Part 23: Update 21 (Autumn 1185)A life of luxury
Autumn of 1185
The cry to arms had been sounded in Owari, a call sent out for only the finest warriors, men worthy of serving with Tomomori and the glorious Taira force. The rising samurai class responded, sending warriors of exceptional skill, each man worth a dozen of his lesser levy brethren. The Minamoto were not the only masters of samurai.
With another turn of recruitment under-way most of our forces consist of garrison units to keep the peace and bolster forces in our more exposed provinces. The sharp eyed will notice that we have recruited another unit of Foot Samurai in our forward province of Owari, as we push towards another core to bolster the many armies of levy that we already have. Owari is a great province to recruit them from, as we can send them south to Tomomori to assist against the Kamakura Minamoto or instead send them east to assist Ietoyo against the Kiso Minamoto.
Mitsukazu sighed. His sources told him the people of Bingo had hoped to be liberated to the Taira cause, but such action was simply impossible. The peasants would have to make do with the hand they had been dealt.
Our mission to secure the allegiance of the province of Bingo is a failure, not entirely unexpected as I had no intention of completing it. With Bingo far to the west through our sister clan and unable to be defended, it would have been foolish to attempt. If you are given a mission that you know you won't complete, you can cancel it from the Clan Management screen so that the game can give you another mission sooner. I didn't do that because I forgot to, although I could pretend it's so I can show you what happens when you fail a mission (Nothing happens...)!
The mighty army in Wakasa had filled the Taira with hope that Munemori cared for each man under his rule, no matter how valuable. With the armies departure, people had begun to wonder, was the force there only for his own ends and not for the defence of the people?
With the failure of our last mission, the game assigns us a new mission and unlike the old one, this is magnificent! With Wakasa near an enemy province while we have no garrison, the game has decided we need some incentive to protect our provinces. It didn't quite work out that the reason Wakasa has no troops is the fact we are invading Echizen, but I'll take what I can get. By simply recruiting a levy in Wakasa, we gain additional melee defence to all of our units for 6 turns. This is in addition to the fear that our units currently cause (for another 3 turns) and should make us almost unstoppable against any counter-attack. At least, that's the plan.
Noriaki sat at his desk, deep in thought, idly toying with his omamori. An odd habit, he found that giving the hands something to do seemed to focus the mind in ways that simple contemplation never did. His mind had grown ever sharper, his skills of observation even more acute. In awe of his perception, other administrators had adopted similar routines, hoping to be granted some measure of Norioki's skill.
Yet more welcome news with our Junsatsushi in Kii achieving rank 3. While Kii is no longer an extremely rich province by our standards, it is nevertheless quite valuable and hitting rank 3 will allow us to maximise our income to really kick our war engine into high gear.
Kii had flourished under Noriaki's management. Always a valuable agricultural province, Noriaki had, very carefully, established a trading consortium dealing in rice owned by the Taira. By using the families great wealth to corner the market and adding a modest premium to the cost of rice, additional wealth flowed into the Taira coffers. Always aware of public perception, Norioki ensured that a portion of the rice purchased by the consortium was instead distributed to the needy and starving. In this way the Taira family became more loved for their good works and more wealthy to ensure the safety of the people.
Noriaki is just too valuable with the extra income he can produce, so we give him two points into Magistrate to really bring in the koku. The extra money will be essential to letting me recruit some quality troops for our front line and help me show just what you can do with a strong economy backing you.
"My Lord, enemy forces have landed upon our shores!" announced the scout, eyes wide.
The Mikawan administrator looked concerned. "What numbers?" he demanded.
"I counted two hosts, my Lord" responded the scout. "Each numbered a thousand heads."
The Mikawan administrator stood up. "Send for the garrison commander" he ordered. "We must prepare our defences."
Our lack of a navy shows the first repercussions, with not one but two enemy invasion forces landing in Mikawa. One is all levy and doesn't really concern me, but the other has quality Sword Attendants and will be a much more difficult foe to fight. If they reinforce each other, it could be a bloody and brutal fight. The computer tends to favour invading certain provinces, with Mikawa being one of these, so extra defence tends to pay large dividends. I may even build a Fort there to ensure it stays in Taira hands.
Ietoyo looked ahead, his face solemn. His hatred of the Minamoto burned within his breast, their senseless violence and inability to accept the natural order of things had cost so many lives and shaken Japan to her core. Only by keeping the anger in his heart, his mission at the forefront, could he blot out the guilt he felt over having to serve. He did what he had to do in order to ensure his families survival, but the sacrifice would be for naught if the Minamoto could not be stopped.
