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.

As soon as I'm sure there's nothing more I can do to prepare for the attack and end my turn, Anegakoji's daimyo makes a beeline for Hida. Not at all surprising - after a botched siege our garrison there is weak, not to mention that the town has strategical value as a choke point  within a valley, which also holds valuable trade resources. Oh, and it's their capital, so they might want to get it back, I guess.

Battle deployment does not look reassuring. We have two units of yari ashigaru (what I've so far called spearmen; the lowest tier kind) - one reasonably close to being full, the other reasonably close to not being. Both of our bow ashigaru units are at about one tenth of their total capacity. And then there are katana, bow and light cavalry in more or less good shape, but just as useless in siege defense as they were in offense. In total, less than 700 men.

The enemy, on the other hand, have 6 fresh units of spear infantry, all but one of them samurai (the upper tier - supposed to be better in all ways than ashigaru) and 5 full ones of archers; more than 1500 soldiers. Two-to-one is said to provide reasonable odds in the case of sieges, though the problem is that the odds are reasonable for the attacker, not the defender.

No point in giving up without a fight, though. I position some dismounted bow cavalry side by side with the unfortunately scarce foot archers on along the walls; dismounted light and katana cavalry - together with other melee infantry right behind the archers, ready to switch places when attackers come. I leave some cavalry mounted for their charge bonus, and start battle.

First bad news come right at the beginning - apparently, the AI learned how to split their force and deployed a couple of spear units on the opposite side from the main army. This means I get to divide my already outnumbered defenses in two - not an encouraging start.

The enemy attack quite impatiently - archers are positioned at a firing distance and everybody else is immediately sent to climb the walls. To my surprise, our hastily assembled troops stand up remarkably well - archers manage to dishearten the attackers a fair bit before they reach the walls, and our melee infantry deals with those who climb to the top without any problem. In no time, I see one enemy unit routing, some others - wavering. A cavalry charge or two sends even more enemies down.

But that's just one front. The other side of the castle is doing much worse - it's my units that are just about to give up. My general charges in with a rallying cry, and I send some extra infantry across the field, but the Anegakoji keep on fighting in full strength.

All spearmen (the main army!) on the other side rout, so I send everybody I have - not too many, considering old and recent losses - to deal with the few units that still hold. At this point, the battle becomes a complete mess - it's impossible to make out who's attacking who, my general dies somewhere in the middle of the clutter, and all units - my and enemy alike - cycle between struggling, wavering, routing and desperately fighting to the death.

In the end, the only soldiers remaining within the castle walls are my three samurai retainers - under fire of five hundred enemy archers from outside.

And so, my army together with its highest ranking general was completely wiped out. Anegakoji held Hida again, and their army was within marching distance to both North Shinano and our second assault army, which I decided to move towards the other enemy provinces which had been left undefended. As it happened, North Shinano was left undefended too, and so I scrambled some quick defenses in anticipation of yet another attack.

However, in what was quite certainly a bad move, the Pissed Off Daimyo decided to deal with my attacking army first. The numbers were almost equal, but the forces weren't. The battle for Etchu had gone well, and so my army was in good shape, whereas Anegakoji had only small remnants of spear infantry left after the previous battle.

An army of mostly archers attacking one that has balanced melee and ranged infantry as well as several units of cavalry in an open battlefield? The tactical plan pretty much writes itself. I position my force - spearmen first, archers behind, cavalry slightly further away at the flanks - at what looks most like a hill and wait. Sure enough, the Anegakoji army comes closer, leaves archers to fire, and sends whatever remains of the spear units uphill to attack my infantry.

As soon as they engage, I send my cavalry from the back and flank enemy archers - hard. In AI's defense, the nearest units of spearmen do react and start chasing my cavalry, but they obviously aren't fast enough, and the charge takes out probably half of the bowmen in one blow.

Surprisingly though, they don't immediately start fleeing and instead give a fight tough enough that my cavalry starts taking heavy losses and has to retreat. I routinely pulled stuff like this back in Medieval 2 where archers - lowest tier especially - were pushovers waiting for any excuse to flee the battlefield, and cavalry - a tank that doesn't even notice all the non-heavy, non-spear infantry it runs over. Count that as a lesson learned.

Anyway, enemy spearmen rout quickly, and it doesn't take long for the archers to do the same when our infantry charges down. My general hunts down the enemy daimyo, and the battle ends with minimal losses on my side - a heroic victory and...

...a historical battle.

Without any big armies left for Anegakoji, the rest of the conquest should be easy. I set all towns to start filling up the holes left in our force after the failed battle for Hida, and prepare for more fighting.

Next time: old enemies, new enemies, same battles.

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