Part 25: Update 23 (Winter 1185 (Enemy Turn) - Spring 1186)Men of Faith
Winter of 1185 (Enemy Turn)
Yoshihide inspected the readied men around the small town. The men saluted as he went past, the worry on their faces eased as they saw their captain having matters well in hand. Inwards, Yoshihide did not share their confidence in his ability. Mitsutoki should be commander here, but his expertise was needed to lead the strike column into the enemy rear. Both men were common born, leaders through little more than happenstance, yet commanding armies of size few in Japan could rival. The town itself was a poor place for a battle, a few houses, some low fences, abandoned carts, nothing that would stop more than a handful of bandits, let alone an entire enemy host. Yet the town's river, diverted by some wise engineer long ago to form a moat around the ramshackle palisade might provide the edge he needed, as long as his men held their nerve.
As expected, the Suguwara attack our poorly fortified town of Echizen, while we have the numerical advantage with 16 Naginata Levy and 7 Bow Levy, the Suguwara forces, consisting of 12 Naginata Levy, 6 Bow Levy and 2 Generals, has the bonus armour and melee attack from being produced in a blacksmith province, giving them a significant quality edge. To make matters worse, with the Suguwara being led by their Daimyo with a backup General, they have a substantial morale advantage with armies led by the Daimyo getting an additional +1 morale in addition to any bonuses based on their skill as a general, while our forces are only led by a captain (albeit a very competent one). This battle will come down to forcing a chain rout, as I can't win a grind fight. I'm going to need locally superior force, flanking and powerful charges to turn this tide.
Click here to see the live battle!
Meanwhile, Mitsutoki waited in silence with his detachment of men in the nearby woods. The air was still on this cold winter morning, a bitter wet fog smothered everything, draping the world in a dreamlike haze. The Sugawara army approahced the town, apparently unaware of the ambush being laid for them. These Taira men had the courage of lions, despite thier simple origin. Only the bravest would charge unsupported into the rear of an enemy host to buy others time, for such an action was sure death. Yet Mitsutoki knew that each man would do his utmost, here in the forgotten lands of the Gempei War. Standing up, he silently ordered his men forward, into the mist.
While this is arguably the best map to defend with only a Town, we still have our work cut out for us. The river crossings act as very effective bridges, channelling the enemy army into our kill zone and slowing them down giving us more time to react. Ideally, we can draw them across the river and force them to run up the hill a bit, before counter-charging downhill and flanking them, sweeping around the sides and chain routing them. The computer tends to spread it's army out around the Town and attack from all sides, which means our 3 reinforcement units coming from the west should be able to tie up an entire flank by themselves.
"TAIRA!" the battlecry thundered into the mist, as the strike column fell into the rear of the Sugawara army. Confusion reigned, yet the Suguwara Daimyo was no fool, to rashly overreact and fall into a panic. Instead, his orders rang out clear, with several units detaching to form up a battle line and protect the rear of the army.
"Munemori! For Taira! For Honour!" yelled Mitsutoki as he crashed into the enemy force and the battle was joined. The deep mist turned the world into a nightmare, sapping the colour from everything, reducing the world to demented shadow puppets wielding terrible weapons, laced with bright red blood.
"The Town must hold, we need to buy more time" thought Mitsutoki as he blocked a strike.
"Taira! TO ME!" he yelled, redoubling his attack. "Rally to your captain! Never retreat, never surrender, FOR THE TAIRA!" he thundered, his voice carrying far across the battlefield.
Maybe it would draw more enemy forces and their Daimyo. It must, or else the town would be lost.
Despite all appearances, that was an exceptionally close battle. Levy fights, especially of low level troops with terrible generals, tend to resolve in a chain rout from one side or the other, often with fairly low casualties. With the kills in our favour 3 to 1, we have bought Echizen some breathing room and I can probably put off building a Stronghold here for a turn or two longer. With the turns replenishment on our main army (although our reinforcement army will not replenish as it's not in a town or led by a general!) our forces are effectively untouched.
