The Let's Play Archive

Total War: Shogun 2 - Rise of the Samurai

by shalcar

Part 16: Update 14 (Summer 1182 - Winter 1182)

Tomoe Gozen, Heroine of the Taira

Spring of 1182 (Enemy turn)

The messenger looked weary, battered from the journey. "My Lord Munemori" he said "The Hasabe offer this gift of gold if you will forgive us our rash action and call off the war."
Munemori's eyes narrowed. "Many of my friends died for your lord's ambition" he responded "It would be my pleasure to crush you from existence. Nevertheless, we have more pressing matters to attend to. We will accept your gift and cease our hostilities against you."

The Hasabe have decided that it was foolish to attack us and desperately want peace in the hopes of allowing their clan to grasp to existence for a short time longer. Pitiful though it may be, they are offering good gold to be allowed to stay alive. While they would also accept vassalage, I don't plan to fall for the same mistake twice. We accept their gold (every last koku they have) and withdraw ourselves and our vassals from the war. Our sister Taira clan, however, is not part of our deal. Free money, a dead enemy and a secured border? Crush those bastards without mercy, my brothers!

Summer of 1182

Munemori surveyed the newest recruits of the watch. Would they be enough? Would any number of men ever be enough? His failure to protect his people and his friends gnawed at his heart, a darkness that no song, sake or woman could cleanse. His duty weighed upon him like a foreboding doom, how could he save them all?

Speaking of secured borders, the construction of our fortifications in Mino are complete, adding another lynch-pin to the defence of our eastern provinces, in this case to defend against the Minamoto forces that may spill forth from Shinano. While not the sole fortification point on that border, it's one of our most central, able to reinforce to the south or west if those are threatened. Our northwestern province of Inaba finishes the construction of a Town Watch, ensuring that a substantial force will be required to threaten us from that direction (Note that the AI will just sail past my strongpoints anyway to stab me where I am weak, the bastards).

Throughout the empire, the loss of Tajima had caused consternation and fear. Men who had felt their families safe and secure suddenly wondered if they had taken that safety for granted. In their hundreds they turned up, offering their services, swearing to defend their land, their homes, their clan. Their families would know no fear while they stood watch, a bastion of light in a world filled with uncertainty.

One thing that Realm Divide needs is Levy and lots of them. When put inside a fortification, they are the single most cost effective unit in combat, hands down. Since our levy come out at rank one thanks to our mastery of the Old Way, they are actually competitive with Foot Samurai in melee (Note: 5 levy units at rank 1 will kill one Foot Samurai unit, competitive is used only as a comparison to fresh levy). While no match for a determined and veteran force, these extra levy will at least prevent the snowball effect that is all too common with powerful forces in Realm Divide (The Minamoto are going to ruin us).

Munemori read the announcement in stony silence. Another clan wiped from existence, their final stroke into the ledger of history. What could one man hope to do against such inevitability? Must all families be consigned to dust? What hope did he, a creature of flesh and blood, have against the coming storm, against the endless war that gripped this land?

With just about all clans consolidated into power blocs, it's very unusual to see a clan wiped out at this stage of the game. We were no friends of the Ouchi and I expect whoever took them out hates us as well, so it's a no score draw in my book.

"Apologies my Lord" the messenger exclaimed, bursting into the room. "My message is of the highest urgency"
Frustration flashed across Munemori's face. "Very well then, hand me the scroll and depart"
"My message is verbal, my lord. You have a son, Taira Morozane. Congratulations, my Lord" the messenger exclaimed, a smile on his face.
A few moments passed, Munemori looking thoughtful. Suddenly, he laughed "I'm a father! I have a son." The burst of levity fading, he stood up.
"Send orders to the men, we march for Inaba immediately. We march to see my son."

This is good news! Although we likely won't ever see him in battle, since it will be 64 turns minimum before he comes of age and that's going to be on the turn limit for the game, it's at least nice to know that Munemori's future and the future of the Taira is secured. I guess he managed to find the time away from his mistress to get the job done. Good man.

As Munemori held his sleeping son, a thousand thoughts raced through his head. How could he protect him? How could he do the right thing? How could he be here for his family? The world was so dangerous and unpredictable, how would he know if he was a good father?
"You will be a wise leader of an honourable clan" he told the child. "You will grow well, be happy and fulfil your dreams."
Suddenly, Munemori understood. He might not be able to save the thousands that this war would claim, but maybe he could save just one.