South Shinano is a tempting target, as it consolidates a front down into a single province, allowing us to be a spear point thrusting towards the destruction of the Minamoto and the completion of the game! To that end Ietoyo marches to the border of Mino and South Shinano, ready to strike the Minamoto province next turn. It's going to be risky, but we know that Ietoyo can handle his own in a fight, so I can withdraw if I encounter heavy resistance.
"I will not!" burst forth Tomoe Gozen, anger clouding her face. "I'm no common servant to be spoken to so! My skills are far more than a match for you!"
"You will do what I tell you to do, woman" stated Norioki, his tone cold. "Your fame might make others bow to you, but be under no illusion, you are another common soldier."
"You can't expect me to quarter myself and my bodyguards with the servants" retorted Tomoe Gozen. "It's an insult."
"You can hardly expect to quarter with the men. Unlike Settsu, the facilities are more limited" responded Norioki. "This conversation is over. That's an order."
Tomoe Gozen drew herself up to full height and looked Norioki in the eyes. "I did not swear to serve the Taira so that I could waste my days in servants quarters. If you will not lead us into battle, then I know of a man who will."
Turning around, Tomoe Gozen strode out of the room.
It looks like our vassals are not going to rebel any time soon (the bastards! I want to crush them with my nice army!) and I didn't build these Onna Bushi Heroines to sit around getting fat on rice cakes. We march Tomoe Gozen east as far as she can go, which is a fair distance. A nice touch about Shogun 2 is that cavalry units move the furthest on the map, infantry a middle distance and siege engines the least. So you can move cavalry detachments at quite a speed, which can make all the difference. The other nice touch is that all the heroes have a unique appearance on the campaign map if they are leading an army or by themselves. As you can see, the Onna Bushi Heroines have quite a distinctive look.
"Men are not by their nature evil creatures" thought Hisakane. "Yet from their actions evil may spread forth. No man believes in his heart that he commits evil, yet such men must be shown the error of their ways. Words may succeed where a thousand blades would fail."
Ninjas are not the only way to deal with troublesome enemy agents. The Sou can also indoctrinate enemy agents, giving them a crisis of faith and causing them to abandon their cause for a limited number of turns or in some cases permanently. This is more effective against Junsatsushi and least effective against Ninjas, with other Sou and Shirabyoshi's falling in the middle. We just so happen to have a rank 4 enemy Junsatsushi causing havoc and Hisakane is in the area...
"You serve the Minamoto, yet your true master is death. The death of innocents, the death of children, the death of Japan itself" accused Hisakane.
"I serve the Minamoto" retorted Atsutaka. "I will serve them as long as I have breath. The Taira seek to destroy our clan, our way of life."
"Yet your actions ensure the death of innocents, innocents that could yet be saved by your hand" noted Hisakane. "To prolong this war, this losing war. That is the true crime. Those are the deaths that the soul must atone for."
"The Taira ensure the same. Their war is far from as blameless as they would believe" responded Atsutaka. "They will not rest until the Minamoto are destroyed."
"Munemori is famous for his mercy. The Minamoto may yet call upon it" Hisakane stated. "Yet by your very actions, you may show that the Minamoto are beyond redemption. Then you alone would be responsible for the children dead or orphaned, your soul burdened by an impossible weight."
If we plan to seize Minamoto provinces, we can't afford to have a powerful Junsatsushi running around buying them back from underneath us. You will notice that the enemy Junsatsushi has a leaf pinned to his breast, this indicates he is rank 4 or 5, as the appearance of units changes at rank 4 and again at rank 6. To eliminate this threat (at great cost and not exactly brilliant odds) we dispatch Hisakane to show the enemy agent the error of his ways.
Atsutaka was silent for a time. "My soul is far from unburdened" he stated. "Yet your words trouble me, monk. How much more must I be responsible for? Will I be known as a merchant of death? What will become of my family? I must leave, for I have tasks I must do."
The gods favour Hisakane, empowering his words with fundamental truths, making the enemy agent abandon his cause permanently! This is a huge coup for us, as we can deal with almost any military threat, but the lack of clan support in our new provinces makes any junsatsushi deadly, let alone an exceptionally skilled one. The fact that Sou are the counter units to Junsatsushi make them worthwhile to build and with how inexpensive they are to train there really is no excuse for not having a few around the place (which I have not done >.> ).
Inwardly, the levy captain paniced. You must have to be born noble to handle so many men! He was taxed to his very limited keeping things in order. He was common, not noble, how could he be expected to command so many men? His years of experience kept it all together, but how he was going to seize Echizen as his orders dictated, he had no idea.
