Diary Of A Nobutoki: Sengoku

By Adam Smith on September 15th, 2011 at 11:52 am.

please don't sue me bethesda

I’m going to die in dishonour, my people bowed under the yoke of my bastard neighbours. I’ll try to prevent it, I’ve got a yoke of my own after all, but it’s going to happen. I’m playing Sengoku, you see, the new grand strategy game from the clever people at Paradox. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages and now it’s finally time to start my nefarious domination of Japan. But I’m already worried. It all seemed safe at first; it looks enough like Europa Universalis III (same engine) and feels enough like Crusader Kings that I was confident for at least a few minutes. But the more I see, the more I realise that I’m out of my depth. Should a mildly neurotic Englishman, wired up on coffee, ever take charge of a Japanese clan at such a turbulent point in the nation’s history? I think not and I’m going to show you exactly why that is.

Here’s how it works. I’ll be a leader during the Sengoku period, a time when the country was in a near-constant state of warfare as rival clans sought to unify the country under their own banner. At least that’s what Wikipedia just told me. I don’t even know if they actually had banners.

You see, there’s a problem here. I’m a dab hand at Crusader Kings, the Paradox title this seems closest to, and I’ve even managed to play a few games of Victoria without feeling hopelessly lost, but I know a fair bit about the real life history behind those games. Feudal Japan is a mystery to me. That’s exciting but it could also be my undoing. I’m going to try and learn a little as I go but I’m effectively going into this one with giant cultural and historical blindspots on every side of me.

The first thing I need to do is choose a clan. It’s quite daunting because there are so many to pick from and I know nothing about any of them. If this was Europe, I’d go for Ireland because I like Guinness and James Joyce. I’m in the dark here though. I briefly consider going for the clan that rule Kazuo Ishiguro’s birthplace but in the end plump for the Nanbu clan, whose line is traceable and lives on today. That’s added pressure. I doubt they’ll read this but I still sincerely hope I don’t humiliate their digital ancestors.

From top to bottom, that's the plan

Not surrounded by too many potential enemies, the Nanbu seem ideally situated to take over a chunk of the north from here. Rather than being a case of simply building loads of swords and marching on neighbouring territories, conquering other clans in Sengoku requires political machinations. They need to be softened up before the killing blow is struck. More on that later once I start actually machinating, or, more likely, am machinated upon.

Let’s see who I am.

Unlike many strategy games, Sengoku has characters. Loads of them. My current clan leader is Nanbu Nobutoki. He’s 24 years old, he’s ambitious and he’s a misguided warrior. Ambition is good. Misguided not so good. But at least he’s some kind of warrior. It’s better than being a misguided lover, I suppose. Less risk of finding him in bed with a koi carp.

Couldn't she be overhanded?

The three main stats behind every character are Martial, Diplomacy and Intrigue. Nobutoki has a strong 7 in martial and scores 5 and 4 in the others, respectively. Not too shabby. He could be a leader of men. He’s already married but there’s bad news on that front. You see, darling wife Chacha (cha!) doesn’t actually like Nobutoki very much. It’s mainly because she has an envious trait, I think, but perhaps there actually has been an incident with a koi carp as well. Having an envious wife could spell trouble. Oh yeah, she’s also an ‘underhanded rogue’. She’s going to plot against me, I know it. I haven’t even started yet and I already think my own wife is going to murder me in my sleep. This is terrible.

I’ll deal with it later. Probably by marrying a few nicer wives. I can have up to four apparently. I expect my marriages will be made for political reasons but I’m going to try and keep the fourth slot free in case I fall in love. You never know.

People may already be plotting against me but I’ve got a plot of my own. The Namioka clan to my west are my first target and I’m going to bring them down. Japan is split into kori and kuni. Koris are smaller provinces and kuni are larger groups of land. If one clan controls all the kori that make up a kuni, their leader gets the daimyo title for that kuni. Make sense? It will. For now, just know that titles are good and daimyo is a pretty neat title to have. I hold all the land necessary to form a kuni, except for the few territories held by the Namioka. So that’s my first objective. Crush them.

