The Let's Play Archive

Total War: Shogun 2 - Rise of the Samurai

by shalcar

Part 22: Update 20 (Spring 1185 - Summer 1185)

Taira Vengeance

Spring of 1185

Norioki walked through the newly constructed barter exchange, the towering fort nearby giving the merchants a sense of security, but also a reminder as to their station in life. "The people of Settsu deserve the benefits of trade, as well as the security of the Taira men and fortifications" Norioki thought to himself. "All will marvel at the prosperity of the Taira."

Our economy slowly expands with the construction of a Barter Exchange in Settsu. Continued investment into your economy is essential to keeping your game ticking over, as economic neglect can be just as fatal as a neglected military.

The ferocity and sheer size of the Minamoto invasion had spread outrage and sobering realisation throughout the province of Totomi. The reality of the Minamoto threat caused hundreds of men to report for duty, each willing to give their lives to protect their families and to serve under the greatest warrior Japan had ever known.

Recruitment is light this turn, with our only new troops in Totomi to replenish Tomomori's forces, bringing another 200 men under his command. With our newly bolstered troops and the turns worth of replenishment, we are in a position to send the Kamakura Minamoto a message about aggression towards the Taira.

Nakamitsu watched from the nearby treeline, unmoving. The Minamoto forces had remained encamped for several months, unwilling to abandon their sick and wounded to the certain destruction that would await them at Taira hands. Their stubbornness and pride had cost them deeply, with the bitter winter cold felling men, trapped with no hope of resupply deep in Taira territory.

The Kamakura Minamoto army elected to stay and protect their smaller stack, causing both stacks to suffer winter attrition. Combined they are strong enough to give us pause about launching a counter-attack, but I always have a plan...

The Kiso Minamoto forces fared much better than their Kamakura brothers, as their forces continued to rampage about the Taira countryside, taunting the garrison forces, yet never engaging them. Winter knows no friends, however, as the Kiso Minamoto also lost men to the bitter Japanese winter.

The Kiso Minamoto army headed south, putting themselves in a position to threaten Owari. They also suffered winter attrition and their forces should be substantially reduced on what originally entered Taira lands. They will need to be driven out soon.

"My Lord, the Adachi army has withdrawn from our lands!" reported the scout.
The Wakasa administrator breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you for your report" he noted. "Maintain long range patrols, we can't be sure if they are coming back."
"At once, my Lord" the scout replied, saluting.
"Maybe this time we will be left in peace" the administrator thought to himself. "Maybe Japan is coming to it's senses."

The Adachi had no interest in suffering winter attrition while so close to home and have withdrawn. While this is a welcome relief to me, it presents me with a problem. I can't take Echizen with that army present, but my gameplan revolves around being able to seize Echizen in a timely manner. Regardless, it seems the computer is reluctant to engage my stack, believing it significantly stronger than their own troops. While I'm not sure I agree with the assessment of the AI, I may just be able to use that to my advantage...

The Minamoto forces had pooled their resources and stayed entrenched in Taira lands, the crippling supply shortages causing havoc in the Minamoto camp. With the coming of Spring, they had gathered new supplies from the countryside, their stocks at a level where they could mount further military action. Nakamitsu would not let that happen.

Approaching under the cover of darkness, he easily slipped past the meagre patrols, a black phantom in a moonless night. Approaching the makeshift store-yard, he took stock of the situation. The two guards would be easily dealt with and once inside, all manner of chaos could be unleashed. A dagger in each hand, Nakamitsu cast both towards the two guards, the first taking one in the throat, but the second cast had gone wide. Nakamitsu cursed as he drew his sword, moving in to engage the guard with a practised skill...

With the main stack protected by a Junsatsushi (as evidenced by the little eye icon above the stack), I elect to sabotage the weaker stack, killing men and preventing movement. With Noble Bandit and the small stack size, our chances of success are upwards of 80% and the cost was a princely 180 koku!

The guard's cry of alarm was cut short as Nakamitsu's blade slashed through his throat, ending the fight as quickly as it began. Unsure if the alarm had been raised or not, Nakamitsu threw several firepots into the supply tent. Explosions rocked the camp as the air filled with thick acrid smoke, flame leaping everywhere, as Nakamitsu made good his escape in the confusion. The Minamoto bellies would be empty a little while longer.

Success! Not only did we cause around 180 koku worth of casualties, but there is an aspect of sabotage that not many people realise. Armies that are sabotaged can not reinforce armies in their reinforcement radius. With a single stroke, Nakamitsu has halved the forces that Tomomori must fight in each battle. They are also unable to retreat from battle, forcing them to face Taira vengeance!

