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.

North Shinano was taken peacefully: while looting had some charm to it (mostly in the form of money), repairing damage to the buildings and maintaining a garrison in town to keep the populace under control would've cost more. As it is, people didn't seem to mind the change in management at all, so the province could be left with only a couple of throwaway units just in case as the rest of our force moved onward.

Echigo - the second and last refuge of Murakami - is a fair hike away, and we should probably wait for our newly recruited katana cavalry, led by yet another brother of the daimyo that has just come of age, to catch up with the main army. In the meantime, I make sure that the minimal damages to the town are repaired and that a free construction slot gets put to good use by building a market.

As we're finally getting ready to move in for the kill, news come that Echigo has already been conquered by Uesugi clan. What?! I will not let this stand! There, I've declared war, now come here and -


That's, uh... quite a lot of dudes you seem to have there. Hold on for a second...

I gather up as many troops as I can find within marching distance and inch toward this doomstack, which has already moved across the border into North Shinano.

Not pictured: confidence.

That doesn't look good. The Uesugi army is an antidote to mine - my cavalry would never survive a direct assault against their 12 units of spearmen. Also, they have a higher-ranking general - daimyo of the clan no less. Luckily, they are damaged after fighting with Murakami, and the game estimates that we have a slight advantage, but it's clear we'll have to work for it.

Initial battle deployment, in which cavalry was hidden in a forest to allow flanking ambush of incoming enemy turned out to be completely useless as Uesugi found a comfortable hilltop and showed no desire to budge. We had to attack, and that meant finding a non-suicidal approach.

Frontal assault, of course, was out of the question; flanking a bunch of tightly packed stationary spearmen on top of a hill with cavalry didn't sound very attractive either. Therefore, all we could do was come closer and try to lure the enemy down somehow.

And that's precisely what happened: when my archers moved in to firing range, Uesugi decided move their own a bit closer, that is - downhill.

A mistake.

Light cavalry finished off the ones that had escaped arrows, and the situation started to look slightly brighter. It got even better when I ordered the cavalry to move back to formation after the job well done: some of the nearest enemy spearmen started charging downhill after them. In AI's defense, those units did look kinda unprotected, at least in the beginning. However, that tactical consideration should've been discarded as soon as a wall of spears appeared between them and my "helpless" cavalry. I wonder, could there be some aspect of a soldier's lifestyle that would make him attracted to the sight of a horse's rear? Hm.

Hammer and anvil! Combo bonus!

Whatever the reason, most of the archers and some of the spearmen were gone. After a few more such skirmishes, the infantry strength on both sides became roughly equal. Soon, my archers ran out of arrows, and I decided to move in for the final attack: have my infantry (4 units of spearmen and 2 units of dismounted katana cavalry) charge uphill for a big melee.

That idea was as bad it sounds. Even though the numbers weren't far apart, I forgot to take into account that the remaining enemy units were fresh and encouraged by the generals nearby, whereas my troops were tired from fighting and running uphill. Instead of shocking the enemy, my own troops started to waver. Nothing a couple of rallying horns and cavalry charges couldn't turn around, but the mess got needlessly bloody.

My troops can only be distinguished from the enemy by the look of regret on their faces.

Lesson learned: never ever send infantry straight into enemy that holds higher ground. Perhaps going with cavalry from the start would've been better. That will be something to test in another battle.

Could've been better, could've been worse.

It came at a great cost, but at least Uesugi became mostly harmless and leaderless, and the way to Echigo open. Before we could get there, though, they started begging for mercy. For some reason, I couldn't demand that they hand over Echigo (was that feature removed? what a shame), so instead I asked for a very unreasonable monetary compensation, which they obviously declined.

No money, no peace.

The battle for Echigo was short and smooth, with the town itself once again empty and only a few reinforcing units nearby which did not provide any real challenge. Surprisingly, though, it destroyed Uesugi clan. I assume that Anegakoji sneakily captured their capital while I was dealing with their main force, because the other possible explanation - that I killed the last member of their royal family and the capital automatically went to their nearest neighbours - doesn't sound very fair.

Takeda Nabushige, my main general so far, gained another rank after the battle. As shocking as it sounds, choosing "Poet" as one of his specializations did not remove all fighting prowess he had acquired so far, but rather improved the clan's research rate. Well, I'm not complaining.

This victory finally pushed Takeda clan out of obscurity, making us "noted" in the eyes of the Emperor. I have no idea what that means as far as in-game effects are concerned, but it does sound good. We're on a roll here; only 22 provinces left to conquer - how hard can it be?

Tune in later this week for a tale of exploration, espionage, diplomacy and, hopefully, useful screenshots.


  1. "My troops can only be distinguished from the enemy by the look of regret on their faces."

    And by those ridiculously huge banners. I don't know if it's because I'm less familiar with them, but they look sillier than in M2.

    Points for AI begging for peace though. And you can choose general traits now? On one hand, you don't get as much no-good generals. On the other, you don't get that deranged superstitious insane alcoholic shameful paranoid inbred hypochondriac to give those awesome Sheogorath-like speeches (are there speeches?). I think one of my generals had most of these in one disgusting package... at least he was lame of loin too.

    I rarely find myself in lower ground in MII. I think my solution, if I must fight in that terrain, is to bombard them with siege engines/artillery, because I always seem to be heading for some siege anyway. You should try that. Oh, and sending flanking cavalry to even higher ground helps too, if possible. If nothing else, at least don't charge uphill, that sounds like a bad idea.

  2. Oh, and I didn't read this part before remembering DMotR in my comment to the last one. A strange coincidence. Really classes up the blog, this recurring theme.

  3. Yes, the banners are huge, but they're also quite informative: you see the unit type, the amount of damage it has sustained, morale and its modifiers (those foot, or whatever it is, icons floating over pretty much all banners in the last battle screen mean that the units are rallied, and a different icon shows units inspired by the general - no idea how it's different, though).

    I'm not sure about that kind of character traits, but abilities can be picked from a skill tree. For example, Takeda Nabushige currently has two ranks in "Strategist", one in "Cavalry Commander" and one in "Poet". You also get to choose from two retainers when you gain those. I think choice is a good thing, all in all, though randomness also has its charms.

    Speeches are back again (there weren't any in Empire); here's one from General Obvious given before taking Echigo that didn't make it to the post. (I didn't take his advice at all - archers killed everybody within the castle walls from outside, I didn't even have to get in.)

  4. I can see why you took the Poet trait, that "batter the walls" haiku was... beautiful.