Shogun 2: The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Samurai, Part 2

Dan Gril returns to continue his inevitably doomed attempts to restore traditionalism to an increasingly modernised Japan in Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of The Samurai. Here’s part 1 in case you missed it.

It’s misty out there. A thick old pea souper soaking into the old Japanese wood. Did you know that a Japanese wood called Aokigahara is the world’s second worst suicide hotspot (after the Golden Gate Bridge)? Apparently, the police have a yearly trawl of the forest for any bodies they’ve missed. It’s got so bad that they’ve stopped publishing the numbers, for fear of encouraging people.

Anyway, knowing that makes me feel much worse. Somewhere in the fug of this digital wood is a huge rebel army, comprising about 1500 gunners and 200 sabre-toting horsemen, all after my blood.

Sadly, I’ve no idea where. My thousand-man army is crouched in deep in the woods and, save for another fucking stupid general who refuses to crouch in the scrub and is definitely going to get his wotsit shot off (a perennial annoyance of Total War games, I suppose to give the thick-as-pigshit AI something to aim at) , we’re hidden. We are on low ground though, so I cast around for a better spot to make a stand – and right in front of us is the biggest hill on the map, with what looks like an natural fort next to it. It’s got three sides of cliffs and one narrow elbow leading up to it. Stick the White Tiger line infantry on top, spearman on the elbow, battle’s won, simple.

I tell my entire army to run for it.

The horse-mounted general gets there first and is amazed to see the entire enemy army coming up the other side of the hill. He survives the first volley they fire and bravely runs away. The terrifying enemy cavalry force lollop up to occupy the fort-rock, where they’re no use to man nor beast.

Given how close our forces are, there’s no time to worry about tactics now. I just set all my gunners to skirmish mode, push them into lines and forward. I wait until the first volley’s gone off and charge all my spearmen through my lines and into the enemy. In the mist and confusion, there’s a lot of bodies in the wood – and the enemy horsemen, faced with five hundred spearmen, try and flank my White Tiger Force, giving me ample time to just run through their infantry with spears before taking them down in the wood. Note to self; never fight a spear-heavy army in a wood.

The limping remains of the rebels are easy to finish off in the next month, giving me time to occupy castle Togichi and heal up a touch before the Jotai arrive. Except the Numata arrive first. The Shogun gave me an explicit mission to destroy a Numata force, and luckily here’s a mammoth one throwing itself at me.

Cue the montage. Brave spearmen hurling their opponents from the battlements, my cynical general endlessly using the infinite free levy troops as frontline fodder before my elites pile in. Horses running uselessly around forts. Brave charges by suicidal gunners at massed infantry pushing through a gatehouse. Overwhelming armies again and again and again.

I win a series of victories against the odds. Playing Total War since the original Shogun really does equip you with the strategic knowledge of how to defend effectively, against the still-shoddy battle AI at least; you really learn the importance of high ground, focused archers and spearmen quickly. The next few months of 1864 just consist of my army squatting in an increasingly battered wooden fort. I have no money to repair it, as my trade routes are all blockaded, and it looks worse with every battle.

Despite that, the Jotai and Numata’s crappy levy armies bounce off my White Tiger Force gunners month after month. I really can’t believe that troops seemingly named after a J-Pop band can be so effective and cheap, but they are. Even more effective are the single units of katana samurai and the irreplaceable super-veteran blue-clad Samurai Policemen I started with, who use both guns and swords and are my literal troubleshooters in every battle.

Gradually, with the Jotai having unwisely exhausted themselves, my armies push out of Tochigi castle and towards the Jotai’s next province, Hitachi. I find that I have two ships and send them into battle against the Jotai fleet. It’s my first proper experience controlling Shogun 2’s ships (following the dreadful fleet combat of earlier games, when I’ve played Shogun 2 before I’ve just auto-resolved the sea fights) and it reminds me very much of Pirates or Man O’ War; it’s not clever, but it’s not totally crap and impossible either; lots of long-ranged guns and big ships definitely win the battles though. I come out of the encounter with three broken ships rather than two whole ones. I think that’s a victory?

We finally crush the Jotai and take Hitachi province. I immediately spend the remains of my money fixing up the forts, so the main town is defensible, and settle in for a long winter defence. Knowing about the winter attrition rules and the amount of men I’ve already killed, I think I’m safe.

I’m not. Sendai, Numata and Jotai have depth. Great armies spring up and push through the winter, trailing corpses in the snow. The fresh Sendai army breaks against my capital and their boats drive my ruined fleet into the dock for repairs we can’t afford, before bombarding my undefended coastline. The Numata bleed Togichi white, so I can’t spare men or money for Hitachi. And the Jotai take back Hitachi, with my Samurai policeman fighting to the last man in the town’s gatehouse, shot down by their own arrow tower. I imagine them checking their bicycle clips one last time as they die.

And then Jotai come for Togichi. Losing my ships means I’ve lost my sea trade to blockades and anything near the coast is aflame, which is the vast majority of your income. I have to push my taxes up to very high. This, and the general devastation, puts all my provinces on the verge of rebellion. Reginald Samurai is honestly thinking of seppuku when the Edo, my last neighbouring allies, switch to the Emperor’s Cause and declare war, sending their fresh armies against my capital…


  1. Grygus says:

    Sounds familiar. I was playing a really fun game once and then Realm Divide.