With the problem in Tajima sorted, Munemori is needed back on the front in Inaba to keep the peace, despite the ever swelling support for the Taira in the province.

"Kii was a good place to get assigned" Noriaki mused to himself. "The pride in the Taira is strong and the people know what works."

The second of our junsatsushi pair that we recruited has gained a rank, this time it's our one in Kii. While Kii has always had 100% Taira support throughout the game, the additional tax intake from one of our richest provinces is welcome news indeed.

Noriaki was smart, but he was also wise enough to realise that there were many things he didn't know that others would happily teach him. Perhaps his most valuable lesson was to not let others see just how bright you were. Misdirection was a powerful tool for a junsatsushi and nothing gave you an edge over an opponent than the false overconfidence that his apparent dimwittedness provided. Those who wished the Taira ill often found that their final mistake was assuming the Taira hired fools.

The surrounding provinces are held by our long term trading partner who supports the Minamoto and our long term vassal who support the Fujiwara. They will turn on me fairly rapidly once Realm Divide hits and I will need to replace them with my own vassals or conquer them outright. Both options will need a man good at generating clan support, so I give two ranks in Vindicator to Noriaki. In addition, if Kii should fall to one of them, the major clan support and additional boost to his pledge of allegiance means I should be able to buy the province right back out from underneath them. I was tempted to show off the other side of the tree dedicated to eliminating Monomi and rival agents, but honestly, the vindicator side is just too good for junsatsushi. I still have one left to buy, so hopefully I will get a chance to show you all that soon.

A chance encounter on the street can change fates far more readily than a sword stroke and so was it with Noriaki. Something unsettled him, he was being watched. Taking care not to chance his pace or walk, he started taking a circuitous route, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man following him. Several streets had elapsed by the time he felt sure he had shaken his tail, was he simply being paranoid? Stepping out on to the bustling main street, suddenly a voice came from behind him.
Spinning around, his sword half drawn, Noriaki prepared to fight, yet before he could strike his eyes widened in recognition. "Rikiharu!"
"I had heard of a man who serves the Taira with unusual brilliance. I couldn't believe it was you, but here you are" Rikiharu grinned. The tall samurai was well at ease leaning against the wall, his armour well fitting, his blade still sheathed. There was a grace there, a certain poise that spoke of absolute mastery of the physical arts. "I need a favour, I find myself in heavily diminished circumstances, can you assist?" Rikiharu asked.
Noriaki thought quickly, his brow furrowed. Breaking into a smile, he said "Kiyomori had authorised me to take an administrative assistant, but I need no help in those matters. Nevertheless, the job is yours if you want it."
Rikiharu bowed. "It will be like old times. Buy me a drink to celebrate?"

We get another less than ideal set of choices for our retainers, with the absolutely no-brainer choice of 5% reduction in assassination chance or 10% reduction in assassination chance. Obviously we go for the 10% reduction while I curse that I never seem to get nice retainers anymore. I guess getting the best retainer in the game for Tomomori on the 5th or so turn used up all my luck! Even if it did, it was still so very worth it.

"Your skills are admirable" noted Kiyomori "But Shigehira would appreciate them more, as would the court in Kyoto. You are to head there at once."
"Of course, my lord" replied Mimi, bowing with practised grace.

It's time to put our new Shirabyoshi into action but getting her to rank 2. To do that we will need to put her into a city to entertain the nobles which gains you 3xp per turn.

"Father sent you here to watch over me?" inquired Shigehira, incredulously.
"That is correct, my lord" Mimi replied.
Shigehira sent an imploring glance upwarads. "My wife will tear strips from me."
"My lord?" asked Mimi.
Shigehira shook his head. "Nevermind, you are to report to the estates and entertain the minor nobles when I am unable to see them. Just stay out of sight of my wife, for my sake."

Entertaining nobles is the mission for Shirabyoshi in cities, increasing town growth. Each star in entertaining nobles grants an additional town growth per turn, permanently increasing the tax take of a province. This makes Shirabyoshi the long game to the Junsatsushi's short game, as the loss or removal of the Shirabyoshi simply removes the growth bonus, the additional wealth remains, while the loss of the tax rate for the Junsatsushi returns the province to it's original state. Obviously you will want to put the Shirabyoshi in your highest taxing province to maximise the income gain from the wealth boost, so to that end we place Mimi in Kyoto. Unfortunately for us, this additional town wealth growth (a whole +1) is offset by the fact this pushes us into the next tax growth penalty (another -1 to town growth) for a total change to the growth of the province of 0. It's going to take us an infinite number of turns to make up her 500 cost at this rate, but at least she gets 3 xp a turn!

