Part 15: Update 13 (Winter 1181 - Spring 1182)Holding the fort
Winter of 1181 (Enemy Turn)
"My lord" announced the scout, bursting into the administrator's room "The Hasabe are here!"
Consternation crossed over the administrator's face. "Reports said they were heading for Tango! Summon the captain of the guard and rally the men. We must defend our homes."
Well, the Hasabe went for Tajima just like I had feared. With our 2 Naginata Levy and 1 Bow Levy vs 2 Naginata Levy and 2 Bow Levy, we would be in with a fighting chance, except they have a general and we don't. We simply need to do as much damage as humanly possible to make retaking the province easier. Nevertheless, I might get lucky with a chain rout, never give up!
Click here to see the battle!
The captain of the guard inspected his men. Little more than farmers and local constables, few had handled a weapon in combat. His archers, if they could be called that, were more used to shooting game, not men. They had been caught unprepared, but they would fight for their homes, for their families, for their lives. The captain tried to not let his terror show, he took thieves, not lives, but his men relied on him to see them through. He would not fail.
It's a decent defensive map, although without sufficient numbers to hold the chokepoints I will have to let the Hasabe dictate the terms of the battle, which is rarely a way to victory. Hold the line, get a good countercharge and pray...
The charge had been desperate, each man knew that the price of failure was death. The lines clashed and the Taira forces had inflicted heavy losses on the Hasabe, the cornered men willing to fight through the fear of death. Both sides were peasants, poorly trained and poorly armed, although the superior armour of the Taira turned aside arrows and blows that would fell lesser men. Tokikane fought for his men, felling foes like a man possessed. In the swirling maelstrom of the melee, Tokikane reacted on instinct, pushing a fellow soldier out of the way of a strike, saving him.
Well, that was better than I expected but also disappointing that we couldn't take more of them with us. Another Naginata Levy would have let me flank and I would be confident I could have come out on top in that engagement. Still, 170 less enemy to fight should make retaking the province easier.
The blow proved too much for Tokikane's armour, the naginata blade bursting from his chest, felling him in a single strike.
"The captain is down! Tokikane is dead!" the cry ran through the Taira lines, sowing fear and discord with it.
"We are slain! Flee! Flee!" Men ran for their lives, the Taira banner trampled in the mush.
Bow Levies just don't perform in fights like this, the lack of easy targets, good angles or a defensive troops screen means they spend more time manoeuvring or firing ineffectively rather than making a difference. I really needed walls!
The slowly falling snow embraced Tokikane's body in a gentle blanket, his duty done, forever at peace.
Our first province loss in the LP! It might be a fairly terrible province, but for the first time a Taira flag is shamed. It's always a bitter pill and I need to work out a better defensive network for my northern provinces.
Spring of 1182
News of the loss of Tajima had hit Munemori hard. He had failed his people and his father, he had not protected the lands of the Taira and now they would languish under the Hasabe.
"Double shifts on the walls!" Munemori ordered. "I'll not lose another province for lack of protection! I want those walls constructed yesterday!"
Not all the timing is bad however! With our northwestern border province of Inaba finishing the construction of the Stronghold, I can now safely withdraw enough of Munemori's forces to reclaim Tajima! In addition, the long overdue construction of the Town Watch in Kii, one of our major moneymaking provinces that is adjacent to a vassal and a trading partner leaves me much more confident that while I might not be able to hold Kii, I can retake it swiftly against the heavily depleted army. A few more garrison troops and I may be able to hold off the world.
"The tragedy of Tajima must never be repeated" Kiyomori ordered. "Send word to every province administrator, I want every man who can see lightning and hear thunder armed and ready to defend their homes."
"It will be as you command, my lord" replied the attendant, bowing.
When I said I needed more troops to hold my provinces, I meant it! A full 800 men are raised underneath the glorious Taira banner to defend their homes. In addition to an extra Levy in the aforementioned Kii, Levy is recruited for the border provinces of Kii, Awa, Wakasa and Inaba. Additional Levy is recruited to maintain order in Mino, as well as to bolster the central and highly mobile force in Kyoto.
