Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bastard of the Caribbean, part 3

We last left our hero on his journey eastwards to find new and exciting ways to betray everything he could plausibly stand for. The waters around Port Royale failed to bring him the fame and fortune he deserves, and so defecting to the Dutch is the plan at the moment.

While still in the French port Petit-Goave, our hero bought a letter of marque from the governor, officially becoming a privateer. However, the French were not at war with anybody, so the letter could not be put to use immediately, although it will definitely be useful later on.

Also, governors really have nothing to say when there's no war going on.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Bastard of the Caribbean, part 2

Our hero is now set for adventure - a ship, a crew that is willing to be ordered around as long as their supply of rum is kept steady, and a whole new world of opportunity and lightly guarded piles of gold (I hope). But since we're still in town it may be a good idea to look around and check if there's anything to be done before setting out to sea.

Port Royale is an English town and it has everything you might want in town: a tavern and, uh... well, you can also visit a trader or the governor if you want, but tavern is all you really need. You barge in boasting about your glorious achievements - or grand plans if you can't even think of any lies that would make your past adventures sound good - and then listen to news shared by other patrons, always true and honest, of course. You may even trick convince a few to join your crew, and if you're lucky, some old disgruntled sea dog might sell his treasure map. This time, we're not lucky and have to check those other places as well.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Introducing: a Pirate

The let's play is dead, long live the let's play! Lest you begin thinking I decided to put my time to some more productive use, here is the new series for our mutual time wasting needs. And this time I'll be playing...


Pirates! Gold (the exclamation point is very important), an open-world adventure game cooked up by Sid Meier sometime between his thinly veiled attempts to achieve world domination through video games. It is also one of the first games I played, and one that made a huge impression on my vulnerable mind, nudging me towards other games that offered a large degree of freedom - such as strategies. This is why I chose it for the new series - to see if the game is as good my nostalgia-stained glasses make me believe it is, to show off a possibly quite underrated classic, and to plunder me some booty. (Arrr.)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Part 16, in which my work here is done

At last we come to the end of the series, and despite some troubles along the way, we seem to have won too. Well, not quite yet - there's still this post to go, but I guess the map kinda spoils it all: Challenge #3 got completed, last of the mandatory provinces recaptured, and there's even some overkill on the province count. So here's how it all ended.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Part 15, in which the end is nigh

Having dealt with a few waves of invaders, we are finally ready to spare some troops for an invasion of our own - Hojo must die, the sooner the better. And just so you know what I mean by "spare some troops", here's an illustration:

The bars show the strength of armies present in each of my provinces, garrisoned and otherwise. What you will notice is that all but the few border provinces are in fact empty, or very nearly so. Most probably they'd surrender to a particularly threatening looking rabbit; defense against an actual armed force is out of the question. So if some enemies managed to break through a border province, they could easily crush most of the country before I could send somebody else to stop them. For that reason, going on an all-out attack against Hojo would be stupid even by the standards of a suicide run: it will have to be limited, and I'll still have to keep an eye on the other clans.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Part 14, in which there are fights aplenty

(Just a heads up: two more posts to go, the series ends next week.)

We last left off in a bit of a tense situation, with the old clan capital besieged by the traitorous Hojo and a Hatakeyama closing in from the north. I've also neglected to describe a rather sticky standoff that has been  developing in the southwest, not far from Kyoto. My current mission is to destroy Hojo, but I can't go and attack them until all this other stuff gets cleared up, so the plan for now is quite straightforward - kill anybody that gets in the way.

Since the attitude map became useless, it's a bit trickier to present a good picture of the status quo, so I hope you like squinting. In any case, you should be able to see our latest conquests - the thin stretch of coast that used to belong to Yamana. It is actually safer and less ridiculous than it looks - an impassable mountain range makes the strip accessible only through its ends. The same applies to most of our border with Hojo. It seems that for once the labyrinthine terrain works to our advantage - wouldn't want to get our suicide armies attacked from the rear, after all.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Part 13, in which a damn is not given

Last time I told you what a tedious drag the final stretch of campaign was. Fortunately, it was all just a dream, and in fact nothing has been decided about the grand war of Everybody vs Us. And yet I'm now wiser: I've seen the future and know how boring it is, so I can try and change it as much as possible.