Tomomori was in a foul mood. The loss of so many cavalry frustrated him, their thrown away lives a needless waste given their difficulty to replace. Vexed, he summoned the ranking cavalry officer, a lieutenant and the samurai captain.
"We march for Owari" he ordered. Pointing to the lieutenant he said "Once there you will take command of the garrison, don't fail me like your captain."
The lieutenant saluted. "I will not, my lord. When can I expect a replacement captain?"
Tomomori stared at the man, then nodded. "Perform well at this task and you will have command of the unit. Fail and I will have your head."
The lieutenant paled. "Yes, my lord."

We are in real danger of losing Owari to the Honda Junsatsushi with the massive support for the Fujiwara in the province. I don't particularly want to have to retake the garrison by force, so I return Tomomori to Owari to stabilise the area. The larger garrisons increase the cost of undertaking the allegiance action, while the higher the loyalty and rank of the general in charge of the province, the less the chance of success. Nevertheless, even with our supremely loyal Tomomori in charge, the situation is grim and calls for desperate measures.

"It had taken weeks, but Nakamitsu had finally tracked the Honda junsatsushi to a small inn on the outskirts of Owari. A two story building with a commanding view of the area and multiple exits, it was exactly the sort of place that a crafty and clever man could take full advantage of. His opponent was wily, unlike any others he had matched wits with, of that he was sure. Rumour spoke that he possessed a tongue even more gilded than Mitsukazu and a sword arm to rival Tomomori. Nakamitsu felt this was unlikely, but a monomi who underestimates his enemies was simply a dead man walking.

The night was moonless as Nakamitsu climbed the outer wall, reaching the second floor shutters finding them, to his secret delight, to be unbarred. Gently opening them, his heart went cold as he realised the junsatsushi was watching him from the other side of the room.
"You really should try to be more quiet" the junsatsushi smirked before drawing his sword. "GUARDS!"
Suddenly, two armed men burst into the room, taking positions on either side of the junsatsushi...

Our odds of killing the rank 4 Junsatsushi are a mammoth 30% at 1000 koku. Unlike his other missions, if he fails the odds of him getting out alive are very slim indeed, as junsatsushi are the native counter-unit to monomi. The fact that this is even on the table, let alone my best course of action should indicate exactly how screwed I think I am on that front. It's no fun to be on the receiving end of the dirty tricks and powerful agents that you have used for the entire game. Turnabout might be fair play, but I feel the need to protest! Given that Nakamitsu fails all his easy missions that are at 70%+ chance of success, I can't work out if I am owed luck or he is simply cursed. Either way, I didn't spend all this money to have him sit around and watch my world burn, so I give the order to eliminate a junsatsushi that is the equal of Mitsukazu...

Dropping a dagger to his offhand, Nakamitsu noticed the eyes of the right guard flicker in recognition. Diving to his left, he feinted the throw towards the junsatsushi, causing the right guard to put himself between the two. The cast was not meant for the junsatsushi however, the left guard never spotting the thrown blade that erupted from his throat. Coming to his feet, Nakamitsu drew his katana, ice cold realisation striking him that both his exits were blocked by the warriors.

The guard lunged, trying to get Nakamitsu off balance. Suddenly, time felt heavy as Nakamitsu watched the blade that sought his life move towards him. A calmness spread over him, the steps he must take like a graceful dance. As if driven by a hidden tune, Nakamitsu threw his feet from underneath him, feeling the air from the blade rush over his head. One hand on the ground for balance, he speared his sword, catching the guard under the breastplate, twisting his weight, sliding the blade free. Suddenly white fire erupted from his shoulder, the blade of the junsatsushi erupting from his left collarbone. His arm gave way, saving his life as the sword was wrenched from the junsatsushi's hand. Nakamitsu's swing was clumsy, in blind pain and rage, but it found the mark. The Junsatsushi was mortally wounded.

You magnificent bastard! I'm starting to believe he really does have a granary for a nemesis (maybe one killed his family or something), since he not only eliminated the enemy junsatsushi, he got a *critical* success, outright killing him. The odds of that would have to be about 1 in 10, at best. I must say, Nakamitsu is a hero of the Taira!