The first melt of spring had been a welcome relief from the cold and bitter winter. The bleak, cold times had enraged Tomomori, trapping his men into the safety of the town, unable to drive forth the invaders from Taira lands.
"Tell the captains to ready the men" ordered Tomomori. "The Minamoto offend the very earth itself with their presence. Their blood will atone for their sins. We march!"

With the enemy force now well below our own in power, Tomomori marches forward from Totomi, determined to end the Minamoto threat to these lands.

Birds sang amongst the cherry blossom, life bursting forth from the earth in celebration at the passing of winter, yet in the hearts of Tomomori and his men there was no joy, only barely contained rage at the graves of Totomi filled with Taira dead. No man was untouched by the bitter fighting that the Minamoto had brought to the province. Only two units of levy stood at a full compliment, their size a bitter reminder of the loss the others had suffered.
"The Minamoto force lies ahead" announced Tomomori. "There will be no survivors. Remember our fallen brothers, the loss of our friends. Today we avenge them, today we show that the Taira extract a bitter price."

Our forces might be shattered, but with the turns replenishment and the bolstering of additional units, Tomomori outnumbers these forces by significantly more than 2:1. With roughly 1 Foot Samurai, 1 Bow Warrior Monks, 2 Bow Levy and 5 Naginata Levy on our side compared to 1 Foot Samurai and 2 Naginata Levy, the Minamoto will be made to pay for the many Taira lives they have cost. The Minamoto Daimyo is now the slightly inferior general, with 3 general ranks compared to Tomomori's 4.

Click here to see the battle!

"My Lord, the Minamoto forces engage us head on!" announced the bodyguard "The Minamoto Daimyo lives, his mon is on the field!"
Tomomori smiled cruelly. "If they are so desperate for a untimely death then I suggest we give it to them."
"50 koku to the man who brings me the Daimyo's head" he bellowed, spurring his horse towards the enemy lines.

With our force advantage the way it is, I'm expecting the Minamoto force to button up on the hill and use the trees for cover. The left side of the map is fairly open and I would prefer to engage them there considering my overwhelming ranged advantage, but I expect to be able to dictate terms of combat simply through my superior troop numbers. Their best option would be to rush me, although it would end... poorly for the Minamoto, but at least they would die with honour!

"Die, you motherless sons of bitches" roared the Levy captain, his naginata cutting a deadly swathe through the Minamoto men. "To hell with you all!"
The captain's bloodlust and ferocity was matched by his men, each willing and eager to repay the suffering the Minamoto had inflicted upon them. Only one man was untouched by rage, the newly promoted Samurai Captain. The Minamoto were even more troubled by the smiling man, each stroke, each perfect kill punctuated by maniacal laughter, as if the slaughter of men some giant joke, the splash of red blood some celestial punchline.

The Minamoto forces are obliterated to the man. Although our casualties are higher than expected, they are still well within acceptable levels. A full 750 Taira men still stand proud, serving the greatest warrior Japan has ever known.

"My Lord, we are avenged!" the bodyguard exalted. "The Minamoto are ruined!"
Tomomori shook his head. "There are still more who slew our brothers. Our work is not yet done."

Tomomori and his bodyguard join the illustrious company of our Foot Samurai to reach combat rank 7, rendering them exceptionally deadly warriors, albeit worn down by constant combat. Our casualties were higher than normal as I needed to protect my elite monks and samurai at any cost, as they are just a few turns away from combat effectiveness and the levy is significantly easier to replace in the field (and can be used as garrison force in a pinch while it replenishes cheaply!). In that, we succeeded admirably, with the biggest losses being 2 men from Tomomori's unit, a full turns worth of replenishment. To drive the Minamoto from our lands, this is a price they would all gladly pay a dozen times over.

Tomomori's army was weary, but driven. As they marched towards the sabotaged Minamoto remnant, their thoughts were only of victory, of honour. Many men were already boasting of the Minamoto they would slay, of the mighty victory they would win. Arrogance and surety filled the air, Taira spirits unbowed and invincible.

Not all the Minamoto have been shown the folly of their attack against a living god, this is something that will be immediately rectified. Having been barely slowed down by the first Minamoto force, Tomomori charges towards the sabotaged stack.

Upon engaging the Minamoto force, the Taira men broke ranks and charged in, each man wanting to claim a share of the glory of finally ridding Totomi of the hated invaders. This loss of discipline would have disastrous results, with the Minamoto force fighting to the final man, each knowing that they would receive no mercy from Tomomori. Despite the smaller size, the ferocity of the battle was unmatched, the Taira suffering many more lost men than expected.