How do I intend to fight the boredom? Why, by taking risky bets, running suicide charges and otherwise trying to blitzkrieg my way into something interesting, or perhaps even successful. Achieving a different feel for the gameplay should not be hard - my first attempt was the opposite extreme, very cautious and slow. For the first few turns after all clans declared war I did nothing but relocate troops between my provinces and nurture positive relations with the two remaining non-enemies, and I don't plan to do much of either now.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


First of all: don't forget to write your suggestions for the conclusion of the glorious adventures of clan Takeda. I won't be able to play the game for a couple more days, so you have that long to get your voice heard and possibly change history of an imaginary world in a let's play series hardly anyone knows about forever! Regular entries will resume this weekend or early next week, but here's a bit of filler to distract you in the meantime and, more importantly, to make up for the complete lack of content last month. Also: the ending of Shogun will be rushed, I'm thinking no more than four entries, so there's that. Incidentally, I already have a game picked for the next series, and since it wasn't spoiled in the comments on another blog I'm sure it will be a pleasant surprise for everybody.

Anyway, one of the reasons the unexpected hiatus took so long is that Shogun is a game that requires rather long stretches of time to play, and those are rare in the busiest month of the term. Small windows of free time mean small games, and my distraction of choice in these cases (quite a popular one, or so I gather), despite its remarkably simple rectangular graphical style and elementary gameplay mechanics, still manages to take hours of procrastination deserved time of rest in small, blocky pieces. And today I decided to show off a bit of it.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Part 12, in which there is ranting

So after promising to have the post ready in a week's time, I stumbled into a time paradox which flung me all the way up to now. In other words, the delay had nothing to do with laziness, procrastination or reluctance to play Shogun, although insane workloads (in the time paradox, you see) were involved. Did anybody even notice? No? Good. Alright now, where were we...

Ah yes.

Last time we took the hard way to find out that, contrary to what had been advertised, shogun is not the honorable and prized title of Japanese military leader, but rather one of a public effigy to help with anger management issues in the population. Even though I'm clearly not here to make friends, I don't think I like the game's assistance in making everybody hate me automatically without me having to do anything. Without further ado, here is the story of stuff going wrong.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A little break

So I just realized I don't have quite enough gameplay done for a full post. I also have a few tests next week to prepare for, and sorting through both playing and writing would take too much time, so I decided to leave it until later. Unfortunately, those same tests will mess up my schedule yet further - I think Part 12 will come no sooner than Wednesday, and it might even have to wait until the weekend, so this is just a heads up for all the aerobic endotherms reading the blog: don't hold your breath waiting for new updates.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Part 11, in which woe is us

The old shogunate is out, and Takeda are the new masters of Japan. As I get ready to address the nation, bringing the good news that the mindless oppression is finally over and several horse-related laws are being relaxed even as we speak, I notice that nobody actually likes us for some reason.

Red means a whole lotta love, right?

What happened? Well, a few things. For one, territorial expansion carries a negative effect on foreign relations - each new province we capture makes all other clans hate us a slight bit more, although the effect withers in time. We conquered several towns in relatively quick succession, the last one being everybody's main objective, so it makes sense that the effect would stack up. And to be fair, we never did anything to improve the relations with our neighbors to the west, so it all goes straight into negative values.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Part 10, in which I am become shogun

We've finally reached Kyoto and assembled an army large enough to challenge it. It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and bubble gum has not been invented yet.

Not pictured: chance of victory.