Autumn of 1182

The Dojo and surrounding grounds were vast beyond belief, matched only by the Taira provincial estates. The grandeur and majesty spoke of the importance that the Taira placed on the study and refinement of the old arts, of the way of the naginata and meditation. No other dojo in all of Japan could hope to match it, this temple to the old way a testament to the true masters of Japan. The finest teachers and students came here to learn from the grand masters, the skills of the trained were unmatched anywhere.

A big turn for the Taira with the completion of three new buildings, one of which is critical to our game plan. With the construction of the Legendary Koryu Dojo in Settsu, we finally gain the ability to recruit heroes, both the Onna Bushi Heroine and the Naginata Warrior Monk hero. In addition, it allows us to recruit rank 4 (3 from the Dojo, 1 from the Old Way Mastery research bonus) Bow Warrior Monks and Naginata Attendants right out of the gate. The big payoff is almost here and we made it before Realm Divide too. This represents a huge investment in koku, time and research (Just the building itself costs 6000(!) koku) and I was sceptical that I would be able to get it done before the game was over, but we certainly got here and with plenty of time to show it off, not to mention the ability to really kick it into high gear if Realm Divide calls for it. In rather more mundane news, we also completed the Stronghold in Owari giving us a solid border with the Minamoto in the east and securing our empire further. Lastly the province of Inaba receives a Clan Estate, increasing the income from that rather rich province as well as accelerating the conversion of the province to supporting our Clan.

In game encyclopaedia - Legendary Koryu Dojo posted:

A legendary koryu dojo allows the training of onna-bushi. The weapon masters here also give naginata-armed units a very impressive experience bonus when they are recruited.

Saito Musashibo Benkei was an almost-mythical sohei, or warrior monk, of the Gempei War period who served Minamoto no Yoshitsune with some distinction. Although his life and acts have been much embellished over the years by legend, Benkei does seem to have been an exceptionally strong man. He is also credited as a cunning fighter, and is supposed to have collected 999 swords from his defeated opponents, a number that looks suspiciously convenient when telling a good yarn! He is also credited with defending the bridge during the Battle of Koromo River, giving Minamoto no Yoshitsune enough time to commit suicide with dignity. Benkei's death was suitably heroic: the enemy were too scared to approach the huge monk, and then realised that he wasn't moving. He had died standing up, keeping the enemy at bay even in death.

The Mino administrator reviewed the latest manning reports. The unrest in the province was being held in check, if only by a razors edge. Absent-mindedly, he rubbed his temples. He was no noble, born to command, no mighty leader of men. He was a simple man, doing the best he could in a situation that was becoming increasingly unstable. Silently, he hoped that someone more suited to the task could be found to lighten his heavy burden.

Compared to previous turns of recruitment, this turn is positively tame. Our only new recruits are levy in Mino and Owari, both to serve the dual purpose of bolstering the garrison on our still rather exposed eastern flank as well as to help maintain peace with the ever increasing unrest in those provinces due to our non-existent clan support. We can get away with this as unrest due to no clan support only ever increases at the rate of 1 a turn, starting at 0 when a province is captured. This means that you can move your army out and recruit a unit a turn to maintain a hold on a province, enabling you to keep your large (and expensive!) army on the move. It's a risky ploy, as you are forced to spend the money or lose the province, but it can also have big dividends.

"The proposed change is simple, but I feel effective given our size" said Mitsukazu.
"I'm not sure I understand, exactly" responded Shigehira. "What are the benefits?"
"Instead of managing a tax on all the citizens directly, we instead we set quotas for each administrator to meet" stated Mitsukazu. "The simplification of the administration also allows administrators to collect taxes based on their province's conditions, speeding the recovery of under performing crafts."