Yoshihide watched the battle unfold at the foot of the hill below him, the Suguwara forces charging across the bitter icy waters appearing like smoke given solid form. The Taira forces were engaged in bitter combat, their sheer determination holding against the superior arms and armour of their foes. Yet despite this, Yoshihide could feel the battle turning, slowly yet surely against the Taira.
"Captain! Enemy forces have broken through on the west flank, they will be amongst our archers!" the messenger reported.
Yoshihide's face set in a determined gaze as he raised his naginata. "Raise the banner and bang the drums!" he ordered. "Let the Taira know that their captain comes to bring terrible vengeance on our foes!"
As the mighty drums boomed into the misty carnage, he led his men into the collapsed flank, determined that the Taira would hold.
His heroic charge to save his men would go down in Taira clan history as the highest form of valour in combat.
Not much to see here, with a few units gaining ranks but most staying the same. Our front line Naginata units are easy to spot with their high number of kills (190 and 175), but otherwise very little to show for what could have been a devastating attack.
"My Lord, a... package has arrived for you" announced the attendant, reluctantly.
"Bring it here" ordered Munemori, collecting the wicker basket from the attendant. Opening it, his face twisted into rage as he saw the gruesome cargo, a severed human head.
"My Lord?" asked the attendant.
"It's Watanabe, ambassador to the Kitabitake" replied Munemori, his tone level. "Send word to Kyoto and Settsu. The Kitabitake are to be destroyed, their lands burned, their ashes scattered to the four corners of Japan. Traitors will receive their just rewards."
Finally tired of being on the winning side, our Kitabitake vassals decide to declare war on us and declare their intent to support the losing team. It's actually a decent move, as I have minimal forces able to deal with their uprising. Despite that, their army is pitiful and easily able to be repelled by my central provinces and it's only a matter of time before I demonstrate why vassalage is preferable to annihilation and salting the earth. The real loss is that we can no longer trade with them, costing us around 800 koku a turn in lost income. It's a nasty blow given that we had just turned the corner on income but now funds are tightening back up. Time to unleash the head monk!
Spring of 1186
With a mighty boom, the heavy bar dropped across the gates of the stronghold in Suruga.
"That will keep the vermin out!" the captain of the guard nodded, approvingly. "No Minamoto peasant will get that open!"
The administrator sighed. "Overconfidence could make this our grave" he replied. "Tomomori can't be everywhere and our own forces can barely keep order."
"Ha!" retorted the captain. "The Tiara have never ceded territory. Munemori would never allow it. I will not fail in my duty."
The recently conquered southern province of Suruga finishes it's Stronghold, massively increasing our defensive power behind Tomomori's forces and dealing a major blow to the counter-attack possibilities of the Minamoto. While I'm confident that there are more military forces there than we can see (and nasty ones too, I expect), even a half stack of Levy in a Stronghold can limit any losses to a single province and give us enough time to muster reinforcements. With the loss of a victory province now that the Kitabitake have rebelled, I can't afford to go further backwards in our quest for victory!
The head monk bowed. "As promised My Lord Shigehira, two full regiments of the finest warrior monks." he intoned. "We Enryakuji might be an aloof sect, but our monks are trained well beyond the other, lesser sects. Each monk is worth a thousand lesser men."
"A bold claim" replied Shigehira. "I am pleased that our arrangement could be mutually beneficial. Munemori will be most grateful."
"Heaven herself supports our claims" responded the monk, smiling. "Just as she supports the true emperor and leaders of Japan. We walk in grace."
This is what we came here to see! We needed to leverage our money into combat ability and I have done that in spades! While our standard garrison troops have been procured in the island province of Awa while Mikawa, Izu and Suruga get their peacekeeping forces (and anti-Minamoto assistance) the real stars of the show are in South Shinano and our clan capital of Settsu. In South Shinano, Ietoyo gets a brand new regiment of Fire Bomb Throwers, these men throw explosive grenades that deal massive damage and cause terror in the troops they strike. They require a lot of skill to use however, as their grenades have no distinction between friend and foe while their melee skills are poor to say the least! Shigehira receives the assistance of a full two regiments of Naginata Warrior Monks at rank 4. These troops wield the naginata with unsurpassed skill, each man an equal of a samurai in melee combat while able to obliterate cavalry. In addition, they have the ability to Warcry, reducing the melee defence of enemy units as well as their morale. With a full 75 men in the unit, they also replenish at a decent rate. As they start at rank 4, they are next to unstoppable!