Oh. So it appears that a citadel, such as Kyoto here, is nothing short of an enormous death trap. Moats just too wide for archers to shoot over. Long, narrow bridges with a projectile-armed tower at the end of each. A pair of concentric walls guarding the main objective. Another moat inside. With the help of some archers, it would be hard to even reach the walls; actually taking the castle would require a force several times larger than that which defends it. On second thoughts, maybe let's wait until the asses themselves come and ask to be kicked.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Part 9, in which tension grows

(Sorry for the late post. If all goes right, there may be another one tomorrow, or else there'll be three next week. Stay tuned.)

Last time we cut off in the middle of a (turn-based) race to Kyoto between us and Hojo. There was also some serious Hattori pwnage, but that was mostly their problem. At this time, the situation looks thus:


Our territory is already starting to entangle Hojo in a strange yin-yang shape, and it's probably only going to get worse with time, considering Challenge #1. As for Challenge #2, a marriage was arranged between our clan and Satake, turning those slight red tints to the east into slight green tints, and making Date slightly less green in the process. Now, instead of some good friends and some perhaps-maybe-theoretically-future-enemies, we only have a bunch of dangerously indifferent people to that side of the border. Nothing bad will ever come of it, so we can go back to focusing on capturing Kyoto.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Part 8, in which there is poetry

(Check out Someone's writeup on a co-op mission we played in ArmA 2 last week. It's a fun read, and a good argument why nobody should ever give me a gun and ask to fight - if anybody even needed arguments for that.)

We have just witnessed what shameful and honorless people hide under the banner of Hattori. Clearly, they are trying to fit in a niche already occupied by yours truly, and for that they must pay. Actually, it's their own mistake for choosing to live between us and Kyoto, which happens to be the next item on our checklist to victory.

Before we get to expand much farther, there's still some leftover fragments of a Hattori army that got away from the failed siege loitering in our territory. I send my best general to deal with them, and he does so without meeting any serious resistance. He even gains another rank (fourth star!) and gets to widen his retinue.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Part 7, in which challenges are made

Previously, in a sequence of battles of varying success, we basically neutralized the Anegakoji clan, and were left with the formality of finishing it off.

Nothing ever changes.

As you'll notice, the map shows the situation after we retook Hida - not really a notable event (left defenseless, etc). At this moment, there are two armies - led by my (Mildly Mannered) daimyo and his brother, my new best general - standing at the border to Anegakoji, about to take their last two towns.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A silly survey

Next part of our Shogun adventures should be coming up later today tomorrow (sorry), but in the meantime let me ask you to spend a minute of your time to complete this quick, short, anonymous and completely nonsensical survey which has nothing to do with anything. Long story short, the results will be used to sabotage a particularly boring and utterly pointless English assignment. The more people complete it, the more impressive the sabotage, and the deeper my thanks.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Part 6, in which it gets worse (and then better)

(Proper screenshots next time - I promise!)

Last time, after a not entirely successful attempt at blitzkrieg, we ended up with two new provinces, heavy losses and a pissed off daimyo with his posse in uncomfortable proximity to our armies. There's nothing else to do but to make this situation resolve - somehow.

1553: the year we make enemies

Again, some quick notes about the map: Yamana and Hattori are Anegakoji's allies who declared war in response to our attack. Hojo managed to unceremoniously defeat Imagawa, our betrayed ex-allies, and show no signs of stopping their conquest. Borders of Date, our friends to the North, keep changing all the time as a war rages on; I decided to ignore the whole situation until somebody wins, at which point I'll try to make friends with the victor and pretend I always rooted for them. I'm pretty sure the owners of the fleet I failed to defeat knowingly surrendered to last time got exterminated the following turn after taking this screenshot.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Part 5, in which fails are numerous

(As I mentioned earlier, due to some screw-ups with FRAPS this post doesn't really have proper screenshots - the few present are just lucky salvages. But it's just the first of many failures in this mistake-ridden chapter of the story.)