Since we have completed Old Way Mastery and gained access to the number one voted unit, I have elected to fill in two fairly critical arts before moving on to get Naginata Warrior Monks (Sorry guys!). The first of these is this art, Tax Quota. Normally I would get this almost as an absolute priority, as it gives every province you own a flat +5 to town growth. In real terms, this means that our fastest growing province now grows 25% faster, while most of our moderate growth provinces grow 50-100% faster than they otherwise would. The numbers sound big, but to give you an idea, this technology is worth an extra 30 koku a turn in tax growth. After 10 turns, that's an extra 1500 koku in our bank, in 20 turns, that's an extra 6000 koku. Obviously, the earlier you get this, the more value you get out of it, but it's one of the better technologies from an economic standpoint, as it's all profit unlike most of the other Bunka arts, which have the potential to give you more profit, but require much larger investments (Which does you no good if you don't have the money!). It also unlocks the Mandokoro, the third building in the Clan Estate chain, which allows us to further improve critical provinces by providing extra tax rate and clan support. It's fairly lackluster compared to the earlier Clan Estate buildings, as it has a substantial cost ~3000 koku, which given that it will only improve tax rate by ~3% (due to administrative cost) would need a massive 35 turns to pay for itself in Kyoto or 55(!) turns to pay for itself in a moderate province like Inaba. It's really only best used as a stepping stone to the final building in the Clan Estate chain (With the right art) which *is* worth the investment.

If you would like, I can draw up a table on the economic buildings showing time to profit and some other simple metrics just so we can get a handle on the various niches/usefulness of certain buildings (and save everyone some napkin math!)

In game encyclopaedia - Tax Quota posted:

On a sea of gold
The ship of state floats upward
The rowers' backs bend.
Hope for the future moves men's hearts more than fear of its coming. With hope, tomorrow's dawn is always brighter, and tomorrow's labours a little lighter.

Kiyomori read the parchment with a smile. The Fujiwara were at war with one another, just as he had forseen. Brother fought brother, each unaware that with every blow struck they brought closer Taira control of Japan.

As I predicted from the breaking of the alliance earlier, the Fujiwara sister clans have gone to war with each other. It's not going to matter all that much since Realm Divide will make them loathe me to the point where they are likely to patch things up, but at least for a few turns they can beat each other up and buy me some breathing room. It's always good news when major opponents fight!

"My Lord, we have received reports that the people of Bingo strongly support the true Taira and yearn to be brought under our rule" reported the attendant.
Kiyomori looked thoughtful. "Even if these reports are true, the value of the province is far outweighed by the logistical issues that would plague such an effort. Bingo is also currently ruled by a sympathetic trade partner, which further complicates the issue. The people of Bingo will have to manage on their own for the time being."

This is one of the more stupid missions I have ever got. Not only is it located far to the west in a province I have absolutely no logistical capacity in, but the reason Taira support is so high there is that it belongs to another Taira supporting clan that I am currently trading with. Kicking off Realm Divide by taking a province in the middle of nowhere that I can't defend for no real reason and losing a trading partner in the progress doesn't strike me as a winning move. The reward for doing so is +25% to wealth from buildings for 6 turns, which sounds good until you realise that buildings in this case doesn't include farms or town wealth. To give you an idea, the province with the most building wealth, Kyoto, has 500. So that would be an extra 125 wealth, or about ~40 koku a turn. This is one mission I will be abandoning!

"Ietoyo, you are to take a small detachment of troops and head to Mino" ordered Tomomori. "Once there you will ensure that the eastern pass into Shinano remains securely in Taira hands"
Ietoyo bowed. "As you command, my lord"

Mino guards the pass into Shinano, home of the Kiso Minamoto. I'm going to need a force stationed there that is suitable for repelling stacks of Samurai and Levy if I plan to hold on to my land during Realm Divide. To that end I dispatch Ietoyo and a force of levy to Mino in order to both bolster the forces there and also to enable us to sally forth if the opportunity presents itself.

Winter of 1182

The attendant burst into the room. "My lord, we have a most exceptional and honourable visitor" he announced, awed.
Kiyomori was amused and intrigued, for what could have possibly flustered his attendant? "Send him in" he replied.
"She, my lord" corrected the lady as she strode into the room. "My name is Tomoe Gozen, it is an honour to see you, Daimyo Taira Kiyomori" Tomoe said, bowing.
She was tall, with long black hair, a finely lined face and a powerful set to her shoulders. Tomoe Gozen moved with a power and purpose far beyond the warrior, she moved with the precision of a dancer and observed the world with eyes like a fox.

Kiyomori's eyes widened in surprise. "Tomoe Gozen, my clan is honoured to meet with you. Many tales are sung of the valour and honour of your band of Onna Bushi."
"It is those very women that I am here to discuss" Tomoe Gozen noted. "I will be blunt, my lord. It is obvious to all that you will be the next ruler of Japan and your dedication to Naginatajutsu is beyond question. We would join you to help end this accursed warfare."
Kiyomori smiled, a broad smile. "It would be out honour to have a such a heroine as yourself to carry the Taira banner. I accept. Speak to my quartermaster, see that he provides you with everything that befits a person of your skill and position."