"She is a woman of extreme beauty and grace" boasted Ochi Nomokara. "Her features of the finest cut, her movements like the texture of silk"
"A most impressive woman indeed" noted Kiyomori. "We have need of such exquisite specimens. Perhaps she can be persuaded to assist the Taira for a time."
Nomokara looked crestfallen. "I'm sure she would be honoured, of course, my lord"
Another one of the surprisingly rare choices (normally I have seen 4 or 5 such events by now, while this is only the second we have seen!) and this time it's one of the balancing mechanics. In this case, we are given a choice between hiring a Shirabyoshi for 500 koku or not. Shirabyoshi are available to be recruited from a Clan Estate building for 500 koku normally, so we don't get any advantage out of doing so from this event. If you didn't have access to a Clan Estate, this event would be a nice way to get one. In fact, the only way to get Monomi if you don't control one of the 4 or so provinces with the special ability is with an event like this one. Since this is an LP and I really need to start showing off all the agent types, I accept and recruit her.
The lady was indeed as fine of feature and as graceful of movement as Nomokara has said. Even Kiyomori, a veteran of the political battlefield, was forced to admit that she had an aura of majesty that threatened to reshape your thoughts around hers. She would be a most useful agent indeed.
This is our newest agent, Mimi. She is a standard rank 1 agent with no special abilities or experience. Shirabyoshi are interesting agent types in that they are not part of the rock -> paper -> scissors relationship of sou -> junsatsushi -> monomi. Instead, Shirabyoshi are equally vulnerable to being lectured, bribed or stabbed while also being just as capable of seducing (although you can't seduce another Shirabyoshi). In addition to seduction, they can be used in towns to increase the wealth growth of the province by 1 per star or used to protect generals against junsatsushi or other shirabyoshi. They are, in my opinion, the least useful of the agents, as the town growth boost is minimal and has few skills to boost it to a useful level, their success rate is poor to start with which makes them hard to level up into usefulness and as the generalist agent type they don't really shine anywhere. Hopefully Realm Divide will give her a chance to shine.
The constant work to root out the Minamoto supporters that infested the province of Inaba had proved the old adage that practise makes perfect. No longer a masterless man, the second chance for honour and to serve his family had empowered him, his dedication and zeal impressing even the most loyal of men.
The steady 3 experience a turn given to our junsatsushi in Inaba has yielded him a critical rank up. The additional clan support gain and ~3% boost to the tax rate should help solidify the northwest border.
Years of experience had taught Sadatoki the niceties of court and the art of reading people. The coin or the blade, knowing the right tool to achieve his aims was an art that Sadatoki was well on the way to mastering. Soon all would see that their truest hopes rested with the Taira.
With no enemy agents in sight and the need to convert provinces if we expand west (although it looks like it would be all through our sister clan, so it should be all Taira support anyway), we take 2 ranks in Vindicator for the additional 4 stars to province conversion and extra star to pledging allegiance.
Not all of his adventures were conducted in public areas. Sometimes those he rooted out sought to eliminate him by force or misdirection. One close encounter had nearly claimed his life and left him with a scar that marred his otherwise fine features. Rather than cowing him however, it had the opposite effect, as Sadatoki threw himself into mastery of the katana and the art of dirty fighting. Such dedication and drive had paid off and he was now a man that few would willingly cross.
Sadly for us, the two available retainer choices were rather lacklustre, so I went with the best of the bad options with an additional chance to avoid assassination. Combined with being a junsatsushi, this should make him effectively immortal against monomi attack. I also like the idea that he is a secret hardarse who is deft with a katana, so that factored in too!
Kiyomori read the reports with a furrowed brow. "What could cause such a powerful family to break ties?" he wondered. "What measures should be taken to ensure our bond with the Yashima Taira stays strong?"
This is something you will almost never see in Rise of the Samurai, with the two sister clans (this time of the Fujiwara) breaking their alliance with each other. This pretty much only ever happens if one blocks off the expansion of the other and it usually signals an imminent war between those clans. It's important to note that the computer will do this to you too, which is why I am so concerned about the area near Settsu and Kyoto, as my vassal and trading partner have nowhere to go but through me.