Now this is an interesting quirk of the AI. You will notice the Adachi army has not moved from where it ended it's last turn. The reason for this is that the AI wants to defend it's only province, but doesn't believe it will win the fight, so instead of trying a desperate last stand or taking a second province so it won't get wiped out, it just... sits there. It's quite jarring when it happens, but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, so we march on Echizen to solve the computer's dilemma.
"Men" Mitsutoki, the levy captain, bellowed. "We are the blood that beats in the Taira heart. We are the fire in Japan's soul. Today we show our mettle. We show the world that men like us need no samurai, no nobles, no Lord. We do what we must to survive, we fight for the safety of our families, we fight for our own banner. We fight for every simple man in Japan."
As expected, Echizen is defended only by it's Town Watch with 3 Naginata Levy Garrison and 2 Bow Levy Garrison, while our forces of 13 Naginata Levy and 7 Bow Levy will be more than enough to comprehensively take the province, despite being led only by a levy captain. The fact that our units currently cause fear mean we can morale shock with numbers and cause a chain rout with hopefully minimal casualties.
Click here to see the battle!
"I want a detachment of troops to approach from the western side, send a half dozen companies of Naginata" ordered Mitsutoki. "I will take personal command of the remainder and approach from the east. The Adachi will find themselves surrounded and flee like a startled fox."
With the town surrounded by a moat, we run the risk of tiring our troops out if we advance too quickly. However, with such an overwhelming numbers advantage, we are able to split our forces to approach from two sides, overwhelming the meagre defences and giving us a substantial advantage in the battle.
The men were untested in battle, but they were Taira. Hours of drill and the superior cratsmanship of their armour ensured that the Adachi force could do little but flee before the levy onslaught.
As expected, we scored a smashing victory, taking only minor casualties, killing the Adachi defenders at a rate of 8:1! These minor losses will be quickly replenished and should enable us to hold the province against attack. Until we can construct a Stronghold here however, we will be vulnerable to attack of size or quality.
Mitsutoki addressed his men. "With our victory today, we showed Japan what a dedicated man can do! Although each man lost is tragedy, that so few fell against so many is testament to our will and strength. Let others underestimate us at their peril!"
The kills were split fairly evenly across our troops, although only a single Naginata Levy gained rank 2, with another gaining rank 1. The capture of the province was almost too easy, I'm expecting the other shoe to drop any turn now.
"Sir, I have the initial report of the province of Echizen" reported the attendant. "This province is indeed a great prize for the Taira."
"I see" responded Mitsutoki. "Report."
"The province has respectable economic wealth and a large contingent of samurai and attendants" the attendant replied. "The greatest boon is the valuable luxury goods the region is famous for, unmatched in all Japan. These items command a princely sum and will make the Taira very rich indeed."
Although the province completely supports the Minamoto (all the more reason I had to get rid of that Junsatsushi), it has quite respectable wealth, but the big boost is the capture of the Washi Mills, which produce 25 luxury goods. Each luxury good sells for 49 koku (25 if not exported) and so the goods alone net me somewhere between 625 koku and 1225 koku per turn. The Bushi School here also allows me to reinforce this army with additional quality troops if I wish to push further forward from this province. Echizen contains a Town, Town Watch, Bushi School, Dry Field Agriculture (Fertile Soil), Roads, Harbour and Washi Mills.
Washi Mills are the second building in the Craftwork building chain, further increasing the wealth generated and the number of luxury goods. The accuracy boost to ranged units from the first building is unchanged, as this is improved by the Fletcher building chain, the other option for this province speciality.
In-game encyclopaedia - Washi Mills posted:
In the hands of a master everything is simple.
By investing in artisans it is possible to help the economy grow steadily or to improve the accuracy of archers. Craftsmen add to the quality of life for all the people. Everyone, from the simplest peasant to the mightiest warlord, can appreciate good workmanship when he sees and uses a well-made object.
Craftsmanship of all kinds has always been admired in Japan. A calligrapher who produces the perfect brush stroke to write a scroll, and a potter who makes a perfect bowl are valued. What is required from all of these men and women is absolute dedication to their craft and, eventually, the ability to make the remarkably difficult seem effortless. Such work never is; technique has demanded dedication.
Today the Japanese government recognises great craftsmen as ningen kokuho "living national treasures" or, more properly, juyo mukei bunkazai hojisha which translates as "preservers of important intangible cultural properties". Behind this bureaucratic language is a remarkable and worthy idea: to preserve the best by honouring these highly skilled people.
