Part 28: Update 26 (Spring 1187)The Taira Ascendancy
Spring of 1187
The North Shinano administrator looked out over the newly recruited samurai, their ornate armour and polished bows shining in the spring sunlight. They served to defend their homeland, for the honour of the clan, for the protection of their families. The administrator secretly hoped that they would not see the brutality of this war that engulfed Japan, that Ietoyo would achieve his goal of peace.
We have mobilised a large number of troops as part of our final push and with that left a few of our provinces more open than I am entirely comfortable with. In order to remedy that, we recruit a large number of troops across the board to bolster the defensive forces of our provinces as well as provide reinforcements if our final pushes should fall astray. With our vastly improved economic position you will notice that we can now afford elite troops in critical areas like North Shinano in order to bolster our battle line of Levy.
"Commander, a large Akizuki army has made landfall outside the city" reported the scout, breathlessly.
"Mikawa has been attacked before, yet the men guarding her have never faltered" replied the garrison commander. "We will prevail."
We may need every edge we can get, as the Akizuki land a large invasion force of quality troops in the province of Mikawa. While we can't see much of the army composition, what we can see paints a fairly painful picture, with Sword Attendants and accuracy enhanced Foot Samurai. Remember how I mentioned earlier in the LP that the computer has places that they like to invade and that Mikawa is one? Well, here is further proof. This province is a honey-trap, as it's deliberately left slightly undermanned (not a full stack) so that the AI continues to use it as an invasion point of choice, but like a lightning rod it's properly armed, fortified and equipped to deal with almost anything. Once you know where the AI likes to do these invasions (Fukushima is another big one), you can really make the game work on your terms.
"The time of the Minamoto is coming to a close" thundered Hisakane to the small encampment outside the town. "The Taira already descend like heaven's wrath, wresting away ancestral lands! You must save yourselves, for you can not save your clan."
We need to ensure the absolute victory of Ietoyo in Kai to eliminate the Kiso Minamoto. While you can't demoralise garrison troops (you can only incite them to revolt), we can demoralise the reinforcement stack. Since that represents the bulk of the fire-power of the defending forces, it's the sensible choice.
The Minamoto soldiers looked unconvinced, but deep in their hearts doubt had begun to gnaw, sapping their will to fight. A fool could see that their fight was hopeless, but what else could they do?
Successful is always welcome. While it is unlikely to be absolutely necessary, every advantage helps.
"Today, we march to make history" announced Ietoyo. "We will strike a blow that will show Japan the determination and will of the Taira!"
Cheers erupted from his men. "Ietoyo!" cheered one.
"Taira!" thundered another.
"Japan will ring with the whispers of what we do" continued Ietoyo. "But we do this not for honour, not for glory, but for our families, for our children. We will seize peace and end this war. I promise it."
Leaving a moderate defensive force behind (with a backbone of our two recruited Foot Samurai), Ietoyo moves south to seize the last Kiso Minamoto province, Kai. While it leaves North Shinano less well defended than we would like, it links up our forces and consolidates our front.
The cavalry captain was healing slowly. He still walked with a limp and his body was covered in scars, but his face showed determination and strength.
"I will lead the cavalry, My Lord" he stated.
Ietoyo nodded. "My friend, yours will be the most vital part. You must prevent the reinforcements from interrupting our plan."
"It will be done, my Lord. I won't fail you." replied the cavalry captain.
"Let us dispense with formality, old friend. You have earned that much" responded Ietoyo. "Takeda Nobumitsu, it has been an honour to lead you into battle"
Nobumitsu bowed. "Ietoyo, it has been an honour to serve a leader as fine as you."
Ietoyo intends to end this war and he's brought all the tools to do it. Leading a mighty Taira force of 1 Mounted Naginata, 2 Foot Samurai, 8 Naginata Levy, 5 Bow Levy and 1 Fire Bomb Throwers (Our most balanced and well constructed army yet!) against the shattered Kiso Minamoto defenders who have 2 Naginata Levy and 1 Bow Levy, albeit reinforced by 1 Sword Attendants and 1 Bow Attendants, the outcome could barely be in doubt.
Click here to see the battle!
"Charge!" thundered Nobomitsu, as the cavalry burst down the hill towards the Minamoto reinforcements. The cavalry slammed into the Minamoto attendants, scattering men and killing many on impact. The mounted naginata did their job as only trained and dedicated men could, killing with brutal efficiency. Ietoyo's faith was indeed well placed.