"My lord" reported the advisor "The Hasabe have blockaded the roads and torched our caravans. Without access to the harbour at Inaba, our trade with the Kibi has been severed."
What happened here? I'm still friendly with the Kibi and they didn't cancel the trade agreement, so why is it broken? I don't think I have covered this before, so let me explain how the trade system is calculated. Basically, trade route must be able to follow a road or harbour from the capital province of one clan to the capital province of the other clan. The Kibi were trading with the harbour in Inaba and I lost the province of Tajima. This means that Inaba is no longer connected to Settsu, my capital. Since I have nowhere else with a free seaport that can support trade, my route is broken. This is beginning to look like a costly invasion. The good news is that when a trade route is broken in this way it is a "no-fault" break and so neither party takes a penalty from breaking agreements.
Reports of the damage dealt by the Hasabe had spread to Tango. "I'm not waiting for the same to happen to us" stated Mitsumura, levy captain. "Scouts indicate Munemori is mounting a counter-attack and we will assist him, or die trying."
I need to take Tajima back and I need to do it fast. Luckily for me, I have two forces in range, my garrison at Tango and Munemori's force in Inaba. Neither on their own would be able to do it with the certainly that they would have together, so I move my Tango garrison up into reinforcement range of Tajima. You can tell if a troop is in reinforcement range of another one by mousing over it and the game will draw an arrow to the units/towns that you are in reinforcement range of. When you are giving a move order you can hold down right click and move the cursor around until you find a spot which shows the arrow, this is useful for making sure you can actually reinforce what you want to!
"Tajima burns and our people suffer" announced Munemori. "Families are destroyed, lives ruined, women and children slaughtered."
He looked around at his assembled troops. "Their lives hang over me, a black mark on my honour. I could not save them." Munemori paused, emotion passing like a wave over his face before his mask returned.
"I let the Hasabe live and they suffered for my foolishness. I say, ENOUGH!" he roared. "The Hasabe will be crushed down to the last man. I will see them exterminated from the face of Japan!"
Now it's time to move up the other half of our forces, although I still need to leave a moderate force in Inaba in case of unexpected attacks as well as to maintain order in the province.
"My lord, it is good to have caught you" reported Mitsumara. "My forces are encamped to the east of the town, we await your order to begin the attack."
"You are a loyal man" replied Munemori. "Return to your men and let them know, we attack at dawn."
The addition of the reinforcements lets us outnumber the Hasabe by 3:2 with our 3 Naginata Attendants and 6 Naginata Levy compared to their 3 Naginata Levy and 3 Bow Levy. We have a massive infantry advantage with the elite veterans of our Attendants as well as Munemori's bodyguard being battle hardened. We don't have any range troops and so we are out-shot, but if I punch hard enough I should be able to avoid much damage from those ranged units.
Click here to see the battle!
"Attendants, form up on me!" roared Munemori. "We will show these traitorous cowards how true Taira fight!"
The men charged and the battle was joined. Suddenly in the shifting tide of war, the lines opened and Munemori spotted the flag of the enemy Daimyo.
"You bastard" Munemori screamed. "I'll kill you!"
Spurring his horse onwards, Munemori charged.
This is a familiar map! With my reinforcements arriving on the eastern side and the most approachable slope on the western side, I should be cautious. However, I have enough troops and in sufficient quality to eliminate the enemy if they charge, so I should deploy on the most favourable ground even if that does divide my force.
The fighting was brutal, as the two generals faced off against each other. Munemori's bodyguards were beset on all sides as those loyal to the Hasabe tried to help their Daimyo, an endless tide of enemy troops against a small band of heroes. Yet each of Munemori's bodyguards were hand picked battle hardened men. Childhood friends, company heroes, honorary family members, they fought with fury and dedication, never to leave Munemori's side, yet one by one they fell to the press of numbers.
When Munemori dealt the final blow, barely a dozen remained.