Well, this fight is the first time I wished I didn't have a no-reload policy on my LP. This fight is so far in my favour it's ludicrous, as we not only outnumber them 4:1, but they are led by a captain and are almost completely levy. A perfect candidate for an autoresolve! Or so you would think. Autoresolve absolutely hated me this fight, killing a full 3 regiments of my troops. 2 Naginata Levy units and a Bow Levy unit were obliterated to the man. While this does save around 150 koku a turn in upkeep, the loss of replenishment alone is worth 50 men into the force a turn, not speaking of the fact that I lost ~140 men, including losses to my Foot Samurai and Bow Warrior Monks. I could have won this fight with less than 10 casualties! Arrrgh. I'll make the Minamoto pay for that. In fact, I was so annoyed I didn't even record the results screen. I was seeing red.

Throughout the camp, men drank heartily and celebrated repelling the Minamoto from Taira lands. Feats of courage, heroism and sacrifice were told again and again, each time growing in the telling. The loudest and most celebrated feats were those of Tomomori, the man who fought like a demon and inspired like no other.

We have gained a new Trait! In fact, this is a lucky occurrence for us in this LP, as it lets me demonstrate that some traits have levels, which increase as you do the things that support them. In this case, this is the upgrade to his "Brave" trait that he got all those years ago. This trait tree goes another level higher, to "Heroic". Unfortunately for us, in Rise of the Samurai, both "Brave" and "Courageous" give +1 morale to all units and "Heroic" gives +2, so we have not improved our combat effectiveness. If he keeps fighting the way he has been however, we might just see Tomomori get the "Heroic" trait he deserves!

The Taira forces were exhausted, but Tomomori would allow them no rest. "We rest when we are dead!" he commanded. "The Minamoto must not be allowed to think they strike with impunity. We march!"

With the last of our movement, we put ourselves in marching distance of Suruga. Although we run the risk of getting attacked by another Minamoto force from the fog, I judge it very unlikely that they have anything left and we are far enough back that a retreat from combat would leave their ambush force unable to march the distance to get the second engagement in. The Minamoto are going to pay for busting up my favourite army.

Ietoyo gathered his bodyguard and briefed the Mino garrison commander. "Remember to reinforce the gates and keep forward scouts out" he ordered. "Tell the men the next time they see me we will celebrate the destruction of the Minamoto dogs."
The garrison commander bowed. "Of course, my lord" he replied. "Where are you headed?"
"Owari" responded Ietoyo. "Reports indicate a Minamoto attack is imminent. I'm taking command of the situation."

I'm expecting an attack of Owari from the Kiso Minamoto this turn, so to properly man the castle we dispatch Ietoyo to command the defence and ensure that Owari does not fall to the Minamoto dogs!

"The Minamoto must not be allowed to trample the Taira people" Hisakane thought to himself. "I must show them the error of their ways, even if they will not see".
Newly determined, he set off to the Kiso Minamoto camp...

If we could demoralise the Kiso Minamoto force, we could ensure that any attack they made would fail. To that end, we dispatch Hisakane to try his luck again against the force. Our odds are not fantastic at 50%, but the coin came up tails last time, so maybe we will get heads?

Hisakane stood, blocked by the Minamoto guards. "A dire portent of the gods has been spotted" he said. "I must be allowed in! Raijin's fury will come down upon us if you don't heed my message!"
One guard stood aside, but the other snorted. "Push off, old man" he sneered. "Otherwise we will find out if your faith protects you from my steel."

Sadly not, with another failure for Hisakane. Monks almost always survive and preaching is free, so they level up fairly reliably and I'm not too worried. To counterbalance this, they tend to start at old age, so you have to be careful to train replacement monks for your good agents.

The mud of the road and rough peasant beds of the inns were a long way from the luxury Taneyori had got used to in his short time in Kyoto. "Why would Mitsukazu send me to Mino all by myself?" he wondered. "What can I do that the others can't? Why me?"

The Junsatsushi in Mino is overwhelming the Shinden and pushing out Taira support for Minamoto support. I can't afford to lose a province to something as simple as that, so we dispatch Taneyori, our lowest ranked Junsatsushi to Mino to help stem to loss of Taira support.

Shigehira opened the scroll.

"Little brother" it read. "Our ancestral home needs you. You are to report to Settsu and look after mother and see to the safety of the people there. Norioki will be responsible for Kyoto. Settsu's defence is the most important task for any Taira. I know you won't let me down.


Our forces are in a bad position to deal with emergent threats as two of our vassals edge ever closer to open rebellion. The Yashima Taira are still strong allies and their forces are committed elsewhere, holding off the entire western portion of Japan. First though, we need to move Shigehira to Settsu to take command of the garrison there. It just seems wrong to not have a son of Kiyomori in charge of the Taira ancestral home.