The map is an old friend and will treat us well. This is a great example of the power of cavalry (for the first time in the campaign!), as the reinforcement army has no naginata and so are very vulnerable to cavalry charges. With our decisive melee and ranged advantage given our numbers, we will simply sweep the Kiso Minamoto off the field and out of existence.
"Fire!" ordered the samurai captain, as arrows arced through the air, like a deadly wind. The Minamoto defenders fell like wheat before the harvest, unable to respond to such ferocity and skill.
"Forward! For the Taira!" yelled Ietoyo, leading the charge personally. The last Kiso Minamoto stronghold would fall and he would see this bloody war ended.
The power of the Taira is obvious for all to see! Ietoyo achieves his objective of eliminating a primary antagonist in this war and his reward is retirement. His last big battle demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that this man has earned his rest. Ietoyo is a hero, a mighty leader of men and above all, a grandfather.
"The city is ours!" cheered Nobomitsu. "The Kiso Minamoto are no more, mere ronin. We win a great and lasting victory this day."
Ietoyo laughed. "We might get home yet."
"My family came from these parts" noted Nobomitsu. "We were driven out by the Minamoto, but this is my ancestral home."
Ietoyo stood still, lost in thought. "It may well be again" he replied. "I have a plan."
The Mounted Naginata are the clear MVP's of this battle, with a full 100 kills with only a mere 3 losses and they were fighting Attendants! Cavalry in Rise of the Samurai is very much a sometimes food, but when that sometimes comes up, they are beyond magical. Mounted Naginata are even more like this, but in this case, this is what you can do!
"The province is yours, Lord Takeda" Ietoyo stated. "Reassemble your family and rule here long and proud."
"What will you tell Munemori?" replied Nobomitsu. "You must not break your oath of loyalty."
"I would never do such a thing!" retorted Ietoyo. "I will tell him a local family fought and won control of Kai and they serve as our vassals. It is the truth, of sorts."
Nobomitsu grinned. "You are always welcome here, old friend."
What's this? Ietoyo doesn't claim the territory for the greater glory of the Taira, instead, he chooses to reward his old friend and the Takeda clan is born! What does this mean for the future? What we do know is that the Kamakura Minamoto are now alone in the world, having lost their sister clan. The Taira have struck a resounding blow and Japan takes note.
"We will show traitors what their reward is" announced Norioki. "Those who would stand against the Taira will be swept aside!"
With our forces moved within reinforcement range, it's time for Norioki to send a powerful message to not only the rebellious Watanabe, but Japan in general. With this rebellion so swiftly and powerfully responded to, it will be hard to convince others to stick their neck out. Vassals take note.
"We are the mightiest Taira army ever assembled!" thundered Norioki. "No force in all Japan has ever stopped a Taira soldier and we are no exception!"
"Our scouts have linked up with our other forces, My Lord" reported the Attendant. "They are ready to begin on your orders."
"Good" replied Norioki. "Send the order, we will sweep them from the field"
In one of (if not) the biggest battles in the LP, Norioki brings the fury of the Taira against the rebellious Watanabe. Norioki's force consists of 18 Naginata Levy, 11 Bow Levy, 3 Naginata Warrior Monks, 3 Naginata Attendants and 1 Bow Warrior Monks, totalling 37 units, 3 shy of the maximum possible for a side. The Watanabe traitors defend their homeland with 3 Generals, 10 Naginata Levy and 7 Bow Levy all with improved morale and totalling a full stack. Given our numerical advantage as well as our contingent of elite troops, we are well placed. Victory is far from assured however, as they have sufficient forces to rout poorly placed levy units with ease and our single general to their three means that while we will have trouble chain routing them, if Norioki should fall, it would likely happen to us.
Click here to see the battle!
"My Lord, is this the right approach?" questioned the attendant. "We are a long way from support."
"It's fine" retorted Norioki. "We will keep pressure up on the flank and they will flee like rats."
This map is deja-vu this turn, as we have seen it before. Our issue with deployment is that we don't get to choose where the reinforcement armies come on the field, instead, they will approach from the direction that they are located on the campaign map. This presents us with a problem, as Norioki's forces are too small to defend against a significant assault by themselves. With the extra generals the computer has, I expect us to come under constant harassment until out forces arrive in bulk and are able to overwhelm the Watanabe defenders.
"We can't hold this forever!" yelled the attendant, struggling in the melee. "There are too many!"