I’ve drawn up a complicated battle plan.

A complicated battle plan

I shall be keeping the chronicles of the Nanbu clan as our every move backfires and we stab each other in the back repeatedly, vigorously and underhandedly. Or, who knows, maybe I’ll manage to succeed, at least for a while.

Not with Chacha watching me like that though. That woman will be the death of me, I just know it. The next installment of this diary should reach you shortly, stained with tears and blood.

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77 Comments »

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  1. NetsukeMonkey says:

    Your battle plan has given me my Thursday morning chuckle! (phew – one more minute and I wouldn’t of had one)

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      dirtyword says:

      Agreed! Cheers, Adam, I look forward to more.

      (also, THE Adam Smith??)

    • Dreamhacker says:

      I thought he was dead. Kinda like Snake Plissken.

    • Renfield says:

      @dirtyword

      The Hivemind were stumped trying to replace Quinns, when someone suggested necromancy. Edit: Probably John, with all those RPGs he plays.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      Necromancy, or as John might call it, “late healing.”

  2. 4026 says:

    Ah, good-o, this should help with a purchasing decision. I thought the demo would help, but it left me still undecided, as I felt it was a bit short to really let me figure out most of what was going on.

  3. Rii says:

    I wish I could say I’ve read Kazuo Ishiguro but alas I’ve only seen the film with Keira Knightley.

    I shall be following your adventures with interest, sir.

  4. Jajusha says:

    Ha, i’ll be enjoying this one!

  5. Premium User Badge

    Darkelp says:

    Oh I see, a Sengoku Diary on a page with a massive Sengoku advert.

    Sell. Outs.

    /Sarcasm

    On a side note, this looks to be an entertaining diary, and I very much enjoy reading Adam Smith’s words. His words make me laugh at work when I should be working.

  6. Darko Drako says:

    SOunds like fun. Has it been released or are you on the Beta?

    • JYzer says:

      It’s a Paradox game. Everyone plays the beta version, it’s just that at some point they start charging for it.

    • indigohjones says:

      Zing!

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      “It’s a Paradox game. Everyone plays the beta version, it’s just that at some point they start charging for it.”

      Oh god it hurts because it’s true.

      I still bought it day one because I am weak. It’s enormous fun, although I now realise I spent much of my day at work yesterday trying to decide how to kill my first child. (obligatory “and in the game!”)

    • mike2R says:

      It’s weird… so true but I so don’t care…

      I can’t imagine these games being made any other way, and a world without Paradox games would be a sad world indeed.

      I’m trying to resist this one though, maybe I can hold off long enough for a patch or three.

      Edit: bugger it… downloading from Gamersgate now. I’m going to blame this one on RPS, I think I’d have resisted it if left to myself…

    • theleif says:

      I know this sounds impossible, but so far, I’ve not encountered one bug or weirdness. And the tech forum has only 5 posts, and one of them is forum related.
      Incredible, but true!
      Oh, and the map is beautiful, loading times are incredibly fast, and it runs beautifully on my rig with 2.4 GHz dual core, 4 gig ram and a AMD 6850 card.

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    Richard Beer says:

    I’m sure Quinns would be proud of your battle plan :)

    God rest his soul.

  8. Mr_Hands says:

    Goddammit. You’re going to convince me to buy Sengoku before it comes to steam, aren’t you?

    AREN’T YOU?!

  9. Poz the Sock says:

    Good luck! I took the Date clan for a date and managed to take a bite out of northern Japan and keep it. Then my useless ruler had like six daughters and a son and died before that son reached sixteen. Now it all belongs to my uncle of something. Pooh.

  10. Jarenth says:

    Count me interested as well. I usually don’t play these games for too long, on account of my unabated terribleness, so this way I can get the amusing failure stories without actually sitting through the unamusing failing parts.

