Part 14: Update 12 (Autumn 1181 - Winter 1181)Friend against friend
Autumn of 1181
The Wakasa administrator nodded in approval. In a world beset by violence and unrest, it was reassuring to see that some sense still existed. The expansion of farming in the province would ensure that the people of his province would remain well fed, no longer reliant on importing from other provinces. Although the land was poor, it was not unforgiving.
Wakasa is upgraded to Dry Field Agriculture, giving an additional 182 koku of wealth to the province (as it is meagre soil), but more importantly providing an additional food to our empire. With the number of fortifications being built, food is starting to become a higher priority, not to mention I always feel much happier when provinces are food neutral, as Wakasa was previously only making one food but consuming two.
"These are our key areas of weakness" Kiyomori informed his trusted advisors. "We can not consider ourselves secure while these areas are unable to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Ensure that the administrators understand their duty and prioritise the recruitment of troops to those most in need."
With Realm Divide right on our doorstep, I need to focus my efforts on recruiting and maintaining a large combat force in all of our previously safe provinces. When Realm Divide hits, the likelihood of having war declared on us immediately will be based on how many troops we have and how close they are to the aggressive clan. By bolstering our border forts, we can hopefully stave off the war declarations for a turn or two to buy us some time to put out the other inevitable spot fires.
"Our forward scouts inform us that the Shiba have fallen beneath the Honda" Tomomori informed Ietoyo. "Nevertheless, our orders are to secure Owari"
"Perhaps prudence might be in order" responded Ietoyo "We can afford to watch the situation unfold, lest we overextend ourselves"
"You may be right" mused Tomomori. "It chafes me to do, but perhaps prudence is the wisest course."
The Honda seized Owari during their turn, rendering the Shiba in control of no provinces. Their army has gone rebel, although it is still of a respectable size, so they may sieze Owari back. Nevertheless, the Shiba are eliminated from the game.
Munemori stared at the missive, helplessly. The Hasabe force was far too close to undefended Taira lands and he was powerless to respond. Hoping that he had misread the situation, Munemori turned his attention to matters he could control.
Despite being our vassals, the Hasabe have put a small force on a boat and sent it our way. It may very well be passing through, but since they can only declare war on us and it's in this rather critically undefended section of my territory, I am very concerned about this turn of events. I wasn't expecting such aggression so early, as they have left their province basically undefended!
"Tomomori has not yet moved from Mino?" questioned the lieutenant. "I was under the impression that we would meet up at Owari"
"I'm sure he has his reasons" replied the cavalry captain. "Besides, who would march to war without their finest soldiers?"
Our Mounted Naginata are moved towards the province of Mino to meet up with Tomomori. Although they don't quite make the distance, this isn't a problem as the situation has changed and I'm not sure I want to launch an offensive this turn, as that would trigger Realm Divide and it would be foolish to do so without seeing how this latest spot fire develops.
A simple target. Owari needed confusion, it needed disunity. One man in the shadows could be the better of thousands, bring entire armies to a standstill. An agent of terror, chaos and death or an agent of justice, strength and heroism. It all depended on your point on view. A knife on which the fate of empires could rest, Nakamitsu was one such man.
We spot a Kitabatake target of opportunity, a single unit all by himself. They might be our vassals, but this is a chance too good to pass up, so we send in Nakamitsu to sabotage it. They are hardly steadfast vassals and will turn on us as soon as Realm Divide triggers, so I may as well flex my muscle while I can get away with it.
Such a small forward patrol could never hope to stop a man who moves through the night, the very shadows his own cloak. These were men, not granaries and as such could not stop him. In the morning, a guard noticed the damage to the goods tent, but put it down to carelessness. It was only later they discovered that it was nothing of the sort...
For once we get lucky and Nakamitsu does what he is paid to do. It doesn't help us in an real way strategically, but it is valuable experience for our rather underperforming agent.
For the first time in his life, Nakamitsu felt calm. The twangs of nervous tension, the tension of inaction, these things no longer troubled his thoughts. He was, each day, becoming more focused, more measured, more effective.
To that end he has ranked up and become skill level 3. Nakamitsu is reaching the point where I can expect him to do more useful things than failing to burn down farms or poison troops, he can start doing what I bought him to do all those turns ago - murder annoying agents and units.