Last time we left off with the Takeda war machine getting all shiny and polished, an ally betrayed and a period of peace about to end. In a shocking and entirely unpredictable twist, my next target is Anegakoji - the mostly friendly (though slightly irked) neighbors to the west whose previous attempt at disturbance of peace was thwarted by me when I got to do that first.

Despite their temperament being listed in-game as "defensive", they've been acting rather aggressively - starting from just a single province they have already grown to four. However, after having my monk pass through their territory, I can see they only have one really strong army and even that is a fair bit away from my borders. Little immediate resistance means I can get some foothold in their territory before any tough combat starts, so I confidently open up the diplomacy screen and declare war.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Part 4, in which war is not made

After Murakami and Uesugi, the two great enemies, were destroyed, and the domain of Takeda spread across the Honshu island, the clan entered an era of peace and prosperity. Clan's leaders gave up their bloodthirsty ambitions and spent their lives working for the benefit of the people, living in harmony with their neighbors and haha just kidding let's go kill some dudes.

The game isn't called Total Best Friends Forever, despite evidence to the contrary.

Peace, however, does have its benefits. You can spend time upgrading, expanding and improving your war machine without being distracted by actual war. You can also use the chance to explore territories that you're about to conquer with inconspicuous agents. Protecting your back is a good idea too. All in all, that sounds like a plan to me.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Part 3, in which wins are epic

Let's recap the situation: we've just captured North Shinano province, expanding the domain of Takeda clan to a grand total of two provinces and effectively halving the territory of Murakami; mildly annoyed Anegakoji in doing so; and have built up a sweet cavalry-based army. Since I don't have any in-game screenshots that would explain the relevant bits of the current progress, allow me to use this professionally edited map of Japan, anno 1548:

Everywhere else: dragons.

Note that due to very scrupulous and not at all coincidental choice of base map, it also shows the provinces that I must hold in order to win the campaign, tinted in green. This means that Murakami must be destroyed entirely, whether I like it or not (and I do like it). Anegakoji might be good people, and, in different times, we might even be allies, but alas - fate is cruel, and campaign objectives doubly so. They stand in my way and will have to go sooner or later, although Murakami is the first priority now.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Part 2, in which a war is beginning

Alright, here we go. As usual, I'm faced with the first choice of the game: which clan should I side with? There are nine options, each with their own perks, different starting locations on the map and specific victory conditions. Aside from briefing this info, the options screen provides a rather excited sounding description of the clan. I can't help but think it would look more natural written in Engrish.

I slowly flip through the pages, carefully weighing each option, until...


I like cavalry. Sooner or later, every country I run turns into Rohan, regardless of their initial specialization. There's nothing quite as satisfying as leading a cavalry charge to the rear of your enemy's formation and seeing them flee. So, picking the clan that is horse-obsessed from the start looks like a good move.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Part 1, in which the losing move is played

What, this again?

See, I have a weird problem. Once in while, I get beamed to some time and place where large groups of people happen to want to kill each other (any time and place, really), am given control over one such group and asked to win. It's not so bad, actually, especially if you know your way about the situation. Don't mean to toot my own horn so much, but remember the invasion of England by Italy from your history lessons? The Lithuanian siege of Paris? The glorious victory of Babylonians over the Aztecs? Yeah, these were all mine.

(Before you ask: no, I don't think I am, or have ever been, Napoleon. He was merely under my command.)

This time, however, it's nothing quite as familiar. It's the Sengoku period in feudal Japan, and my knowledge about it is just extensive enough to be able to look up the name in Wikipedia. Apparently, the whole country is divided into small regions, each ruled by an overly ambitious warlord. Nobody likes living in such mess, so a single unified ruler has to be chosen, and the best way to do that, of course, is to make everybody kill each other and see who's left.

Hm, how does the saying go... war stays the same forever? armed conflict alters under no circumstance? I'm sure it was something snappier. Anyway, this should be easy: a handful of clans, one island nation to conquer in a quarter of a century, and the title of shogun as the prize. Somebody wins, my productivity loses. Sounds about right.