Part 20: Update 18 (Spring 1184 - Summer 1184)Just for that, I'll post the update!
Winter of 1183 (Enemy Turn)
"My Lord, more traitors join the rejection of Emperor Antoku and swear destruction of the Taira!" announced the attendant.
"Our walls and armies will see all our people safe" responded Munemori. "They will regret taking such rash action against us."
We have run into another two clans which immediately declare war upon us. Since I assume that everyone who doesn't have a Taira flag is hostile, this won't change our game plan much. Realm Divide sure does simplify the politics in this game!
Spring of 1184
Wakasa, once a sparse and sleepy province, had been transformed into a staging area for the new Taira forces with each day bringing new men under arms. Between her garrison and her armed forces, a full two thousand men stood ready to defend the Taira people from those in Japan that would harm them. Soon their numbers would be sufficient to bring more people under their protective wing and ensuring the prosperity that only security could provide.
With our income split roughly 50/50 between infrastructure investments and troop recruitment, our mobilisation rate has slowed down significantly. While we slightly bolster Tomomori's forces in Totomi with a few new archers, once again Wakasa receives the bulk of our troops, with 2 new Levy. Wakasa needs to not only be able to repel any attacks, I want to expand outwards from it, as the adjacent province is not only wealthy, but has troop production facilities that would make it an exceptional addition to the Taira empire. Wakasa is rapidly approaching a full stack of levy, so we should be able to attack soon.
Rumour had spread throughout Japan as men talked of the ghosts and demons that did the Taira's will. Stories told to whip men into a frenzy against the Taira by their masters had unintended consequences, as outrage for those who consorted with evil forces could just as easily be turned into fear of those who commanded the supernatural. Nakamitsu found these rumours very interesting indeed...
If you don't use abilities of certain agents, the game will often give you a mission to give you additional incentive to use those agents in a new way. In this case, the game wants us to use our Monomi to sabotage an enemy army, dealing casualties and preventing them from moving that turn. If we complete this, our units will cause an additional -2 morale penalty to any enemy units engaged in melee combat with them. A mighty bonus indeed and one that can deal far more damage than you might think.
Mitsukazu smiled gently. "Mimi, you are much to direct with your approach. A gentle approach is better for manipulating a man"
Mimi bowed low. "I am so sorry, my Lord. I will be much more discreet in future"
Mitsukazu waved away the apology. "If you can make a man believe your idea is his own, he will move mountains to achieve it. You have talent and serve the Taira well. Take pride in that."
Our Shirabyoshi in Kyoto has ranked up, her skills honed with constant practise and continued service. Mimi has reached rank 2, while most Shirabyoshi only really become useful around rank 3, as the cost to reward benefit of the lower ranks is quite poor (although this is true of almost all agents).
"A man must be put at his ease, his guard lowered, before you can complete your task" instructed Mitsukazu. "There are many ways to do this, but you have, I think, a true talent for drinking conversation."
Mimi nodded. "A proper cup of tea can never be rushed."
"It most certainly can not" agreed Mitsukazu. "A fine cup of tea or sake with a young woman can take away the world's troubles. Even the most cynical and callous man can find his guard lowered. Raise the spirits of our allies and cause misdirection to our foes. You are Taira, always remember that."
Our options are Charmer on the left side of the tree, a skill that increases the ability to distract armies and gives a bonus to seduction at the second rank or the skill of Entertainer on the right side of the tree, which increases the ability of the Shirabyoshi to oversee generals and at the second rank give a bonus to distracting armies. Given that two ranks gives a boost of 3 stars rather than a split giving only a 2 star boost, I elect to put both points into Entertainer. While this is slightly less optimal for the immediate future (we are a little worse at distracting armies and seduction, but better at keeping our generals safe from Shirabyoshi and loyalty failures), this puts us in a better position to pick up Courtier at third rank, which further boosts the town growth the Shirabyoshi is in, compared to the left side skill of Fox, which increases our chance of escape when we fail (which isn't such a bad choice, really).
The drumming was complicated, yet spoke of some deeper rhythm. Shigehira slid the door open. "I didn't know you played the Drums, Mimi"
Mimi stood up and bowed. "My Lord, I am sorry to have disturbed you"
Shigehira laughed. "Not at all, it is I who disturbed you!"