The Adachi had chosen the wrong side and paid the ultimate price. Their home province under Taira control, their armies scattered to the four winds. Munemori had issued a blanket pardon to all Adachi who surrendered and returned to Echizen, breaking the little remnant of the Adachi fighting spirit. They had been friends once, perhaps by showing mercy further fighting could be avoided.
With the loss of their only province, the Adachi, our long-term trading partners, have been eliminated. Their armies disband and all agents desert their cause. The biggest threat to our north has been crushed, securing Taira dominance of the area. With this clan eliminated, we only have 5 provinces left to claim before Japan bows to our supremacy!
Shigehira looked at the new accounts scrolls and laughed. "To think I worried about money!" he thought to himself. "We make an emperors ransom. We must surely be the wealthiest clan in all Japan!"
To demonstrate just how big an impact taking Echizen has on our bank balance, here are our finance summaries before and after we took Echizen. Our profit margins have gone from healthy to amazing. With almost 4000 koku a turn to spend, I can not only upgrade buildings to my hearts content, but I can start producing quality troops in number. Settsu has been build with an eye to this day coming, with the capacity to recruit 3 units of elite soldiers a turn. With our Buddhist Temple scheduled to complete next turn and the ensuing Naginata Warrior Monks that will enable, our armed forces are soon to demonstrate why the Taira are Japan's rightful rulers. We have come a long way from our earlier economic woes (Luxury goods are so damned broken, I love it)!
"Yet we could make even more" Shigehira thought. "The market is flooded with Taira crafts. If we could find more markets and increase the rarity of our luxury items, we could gather even more wealth."
You will notice that we are only exporting 68% of our luxury goods and so we are missing out on 207 koku a turn worth of income. We need more trade partners, which at this stage of the game means we need more vassals. With the money from the luxury goods bankrolling an army the likes of which Japan has never seen, I don't see this as going to be a problem.
Nakamitsu moved through the Minamoto camp like a shadow of vengeance. Guards swore they saw something, only to blink to find it gone, men got the distinct feeling they were being watched, yet none could find the source of their discontent.
"This place is haunted by angry ghosts" one guard muttered to another. "I'll be grateful when we leave these woods."
Entering the command tent, Nakamitsu found it empty. The hour was late, however, and he was certain the general would be back soon. Hiding in a corner amongst some discarded armour, Nakamitsu watched and waited.
He was rewarded when the general entered the tent, flanked by two bodyguards. Nakamitsu's heart stopped as the general turned to look in the corner, his eyes questioning...
We have two things that we need to do this turn with Nakamitsu. The first is that we need to scout the adjacent province of Izu to see if there are any threats to Tomomori and secondly we need to do something about that Minamoto army to the north. It only consists of 3 units, a general, a Foot Samurai and a Fire Bomb Thrower. While I could sabotage the army, it would replenish as it's in friendly territory. Instead, I think a little assassination is in order...
Yet years of experience had taught Nakamitsu well, his body contorted in with the armour in the dark corner, looking for all the world like discarded clothing buried in the armour.
"My wife would kill me if she saw how I kept my command tent!" the general joked to his bodyguards. "Stand watch outside, I'm heading to bed."
As the bodyguards left the room, Nakamitsu sprang from his corner like a man possessed, his blade striking the hapless general across the throat before he could make a sound. Moving with the trained fury of a killer, two more clean strokes took the unaware guards by surprise, felling them as Nakamitsu escaped into the night unseen.
Success! The Minamoto general lies dead, his bodyguard in disgrace. Without a leader, that force will be easily dispersed by any of my garrisons and effortlessly crushed by Tomomori. Nakamitsu is a terror, striking fear deep into the hearts of the Minamoto and allowing Tomomori to deal damage far beyond anything that could be expected.
"I know you are all tired" Tomomori said. "Yet the Minamoto will not rest until we are dead, our families broken. We will not let that happen, but rest assured, we will end this war soon. We will teach the Minamoto the price of war with the Taira!"
With Izu all but undefended, a Town garrisoned by a mere Tadokoro, it would be foolish to not maximise on our options and seize another province for the glory of the Taira, weakening the Minamoto even further and placing us that much closer to victory.
The men stood in battle array ready to attack the Minamoto town. Although their numbers were lacking, each man had seen dozens of battles, the hardened look of born warriors giving them an unearthly appearance, like vengeance personified. Each stood ready to die for the Taira, but far more ready to make the enemy die for the Minamoto. None would fail Tomomori, each man hardened by ruthless drill and preparation. The Minamoto would stand no chance.