  11. formivore says:

    Huh, well I wouldn’t want to speak for the Nanbu clan, but the far northeastern part of Honshu was a barely populated wilderness at the time, I’m not sure how accurate it is to even put them on the map. Your battle plan is basically South Dakota invading North Dakota in 1573. At least the developers didn’t include Hokkaido though.

    • bill says:

      Is that like Cornwall invading Birmingham?

      The only Dakotas I know are actresses…

    • formivore says:

      You’ve never seen ‘Fargo’? Just imagine that with samurai swords.

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      TeraTelnet says:

      bill: if you ever watched Heartbeat on a rainy Sunday afternoon, it’s like Ashfordly invading Aidensfield.

    • sinister agent says:

      You’ve never seen ‘Fargo’? Just imagine that with samurai swords.

      Do you know, I think I’ll do just that.

      My god

    • Gojiro0 says:

      Oh man, I’d love to see Fargo with Samurai swords! You could totally rework that wood chipper scene.

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    Bluerps says:

    Ooh. I’ve always wanted to try one of those Paradox Grand Strategy games, but I’ve been intimidated a bit by their complexity. Maybe this diary will give me enough insight into the game to nudge me to finally play it.

    A question for people with experience with games like that: Is it possible (or feasible) to win them, like a game of Total War is won? As in, most of the map is colored in your color? Or do they work with specific goals, as in “conquer the country Such-and-such and marry one of your daughters to the ruler of Whatever, before the end of the year 1618″?

    • Darko Drako says:

      @Bluerps

      “Ooh. I’ve always wanted to try one of those Paradox Grand Strategy games, but I’ve been intimidated a bit by their complexity. Maybe this diary will give me enough insight into the game to nudge me to finally play it.”

      Dont be put off, half the fun of paradox games is catastrophic failure! There are all about creating an interesting narrative, not winning as such.

    • cokomonkey says:

      It can be a bit daunting when you start as there are so many options. Best idea is to take a clan that is considered easy. That usually means you don’t have to manually tinker all the options to have things work.

      In terms of winning conditions, some paradox games are just open-box players. When I play I usually set myself a goal, take half of Japan by X date, or when in other games try to create nations or survive as weak ones.

      Best idea is to look at the wikipedia sites for the games. EU3 wiki here explained a lot to me and cleared up some confusing points.

      Easiest way to play is pure warlike, and then watch as your empire collapses into civil war (still fun to watch though!)

    • Poz the Sock says:

      Sengoku is actually a lot easier to get into then other Paradox titles, as there is no economy, research or exploration. It’s basically just war and diplomacy.
      Other then that, watch Let’s Plays on Youtube. Even if the person doing them can’t play you can always learn how NOT to play be watching them.

    • Mirdini says:

      @Bluerps

      I’d definitely say give ‘em a try, long-time Total War fan that just recently picked up EU III here and I’ve had a blast with it after spending a few hours figuring out the mechanics (and a few weeks picking up the nuances xD). You can definitely go for a world-spanning empire in ‘em as much as you can in TW – it is somewhat more difficult, especially if you’re playing on higher difficulties as too much unchecked expansion will see all your neighbors declare war on you for having too high an “infamy” (which you get in spades for conquering territory you don’t have a proper claim on) but it’s certainly possible to power through that.

      Even abiding by that honorable code you can make quite a dent in the world in the centuries allotted to you, in a recent EU III (mod) campaign I expanded my Alexandrian empire to encompass the entirety of the Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa, Australia and Indonesia and most of the Caucasus/Maghreb/southwestern Africas, as well as the southern half of Italy (including Rome, which was a pain with the Austrian Holy Roman Emperor siding with the Pope in my grab for it to get but the orthodox missionary bonus was a godsend).

      ^ The above is really only scratching the surface of the wonderfulness that is Paradox Grand Strategy, it might take a few hours of play to get into it but I’ve really enjoyed my forays into ‘em as a previously RTS and then TW player.