"It is your castle, my Lord" apologised Mimi. "You may go where you wish"
Shigehira shook his head. "Enough of that, you play very well."
"Thank you, my Lord" Mimi responded. "My mother taught me to play. She said that a true lady is skilled in all things."
As with all even ranks, we have the option of one of two retainers. Our choices this time was the by now very familiar -5% chance to be assassinated or the Ceremonial Drum, increasing our town growth bonus as well as further boosting the effectiveness of a Shirabyoshi in an army stack. It was no contest.
Kiyomori's legacy was a strong one. Hisakane had brought calm and peace to the peasants of Settsu, but always in the back of their minds was the terrible threat of attack from the Ishikawa to the south. Long time trade partners, they had traded the merchants pouch for a warriors sword, swearing the destruction of the Taira. Hisakane would show them that only fools attack those favoured by the gods.
One of the abilities of the monk agent is to demoralise enemy armies, providing a 1 turn duration morale modification based on the skill of the monk. The impact starts at -2 and reduces an additional morale every 2 stars of skill. While the monk has a lower chance of success than the other agents, he has the added benefit of some of his action, such as demoralisation, being completely free. They also have a lower critical failure rate than other agents and so are more likely to survive in the event of a mission failure. As such, I decide that we will get some use out of our monk and start his training.
The trek has been pleasant, the cherry blossom filling the air with sweet scent as Hisakane made his way along the winding roads to the town square of Fujidera, centre of Kawachi. Standing in front of the local temple, he raised his arms to the air and began to address the crowd...
The closest enemy army is the Ishikawa in Kawachi, so we send Hisakane out to spread the word of heaven's disfavour for those who oppose the Taira and the obvious supremacy of the honourable Munemori.
"The gods disfavour has struck Kawachi!" announced Hisakane, to the town square. "Madness has overtaken our leaders, as they declare war against the very heavens!"
Crowds began to gather, watching the monk preach.
"Only a madman would declare war against the blessed of Ninigi!" Hisakane threw an arm wide. "The Taira have heaven's favour, mortals infused with the essence of the gods"
"Nonsense" a man from the crowd yelled.
"Nonsense you say?" retorted Hisakane. "Why then, is Tomomori, blessed by Raijin, an unstoppable warrior? Why then, is Shigehira, blessed by Omoikane, able to make Kyoto the jewel of Japan? Why then, is Munemori, blessed by Ninigi, able to serve the emperor and rule his lands with an honour and integrity unmatched by any other man?"
Hushed murmurs broke out in the crowd.
"No!" thundered Hisakane. "I say nonsense is to attack those men, no, heroes that lead the blessed and unstoppable Taira hordes."
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. Not only does this success net us 15 xp, but the Ishikawa army now has a flat -2 to morale. With such low quality troops, this reduced morale will be crippling should something as basic as flanking happen to those forces. I can't let an opportunity like this go to waste.
"He what?" demanded Shigehira.
The attendant swallowed. "Norioki demands that you send a force to assist his attack on Kawachi, my Lord. He states he will attack with or without your support."
"The man goes to far!" raged Shigehira. "His stewardship of Settsu and my father's trust don't give him the right to order me to do anything!"
Mitsukazu coughed as he entered the room. "My agents report that the province is in an uproar, desperately afraid of our forces and untrusting of their own leaders. It is the perfect time to attack, my Lord."
Shigehira stopped and took a deep breath. "You are correct, as usual. However, this does not excuse his insolence!"
"It does not, but we would be foolish to waste such an opportunity over hurt pride" chided Mitsukazu. "After we are victorious, we can deal with him. Your father valued his brashness, for it is more measured than Tomomori's."
Our forces in Kyoto can't reach Kawachi in a turn, but they can get close enough to reinforce another army of ours on our attack. I need to be careful to not take too many troops and open myself to betrayal, but I need enough troops to ensure victory. I need to take a risk, but it's a calculated one.
"My message was delivered?" demanded Norioki.
The messenger swallowed. "It was, my Lord."
Norioki nodded. "Good. His action is required, but Shigehira is too bookish to see what must be done."
