After my recent Dark Souls-induced gaming depression, I thought I should try something completely different for a change. Games like Witcher 2 and Assassins Creed 2 simply weren't up to the task. So I was pondering and wondering, before I stumbled over Shogun 2, latest of the TOTAL WAR-series. This mix of real-time tactics and overarching turn-based strategy is something I haven't really tried before (XCom was exactly the other way round after all, with turn-based tactics and overarching realtime strategy
I have spent more than 4 hours with the game now. In any given modern military shooter I'd be almost done by now. But this is Shogun 2, so I've not even finished the tutorial.
Shogun 2 starts with a tutorial campaign, which features a Japanese looking dude speaking with a cheesy sounding accent. To my surprise, the strategy and tactics parts of the tutorial are not connected as they are in the actual game. Regardless of how many troops I send into battle, the battles are always pre-determined tutorial battles which have no relation to what you do on the campaign map. I'm not sure if this is the best way of preparing people for a campaign?
My first battle was a breeze. I just selected everything and double-clicked on the enemy to win. The second battle was a bit more challenging, as I realized that where your troops are positioned has much more impact then in let's say Starcraft. I managed to get my General in the first line, where he fought admirably, but to my growing horror I noticed that his unit strength is melting rather rapidly when outnumbered. Also, my archers were still too far away to do anything useful. I did the one thing that saved me the last time: selecting every unit and double-clicking on the samurais that threaten to slay my general. It was a disaster, a massacre, but somehow my general prevailed and by accident I killed the opposing general. Great success!
Then came the tutorial for the siege. I learned a couple of valuable lessons:
1. contrary to popular fiction, ninja suck in direct combat versus samurai
2. ninja are not invisible, and a hail of burning arrows illuminating them only underlines their visibility.
3. I should order my cannon to stop firing before my cavalry reaches the gate I just blew up
4. archers might be terrible in hand to hand combat, but they do an admirable job in shooting melee units in close range that try to climb a wall
5. don't attack with all units in one corner
I made it past the first gate, were all my units were cut down to the last man. No selecting and double-clicking could prevent that, an enormous failure.
Wait, what? Did the game witness the same battle I just participated in? Apparently not, because the tutorial was convinced I had completely destroyed the enemies with little casualties.
I seized two more cities. This time I had a new battle strategy: just take 5 times more dudes with me than the enemy general has. Just for good measure, I took 2 generals with me. That should make my army twice as good, right?
After this worked out quite nicely, a single monk converted my special agent ninja on the campaign map. So I recruited a new ninja and a special-police guy in order to arrest/assassinate the monk. He evaded both attempts, instead converted my die-hard agents to a life of peace and buddhism. It was getting annoying at this point, but my army of doom was marching against the next city and I already traded my daughter with a neighboring clan to seal an alliance, so I didn't have much time to take care of this single monk. I recruited more ninjas and lawmen, one of them should do the trick. About 3 ninjas and 4 converted lawmen later, the monk was still happily converting my island. Who is that guy? Steven Seagal? Chuck Norris? I start understanding how the bad guys in 80ies action movies feel, that send whole armies to get rid of ONE guy and can't believe their ears hearing reports of constant failure. For good measure he also converted MY monks.
At that time I already finished off some pirates and worked on my own 'freelance trading business' (a.k.a. piracy). I loaded my army of doom, which I thought to be pretty sizeable, into ships to invade the nearest clan that doesn't like me. Most of my army got slaughtered before they got up the shore. Another massacre. I start seeing a trend here. With my general brother dead and me being on the wrong end of a no-dachi, I retreated to my cities, where Chuck Norris still disposed of my ninjas as if they were butterflies.
I think I'm ready to start a real campaign.