His latest mission had been different. Something, watching and waiting in the back of his mind had awoken, singing out the location of men and danger long before the normal senses. The men who were unwatched, vulnerable. Those who were observed by eyes otherwise unseen. The snoring captain, the ever vigilant guards. Each of these had seared themselves into his mind. The focus on his mission stronger, his inner demons singing out the time to strike, how easy it would be to fell the unwary. Men would do well to fear Nakamitsu.
Luckily for us, the skill tree gently guides us in the same direction, with the opened up skill being Assassin, which we obviously put two points in. Unlike most of the other skills, Assassination skills tend to provide rather low bonuses, mainly due to the extreme power that comes from being able to kill agents above their pay grade. It also means that Junsatsushi who are not specialised in Monomi elimination are still a large threat to even a practised assassin.
"This is an outrage" yelled Kiyomori, slamming him hand on the desk. "Outmanoeuvred by our own blood! The Hasabe accepted vassalage over annihilation and now the Yashima Taira take advantage!"
"My lord, the Yashima are our oldest and closest allies, a powerful clan in their own right." responded the advisor. "The Hasabe are weak and not of our blood, we have only one rational choice"
"I know" fumed Kiyomori. "We must disavow the Hasabe, but with it, we must disavow Taira honour in the eyes of Japan. It is a bitter pill."
This is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping wouldn't happen. We now find ourselves in the difficult situation of choosing the side we join as our vassal and our sister clan go to war. Choosing a side other than the defender causes you to lose honour on your Daimyo, not much of a problem for us, but still it has happiness and loyalty impacts for all our provinces and troops. The option to side with our sister clan is greyed out as they did not call us into this war. I guess they felt that they could easily eliminate a undefended single province power without our help. The Hasabe are about to backstab us anyway, so why not beat them to the punch and backstab them first? It's a great plan, so I break my alliance with the Hasabe and hope for the best.
Munemori looked up from the ornate parchment. "It is as I feared, the Hasabe have declared war and I can not march to stop them"
Silently, he offered a prayer to the garrisons defending the inner provinces. Their nerve must hold, or else all would be put at risk.
Well, this was unexpected! I can only imagine they feel they can seize some of my provinces and consider it a fair trade for the fairly likely loss of their own. Unfortunately for me, they might very well be right about that. Regardless, I bring all my allies along for the ride, we might as well let them know that they screwed up.
The Tango garrison commander looked on in shock. "The Hasabe? Here?"
"That's what I said" responded the scout. "They are disembarking and readying to march. They look like they mean violence."
"We are ill prepared to receive them" said the commander, composing himself "but I will not fail Kiyomori."
This is the force they have landed, it is absolutely pitiful, only matched by how pitiful our defence in Tango and Tajima are. Not only are they basically devoid of garrison troops, but they don't have Stronghold's either, being only the knee high wall of Towns. I'm at a very real and likely risk of losing these provinces, as I don't have any forces nearby that I can deploy to assist with Munemori still trapped garrisoning Inaba.
Winter of 1181
"Recruitment goes as you have commanded, my lord" the advisor informed Kiyomori. "Never before have so many men taken up the banner of the Taira to defend your honour."
"Yet it may still not be enough" mused Kiyomori. "We need only be vulnerable in one spot for our enemies to strike. I fear the time for words is drawing to a close."
I'm determined to not be taken the same way twice, so I redouble my efforts in recruitment to ensure that my provinces are suitably fortified against any likely attack. Realm Divide looms and I suddenly feel more troubled by it than I have been previously, what other weak links in my defences have I not spotted?
"All men of the Hasabe are to be captured or killed" ordered Munemori. "Bearing arms or not, it doesn't matter. Traitors will get their just rewards."
Unsurprisingly, the Hasabe won't trade with us while we are at war with them. We lose both the vassal income AND the trade income, around 500 less koku this turn than I thought we would have. That's going to slow down our recruitment of garrison at a time when I can afford it least!
"We can wait no longer" stated Tomomori. "Our orders were to seize Owari and I will do so. Send to the Honda, let them know it is to be war!"
"Is that wise?" questioned Ietoyo. "We still have no clearer view of the situation."
"I would rather die than disappoint my father." snapped Tomomori. "See that you temper your cowardice in future. We have our orders."
Every cloud does have a silver lining though, in this case it is that the loss of the Hasabe as a vassal means we have one less victory province and are now two provinces off Realm Divide. I want some of that income back and the Honda are between me and my last victory province. It's a simple choice to continue our main plan and declare war on the Honda.
"Lord Tomomori, Mounted Naginata reporting for duty" stated the cavalry captain, saluting.
