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.

Before we get to do that, the game prompts a dilemma:

Dem for'ners took r jerbs!

Let's see - polluting our culture, forsaking the religion of our ancestors... wait, what's this - guns and money? Sweet, bring your friends over too! We get a single unit of primitive riflemen at the capital. It's far away from where all the action's happening, so I let it stay there until I come up with some other use for it.

My daimyo starts the final invasion, and it goes without a hitch. In fact, I let the few battles that take place in the province of Kaga before it is taken resolve automatically, in fears that looking at even more helpless enemies being destroyed by my archers might make me start feeling sorry for them. As it is, I remain as heartless as ever, and with a sixth province under my rule.

The other army is sent forward to approach Echizen and -


Wait, what? I didn't do that. Did their last leader suffer a fatal tripping accident? Did they manage to burn down the town before we could get there? But why is it controlled by Hattori, then?

Ah. So it turns out Hattori, seeing their ally in such distress, decided to send an army to help them. In a display of true kindness and honor, they took Echizen, killing all remaining warriors of Anegakoji clan, and thus solving all their problems. A heartwarming tale.

Speaking of stolen kills, it was somewhere around this point that I realized the continuing expansion of Hojo may not be to my advantage. While I couldn't care less about the lands they'd conquered so far, their probable next target - Kiso - was something I needed for myself, since holding that province is part of my victory conditions.

A quick check revealed that yes, Hojo had already declared war in Kiso and, in all likelihood, were already on their way to capturing it. If they succeed, the only way to fulfill the winning conditions would be to start a war with Hojo, and that would be an ugly mess. In fact let's make it official:

Challenge #1: remain friendly with (preferably - allied to) Hojo throughout the game.

Actually, let's have a double:

Challenge #2: don't get attacked in the rear by northern/eastern neighbors (Satomi, Satake, Date, or whoever else there is).

Since AI's whims are unpredictable, this means that any hostilities would have to be resolved diplomatically in, say, no more than two turns in order for the challenges to be completed. They take equal importance as regular campaign objectives; if I fail them, I'll have to live-blog my seppuku accept new challenges from the readers, perhaps? We'll see.

Anyway, there's a province to capture - fast. Our main force is way to the west, so I assemble a half-decent (though leaderless) army from the garrisons of nearby towns, declare war and march into South Shinano, the land of Kiso. The army's movement points expire about halfway to the target, and I'm left looking at a barely protected (hmph) town and a much larger Hojo army right beside it, just a turn away from guaranteed victory.

Alrighty then, I need a change of plans. We can't take it by force, and there are no agents nearby to lend their trickery (for example, a ninja might sabotage the Hojo army, leaving it motionless for a turn, and possibly get away undetected), so I must try diplomacy. Unfortunately, there's no way to demand ceasefire between other clans. The only opportunity left sounds a bit shaky - to end the newly started war kith Kiso and try to make them our vassals.

Surprisingly, it works. Even better than I expected - they accept the offer without any negotiations, Hojo army is immediately teleported to their side of the border, and the game marks South Shinano as one of our provinces in the objectives screen. Representatives of Hojo are unavailable for comment.

We can now safely return our attention back to the western coast. There, Hattori appear unsatisfied with just a single backstabbing and begin approaching our towns.

Finally, a fair fight!

Our army is well prepared for a siege this time - we can position archers along all walls and have melee units to back them up, while letting heavy cavalry stay deeper inside, just in case. Still, I decide to experiment with bow cavalry - I deploy the unit outside the walls, hoping to use it to annoy enemy infantry before they get close, and then quickly run inside.

Enemy deployment looks both smart and idiotic. On the one hand, the army is split into several smaller pieces of equal size that can approach the town from all sides, making our defense trickier. On the other, they seem to be assembled without any thought - one of them is made up entirely of cavalry, another - only of archers, and just two (on the same side, incidentally) have infantry that can assault walls, defeating the purpose of the split.

It doesn't take long to find out that putting any units outside is not a good idea - bow cavalry barely manages to reach enemy spearmen before light cavalry chases them off.

They're that jealous of our bows.

The unit is forced to retreat, but on the bright side, enemy cavalry gets to act as target practice for our stationary archers, twice.

For some reason, enemy infantry starts wavering just as they reach our walls:

Spider-Hattori, Spider-Hattori, does whatever a Spider-Hattori does.

Possibly, they get embarrassed (rightfully) by the way the look when scaling walls and lose whatever self-confidence they had, choosing to go somewhere more quiet and reconsider all decisions that led them to such miserable position.

In any case, spear infantry is dealt with practically without any need for me to interfere. Similarly, archers rout just by moving more of our own to shoot at them. But despite the bulk of their army running away from the battlefield, its leaders stand ground and refuse to give up. In fact, they literally get down on the ground from their mounts and try to take the castle by themselves.

Really? I mean, I admire the dedication, but... seriously?

Just like their minions before, the two generals and their bodyguard don't even reach the walls before starting to flee. Our cavalry hunts them down, and the game declares a heroic victory. A true trainwreck of a battle, although I'm just an observer - the best role to play in any trainwreck, really.

Next time: they never learn.


  1. Alright, I hereby accept and complete your challenge. Do I get a cookie?

  2. No, you were supposed to make up your own, or possibly pick one of Rutskarn's earlier challenges. You know, during Uncle Rutsy’s Second Annual All-American Squirrel Parade Fiction Week.

  3. Well I just did - I made up a blank challenge that results in me getting a cookie.

    Alternatively, you can say I anticipated your challenge before you even thought of it, and that's how those two ended up in the post.

  4. ...

    On second thought, I think I'll go with Poem.

  5. If Shogun 2 works anything like Shogun 1, more than likely Anegakoji lost their daimyo and had no heirs, and therefore their territories shift allegiance either to Ronin (Masterless Samurai, or rebel factions in the original Shogun), or their allies. I'm guessing Hanzo was Anegakoji's ally, and therefore got all of his stuff.

    I really wish I had a computer to play this game. I still play Shogun every couple of months just to bask in the nostalgia of it all. That game had so many little variables that hardly ever triggered... Such as, in the original Shogun, the Date clan never existed, UNLESS you were Takeda/Hojo or whomever and killed Uesugi. A couple of turns or years after his death, sometimes Date would start an uprising and take one of the northern territories for himself. It was always awesome seeing that happen (And then crushing his pathetic resistance under my foot. One-eyed dragon, yeah right).

  6. Completely forgot, but keep this up. It's awesome, and your writing style is great. It's also the only contact I have with one of my most anticipated games (I hate having a crappy computer!).

  7. Thanks!

    The "Clan destroyed" message appeared after AI's turn, not mine, and nobody else was at war with Anegakoji. Also, the invading Hattori army appeared at our border right at the same time (you can see it in the uncropped screenshot), so I still think it was a backstab.

  8. If so, that's even better! Those dirty Hattori Ninjas.

  9. You know, has there ever been a strategy game where you can act as the mediator between two countries? It's something I've ALWAYS wanted in a game but have never seen. It's a bit perplexing to me. I mean, there is a ton of historical precedence for actions of this sort, right up to the present day. (Arab-Isreali peace talks in the U.S. with Presidents Carter and Clinton, for instance) Doesn't seem that hard to set up either, you could have your diplomacy listing your interactions with a faction than have another tab listing their interactions with other factions.

  10. @Ewok: Well, Civilization and GalCiv games allow you to mediate peace between two foreign civs, if by "mediate peace" you mean "browbeat and/or bribe one of the sides into backing down". Which, as far as real politics go, sounds about right.