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      Bluerps says:

      That sounds all very promising. So, Sengoku sounds really interesting, but I’ve also got Europa Universalis III Complete and Victoria II lying around from the last Steam Summer Sale. Of those, Sengoku is the easiest to get into, did I understand that correctly?

    • mike2R says:

      If you want a taste (well a bit more than a taste) of how Paradox games play, I strongly recommend Wiz’s amazing mega-campaign (CK converted to EU3 converted to Victoria converted to HOI2) from the somethingawful forums, archived version here:
      http://lparchive.org/Paradox-Hohenzollern/

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      dirtyword says:

      Just wanted to note that there’s a massive Paradox sale on Steam for the next four days.

    • sinister agent says:

      This is the price RPS must pay for having Paradox play along with their “we haven’t had Quinns murdered” spiel.

  13. WMain00 says:

    I might download the demo of this and give it a shot, but my experience of Paradox strategy games have always been lacklustre. They always seem horribly and needlessly complicated to play.

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    sonofsanta says:

    That is an excellent battle plan, particularly as it follow’s Minsc’s advice to Boo, his miniature giant space hamster, to “go for the I’s!”

    (sorry)

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    Vandelay says:

    Oh, this is sounding like it’s going to be good. Can’t wait for more.

    I really should play my copy of Europa Universalis 3.

    • Megadyptes says:

      Yes you should, EU3 (Plus all the addons/paid patches) is brilliant. One of their best games. Much better than this one.

  16. Archonsod says:

    Sudden urge to reinstall Crusader Kings …

  17. Najs says:

    Sengoku is currently on some sort of sale at http://www.gameplayoutlet.com/ , Paradox Interactive’s own shop. At least it was on sale yesterday when I bought it for 6€…

  18. caddyB says:

    I’ve studied under Sun Tzu and Hannibal ( yes, both. what? ) but I’ve never seen such a complicated plan of invasion.

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    AmateurScience says:

    I downloaded the demo yesterday, fired it up and turned it off within 5 minutes and went in search of some instructions. My strategy organ has atrophied quite badly it would seem.

  20. Chris D says:

    I can’t be the only person who just after reasding about the alleged Koi Carp Incident misread the martial stat as marital, surely?

    In other news, I believe Adam Smith was introduced to us as helping out for the week but that was three weeks ago and now he’s starting a diary. That would seem to indicate a longer tenure. Which is great, don’t get me wrong but first Kieron was left it was all like “It’s ok, Quintin will replace him.” but then Quinns left us too and it’s just not right to toy with our emotions like that. So is the new Mr Smith going to be sticking around or will he abandon us too, just like everyone else always does? I just think we should be told is all

    Looking forward to the diary.

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      Yes Adam, tell us! Don’t be Koi.

      I’ll get my coat.

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      sonofsanta says:

      Worth noting, as well, that he has an attractive shade of peach for his comments background now…

    • sinister agent says:

      I’d imagine they’re pitting several contributers against each other in the standard series of challenges. We’ve already seen the “write a one-off feature” round, and are now entering the “short series” round. After this we’ll see them move on to the debating, martial combat, and finally swimwear rounds.

  21. Renfield says:

    Firstly, this game interests me greatly, so I’m looking forward to the diary.

    Secondly, I am looking forward to seeing whether this diary will be, in any meaningful sense, completed. Surely that would be the mark of a Quinns-instead-of-Quinns.

    (If it’s *not* completed, obviously).

  22. MikoSquiz says:

    A gameplay diary of something I’ve never heard of or had any interest in! My prayers have been answered! *

    * No irony: RPS diaries of things I’d never heard of or had any interest in are responsible for my two primary gaming addictions of the last, ooh, two years?

    • Vandalbarg says:

      Agreed, although I wouldn’t quite call them addictions. I mean, I can quit any time I want.

