the offensive, so we’re going to head straight down the center to meet them.
Curiously, the Imagawa have done little to secure a defensive position â€" in fact, they’re in an absolutely terrible spot, a valley between two hills.
So what exactly is my plan? I can’t just sit in a spear wall formation and hope they charge me, can I?
Actually, that’s exactly what I intend to do. The crux of this plan is that I have the superior missile force. With them, I can kill the enemy archers and then pepper their infantry with missiles until they’re forced to charge my position. The numbers are roughly equal â€" 240 Imagawa archers to my 245 â€" but my bow ashigaru are all veterans while the Imagawa archers are greener than the valley they’re standing in, and as I’ve discussed in previous installments, the AI can’t handle archers as well as I can.
As if to punctuate this point, as I approach, the Imagawa finally start to move, repositioning all of their forces onto a steep, nearby hill. All of their forces, except their archers, which they’ve practically abandoned to the wolves â€" or in this case, to my arrows.
With no infantry to defend them, I send Nobuhide and his mounted bodyguard to charge the enemy bow ashigaru directly. Under the hail of my own arrows are the pressure of a direct cavalry charge, they don’t last long, and it’s only when the Imagawa daimyo charges down the hill at me that I pull Nobuhide back.
And now I’ve accomplished exactly what I set out to do â€" the Imagawa are charging me full on. I throw my yari ashigaru into the spear wall formation and wait for the enemy to smash themselves into my ranks.
The battle is pitifully short, as the Imagawa charge my lines in a disorganized fashion. They cluster up on a single unit of yari ashigaru and allow me to partially surround them before their morale plummets and they rout.
The battle is won with less than a hundred Oda warriors lost. Suruga’s last line of defense now lies with the few scattered troops inside their castle, and I have no intention of allowing them any respite. Oda forces surround the castle and break through the gates, meeting little resistance.
The last battle cry of the once great and powerful Imagawa clan comes as little more than a whimper.
It’s been just over three years since we began this campaign, drawing our forces together for a harried defense of our home province from attacks from all sides. Our enemies were numerous and much more powerful than we, but in just three years, the Oda have expanded well beyond the expectations of any of our rivals. None remain of those who wished our clan’s destruction just three years ago. The time of constant worry and uncertainty about the future is over â€" and hopefully, for the last time. For the first time, we can now look outward, away from Owari and its neighboring provinces. And it is difficult to keep our gaze from fixating on the splendor of Kyoto. The Shogun is a mere puppet now, but it was not always this way. The Kamakura shoguns were powerful beyond measure, and held dominion over all of Japan. And perhaps, with an Oda sitting on the throne in Kyoto, that glory can become more than just a memory.
Bonus: The State of the Realm of the Oda Clan (and their Immediate Neighbors) in Central Japan: May, 1548
Kansai, the ancient cultural heart of Japan, has been embroiled in a state of total warfare for years. Just in the past three years alone, nearly half of the land of the area has changed hands at least once, and a good portion of that has changed hands twice or more.
The Hattori and Tsutsui, both having turned an envious eye at the same provinces, have become embroiled in a long, bloody war. Until very recently, the two have been locked in a stalemate, trading provinces nearly every season, but recently, the Hattori have gained the upper hand and taken back most of their lost territory. Meanwhile, the Hatakeyama, seeing the war between its two neighbors as an opportunity, recently entered the war themselves and took the ancestral Tsutsui home of Yamato for themselves. They seem to have become the imminent power in the area, and anyone wanting to expand into the region will inevitably end up in conflict with them.
The Ashikaga Shogunate, secure behind Kyoto’s stout walls and powerful garrison, have long been merely a figurehead of power. Unable and unwilling to intervene to end the bloodshed, they remain locked behind their gates, content simply to watch on as everything around them becomes embroiled in feudal warfare.
In the past three years, the upstart Oda clan has overcome its rivals and taken direct control of a large portion of the south-eastern Japanese coast. This is a less lucrative arrangement than one might at first believe, however â€" to the east lies only the endless expanse of the great Pacific Ocean â€" virtually all of the trade opportunities lie on Japan’s west coast. Additionally, this large coastline will leave the Oda realm vulnerable to naval attack and thus necessitate an investment in a strong navy to secure it.
To the east, the Murakami clan, previously an unremarkable minor land-owning clan showed surprising initiative, striking with little mercy at the powerful Takeda clan and taking their home province of Kai for themselves. The Hojo, now allies of the Murakami clan, has recently expanded eastward and taken several provinces east of Musashi â€" but if the opinion of the Murakami were to change, they could find their realm cut in half by Eastern Japan’s most successful upstart clan.
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