Well, here we are ladies and gentlemen. Onna Bushi Heroines. Look at them, just look at them! I absolutely love these women, they are just fantastic with their exceptional combat statistics and amazing tactical flexibility. Of course, they cost a fortune and take a long time to get, but they are absolutely pivotal. Their ranged statistics are less than ideal, especially given their exceptionally small unit size (You can expect 8 arrows to hit per volley compared with 13 from a unit of Bow Levy (although it's not that simple)) but that is more than made up for by their exceptional melee combat skills, especially their unbelievable charge. I have seen them charge a general unit and emerge from the other side having obliterated the unit on the strike. I'm very excited to be able to show them to you all and I hope you are equally excited to see what they can do! We also have more Levy, but seriously, who cares? We have Onna Bushi Heroines!

As an interesting aside, a koku is the amount of rice required to feed a person for a year. We pay 652 koku a year for these heroes for a total upkeep of 44 koku per hero per year. That's a lot of damned rice.

In game encyclopaedia - Onna Bushi Heroine posted:

Armed with both deadly naginatas and bows, this small unit of elite ladies have skills to rival, or exceed, those of any man. Mounted on fine horses, they can move quickly to key areas on the battlefield, and can terrify enemy infantry with their impressive charges. As well as being fearsome in melee, this unit of heroines can also act as missile cavalry. A wise commander is careful to keep them out of range of massed archers and away from naginata-armed infantry.

The early Emperors of Japan, and their exploits, are clouded in myth and legend. It is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. This is particularly true of the Empress Jingu, who ruled Japan from in the 3rd Century AD. Following her husband's death, she carried out his planned invasion of Korea, because a kami had told her that she would be protected whilst on the expedition. This was particularly fortuitous as she was pregnant at the time. After realising that the birth was imminent she prayed that her child would not be born until her return to Japan. After a successful campaign she returned home and gave birth to a son who would eventually be seen as Hachiman, the great kami of war.

The message had been simple. "The Hasabe, traitors to the Taira, command naught but worms"
Kiyomori smiled. The Hasabe had paid the price for their transgressions.

Oh, looks like their little peace deal didn't work out after all. I'm so disappointed. As expected, our sister clan cleans up the Hasabe bastards and secures their (sadly very valuable) province, giving us a completely secure western front for the time being. I don't like what's going to happen when they turn on us, but for now, at least, this is good news.

"Gather up the men, we march on Mikawa" Tomomori ordered. "Tell the cavalry lieutenant that if he upholds his end, I'll uphold mine"
"As you wish" replied the attendant.
"We go to finish this, then?" asked the Samurai Captain.
Tomomori nodded. "The Honda will concern us no longer"

The Honda are on the ropes and I plan to capitalise. Kicking off Realm Divide and finishing up a war is a good position to be in, as it lets you be reactive to the changing situation without having all your forces already committed to another engagement that may suddenly be untenable. In addition, Mikawa has valuable Iron deposits, although since Realm Divide will eat all our trade routes, it's going to be too late to get much use out of them.

"The enemy have several companies of levy protecting the town" reported the scout. "Their Daimyo is performing exercises in the field and commands several more companies. We can expect him to arrive shortly"
Tomomori nodded. "Total force size?"
"I estimate around the same as ours, my lord" replied the scout. "The forces seem to be evenly split between the garrison and the army en-route"

The enemy force is sizeable with 6 Naginata Levy and 5 Bow Levy to our 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendant, 7 Naginata Levy, 2 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks. We most certainly have the quality edge as well as having better positioning with all of our forces in a single army, while the Honda forces are split into half defending the city and half reinforcing from off map. This gives us two real choices with respect to our battle plan, we can use our superior ranged firepower to deal maximum casualties onto the defending forces as they are unable to engage until their reinforcements arrive or we can hit them with everything in a lightning strike to cause a chain rout and secure the town for ourselves. Both have their benefits, but I have to tighten my game up as I can't keep playing like the previous battles and throwing away good men!

Click here to see the battle!

"The enemy reinforcements are further away than we are" noted Tomomori. "They will arrive to find our forces occupying their beloved town."
"I could do it myself if you commanded, my lord" replied the samurai captain.
Tomomori laughed. "I have no doubt you could, friend. But now is not the time for heroics. We attack!"