    • BioSnark says:

      In Fall, Realm Divided means clans of the same faction (Empire/Shogun) ally and declare war on the opposing faction. At this point, the player is given the option to head their faction’s clans or to declare independence and war with both sides. If you stay with your faction, the game gets very stable and easy, in my experience, because your allies stop backstabbing you and each other and give you some stable trade and a stable front to attack or defend.

      It’s an interesting mechanic, giving the player that choice of finale difficulty, as is including the ability of changing factions (presumably to the winning faction) prior to RD.

      Prior to RD, however, the AI is still a rotten bunch of backstabbers that can’t understand the concept of honour.

      @CA: China and Rome 2 are still waiting for you to stop this gunpowder dominated nonsense.

      • iniudan says:

        Your asking China total war to end gunpowder non-sense, they are the one that started it. =p

      • dsch says:

        Three Kingdoms, please CA!

        Also, add an operational layer between strategic and tactical!

      • Zenicetus says:

        Rome 2 first, and then 3 Kingdoms. The best part of Rome (which I miss in Shogun) is the wildly asymmetric armies and fighting styles. I don’t think we’d get that with 3 Kingdoms.

        • Kenseu says:

          It’s been a while since Chinese Civ 101, but I always thought that the Spring and Autumn period or Warring States would be the best China TW setting. You’ve got multiple Chinese factions, a pretty clear conquest goal, and enough tertiary powers to keep it fresh (Korean and maybe Vietnamese kingdoms).

  2. nibbling_totoros says:

    Being able to make up background stories like this is why I love this game. I’m glad to see that CA finally nailed down the combat animations/effects and the use of gun powder units.

  3. Tom De Roeck says:

    what do you mean “its got so bad”? Im pretty sure that its been this bad for a long time, statistics just got better.

    • Bhazor says:

      I like the idea of “not giving them ideas”. Sounds like a disaproving parent watching their kid throw a tantrum.

      I can just imagine a Budhist monk a flame in the middle of Kyoto as unimpressed Japanese people walk past “Don’t look, he’s just doing it for the attention.”

      • Phantoon says:

        Except that there’s so much evidence of people copying catting crimes when given media attention that they’re very likely related. Correlation may not equal causation, unless you take into account the fact that humans tend to copy one another and instances of this happens everywhere.

        So it’s more like not broadcasting to the school what the bully did when he gets detention for it.

  4. Smashbox says:

    Oh. Oh. This looks bad.

  5. Bhazor says:

    I have to wonder how many strategy games you’ve played where the AI in Shogun 2 looks so bad. Because considering the stuff it copes with (non scripted behaviour, semi randomised maps, HUGE pathfinding nightmares) I’d honestly say its one of the best I’ve seen outside of the abstracted tabletop style Tim Stone baiting war games.

    • Grape says:

      Then you’re wrong.

    • dsch says:

      Well, the battle AI on the higher levels usually does pretty well with what it’s given, as long as there isn’t a fort on the map. Part of the problem is that the human player is usually better at squeezing the economic model and strategic planning, so the battle AI often works with inferior forces.

  6. Gormongous says:

    Yeah, this is why I gave up playing a Very Hard game with the Shogunate forces. Not only does the AI spawn stacks in the map fog should you declare war on them, but it seems to prefer the player as a target, strongly on Hard and exclusively on Very Hard.

    I declared war on the Aizu as the Jotai when they were getting absolutely crushed by the Sendai in a Very Hard game I was playing, and the moment I hit “end turn” two full stacks of Aizu troops marched into my lands. Even though they were losing a war in the dead of winter, neither were short a single man. They went about besieging a fully garrisoned castle of mine for three turns, over the course of which they lost two provinces to the Sendai. I then quit and started a new game on Hard, where I could be reasonably sure the AI wouldn’t lose the game trying to mad-dog me.

    • dsch says:

      Fairly sure the AI does not randomly spawn stacks.

      • Gormongous says:

        Funny that I can download a mod that disables it, then. link to

        • Booch says:

          That thread is hardly proof that the AI spawns full stack armies. It’s full of people debating whether or not this happens, even the guy who made the mod states he isn’t sure if it will work or not. On the other hand CA have stated the AI gets economic bonuses and extra production slots on harder difficulties, so the AI can produce armies faster than the player. They don’t get free max stack armies though. link to

  7. Maldomel says:

    So first Fukushima, and now a famous suicide spot? I must say, it’s like you want things to turn bad.

  8. JS says:

    Sounds very familiar indeed. My first campaign went something like this too. There are two things that have helped me survive better in later campaigns: building LOTS of ships to protect my ports and trade routes. Expensive, but not as expensive as losing all your trade income to swarms of enemy single ship fleets.

    And second, always keeping my expenses no higher than my tax income. That way, I can survive the loss of all trade without going bankrupt (chances are you are going to see a lot of disrupted trade agreements at realm divide). I just use the trade income for investing in my provinces, paying for buildings and recruiting armies and fleets.

  9. Maldomel says:

    Fukushima, suicide woods? You are asking for things to go badly, are you?

  10. LennyLeonardo says:

    How come this hasn’t got a Wot I Think yet?
    Oh wait, I just realised Dan must be the only one playing a campaign and he hasn’t finished yet. Doy.

  11. Shadowcat says:

    I didn’t get where I am today without returning to continue my inevitably doomed attempts to restore traditionalism to an increasingly modernised Japan in Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of The Samurai.

  12. dsch says:

    Josai, I think.