The attack on Izu is strongly in our favour, as Tomomori's battle hardened forces of 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendants, 6 Naginata Levy, 2 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks squares off against 2 Naginata Levy Garrison and 1 Bow Levy Garrison. They are unlikely to offer much resistance against Tomomori's unstoppable force.
Click here to see the battle!
"I wager a koku that not a single shot of mine will fly wide!" yelled the samurai captain. "The Minamoto will know that death comes for them and he wears Taira colours!"
The arrows sang their song of death as they arced through the sky. The samurai were veteran soldiers, each man knowing his duty and executing it with superhuman skill. Their only sound was the chuckling from the samurai captain, punctuated with a "hah!" every time his arrow struck a Minamoto dog. There were many such cries that day.
The terrain is favourable for our attack, being a map that we have all certainly seen before. The gentle slope on the south west will once again be our preferred approach and I can see little that would stop our victory.
The Minamoto were men defending their ancestral homes, but they were only levy, not professional soldiers. Nothing could prepare them for the terror that Tomomori's forces unleased upon them. Weakened by stories of the invincibility of the Taira, these rumours took on terrifying new form when confronted with Tomomori and his men, their red Taira armour making them look bathed in blood, their mechanical and well drilled precision only serving to further reinforce their forsaken appearance.
A significant victory, as expected. Although we lost more men than I would have hoped, our victory is nevertheless a good one. This is almost the last hurrah for this army, as we now have next to no room to lose troops before our combat effectiveness drains away into nothing. Nevertheless, our elite units stand ready to make any enemy pay dearly for an attack.
"Bah! The Minamoto put up no fight at all" raged Tomomori. "There is no satisfaction in cutting cowards down from behind."
Grinning, the samurai captain replied. "I find the running targets make for the most satisfying shots."
Tomomori looked at the captain critically. "We fight for Munemori and the Taira, not for pleasure. Do not forget that. There is no glory in the killing, only in the mastery of yourself and your weapons."
All our losses are levy, with the exception of a single Foot Samurai. Kills are fairly even, with no one unit standing out as having done an exceptional job. The only thing of note is two of our Naginata Levy reaching rank 2.
Tomomori looked at his bodyguard. "I do wonder if your replacement was the right choice to lead the samurai."
His bodyguard shrugged. "He was the finest warrior we had, but it seems without a firm hand he has become... less than stable."
"I may have to do something about him after the Minamoto are defeated" replied Tomomori. "Nevertheless, this land is wealthy, albiet poorly developed."
"They tell tales of gold laying around in streams where any may pick it up" responded the bodyguard. "I'll forgive your debts to me if you find some before me."
Tomomori glared. "An unfair proposal. Double or nothing that I find gold first."
The bodyguard smiled. "Maybe luck will favour you this time!"
Izu as a province is unremarkable and would be worth very little if not for the fact that it contains gold deposits, greatly increasing it's wealth. The Minamoto have not improved their gold mining facilities, so the wealth generated is only moderate, but nevertheless it makes the province a worthwhile addition to the Taira empire. It completely supports the Minamoto, so a substantial garrison will be required here to maintain order. Even with the garrison, it is likely to be cash-flow positive (just!) and so is a useful acquisition. Izu contains a Town, Tadokoro, Market, Dry Field Agriculture (Barren Soil), Trails and Placer Gold Mining.
In-game encyclopaedia - Placer Gold Mining posted:
Wealth is never dishonourable.
There is gold in this province and it is easily worked thanks to surface deposits. However, by investing in bigger and deeper mines, it is possible to greatly increase the wealth generated by this province. Gold is, of course, always welcome to any warlord because all wise commanders know that wars cannot be fought, let alone won, without wealth.
Gold mining is a dirty and dangerous business for the miners and surface workers. Their lives are likely to be short and brutal, and woe betide anyone who even thinks about stealing the wealth lying all around!
"How much more will it take for Japan to recognise the emperor's rightful claim?" wondered Munemori. "Our power is proof of the manifest destiny and blessing of the emperor. If the Minamoto can be eliminated, perhaps the other clans will fall back in line."
With the new wealth flowing into the Taira coffers in the form of Luxury Goods and Gold, we are now an Affluent clan, our economic might matching our military prowess. With only 4 provinces needed before victory (1 named province of Sagami), we are well and truly approaching the endgame. Japan will belong to the Taira!
Sneak Peak:The Enryakuji dedication