The garrison commander inspected the scroll. "What news?" inquired the administrator.
"We are ordered to dispatch 300 men to Kyoto to bolster it's garrison" the commander replied.
The administrator looked concerned. "But that is over half our defensive compliment!" he exclaimed.

Our defensive garrison in Tamba is unlikely to see any action given the sheer number of Taira provinces surrounding them, not to mention the fact they are no longer required to maintain order. We can put them to use by moving them to Kyoto, where we are assembling our retaliation force to deal with any revolts of our vassals.

Norioki opened the scroll.

"Norioki" it read. "I can no longer trust our vassals and Shigehira lacks the will to do what must be done in the event of treachery. You are to take our finest forces from Settsu and take command of the Kyoto army. If our vassals betray us, ensure that they learn the price of treachery.


The mighty walls of Settsu combined with the half stack of defenders (Including a regiment of Onna Bushi as garrison!) will ensure that Settsu will fall to nothing short of a multi-stack attack. We need a man to spearhead our ruthless crushing of those who oppose us and who better than the practical and results focused Norioki? The forces in Kyoto lack quality and power for a relatively inexperienced general, despite having the heart of the Taira. As such, we need to dust off our aces and get them earning their substantial pay. Our highly ranked Naginata Attendants (rank 4) and Onna Bushi Heroine are also dispatched with Norioki to make up an iron core that will shatter anyone foolish enough to question our control of central Japan. Norioki ranking up from combat will also increase the global replenishment rate, helping out our forces on every front!

Summer of 1185

The Kii administrator looked over the recruitment reports. "Why would we have a need for even more troops?" he wondered. "Kii has always been a peaceful place. Is trouble on the horizon?"

The last turn of our bonus recruitment ends with a bang, with Totomi getting an additional 2 troops to provide offence or defence as needed, as well as the recruitment of additional forces in Kyoto to further cement our supremacy of the area. Meanwhile, our old stalwart province of Kii to the south gets a last burst of troops to ensure that it doesn't fall in the event of a Watanabe rebellion. Now that all our provinces can only produce one unit a turn (excluding where we have Mustering Yards or Settsu) it will be much tougher to sustain our rapid troop deployments. It's time to see if we can't flex our muscle and put some of these newly recruited men to use.

Years of practise juggling the conflicting duties of managing the province of Inaba had sharpened Sadatoki's mind to a level rarely found in all Japan. The oversight and guidance of Munemori had ensured that he stayed not only diligent, but vigilant throughout the course of his duties.

Slow and steady can win the race! Sadatoki is overseeing Inaba on the northwest border with Munemori and is a long way from anything that would be considered dangerous, but the steady tic of 3 experience a turn has nevertheless got him an additional rank.

"Managing a province has many similarities to managing a clan" stated Munemori. "You must know the strength of your assets and where you are weak."
Sadatoki nodded. "The art is in knowing how far to push your strengths."
"The art is in not revealing your weaknesses" retorted Munemori. "You must never let those you match wits with see that you are anything other than what you present yourself as."
"Of course, my lord" apologised Sadatoki. "I can see there is always much to learn."

By hitting that all important rank 3, we are able to give Sadatoki 2 ranks of Magistrate, adding an additional 20% to the tax rate of the province. We no longer have money problems, but we still need to be sensible with what we spend. I'm getting a little bored of capital constraints, maybe we should go take someone else's money?.

Munemori waved the apology away. "No, there is merit in what you say" he replied. "Each man is a tool towards keeping the Taira safe."
"Yet a tool you don't understand is worthless to the task at hand" noted Sadatoki.
Munemori stopped, lost in thought. "Yes" he said, finally. "Perhaps you do understand."

A rank 3 Junsatsushi is dangerous no matter what, especially when you are fighting a clan that has the same allegiance. Sadatoki is insurance against the Yashima Taira betraying us, something that I hope never happens. Even if it doesn't, he earns a nice bit of koku and that's what really counts. He's also very young for a rank 3 at only 29 years of age!

Taneyori walked towards Mino, aching for a soft bed and hot meal. Yet his instincts told him that all is not well. The undercurrent of Minamoto support in the province had always been stubborn, but this was something different, something new. Deep in his bones, he knew that there was someone else behind this Minamoto sentiment. Slowly, he began to understand why Mitsukazu had sent him here...

On the other end of Junsatsushi experience, our rank 1, Taneyori moves into Mino to help keep the loss of clan support under control while making a few koku as an added bonus. Sadly the Minamoto Junsatsushi is rank 4 and so we are losing clan support at the rate of 0.5 a turn, but Taneyori will rank up before we go below the critical 50% mark and swing that around (to positive 0.5 woo!).