  23. Levanon says:

    Adam Smith, I just love these words that you write.
    …I never thought I would say that.

    Here’s to many more paragraphs in the future!

  24. hairrorist says:

    Like so many paradox games, I love this in concept, but the interface is infuriating. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to inflict diplomacy on a target. I can bring up the diplomacy window, but how the hell do you set the target?

    • Megadyptes says:

      You have to right click on the character you want to interact with and then select diplomacy in a little radial thing that comes up. Kinda stumped me for a bit as well, but it’s all in the manual, I recommend reading it.

  25. hairrorist says:

    Aha! Of course, you do not initiate diplomacy by bringing up thediplomacy menu… you right click the character instead. Now that’s what I call intuitive!

  26. nuh uh no way says:

    is divorce possible? i’d just get rid of her if i was so sure she’d be trouble. granted, i’d never have MARRIED her but you’re playing with the cards you’ve been dealt :)

  27. hairrorist says:

    I think you could hire an assassin.
    JUDGE SHIMAZU DIVORCE COURT

  28. Sensai says:

    This reminds me very much of Nobunaga’s Ambition for the SNES, a game I remember playing with friends when I was much younger. A game I absolutely love.

    …please tell me that this is similar.

  29. Megadyptes says:

    Game’s a little boring, kinda like with Rome, just feels like a half assed game they put out inbetween the bigger games. At least it isn’t a festering pile of shite like HoI3 is. Sill, I’m looking forward to CK2.

  30. thebigJ_A says:

    I’ve played some of the demo, and I’m having trouble getting interested. I’m a huge fan of Paradox games. Hearts of Iron, CK, EU3 (especially EU3), vicky, I like them all. This one I’m not feeling yet. I’m not sure why, it has everything I should like. Maybe it’s the setting. I’m a huge history nerd, so when I play as Austria fighting the Ottomans, I know what was at stake in real life. Hell, even as Japan in HOI3 trying to take the European’s colonies and form the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, I understand the real world implications. Feudal Japan, though, I’ve never had much interest in. Other than a few major characters, like Minamoto, I know very little about it.

    Yeah, that’s probably why. I’ll keep trying.

  31. ConcreteOtter says:

    Looking forward to this game diary. Love most of what Paradox puts out and I hope that this game hits that happy spot between the mechanics of CK and the lush menus of EU III.

  32. Buckermann says:

    Adam Smith you silly N00b.
    It is common knowledge that Koi only started to appear around 1820. Before that they were simply common carps. I’m dissapoint.
    It seems you are doomed to fail. DOOMED, I say.

  33. Pijama says:

    “Adam Smith Goes East – Inquiring Further”

  34. FalseMyrmidon says:

    I tried to play a game as Nanbu. I was doing OK until Osaki got too big and I was boxed in by them. Then someone else became shogun and I couldn’t do anything about it :(.

  35. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Yes, yes! Bring on the writeups!!

  36. NegativeZero says:

    I don’t even know if they actually had banners.

    They liked to attach them to their backs. And draw funny pictures on them eg. the Triforce:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mon_(emblem)

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    Tagert says:

    I claimed the Shogunate, and I completely conquered Japan. All without one single civil war on my part, and an unbroken line of succession. :D

    I did it with Nanbu. My plan was a bit different to yours. I attacked the clan that is below the clan to the south of Namioka, since I was sure the Osaki were going to start getting territorial. So I grabbed those up before the Osaki could hem me in. Then I took the clan above that, then Namoika. Two Daimyo’s later…and the conquest began. :D

    Admittedly, things did get a bit iffy when some pretenders popped up. Nothing a little pinch of ninja’s couldn’t clear up. >.>

    There was also a point where it was like me 35% and another clan 40%. That was fun. Then they had a civil war. :D

    After a bit it gets easy: You don’t even have to worry about conquering provinces. You declare war, protect the provinces you already have and your vassals will do the rest.

  38. Torgen says:

    It’s Tuesday already! Where’s the update?

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