In game encyclopaedia - Naginata Warrior Monks posted:
A devout warrior can be very dangerous, for the truly devout have little to fear from death. For these monks, faith is not just a matter of conscience, but another weapon and armour for the soul. It gives them very good morale in battle. The weapons they carry are naginatas, a staff as tall as a man with a sword-like blade fixed to the end. The long reach of these polearms makes them effective against both cavalry and infantry, but this versatility is no protection against overwhelming numbers or against missile attack.
The temples at Enryakuji, Miidera and Nara played a key role in the outcome of the Gempei War, giving each family a fighting force of deadly monk warriors. Each temple's choice in choosing allies were often heavily influenced by the actions of the other two temples. Although the Nara and Miidera monks joined forces to aid the Minamoto during the Gempei War, they had been mortal enemies in 1117. As described in the war epic 'Heike Monogatari', the monks of Enryakuji and Miidera united against the Nara monks. The Emperor Go Shirakawa is quoted as saying: 'Three things refuse to obey my will: the waters of the Kamo River, the fall of backgammon dice and the monks of the Enryakuji Temple.'
"What are they playing at?" wondered the Mino guard captain. "The Kitabatake openly rebel, then march towards our walls with an inferior force? Either they have taken leave of their senses, or something else is afoot."
The Kitabitake forces have marched on Mino, having decided to put their military forces to the test against the Taira. Given that they are all levy and our army is almost the same as theirs but we have walls, I laugh at their pathetic attempts at rebellion.
"My Lord, Satake forces have landed in the harbour!" reported the scout. "Their force is around a thousand strong, of levy stock."
"Our fortifications could withstand thrice that" replied Shigehira. "Our monks a thousand more. Something else is happening here, but I just can't see it. I must see it!"
In another interesting move, an invasion force from the Satake has arrived on the shores of Settsu. While Settsu is lacking in troops by number, it contains a Fort (the fortification above Stronghold and currently the best we can build) as well as having two regiments of our brand new Naginata Warrior Monks and Shigehira. Any attack on Settsu would be suicide, which makes their appearance all the more puzzling. Where are they going?
"I've got this" Taneyori thought to himself. "I can do this. I have help, I have skills and Mitsukazu believes in me. I can secure the Taira position here."
We need to bring clan support up in our newly conquered territory of South Shinano, but there is no reason we can't grab a few extra koku while we are here! To that end, we move Taneyori into the province town to oversee the tax collection there.
Hisakane meandered north, feeling the warm spring wind on his cheek. These lands were open to the good deeds and words of the Taira, he was sure of it. The Minamoto evaporated before the Taira like snow before the spring winds themselves, what could possibly stand between heaven's true plan and the Taira ascension?
Meanwhile, we need eyes into Minamoto territory so we can see what tricks they have in store for us. I'm concerned that they plan to launch a counter-offensive and right now I would be hard pressed to deal with it in the south.
"My hometown is under threat" Ietoyo informed his captain. "I must take action to end this war, to end the Minamoto, to save my people."
"What can you do from here, My Lord?" questioned the captain.
"We can take the Minamoto out of this war. Without figureheads to rally behind, the other clans will fall into line" responded Ietoyo. "Order the men to be ready. We march on North Shinano."
"I will go with you" said the cavalry captain, weakly. Bandages covered his body, an assistant ready to help him walk. None had expected him to survive his wounds, yet his vitality matched his courage.
Ietoyo's face softened. "Of course, my friend" he replied. "I will instruct the staff to ready a cart and assistants for you."
We learned that North Shinano is poorly defended, with only a Town level fortification and a garrison of two Foot Samurai. It's a great opportunity to eliminate some valuable Foot Samurai while snagging a town, so we take Ietoyo and his newly minted Fire Bomb Throwers and march them to the border of South and North Shinano so that we can take advantage of another turn of replenishment before our attack!