Nakamitsu spent some time extensively scouting the province of Suruga. "It seems Tomomori's assessment was correct and every Minamoto man was sent to invade Totomi" he thought to himself. His criminal contacts had proven exceptionally useful, informing him that nothing more than the Town Watch stood between the town and the Tomomori's army. He smiled to himself, the Minamoto would find their education about the price of aggression to be quite extensive indeed.

Nakamitsu is needed for some forward scouting to gauge the levels of Minamoto resistance and to see if they are as depleted as we thought. With no forces stationed in Suruga other than the Town Watch garrison and no Stronghold, the province is ripe for a counter attack. Let's show the Minamoto how a real province attack is done!

Tomomori read Nakamitsu's report and smiled. "The news is good" he stated. "I know the march has been punishing, but it has also borne fruit. We are able to extract revenge against the Minamoto!"
The samurai captain saluted and grinned. "At once, my lord."
"My replacement seems far too eager for combat" noted the bodyguard. "Mastery of the form is the goal, not the slaughter of enemies."
Tomomori looked slightly annoyed. "What other use is there for form?"
"I recall you still owe me 2 koku from our archery contest when I was a captain" noted the bodyguard wryly. "I just hope the sense I drilled into the samurai keep them alive."
"I'll pay you when I get back to Settsu!" protested Tomomori. "On this we do agree, old friend. The samurai are of no use to the Taira dead."

Our army might be less than ideal to engage high quality enemy forces, but against Towns with only a Town Watch, we are quite capable of obliterating them without breaking a sweat. Tomomori will have his revenge!

Tomomori addressed his men, looking every part the hero and warrior legend said him to be. "The Minamoto seek to drag Japan into an endless war, seeking nothing other than the destruction of the Taira and the downfall of the Emperor" he bellowed. "I, Tomomori, will never let this happen as long as I draw breath. Together we shall make the heavens quake in fear of the Taira roused! There will be a reckoning and we, the instruments of it's judgement."

Tomomori's forces are depleted to the point of just barely being combat effective, but with our ranged superiority that's not a major concern. Our army consists of roughly 1.5 Foot Samurai, 3.5 Naginata Levy, 1.5 Bow Levy and 1 Bow Warrior Monks compared to 3 Naginata Levy and 2 Bow Levy. With Tomomori at rank 4 and giving substantial bonuses to both the accuracy of our ranged troops and the melee strength of all our men, the defenders don't have a chance.

Click here to see the battle!

The sound of Taira battlecries, the swip of arrows and the clash of steel filled the air. The Minamoto levy fought bravely, but the Taira men were driven, veterans of a long decade of war, hardened in the crucible of combat.
"For Munemori! For Tomomori! For Taira!" thundered the Levy captain, leading the charge. "Tear the bastards limb from limb!"
The Minamoto could never hope to hold against such ferocity.

The Town map is one we have seen many times before, with steep access to the north and south, with gentler but more constricted entrances to the east and west. With our superior ranged combat ability in concentrated troops, a simple attack from the west like we have used so many times before should end this fight with a minimum loss of Taira life. Our objective is to keep as many men alive as possible to ensure our force is kept up to fighting standard.

"The cowards flee!" announced the bodyguard. "Their loyalty to the Minamoto dogs is as dust. For Tomomori!"
With a cry, he spurred his horse on, ensuring the stragglers would not leave the field alive.

60 men for a province is a good trade, especially with the vast majority of the losses being levy. Nothing altogether unexpected in that attack, with our units packing punch well beyond what you would expect. What a difference a few ranks and a skilled general makes!

The Levy captain saluted Tomomori, blood and gore covering his intricate Taira armour. "The town is ours, my lord" he reported.
Tomomori looked at the man, noting the impressive coating on the armour as well as the heavy scoring in places. The captain had been in a brutal fight. "Your men acted with exceptional bravery and courage" he said. "Each man represents the best of the Taira."
"Thank you, my lord" responded the captain, saluting.

Our only casualties of note are the 3 Bow Warrior Monks, which further sets back our ability to keep them combat effective, especially given their vital nature in engaging enemy Foot Samurai, of which we can certainly expect to see more of. Our levy losses mean that we still make a profit of men on the turn, ending up more powerful than we started. If we can keep the pressure on, the Kamakura will hopefully be unable to generate another force of size, allowing Tomomori to further expand Taira influence.

"While we control the town, the province is ours in name only" the administrator reported. "Minamoto support is almost unanimous, although it will take time to bubble to the surface."
Tomomori snorted. "They will either show their loyalty to the Taira or they will pay the price of traitors. I don't have time to babysit some ex-Minamoto peasants!"