"He took it.. poorly, my Lord" responded the messenger.
"I don't care how he takes it" stated Norioki. "We will win a great victory for the Taira here. If the only casualty is his pride, we have done well. Kiyomori would understand."
Stripping Settsu of almost all her forces, we move Norioki into Kawachi to plant the Taira flag and eliminate an enemy that stands as a dagger to our throat. Our sister clan is still very friendly towards us despite Realm Divide, so we are unlikely to be attacked. Nevertheless, this is a real risk, with barely more than a quarter stack to defend Settsu. I'm expecting our Fort to need to pull out miracles if it all goes wrong, but in Realm Divide, no gains are made without risks.
"Shigehira's forces are still arriving, my Lord" reported the scout.
Norioki nodded. "He's late. I won't wait around for laggards. Order the men to form up, we march on the city."
"It will be done, my Lord" responded the scout.
It's an even fight in terms of men, something that I never like (A stacked deck is the best deck!) but we have a ranged advantage compared to the Ishikawa. This is in addition to the fact that with a whopping 2 morale on their bows (1 for their garrison bows), they stand no chance in extended skirmishing. Our combined forces of our Onna Bushi Heroine, 3 Naginata Attendants, 6 Naginata Levy and 6 Bow Levy are competitive with their 4 Naginata Attendants, 6 Naginata Levy and 5 Bow Levy. Although they will have the benefit of defensive ground, once our archers have done their work, I expect a chain rout in their forces after our charge. If they don't run, this could be very costly.
Click here to see the battle!
"My Lord, a message for you" reported the attendant.
Shigehira opened the parchment. "He gives more orders!" he exclaimed. "I am Taira!"
Remembering Mitsukazu's advice, he assessed the plan as if it was Munemori's. The plan was solid, taking into account the terrain and the force arrayed against them. Shigehira had to admit he would be hard pressed to design a better one. Norioki was quite competent, but he was also callous of rank and protocol. Shigehira would have to deal with that after this battle.
The map itself is a two sided affair. The moat makes attacking the town a difficult and slow affair, but it also prevents the defenders from sallying out, something that's very important when your force is split. The fact that only half my army is on the field at the start can be a crippling drawback if the computer decides to bring their full force to bear and eat you piecemeal. On the other hand, if I can unify my forces, I can quite easily skirmish the Ishikawa to death and empty my quivers into their defensive force with little recourse from the computer.
"I will lead the charge" stated Tomoe Gozen. "We are the finest warriors here. We shall move through them likethe wind through the trees and all will fall before us."
"No" responded Norioki. "You are the finest warriors on the field, none can doubt that. Attacking an entrenched position against spears would be too costly. No, the archers will lead, backed up by the attendants."
The levy captain saluted. "Of course, my Lord. What orders for the Naginata?"
"They will have the honour of the first charge" replied Norioki. "Let the Ishikawa see that even our levy are blessed by heaven."
A good example of the importance of morale in battle! With their skirmish capacity destroyed with little damage to my own forces (except for the loss of 2 Onna Bushi Heroines ), I was free to decimate their melee forces unopposed, which in turn meant that they were already jumpy when my charge landed. With the majority of our casualties easily replaceable levy, it's an impressive victory, albeit of the slow and steady variety.
Norioki addressed the levy captain. "Tell your men their valour and skill was worthy of heroes of the Taira. None could ask for more"
"Of course, my Lord. Thank you" The captain saluted and departed the command tent.
Shigehira burst into the tent. "Norioki! You go too far."
"I had expected you to understand what happened here" replied Norioki. "The blade at the neck of Settsu and Kyoto has been lifted. I swore to your father to defend Settsu with my life and all my skill. With your help we won a great victory for our people. Not just for the honour of Munemori, but for the safety of all those we serve."
"The victory is impressive, I will grant you that" stated Shigehira, grudgingly. "But the fact remains that we have no use for this province. It will drain our resources for no gain. You sap the lifeblood from the Taira!"
Norioki smiled. "I have a plan for that too." Summoning an attendant, he gave his orders. "Find all the living Ishikawa and bring them to me. I have... a unique proposal."
Respectable kills all around! Almost everyone who participated has gained a combat rank, with the real boost being our Naginata Attendants hitting rank 5!