Well, it seems Tajima is where battles are bitter-sweet. While we won and took quite reasonable casualties, the losses were from our elite units and as such difficult and slow to replace. The losses to Munemori's bodyguard especially are huge, as they only replenish at 1 a turn in these border provinces so he will be out of action for some time.
Munemori wept. As the funeral pyre burned in the evening sky, one more link to his past was consumed by the fire. One of his oldest friends, Atsutaka, a son of a minor noble of the Settsu court, was committed to his final rest, his faith and loyalty unwavering until the very end. Munemori remembered played in the courtyard with him as their father's dealt with the heavy matters of state. Such things had not plagued them then, as they ran and fought and built great adventures. They were mighty samurai, slaying dragons, bringing honour to their clan, heroes of legend. This was no longer a child's game, the battle no longer glorious, the memories of heroism a bitter mockery. A final reminder of the duty he had and the price his laxity had cost him.
The casualties tell the story here, with our elite units doing much of the killing (and dying), although one Levy performed miracles. The major blow is to Munemori's bodyguard. This is the problem with having multiple specs of generals, I'm simply too used to the killing power of Tomomori and his highly honed killing skills. While Munemori's unit is extremely powerful at rank 4, it's not so strong that I could possibly have thought that they could beat an enemy outnumbered 2:1 without casualties. The fact they won and only lost half the unit is very impressive for a leadership general, but the fact remains I threw their elite lives away. It was a mistake that I am lucky didn't get him killed.
Munemori had made his first major mistake. So often measured and calm, the fiery streak that ran through Tomomori still had a tendril somewhere in Munemori's heart. He had let the rage consume him and had paid a steep price. His strength was the loyalty of his men, his ability to command, not the power of his sword or the ferocity of his rage. His men had trusted him and he had let them down. He must never again let the dead cause him to forsake the living.
Back to the status quo! That province was far too costly for the loss of life considering I am just back to where I ended last turn. Still, I can take a hit like that on the chin, as it is my safest front. Something that I missed to screenshot is that I re-established trade with the Kibi and discovered to my delight that I could make this cloud have a silver lining. It seems that I was the only Kibi trading partner and they have access to 3 types of trade resource. Something that not many people know (or that they only find out when it works against them) is that the AI values the trade agreement based on how much money it provides to each player. So if I make 500 a turn (since I have several unsold trade goods) but the computer only makes 200 a turn (since he doesn't have any) then the computer will want compensation for the agreement, usually around 3 turns worth (so they would want a payment of 900 koku). This works in reverse as well, however, so if you would make less than the computer, it will accept you demanding additional payment. In our case, I was able to get an extra 950(!) koku out of them for the trade agreement. That makes this whole event a net plus, even despite the fact that they burned my school down which I can't afford to repair anytime soon!
"The Honda think us foolish enough to let them wander where they please!" announced Tomomori. "They believe that because they enjoy the support of the people that this province is theirs!"
"Well I say it is not!" thundered Tomomori. "The Taira are the lords here and we should remind them that they ignore this at their peril!"
Strangely enough, the Honda army didn't retreat and instead headed north through Owari and towards Mino. I'm unsure what their plans are, but I suspect they plan to purchase Mino with their rank 4 junsatsushi (that's Mitsukazu grade good!) and stock it with their forces they are moving north. I have terrible clan support in Mino and Owari, so I can't do anything about that Junsatsushi, but I sure as hell can make sure no Honda troops make it through my land. Tomomori takes a dim view of invaders.
"I wager that we will take more heads than all of the foot samurai combined" boasted the cavalry captain.
"Idiot" snorted the samurai captain."We outnumber you three to one. I'll take more heads than you lot by myself"
The cavalry commander bristled. "Each one of my men is worth 10 of yours! Take the bet if you are so confident."
"Agreed then" responded the samurai captain. "But if you upset Tomomori's plan you will answer to him."
Despite being the middle brother, Tomomori certainly gets the pick of our finest troops. Attacking with a Mounted Naginata, 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendant, 6 Naginata Levy, 3 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be trivial to demolish the 4 Naginata Levy and 2 Bow Levy of the Honda. I thought it would be trivial too...
Click here to see the battle!