With the capture of Suruga, we are only 6 provinces (5 more provinces and Sagami) away from establishing Taira supremacy over Japan. Unfortunately, Suruga is a very poor province that has almost full support for the Minamoto, making it exceptionally vulnerable to Junsatsushi as well as needing a exceptionally large garrison to maintain order. Suruga contains a Town, Town Watch, Buddhist Sanctuary, Dry Field Agriculture (Meagre), Trails and a Harbour.[/b] The Buddhist Sanctuary in the province is of limited use to me given the critical clan support problems crippling the province, so it would be sensible to tear it down and erect a Clan Estate in it's place. Of course, given that we will want to fortify it as soon as possible, we could use the extra building slot for the clan estate and keep the extra monk that the Sanctuary unlocks to help in our fight against the Minamoto...

"Tell the men to secure the town and prepare to march" ordered Tomomori. "The Minamoto dogs are reeling, but they won't be off balance for long. If we delay, our task of the utter destruction of the Minamoto will be that much harder and cost that many more lives."
"At once, my lord" replied the attendant, saluting.

I have no intention of stopping here, however. The Minamoto are unlikely to have much in the way of forces left, so if I can catch a fledgling army out in the field or spot another poorly defended province I can put another nail in the Kamakura Minamoto's coffin. Since I replenish at the same rate if I am inside the castle or not, it seems sensible to move into a forward position, given that I can see far enough that no threatening Minamoto force is in range. My primary concern is the province of Kai to the north, which belongs to the Kiso Minamoto, but given that a substantial force of theirs is marching around Mino right now, I doubt they have the forces to mount a serious assault given that Suruga was safe until this turn.

"My Lord, the Adachi forces march south toward Omi!" reported the scout. "Wakasa is truly safe."
The Wakasa administrator looked pensive. "This move is unexpected. Our brothers in Omi are less prepared for attack than we are and this may provoke a powerful response from Munemori."

The Adachi force was not idle, although they have changed their target. Unwilling to risk attacking Wakasa and it's substantial garrison, they are pushing south, targeting Omi or Mino. It's a bold move, made all the more bold by the fact that it leaves Echizen poorly defended. Echizen is far too valuable to leave open however, even if it means I need to take a gamble...

Hisakane had been following the Minamoto army as it marched through the Mino countryside. They would be made to see the true path that their folly had taken them down, even if it was with Hisakane's last breath...

We need to keep levelling Hisakane, as well as ensuring that the Kiso Minamoto force is removed from our lands as quickly as possible. I can't afford to have them running around at will, but their forces are too strong to fight right now without something to level the playing field.

"This is the path of destruction" Hisakane thundered. "For long months you have marched through these lands, faced bitter winters and the death of friends, worn out shoes and marched and marched. But for what?"
He threw his arms wide. "I'll tell you for what" he pronounced. "Susanoo meddles with your leaders! He brings upon them nothing but a seeking of their own destruction and the capriciousness of the storm! Beware, for you will find yourselves destroyed by the unpredictable fury of the storm of your own making."

Hisakane is that something to level the playing field, it seems! Although the demoralisation only reduces their morale by 1, it's the small differences in these elite armies that can be the difference between a unit getting 100 kills and routing or getting 400 kills and winning. Given that my only choices are low morale units, I need to break the Kiso Minamoto's nerve.

Ietoyo fumed. "Muster the men" he ordered. "I will not sit idly by while the Taira are made fools of. Every season these Minamoto march through Taira lands with impunity, it emboldens the rebellion against the true Emperor and the Taira. I can't allow this. I won't allow this."

An army of levy requires a general, especially against a force like this one. Given that we need every edge we can muster, we completely empty the troops out of Mino and Owari and march on the Kiso Minamoto. A victory here sill give us another rank 2 general, reduced upkeep for his stack and an increase to global tax rate. Defeat here could very well cost us both provinces. I'm banking on their forces being heavily depleted from their earlier fight with the Kitabitake and the winter attrition.

Ietoyo advanced, an army of Taira at his back, more men mustered in one place than any other in Japan. Yet his men were untested levy, his generalship firm but untrusted and his opponents were men of great conviction and skill, led by their own Daimyo. If the Taira would stand firm and resolute, the day would be won, but led by a man not of Taira blood and unproven in combat, would mere levy trust in their own ability?

...Well fuck. They have around 300 Foot Samurai and 100 Sword Attendants, an army that couldn't be better at annihilating Levy if it tried. Especially low ranked Levy lead by a paltry 1 star general. Like our army. On the upside, we outnumber them 6 to 1. On the downside, I'm not sure that's actually enough. The power bar says it's clearly in our favour, but the power bar (and autoresolve!) dramatically undervalue Foot Samurai, so it's not surprising. Our forces consist of 1 Mounted Naginata, 15 Naginata Levy and 8 Bow Levy compared with the Minamoto's 1 Sword Attendant, 6 Foot Samurai and 1 Fire Bomb Thrower.