"Excellent, you arrive just in time" responded Tomomori. "We march on Owari. Form up with the Samurai captain, he will give you your orders."
Tomomori meets up with the Mounted Naginata and marches south, a full stack for the first time in the game. While I will likely have to split his stack soon, for now he commands a force the likes of which Japan has never seen.
The encounter had been one of luck, not design. Forward scouts had identified a small camp of maybe a dozen bandits. Despite being Honda lands, Tomomori was not about to leave troublemakers behind on land to be seized for the Taira. The ambush had been swift, each man felled by an arrow from an assailant he never saw. The Samurai had performed well this day.
The Shiba rebels attempted to retake Owari last turn and were instead repelled. This is all that is left of their force, a mere 11 men. Foot Samurai or not, these are a mere speedbump for Tomomori. Needless to say, we didn't lose a single man. I'm honestly surprised you can even see any red at all in the army strength comparison bar above the words "Battle Deployment" in the centre.
This fight was autoresolved, so there is no video.
"The enemy is a simple garrison force, my lord" reported the scout. "They are deployed around the administrators estate, it is poorly fortified."
"Excellent" replied Tomomori. "A simple engagement."
"My lord, I request the honour of leading the charge" asked the cavalry captain.
"Hah" the Samurai captain scoffed.
"Silence, both of you" commanded Tomomori. "I will lead the attack with Ietoyo commanding the left flank. The cavalry is to be held in reserve. Do not fail me."
The Honda, foolishly assuming they were safe, moved out most of their army to the south last turn. I don't plan on letting that mistake go unanswered. With our 2 Generals, 1 Mounted Naginata, 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendant, 7 Naginata Levy, 3 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks versus their garrison of 3 Naginata Levy and 3 Bow Levy, this fight will be no more of a speedbump than the last one. Without even the protection of walls, there really is only one possible outcome in this fight.
Click here to see the battle!
"The terrain is even more favourable to us than I had hoped" noted Tomomori. "Fortifications will need to be prioritised, as I have no wish to defend from a host here."
"We should win the battle before we redecorate, my lord" responded Ietoyo. "Although you are correct, I would hate to defend here."
"This battle will not win itself, this is true" Tomomori smiled. He features drew serious. "Men, charge!"
Even more entertainingly, the map itself is one of the most forgiving to the attacker. With no moat and able to be approached from any side with only a gentle slope, this map is perfect for forcing the defender off the point with archery and heavy charges. While I want to show off our Mounted Naginata, attacking a fixed defensive position that is staffed with Naginata troops is hardly a good idea, so they will be relegated to running down routing units to make sure they never trouble us again.
The battle was quick and bloody. The levy garrison forces were no match for the battle hardened and supremely drilled Taira forces lead by Tomomori. Each man knew what was expected of him, none would dare to raise the anger of Tomomori by failing his duty or abandoning his post.
Losing only 36 men and 7 of those to friendly fire, I can confidently state that it was an absolute victory. I expected nothing less given the power disparity, but it's always nice to not repeat the mistakes of the last town attack. As usual in a town attack, the defenders were slaughtered to the man.
"While your men were prancing around on their little ponies, we were winning the battle" bragged the Samurai Captain. "Cavalry are all the same"
"We followed our orders" snapped the Cavalry captain. "I dare say we would kill far more enemies than you could imagine if I was allowed to lead the charge."
The Samurai Captain grinned. "You should ask about the battle of Mino sometime before you claim you can outkill my unit"
A solid showing from our Foot Samurai and Bow Warrior Monks, each dealing the level of damage we have come to expect from these seasoned and well trained troops. The Naginata Levy also did well, taking few losses and inflicting quite a few of their own. The Bow Warrior Monks casualties are a pain, but at only 7 lost they should replenish in 2-3 turns.
"My lord, the province is completely secured" reported Ietoyo. "Our administration staff have been installed in all the key locations and our patrols report that they have secured the outlying areas."
"Good work" responded Tomomori. "We have done well this day."
"There is something here that feels amiss, my lord" replied Ietoyo. "It is in the air and it sets my teeth on edge"
Another province captured and this time we are once again on the brink of Realm Divide. With the Honda still having one province left, I now have the tough choice of pushing forward and kicking off Realm Divide but finishing this war or dragging out the war but buying a few more crucial turns before I am put to the ultimate test.
"The province is rich in valuable farmland and there are many skilled samurai amongst the populace to draw upon" reported the administrator.
"Yet I sense the news is far from all good" noted Tomomori.
