Quite a lot has happened, since I posted the last time. Shogun 2 gets more interesting as I go and I slowly realize where I could have done better so far.
I write these words as my Hojo-Empire reaches legendary status. Large parts of Japan are under my control or controlled by my pawns or allies. But my empire is also stretched to the brink. I am locked in old wars and driven into new wars because of alliances. I have two major battlegrounds. My main army lead by Daimyo Hojo Ujiyasu is holding off siege after siege in the west, as armies of clan Shimazu clash against my castle walls. All the while my son and heir marches against some puny little upstart clan in the center of Japan. Just to give you an impression, here is the map as it looks at the start of the game:
Clan Hojo is in blue with the triple-triangle symbol. Currently my Daimyo is battling in the west where clan Mori started (in red). Clan Mori itself already perished. My son and heir is coming from the province in white, where Tokugawa started (already perished as well) and marches into the yellow region, where clan Oda started (Oda was the second major clan to fall). My empire is currently split into two, because of this upstart-clan that has conquered large parts of what my ally clan Takeda (dark red) was holding in the center. My son shall unite my clan and by that show that he is worthy to lead my empire in future, as I grow old and don't know how much time is still left.
Last time I left being locked between clan Takeda and clan Satomi, as a puny empire. Let me briefly tell how it became that my clan became a major player after all. I allied with Takeda and declared war on Satomi, which was in the east of my starting position. I also started trading and got eventually allied with Satomis other neighbor, forcing Satomi to a two-front war. This was fairly successful, but I was still severely outgrown by my ally Takeda. Takeda moved aggressively towards Kyoto (in the center, near the large lake) and to the north, seizing large territories. All went well for Takeda, until they picked a fight with Clan Hattori. Hattori pushed Takeda back, until I suddenly realized Hattori reached my doorsteps. At the same time Shimazu (green, all the way in the west) suddenly invaded my hinterland and seized two territories rather quickly. This is the source of my feud with Shimazu, which holds until this day.
I abandoned the art of brewing tea and learned the art of shooting flaming arrows. In a brutal siege and with help from ally Takeda I could crush Shimazu on home soil and drive them back. That, and my large scale use of ninjas, monks and metsuke (special police) against Hattori gave Takeda momentum and they reclaimed large territories in central Japan. My ninja started to resemble ninjas from movies with his ability to slow down armies and kill generals left and right. He wasn’t my only ninja, but all the others got themselves killed trying to do similar.
That was when I made the mistake of splitting my empire. At first it sounded like a good plan: since I could march my armies freely through allied territory, I could cross Takeda-controlled provinces quickly and attack enemies far away, while Takeda would serve as buffer. It worked out in the beginning. I also bribed an then unknown and not very powerful clan to let me pass with my armies for 5 seasons. That allowed me to strike one of Hattori’s lackeys with their pants down and give me access to the sea in the north. This was also when I got my first vassal. After seizing some provinces, it is an option to make that province or even an entire clan a vassal state. I still haven’t figured out how it works exactly. I’m sure it’s written down in the extensive ingame-encyclopedia, but I’m too lazy do have a look. Anyay, they retain their independence, but have to pay tribute in form of percentage of all the trade they have, one military unit and can’t say no if I order them to attack someone.
After 4 seasons the small clan cancelled our agreement to let my troops pass through. That should have sent alarm bells right there, but I was too busy seizing a Shimazu settlement at that point. You might wonder what happened to the Hattori. They were still pretty much my enemies, but somehow I lost sight of where they are. Also, they were busy getting their provinces back from Takeda, as to be an immediate threat to me. The only thing Hattori did at that point to annoy me was send Judge Dredd after me. This metsuke ran up and down my provinces for years, arresting or executing my agents. My ninja-movie style ninja, was at that point of the other side of Japan. Judge Dredd wreaked havoc and single-handedly destroyed my large secret police force. Only two metsuke, one monk and ninja-movie-ninja survived this madness because they happened to be at the other side of Japan.
But I had other problems: my main force had seized a castle at a mountain pass at Shimazu territory. As long as I could hold this castle, clan Shimazu could not simply walk into Mordor. I mean towards my provinces. I invested into improved defenses, hired local archers and prepared for the incoming onslaught. It was a glorious day, when the Daimyo of clan Shimazu himself came to battle with my Daimyo for supremacy of the mountain pass. I was outnumbered and outgunned. Shimazu had a massive army consisting of their feared katana samurai (Shimazu get bonuses for sword wielding troops) and bow samurai. But I had solid walls to hide behind. As the battle started, I did what I learned at the last massive siege and lead out my cavalry troops to flank the main unit of enemy archers. One of my generals would lead them, while the Daimyo oversaw the defenses of the castle itself. It was an intense battle, which cost a lot of good troops their lives. The general who was leading the cavalry troops died an honorable death. He will always be remembered. I just can’t remember his name though…
I was so pre-occupied with Shimazu, I failed to notice the downfall of clan Takeda. My oldest ally was driven back on all fronts and only a shadow of it’s former glory. More problematic for me: Takeda lost central Japan entirely, leaving some upstarts and clan Hattori in charge there. Yes, old-time enemy Hattori was back. That meant my empire was divided. The only way to reinforce troops would be via the sea. As if I wouldn’t have enough wars already, one of those upstarts, Illo-something, attacked one of my vassal states. Bound by honor, I had to declare war myself, albeit not being able to really afford a war on three fronts. My ninja-movie-ninja continued to be a pain in the lands of Shimazu, killing not only generals but large parts of the extended family of the new Daimyo (the previous one had fallen in battle). Needless to say, that didn’t reconcile anything. The new Daimyo collected fresh troops from all parts of his territory and marched towards my mountain castle, which I was just trying to improve at this point. I needed to slow down his advance, a task my ninja excelled in. On the other fronts I noticed that small armies without general are easily bribed by metsuke. So I did exactly that: bribing small armies in enemy territory and attacking their cities with what happened to be their own troops 5 seconds ago. And that brings us into the present. While I hold out against an overwhelming army of Shimazu, my heir marches into war to seize the provinces weakened by my metsuke, those who survived Judge Dredd. Dredd is still out there, however. I have this feeling he might strike again, just when I need him the least...