In-game encyclopaedia - Sword Attendants posted:

Sword attendants are armed with a large powerful swords, impressive weapons that require the strength of both arms to wield effectively in battle. This gives the attendants a fearsome appearance as they charge forward to engage in close combat. Two-handed swords are incredibly sharp and can easily cut through enemies, while the flat sides of the blades can deflect enemy blows. Sword attendants go into battle accepting death and fearing little, but accepting your death and foolishly risking life and limb are not the same thing. They must be wary of threats from cavalry and missile troops, against which they are vulnerable if mishandled.

The skill and craftsmanship of Japan's swordsmiths is almost beyond compare. Perhaps only the swords from the forges of Toledo and Dasmascus matched the beauty of Japanese blades, but they did not quite match the sophisticated metallurgy of the Japanese. During the Gempei War the katana, or more correctly, tachi of later centuries had still to develop and become recognised as the classic samurai sword. The skills of the swordsmith were, however, already in evidence. Gempei period swords were just as deadly as their later Sengoku Jidai equivalents when used by an expert.

There is a slight encoding glitch at the end of this video that drops about a second off, but it's too minor to recut.
Click here to see the battle!

"The enemy position is very strong, my lord" the scout reported. "They make battle lines on top of the large hill to the west and the approaches are very steep and narrow."
"If we attack piecemeal we will be cut down and slaughtered" Ietoyo mused. "Our cavalry is useless in such terrain. No, we must be wise like the fox, appearing only where we wish to be seen and force the Minamoto into rash action."

Wonderful. As if my bows were not going to do terrible enough already, the Minamoto start atop an amazing hill and our approaches are very limited. We can use the trees for cover and to shield us somewhat from the many arrows that will be coming back our way to try to even the odds, but this is far from ideal terrain. Without the ability to use our numbers effectively, we are in real trouble. Not to mention that the terrain is horrific for cavalry, being critically steep hills or forested terrain. I was hoping our Mounted Naginata would be an ace in the hole, but somehow I doubt they are going to be much use.

THe attack had taken the Minamoto by surprise, forcing them to react quickly as flaming arrows arced from the trees, felling many samurai. Yet the men trusted their leaders and were well drilled, responding in an orderly fashion and taking the fight back to the Taira. Yet not all the Minamoto battleplan went as clockwork, with several units of samurai finding themselves isolated and cut off, surrounded by many times their number of Taira soldiers, slaughtering the Minamoto to the man.

That was terrifying and also exceptionally lucky. Managing that many troops is difficult and consumes a lot of concentration, especially due to the fact that armies above around 23 units or so change the default unit card UI, which screws with you right when you need every micromanagement edge you can get. That's a large part of the reason I couldn't use my cavalry effectively, as proper cavalry use is one of the more time consuming tasks you can have. In addition, with such poor quality units and no core line units, if even a single enemy unit got into the flank or rear of one of my units, it would cause a chain rout that would be absolutely devastating, so the infantry required a lot more babysitting than normal. All in all, I'm exceptionally happy to have won that at all, let alone with as few casualties as I did!

Yet one unit stood proud, standing toe to toe with the Minamoto samurai, cutting down two for every man they lost. Led by Chikasada, they were the bandit hunters, men who went into the deepest forests to track down and destroy the criminals and murderers that preyed on the peasantry of Owari. Although nothing more than levymen, their hard life and years of training served them well on the field of combat, demonstrating that these were men whom the hardest of lives had tempered into the finest steel.

There is one stand-out performer here today, the Naginata Levy that could (slaughter Foot Samurai!). They reached rank 6 with 85 kills, which is so far beyond what a Levy could possibly hope to achieve that I am convinced that they just got lucky and were engaging two different Foot Samurai units that broke and were cut down from behind without being too long in the fight. Nevertheless, they now have combat statistics better than Naginata Attendants, so I have my first core unit in this army!

Ietoyo stood on the battlefield as his men celebrated their first victory against a foe that had threatened them for many seasons. The vague unease that filled an new army was gone, replaced by the trust forged in battle, the blood-bond between those who stood together facing certain death and survived.

With the victory over the Kiso Minamoto under his belt, Ietoyo has reached General rank 2. As the man spearheading our attack into the Kiso Minamoto, this is great news and sorely needed.