The map is fairly forgiving despite the fact that there are only 3 angles of approach towards to target. There is the option of deploying between the reinforcements (since they arrive on the same place of the battle map as they are on the campaign map), but I don't like putting myself into a sandwich when the opposing forces are of equal size to my own. Instead, we deploy on the far west side as it has not only a gentle slope and plenty of room but the enemy reinforcements come from the east and so have no choice but to run up their own hill to reach us as well as letting us use their own town to screen them and break their battle line where our superior troops will carry the day (in theory).

The battle had been pitifully one sided. The Honda may have matched the Taira for numbers, but their spirit was weak and cowardly. Tomomori strode through the battlefield, he and his bodyguards, lords of war. None could withstand their ferocity, their power. The snap of bowshot filled the air, arrows felling men by the score. None would escape Tomomori's wrath.

Looks like I have broken my lazy streak! For once I not only execute the plan, but I also am able to adjust on the fly when some things don't go according to plan and take minimal casualties. It's a shame about the loss of the 5 Foot Samurai as they only replenish at 2 a turn and were very experienced, but overall it's a more than reasonable trade for a province.

For many battles, the Samurai had led in kills, boasting of their martial prowess, their honour. Today there were no such boasts, the monks had made sure of that. Their bows had sang the song of unending death, dropping levy like wheat before the scythe until none remained on the field.

Our Foot Samurai being tied down in melee combat really hurt their kills in this particular fight and strongly demonstrates why it can be worthwhile to throw away a unit to tie down troops just to take them out of the fight for a little while. However, all that did was let the Bow Warrior Monks show that they are just as capable as Foot Samurai in the ranged stakes, taking 1st and 2nd for most kills with an exceptional performance, although they stubbornly refuse to rank up (and are now 3 ranks behind what I can produce in Settsu!). Not everyone has such an aversion to improving their skill however, with Tomomori and his bodyguard hitting combat rank 5. Rank 5 is a fairly pivotal rank as it is the first veteran rank to reduce the rate at which units accumulate fatigue, making them able to fight effectively in combat for much longer. Just for fun, I thought I would compare Tomomori and his bodyguard to Tomoe Gozen and her Onna Bushi Heroines. As you can see, both have equal (amazingly) high morale, although the heroines have much better attack in exchange for slightly worse defence and armour. The Heroines are much better against cavalry and have a ludicrously more powerful charge although this is reversed when it comes to ranged combat, with Tomomori able to land a full 3 times as many arrows on targets compared to the Heroines.

Basically, Tomomori is a hero unit all by himself.

"The province is ours!" reported the samurai captain.
"For the moment" responded Tomomori. "The Minamoto will not sit idly by and watch us gain control of Japan. I feel an ill wind on the horizon."

The province is firmly in our hands and the Taira stand ready to defend what is theirs. Bring it on, game!

Once more, another flag is lowered, never again to be raised. A great family destroyed by a greater one, but can a star rise too fast?

With the loss of their final province, the Honda are no more. One less clan to challenge our obvious destiny as rulers of Japan!

"Beyond those hills lie the Kamakura Minamoto" noted Tomomori. "Our oldest foes and greatest enemies. The Taira will never be safe as long as they draw breath."

Now that we control Mikawa, our borders are in contact with the second Minamoto clan, the Kamakura Minamoto. Like all major clans, the Kamakura have a special set of abilities which are -20% to Samurai unit upkeep, +10% to reload rate of Samurai units and +20% tech rate boost to Budo arts. We can expect to see larger than usual numbers of Foot/Mounted Samurai as well as each unit having the boost identical to Tomomori's rather overpowered retainer. They are also the clan that owns the last victory province we require, so I not only have to hold out against them, but also successfully prosecute a war. I'm going to need more Samurai.

"The province produces a large quantity of food" reported the administrator. "Although the wealth generated is moderate, at best."
"Carry on" replied Tomomori.
"The abundance of food continues to bring in new peasants, whose toil brings us newfound riches. The biggest asset of this province is the rich iron deposits that produce exceptional steel" the administrator noted.
Tomomori looked thoughtful. "Those resources secure the power of our military and no doubt make a tidy profit. This province will serve the Taira well."