"This is the only living Ishikawa member we could find, my Lord" the attendant reported, pushing the youth to his knees.
Norioki nodded. "I have a proposal for you. You may instead choose an honourable death"
The youth looked at him, fear and defiance clouding his face.
"You want to listen? I thought you might" stated Norioki. "I will declare you Lord and Master of this land. The Taira will formally renounce all claims on this territory and you will swear vassalage to Munemori."
Kawachi is a terrible province, with a pathetic wealth and no Taira clan support, making it a large drain on our economic reserves to maintain order for little benefit. Instead, we can make it profitable for us by making them a vassal through force, netting us an extra unit and the ability to trade with them, in addition to a (miserable) tribute each turn. You may only make a vassal if it is the last province of a clan or if it is the starting province of a clan. Kawachi is both, so we can do so here. A military vassal gives you a unit that they could produce (normally a levy), but due to an interesting quirk they only need the primary building, not the secondary. Due to this, the unit we received was Bow Warrior Monks. The downside is that they are expensive to upkeep and significantly worse than what we could produce ourselves. Nevertheless, we might be able to get some use out of them if the Watanabe or Yashima Taira decide to betray us.
"There are, however, other terms" noted Norioki. "You will renounce all former deals, ties and disagreements. They died with the gods displeasure in the old masters of this land."
One strange thing about that is that as far as the game is concerned, we obliterated the Ishikawa and then the Ishikawa were reborn, leading to strange messages like these two. The new Ishikawa are treated as a completely different clan and so reset to their default outlook on everything and losing all their researched arts.
The youth nodded, hope fighting on his face against the knowledge that his life depended on his next words. "A most generous offer, my Lord. I accept."
"The Ishikawa accept" corrected Norioki.
Without the baggage of expansionism and war, the Ishikawa are quite friendly towards everyone as well as being liked due to their impeccable record. One thing that's important to note is the lack of the Realm Divide penalty on their diplomatic factors, making them the most reliable long term ally we have. As a vassal, they also count towards our province count, so we are one closer to victory (Seven to go, I believe!).
"The Taira also require one more condition" Shigehira interrupted. "Our merchants are not to be impeded under any circumstance."
The real benefit of having a vassal is the trade route that is inviolate (short of rebellion) and the additional tariffs and trade good consumption that it brings. It's not a huge net gain due to the extra upkeep of the Bow Warrior Monks, but it does help push some more money into our slowly strengthening economy.
As the new Ishikawa Daimyo left the tent, Shigehira turned to Norioki. "I can't fault your results, even if your methods are crude." he said, dryly.
Norioki returned the look. "I serve as do you."
"This is far from the only problem we face. Supplies are failing to reach Tomomori and Ietoyo, threatening the eastern provinces" Shigehira stated. "Our supply lines are long and weak."
Norioki nodded. "The local administrators redirect supplies to their garrisons instead of to our armies"
"Then you already understand the issues" noted Shigehira. "I am assigning you Commissioner of Supply. You must find and eliminate these bottlenecks."
Replenishment is starting to be an issue and it's one that will only increase as the intensity ramps up. To help mitigate this, I assign the final commission, the Commissioner for Supply. Giving an extra 1% global replenishment and 3% more army movement (to his stack only) per command star, this commission will help keep our units in tip-top shape as well as keep our elite units like our Foot Samurai from being degraded into worthlessness.
Taneyori fumed. He had no sooner arrived and begun his covert work before he had been summoned to Kyoto by Mitsukazu! Was he being toyed with? Was this all some elaborate test?
With no need to gain Taira support in our Minamoto vassals, Taneyori is sent to Kyoto to accumulate a little more koku and experience so that he can rank up and move east to assist in the conversion of the Minamoto provinces.
The orders had been simple, but the execution unclear. Ietoyo knew that he must seize Echizen and hold Mino, but this felt like a gamble. Nevertheless, he would not fail Munemori. He had given his word.
Echizen must fall as it represents a large amount of wealth and would be a major boon to our empire. The levy in Wakasa are capable of providing the numbers, but without leadership they are destined to fall to any organised defence. With that in mind we dispatch Ietoyo north with a contingent of troops to meet up with the Wakasa forces and to spearhead the invasion of Echizen. Any additional experience and general ranks gained would further increase income, as he is our Commissioner for Finance!