Chikasada entered the command tent and bowed. "My Lord" he stated. "You have shown to the men that without a doubt you are a natural leader and capable warrior."
"I was Daimyo of my clan" responded Ietoyo. "My qualifications for leadership are beyond question."
"With the samurai, I have no doubt" noted Chikasada. "But levy are simple men, they believe only the truth of their own eyes. Today, they saw a leader and a warrior. A great one."
"I perform my duty so that the Taira survive, so that my family survive" replied Ietoyo. "My only wish is to live in peace and watch my grandson grow into a fine man."
Chikasada smiled. "We all serve for our family, to see peace restored to Japan. Too many men have died already. The men know you will lead them safely home, when the time comes."

Given that Ietoyo is likely to be leading large numbers of Levy into Minamoto territory, he is going to need the ability to generate Taira clan support, extra movement speed to avoid unwinnable fights (The Kiso Minamoto get +20% movement to their armies as one of their clan bonuses) and a larger general aura to cover the troops he has. With these requirements, we put a point in Warrior and a point in Leader, opening up Strategist and Partisan for our rank 3 skills.

Ietoyo turned the netsuke over in his hands. "Isn't it amazing how the smaller the thing, the more perfect it can become?" he asked. "Yet despite it's size, it retains it's elegant use."
The attendant nodded. "It is a wonderful thing, my Lord. There is one thing, yet I hesitate to mention it."
Ietoyo raised his eyebrow. "Speak, I would be remiss in my duty if I did not seek to learn from all places."
"The fastenings of the Taira armour are poorly made for carrying marching supplies, my lord" the attendant noted. "But such masterful netsuke would do much to alleviate the difficulty we face."
Ietoyo laughed. "That such a small thing can cause such a large problem! Very well, I will see what can be done."

Strategist alone won't be enough additional movement to ensure he can escape Kiso Minamoto armies. To that end we take the Master Netsuke Carver, adding an additional 7% to his armies movement and allowing rapid deployment of our forces in the mid-eastern front.

"Owari can't be held with the Town Watch alone" noted Ietoyo.
"There are still elements that do not fully support the Taira" responded the attendant.
"They can not be allowed to cause further problems" ordered Ietoyo. "Take 3 units of Levy and report to the garrison commander of Owari."
The attendant saluted. "At once, my lord."

Our provinces need a garrison in order to maintain peace, but with the elimination of the only major threat in the area we have no need to be paying upkeep for large armies that sit around. Instead, all of our most heavily damaged units are sent to the provinces to garrison them and ensure order, leaving a full stack of the best units under the command of Ietoyo.

"My Lord, we should have turned north to reach Mino" stated the attendant.
"We are not heading to Mino" replied Ietoyo. "Not yet. First, I feel a need to visit South Shinano. The Minamoto must know that they can not escape Taira retribution."

It's time to take the fight to the Kiso Minamoto to remind them that the Taira are not to be trifled with. Ietoyo moves as close to South Shinano as he can (which isn't very far, we are still 2 turns out), with his full stack going to be almost completely replenished in 2 turns. With any luck, South Shinano will be poorly defended and we will add another province to our empire, solidifying a two province front into a single province.

"Has he taken leave of his senses?" the Wakasa administrator boggled. "Ordering all our forces to attack Echizen? At a time like this?"
The garrison commander looked glum. "Munemori gave those orders and they will be obeyed. If we are attacked, my men and I will die repelling the Adachi if it comes to that."
"You will die and then Wakasa will fall" the administrator lamented. "All of our hopes and dreams will have been for naught."

The Adachi force that bypassed Wakasa to head down to Omi has given us two choices. We can cower behind our walls and let them attack Omi, hope to fend them off and then attack Echizen when it is undefended. But that runs the risk of losing Omi or turning an army loose inside our territory to loot and burn at will. Our other option is to do the impossible and march on Echizen now, leaving Wakasa open to enemy counter-attack, engaging in combat without a general and only a stack of levy. Madness, you say? No, say I, opportunity! I'm tired of having big stacks behaving like scared children. I'm tired of the computer attacking my lands with impunity. Today, I am the attacking stack! Today, I seize the provinces! Today, the Taira will watch the world burn!

You may have noticed that I mentioned earlier that the computer thinks my stack is more powerful than theirs. Basically, I'm banking on them attacking Wakasa (and taking it, most likely), in exchange for me getting Echizen. This is a more than equitable trade, as those familiar with Echizen will agree. The computer could also press the attack on Omi (which they can't reach this turn and so would end up achieving nothing) or they could retreat and attack my stack. They can make it to my levy stack, but if I retreat with our stack they won't have the movement to re-engage, in which we can seize Echizen on our turn. They are snookered, basically. It's risky because if I have calculated my ranges wrong we are going to be hurting, but the rewards are well worth it. I'm happy losing Wakasa (although if they can hold, all the better!).

Sneak Peak: A life of luxury