"Indeed, my lord" replied the administrator. "Reports of unrest and rebellious sentiment, as well as orchestrated actions against us indicate hostile agents. We must move with caution"
Owari has the potential to be worth a substantial amount to our war effort, especially as a forward recruitment and replenishment post, but right now it's not worth all that much (although nothing to be sneezed at!). The main boost it provides us is access to another sea trade route, enabling us to replace the trade route we lost from the Hasabe. It does have one major crippling issue that I had not at this point considered though, it not only has no clan support for the Taira, but thanks to the Honda Junsatsushi in the province, is massively gaining Fujiwara support and quashing any chance we have of raising Taira support. This means that the Honda will be able to buy us out if we move out, since we can't reach them in one turn to eliminate them (Which would also kick off Realm Divide) and the only thing that is likely stopping them from buying it back is that Tomomori has such a high loyalty (as does Ietoyo, luckily). At least our Foot Samurai will replenish at an amazing 4 men a turn in this province! Owari contains a Town, Town Watch, Bushi School, Dry Field Agriculture (Very Fertile), Roads and Harbour.
Tomomori smiled. "It is good to see supporters of the Taira in these troubling times"
"Thank you, my lord" the merchant replied. "The former masters of this province refused to trade with us due to our support of the rightful clan"
"Their foolishness will trouble you no longer" responded Tomomori. "Your ships are free to trade as you wish."
We take advantage of the extra sea trade route by opening trade with another Taira supporting clan to the far west of the map. Hopefully when Realm Divide happens they will take a turn or two longer to declare war on us than other clans might, although right now I just see it as all bonus money.
The Honda forces needed to be stopped, the threat to the province was too great to simply ignore. Nakamitsu knew that Tomomori's forces were far too exhausted having captured the city, only one man could be relied upon to do what needed to be done. Concentrating to ignore the cold that nipped at his heels, he approached the Honda camp and began to plan his approach...
If I can trap the Honda army in my province for a turn, I can stop them from consolidating their forces as well as making them take winter attrition (usually around 10% of the men in a unit die if you spend the winter turn in enemy territory). Now that he is rank 3, we have a 50/50 chance of sabotaging an army of that size and quality.
The frightful weather had made the outer patrols easy enough to avoid, Nakamitsu worked his way past guards and moved slowly but surely deeper into the camp. Where the weather had been a blessing, it had now become a curse. The large camp was confusing and different to the others he had attempted. Finally, despite the cold and heavy snow, he found the main supply tents. Slipping inside, an unexpected sleeping dog was suddenly underfoot causing Nakamitsu to trip and fall. Startled, the dog leap up and started barking. In a camp this size, someone would be along to check out the noise any second, Nakamitsu knew. Cursing the return of his poor luck, he slipped out, the brutal weather once more becoming a blessing.
Ahh Nakamitsu, 50% of the time he fails all the time. As is rapidly becoming my mantra though, at least he is still alive! Sadly at rank 3 and above it takes so much xp to level up that failures are almost totally worthless. Still, he lives to fight another day. I'm debating if it is worth using him to assassinate that rank 3 Honda Junsatsushi, although it only has about 35% chance of success...
Shigehira read his financial reports and was torn between relief and annoyance. How could corruption be so high? That it was kept in check was only due to the skill of exceptional and gifted men, men who would not live forever. Without replacements, the gold that the Taira were rapidly becoming accustomed to would evaporate like morning dew in the summer sun. How could he ensure the prosperity of the Taira? No matter how long he pondered the question, no answer was forthcoming.
In more positive news, however, our economic outlook has never been so rosy. This is, of course, massively inflated thanks to all of our Junsatsushi (They are combined worth 1400 koku of our tax income) which we can't afford to sustain for much longer (see Owari for why), but for now I'm loving the nearly 4000 koku a turn of pure profit. Trade will collapse on Realm Divide and if we lose or use our Junsatsushi's for other things than we are running about even in armies to income. A big mistake people make is that they see this sort of income and then build several massive elite armies thinking that they can sustain this level of income forever. Realm Divide hits and it all falls apart (or even a Junsatsushi dying of old age, like Mitsukazu is at real risk of) and they are fighting an uphill battle. You should always remember to earmark that income as infrastructure and fortification koku, since those don't require ongoing upkeep while still helping your position. Town Watches and Strongholds are great examples of this and you can even take advantage of the extra building slot by dropping in a Clan Estate or Barter Exchange for a quick and cheap economy boost to help keep your money train running on time.
Sneak Peak:Holding the fort