Summer of 1184
It had taken far too long, but as the Mikawa Administrator looked out from the battlements, he breathed a sigh of relief. These new fortifications would provide not only protection against those who invaded from the sea, but also against those who would threaten to overwhelm the Taira as the rightful rulers of this place.
Our Stronghold in Mikawa is complete and with it further security for our seaward facing provinces. An additional benefit is the extra building slot which will enable us to construct a Clan Estate and bring Taira support up to safe levels.
With the new offensive approaching execution, administrators in Mino and Wakasa stepped up recruitment of levy, putting hundreds of new men under arms. The Taira would not be denied their prize!
With Ietoyo's force marching north, Mino's garrison is somewhat depleted. In order to rectify this (the Minamoto are fearsome opponents!) we recruit additional troops in Mino to bolster the existing forces there. The plan to invade Echizen continues unimpeded, with even more levy raised to help ensure the capacity to take territory even in the face of heavy opposition.
As his army marched back to Kyoto, Shigehira allowed himself a smile. The commission for Norioki had been an inspired move. Not only had he removed a problem facing the clan, but Norioki would be far too busy to organise more short-term "adventures".
Our gambit has paid off, with no hostile moves taken against Kyoto while the bulk of our forces were outside. Shigehira returns to the safety of the city, ready to rest for a few turns to replenish the levy we lost in our attack.
"The weapons transport logs you requested, my Lord" announced the attendant.
"Just put them on the table" replied Norioki. "I'll also need the armourer's report on production. Find it for me."
The attendant bowed. "At once, my Lord"
Norioki and his force, bolstered by the tribute unit of Bow Warrior Monks, returns to the Fort in Settsu, rendering our capital once again all but impervious to attack. The large replenishment boost that Settsu gives has already replenished almost every lost man from the attack, making the move almost pure profit. Our valuable western lands remain well placed to handle any treachery with minimal disruption to our current force deployment.
His words had changed the course of history, the will of the gods evident through the actions of men. As he walked east towards those wild lands unprotected by the Taira, Hisakane knew that his work had only just begun.
With the re-education of the Ishikawa, having convinced them of the benefits of friendship, we have run out of enemies to hone our monk's skill on. As such, Hisakane begins the long trek eastwards towards the Minamoto lands, ready to embolden our troops and strike the fear of the heavens into the enemy.
"We have a problem" the scout announced to the Mino Levy Capatin. "A large Kiso Minamoto force has been spotted heading towards the city. We may soon find ourselves under attack."
"Dispatch runners to Ietoyo" ordered the captain. "We will need every man to repel this attack."
We picked a poor time to sally forth, as a Kiso Minamoto army bursts forth from South Shinano, bristling with Foot Samurai. Mino and it's currently depleted garrison is in poor shape to repel such an attack and the Kitabatake's levy army will be obliterated if it is attacked. Of course, this is the best possible course of action, as the Kitabitake are likely to rebel against us soon, so any depletion of their forces is likely to stave that off, not to mention it would weaken that Kiso Minamoto stack and improve our chances.
Ietoyo's face twisted in alarm as he read the message. "Order the men to turn around, we march at full speed for Mino"
"My Lord?" inquired the attendant.
"The Minamoto. I will not let Mino fall."
With the appearance of that Minamoto army, our attack on Echizen will have to wait. Ietoyo is immediately recalled to command the defence at Mino, with his forces present under his leadership, we should have little trouble repelling the Minamoto attack.
Ietoyo's force marched long and hard towards Mino. As they approached the outskirts of the province capital, Ietoyo hoped that he had made it in time...
Unfortunately, we have fallen afoul of a quirk of the Shogun 2 engine. It takes movement to enter a city, but no movement to exit. This means that when we marched a turn away from the city and march back, you only end up right next to the city, not inside it. If the Minamoto attack, Ietoyo and his men will be outside the stronghold, with the Minamoto forces between them and the relative safety of the walls. Split forces in a siege situation like that can quite easily spell total disaster...
Sneak Peak:Minamoto fury