"The terrain is against us in this battle, we must form a line on the hill and flank while we hold our centre. It will be difficult to bring our archers to the fore."
"Permission to lead the flank charge, my lord" requested the cavalry commander.
Tomomori nodded. "Very well, but wait for my signal"
The map is less than ideal for our force, with a large raised area in the middle of the map that makes manoeuvring large armies difficult at best and will have a serious impact on our ability to flank with our battle line or cover our archers suitably. If the enemy gets to it, we will have a difficult time to dislodge them, so we must get there first even though it is a bad place for us to fight.
The fighting was localised, chaotic and every in flux. From his vantage point atop the hill, Tomomori could survey the battle unfolding in front of him. "My lord, look at the right flank!" a bodyguard exclaimed.
Tomomori cursed as he watched the cavalry charge in. "The damned idiot! I told him to wait for my command, the infantry is out of position! If he makes it back alive I swear I will have his head."
Losses are minor with one major exception and the Honda force is completely eradicated. A good outcome for us, but our new star of the show was absolutely crippled. Overzealousness and overconfidence trip me up again in what seems to be becoming a habit...
The cavalry attack had gone poorly. Pinned between the enemy general's bodyguard and naginata levy, horsemen were being swarmed and cut down. The cavalry captain dealt blow after blow, but it wasn't enough. His horse tumbled underneath him, throwing him. The lieutenant was a brave and loyal man, but he was no fool. "Fall back! Regroup behind the lines" he ordered. "Ride for the gaps! Ride damn you all, RIDE!"
A full quarter of our losses were our brand new Mounted Naginata, who proceeded to do a whole lot of not much (although being flanked by horses does freak out levy) and get killed in the process. With their amazing replenishment of 2 men a turn, it will be a long time before I can consider these guys combat effective. Not to mention the 2 ranks they got will only be 1 rank by the time the unit is fully replenished. On the other hand, our old reliables for mass murder, the Foot Samurai, has hit rank 5, giving us 2 rank 5 units. As usual, no other units took as many heads as those guys. I should build more of them.
The Kitabitake may have been vassals, but the too many betrayls had left a bitter taste in Nakamitsu's mouth. They brought with them their junsatsushi, a threat to not only his life, but to the sovereignty of the Taira in Owari and Mino. This was an unacceptable risk. He must be silenced.
The camp was well lit, but the patrols proved no match for Nakamitsu's newfound skill. Sneaking through the camp, he heard a voice ring out "Bring me those reports on Fujiwara sympathisers in the region!"
The tent had but a single guard, protecting the only way inside. Silently cutting the guard's throat, Nakamitsu slipped through the tent flap to find...
The Kitabitake, our vassals, are bringing up an army to march against the Honda. This is good, except they are also bringing along a Junsatsushi (see the little eye icon above their army banner on the left). Since they are Fujiwara (as are the Honda) and my provinces have majority support for the Fujiwara, I am at a very real risk of A) Rebellion, B) Having Tomomori trapped on garrison duty and C) Having my provinces bought out from underneath me. None of these are acceptable, so Nakamitsu is sent in to ensure that the Junsatsushi never troubles me...
The junsatsushi sat with his back toward the door. "Back so soon?" he asked, not turning round. "Nevermind, just put the reports over there" he gestured.
"A skilled man would never leave himself so open" thought Nakamitsu to himself. The junsatsushi's eyes went wide as the blade entered his heart.
Nakamitsu had found his true calling.
The chance of success against the rank 1 Junsatsushi was 70% and this time he made it with flying colours. Perhaps it's because granaries are immune to stabbing but men suffer no such condition, but regardless, Nakamitsu finally shows why I bothered training him up. When you assassinate someone, you only have the agents critical success chance to kill them, otherwise they are only injured and taken off the map for X turns. As you can see, he not only succeeded, he *critically* succeeded, eliminating the target permanently. Maybe things are looking up for Nakamitsu...
Sneak Peak:Tomoe Gozen, Hero of the Taira
As an aside, if any of the Japanese history goons would be willing to do a little writeup on Tomoe Gozen and post it in the thread, I would be most grateful.