The samurai captain saluted. "My Lady Gozen, I humbly request the honour of joining you and your warriors, along with my men."
Tomoe Gozen fixed the samurai with a steady gaze. "Where are you headed?" she inquired.
"We have orders to meet up with Tomomori and ensure the destruction of the Minamoto, My Lady." responded the captain.
Tomoe Gozen lit up, the warm smile on her face a contrast to her intricate and imposing armour. "We would be honoured for you to join us, captain." she replied.
Another turn of moving Tomoe Gozen and we are starting to approach Tomomori! We make it to the province of Mikawa, we are only a few turns away from reinforcing our heavily depleted southern combat force. In addition, we collected another unit of Foot Samurai that had been garrisoning Owari that I had completely forgotten about(!), so Tomomori will indeed gain a fearsome amount of fire-power.
"The Minamoto march a force from the north!" reported the scout. "Their forces are small, but well trained and equipped."
Tomomori's eyes lit up. "My brother never intended me to babysit unhappy farmers!" exclaimed Tomomori. "Order the men to gather and be ready to march, we go for the glory of the Taira!"
The Minamoto have sent out a fairly powerful, if small, force intent on mischief. I'm in a tough spot here, as I can't rely on Suruga to hold against this force and I can't afford to risk that they join up with a larger army. Instead, we play boldly and roll the dice on last time, launching an attack with everything we have from Izu. This leaves Izu in the state of unrest, but we have a turns grace before an uprising will occur, so we can pull Tomomori's forces back to quell unrest next turn (and to replenish). Poor Tomomori, he will get a break one of these turns!
"The enemy encamps upon the hill" the scout reported. "Their samurai are equal in number to ours, although their force is one third. The men look well trained and equipped."
Tomomori snorted. "One Taira is worth a dozen Minamoto, peasant or samurai."
"Your orders, My Lord?" inquired the samurai captain.
"Fill the sky with fire" replied Tomomori. "Let them watch their companions burn in the fury of the Taira."
The captain's grin was malicious. "My pleasure."
As you can see, the enemy army is extremely powerful, with 2 Generals, 2 Sword Attendants, 1 Bow Attendant, 2 Foot Samurai and 2 Fire Bomb Throwers each with the Weaponsmith upgrade adding +4 to their melee attack and +1 to their armour! Our forces on the other hand, are veteran and led by Tomomori, the most skilled warrior in all Japan. Commanding 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendant, 8 Naginata Levy, 2 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks we have a large numbers advantage. Our superior and more numerous ranged troops will ensure we win the ranged battle comprehensively, but the enemy Sword Attendants have a devastating charge which will deal massive damage to any unit that they engage. The Levy are going to feel this one.
Click here to see the battle!
The bows sang, delivering their fiery payload into the Minamoto forces, who responded in kind. Taira levy and monks fell, yet their will did not falter, repaying the Minamoto in kind. Arrows cared little for the skill of the man they struck.
The map looks good for us, with the hill on the Minamoto side of the field being fairly gentle and no choke-points to let us take full advantage of our numerical advantage. I need to push forward and make them come to me with my superior ranged abilities, while at the same time not taking difficult to replace casualties, a tricky proposition when the enemy has multiple Foot Samurai! While I would comfortably win any grind fight with Tomomori's exceptional generalship and the veteran nature of our troops, the combat inferiority our levy have means that we would take enormous casualties in doing so. We need to rely on a morale shock to keep our force combat effective.
The Minamoto swordsmen charged, their brutal two handed blades gleaming in the midday sun. Yet the Taira levy did not falter, trusting in Tomomori and their training, the finest in Japan. The momentum of the charge dealt heavy blows, scattering levyman, yet the Taira counterattack was equally brutal, the more numerous levy holding the line and swarming the swordsmen from the flanks and rear, like ants on a frog. For the Minamoto, all hope had faded.