Our newest province is moderately wealthy, although it enjoys very respectable growth. The major boon here is the Small Iron Mine, which produces 20 units of Iron to sell, which if all sold would net us an extra 480 koku a turn (We are currently selling the lot, although Realm Divide will dent that!). Unfortunately for us, the region has full support for the Fujiwara and we have no method of speeding up the glacial conversion towards support for the Taira. We need to keep Junsatsushi away from it, which is no different to everything on this eastern front, as well as maintain very large garrisons to ensure peace. The fact that Mikawa has a Food Stores is very useful, as it means I can fortify further while still maintaining a solid surplus of food to deal with any eventualities. Mikawa contains a Town, Town Watch, Food Stores, Dry Field Agriculture (Average Soil), Trails, Harbour and Small Iron Mine.

In game encyclopaedia - Small Iron Mine posted:

This province will produce very good quality iron, a vital resource for weapons. As the mine is developed and expanded, the training cost of units will be greatly reduced, and the province's underlying wealth is also improved. Iron is, perhaps, the most important war-making commodity needed by any great family. Without iron, there are no swords, naginatas, or dreams of glory. Gold is all very well, but wealth can always be squeezed from the peasants through taxes. The same is not true of good iron.

The parchment was addressed to Kiyomori, marked with a small discolouration that looked like water damage, but indicated the message was from Mitsukazu.
"My lord" the note read. "The matter is of the most grave importance. The imperial household appears aflame with some machinations against the Taira. If these originate from inside the imperial house or from the pretender Prince Mochihito. Wherever these plots spring from, I fear action is imminent. Be ready."

Hmm, looks like I misjudged slightly. You see that tiny amount of white in the fame bar? That means we have not triggered Realm Divide yet. I might just get to use the Iron after all, at least for a turn or two longer. I need that victory province and I am on a timer, so I should keep going fairly rapidly. It's a bit disappointing when you ramp yourself up for Realm Divide, because it's really scary and stressful to trigger considering it's almost always best to hang back for a dozen or so turns just to build up a nest egg and finish your infrastructure but that would make a really boring LP. So instead of that, I'm going to charge forward recklessly and trigger Realm Divide, you all deserve nothing less! Especially since I set this up so that the last thing on this turn would be Realm Divide, but it seems I won't get the cliffhanger this time...

Shigehira smiled. Despite missing shipments of gold and goods, the Taira could finally be said to be wealthy. The bounty was plentiful and the benefits immense. However, such luck could not last forever...

While our Administration Cost is at an amazing 42%, we have managed to make even more money thanks to every expanding tax bases and access to two new resources, drastically increasing our trade income. This is despite the fact that in the last 4 turns we have increased our army upkeep by over a thousand koku, which is enough to upkeep an entire stack (20 units) of levy. It just goes to show how many men it takes to defend our empire, since it barely feels like we have added any new troops at all! Without the Junsatsushi's and trade, I'm running about even on expenses to income, so I can't afford to undertake much more recruitment, although I certainly should be investing heavily to try to insulate myself from the effects of Realm Divide.

Mitsukazu pored over the map of Japan. The threat of the plot was real and the implications were terrifying. It was obvious that the lands to the east had a pure hatred for the Taira and would support it publicly and outright, but the Minamoto and Fujiwara had long been their adversaries and measures were taken to mitigate the risk they posed. No, Mitsukazu thought, the real risk was the western lands, long staunch allies of the Taira. There they were weak and vulnerable to attack. If Mitsukazu had been plotting, it would be on the western clans, to subvert them and crumble the support on which the Taira empire was built. He only hoped that he was wrong...

All those troops have pushed our power score from Strong to Mighty, one shy of the biggest (Terrifying). We now have more men under arms than anyone else in Japan. This is important, since we are about to fight all of Japan. This map shows what other clans think of us, as you can see, every province to the east is owned by clans that hate us with a fiery passion, while to the west we are insulated by our sister clan and most clans further west are indifferent towards us. This is the last time we will see green on that map, as Realm Divide will paint a nice target on us for all to see. It's going to be an interesting few turns...

Sneak Peak: Thread choice!

Ok everyone, I was expecting this update to be the one to kick off Realm Divide, but it seems that I need to kick it off in the next one. I had planned to do a state of the Taira post as the next update so that everyone can see what we have, where we have it, what our Realm Divide options are and a full effortpost on our economic and military capacity (It felt like a good time to do a recap just to catch everyone up).

My question to you is this, Would you rather I did the recap for my next update (since Realm Divide is absolutely 100% kicked off by the next victory province) or should it be a normal update and then I do the recap?