The fact we killed more enemy than we lost is an exceptional outcome when you consider it was levy versus quality troops. It's amazing the sheer fire-power you can bring to bear if you have room to maneuver. Our army is looking pretty mauled though, with not a single unit at full strength. The Minamoto force is almost entirely obliterated however, giving me a difficult choice. Do I play for all the marbles, throw caution to the wind and march Tomomori on Sagami to take our final name victory province or do I let prudence reign and wait for the reinforcements I know are coming?
"A glorious battle!" relished Tomomori. "The supremacy of the Taira is unmatched, the honour of even the lowliest peasant beyond doubt."
The bodyguard nodded. "This was bloody work this day, my Lord" he replied. "Yet the men performed well beyond what could possibly be expected. I suspect mothers whisper your name to their children to frighten them into obedience!"
Tomomori laughed. "Advice those children would do well to heed! My brother treats every man, woman and child as family and I respect his wishes. However, we still have work to do before the false emperor is defeated for good."
Tomomori continues his demonstration that none can match him and his chosen on the field, gaining a combat rank, bringing him to rank 7. Losses are consistent across all our units, elite and levy alike, but by far the greatest blow is the decimation of our Bow Warrior Monks, with a mere 20 men left remaining in the unit. Although our Foot Samurai can carry us through on the ranged front, with less than a third of the unit alive we can't expect to eke any more out of these noble men.
"My Lord Tomomori, if we are away from town too long the Minamoto sympathisers will instigate rebellion" noted his bodyguard. "Should I instruct the men to be ready to march south?"
"The Minamoto are finished!" retorted Tomomori. "We will march on Sagami and crush them completely!"
"Are you sure, My Lord?" questioned the bodyguard.
Tomomori kicked a nearby helmet, sending it flying. "Of course I'm sure!" he thundered. "I owe you my life, but don't forget who is in charge. I will see the proper leaders of Japan in their rightful places."
We continue to put the Minamoto under threat, exhausting the last of Tomomori's movement to put him a little closer to Sagami, the Minamoto home province. Izu is still fermenting unrest however...
Nakamitsu waited in the dark for the drop off. "A poorly chosen place" he thought, as he stood in the deep shadow of the granary. "These are an ill-omen."
He spied a small child running towards him, a scroll in hand, seal intact. Paying the child as he sent him on his way, Nakamitsu opened the scroll and read his orders.
"Sabotage those fools again" he thought. "A most delightful and simple task."
With that thought, he set out at pace.
I can't take out that half unit of Foot Samurai without leaving Suruga exposed, so to prevent them burning down my farms and harbour we use Nakamitsu to sabotage the stack, bringing their numbers down further and netting some extra experience for our resident bringer of death.
Yet he had no gone more than a dozen steps when a patch of dirt turned out to be hiding thin ice, his foot sliding and hitting a rock, turning his ankle sideways with a pop and a white hot flash of pain.
"Fucking granaries!" he cursed, as he fell, his torn ligaments no longer able to support his weight.
... or not. The game plays fair with percentages, with the highest any agent can get 95%. This means that every action has at least a 5% chance of failure, which is what we very unluckily stumbled upon here. Luckily it's not all that important, as we will just lose some koku repairing (plus the reduction in taxes from having the building damaged), but income is a lesser concern right now.
"Finally, a chance to deal with upstarts. Maybe a solid example will keep the troublesome vassals in line" noted Norioki. "A collection of the finest men will see this job done."
"What forces, my Lord?" inquired the attendant.
"Our finest attendants and what monks we have. The rest will have to be peasant levy. I'll not leave Kyoto undefended if I don't need to" replied Norioki. "We will move with speed and catch the Kitabatake unaware. This will be over swiftly."
But thanks to that I can't really fuck around. I need those Kitabitake back under my heel yesterday. Luckily I have Norioki and his Kyoto defence force nearby to deal with any vassal rebellion. The situation is too precarious to deploy everything, so instead I take a half stack of our finest troops led by Norioki and send them to take the Kitabitake province of Isa. With their army far to the north and unable to make it home in time (Maybe...) I should be able to sweep in and finish this rebellion as quickly as it started.
Sneak Peak:Ietoyo's ascendancy