"Hold, damn you!" ordered Norioki, as he nocked another arrow. "We just need to keep our nerve while reinforcements sweep the town!"
Well... that was ugly and not at all up to my usual standard. My choice of deployment location was very poor, as it meant I couldn't see what was happening to the two portions of my army, forcing me to rely purely on the UI to direct my forces effectively. This wouldn't have been a problem, except for the fact that fighting with more than 20 units completely redoes your UI once they are on the field. This is important, as it means that not only do your title cards all get reshuffled so you can't work out who is what any more, but they get shrunk down to half size and stacked on top of each other (so the same UI space for 20 now fits 40), but the way these are populated doesn't represent the order they entered the field (unlike the normal UI). It works, but you really have to fight it and I need to rely on visual confirmation that I gave orders to the right units a lot more. Since I couldn't see what units I had selected, I spent most of the battle jumping around ordering units in bunches of twos and threes, which resulted in the incoherent mismatch that was that last battle.
The Watanabe levy were unprepared for the sheer ferocity of the monks, who tore through the defenders like flame through a paper house. Watanabe defenders ran screaming for their lives, terrified beyond thought at the demons they fought, who slaughtered all who dared to hold their ground. For those that held their nerve, the peace of the grave would be their reward. Norioki's attendants stood, beaten and bloody, but victorious. The never-ending waves had crashed upon them, yet always they held, never faltering, never failing the trust Noroiki had put in them.
On the other hand, not only do my Naginata Warrior Monks continue to demonstrate why they are absolutely amazing units that are a dream to command, but we have a brand new kill record with our Naginata Attendants taking first and second place for total kills with 402 and 380 respectively. That's one way to put down a rebellion!
"Your Daimyo lies dead upon the field, along with his son" stated Noroiki, to the Daimyo's wife and remaining family. "Your army is in tatters, your rebellion over. Surrender and reaffirm your vows of vassalage or else die as traitors."
The Damiyo's wife stood tall and proud, her tear streaked face ruining her make-up, but she did not falter. "Why would you let us live?" she questioned. "You are not known for mercy."
"Munemori valued your dedicated service to the Taira" replied Norioki. "He would have it known that this terrible mistake is behind us. Those who will serve can always be saved."
If I was playing normally, I would conquer the province for the Holy Site it contains, but since this is the last turn in the game and in deference to the fact the Watanabe have served us faithfully for the entire game (They started out our vassals if you remember that far back!) I will let them keep their land with the Genpei equivalent of a stern warning (Having slaughtered their entire army).
Nakamitsu moved like the wind through over the plains of Sagami, his mission simple. He needed to prevent the Attendant force from reinforcing the besieged defenders by any means necessary. His hand idly stroking the hilt of his blade, he knew that he was going to enjoy this.
There still remains a unit of Bow Attendants able to reinforce the besieged Kamakura Minamoto province of Sagami. I can't afford to waste time and manpower on additional enemy troops when I don't have to. Nakamitsu is deployed to ensure that the Bow Attendants don't arrive in time to assist their besieged comrades.
Nakamitsu struck in the dead of night, a ghost or demon, the survivors said. Having quickly and quietly butchered the camp guards, he moved like smoke through the encampment tents, stabbing sleeping soldiers and leaving nothing but the cold wind of death behind him. A few men fled, the luckiest of all, for none who stood against Nakamitsu survived the night.
A duty he performs with the skill and precision we have come to expect from this unforgiving shadow. He got a critical success on the sabotage, the result being that there are now a mere 4 Bow Attendants left alive. Woe betide those who face Nakamitsu on the field of battle!
"How is he?" Tomomori asked the physician.
"He's not good" replied the physician. "If we can't get him into a warm bed soon, your bodyguard will not survive. The illness is extensive."
Tomomori stood up and grabbed his blade. Turning to an attendant, he barked his orders. "Form up the men for the final assault on the stronghold. We fight to save a friend. Let's get him a warm room."
It is time for the final piece to make his move. Who commands enough respect and power to force the fate of all Japan to revolve around his actions? None other than the mighty Tomomori himself. No longer content to starve out the last of the Minamoto, his blade hungers for the heads of his most hated enemies and his heart yearns for the honour and glory that only the majesty of earth-shattering combat can provide. The gates are open, the enemy weak, now is the time to strike! His battle hardened but weary forces consist of 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Naginata Attendants, 8 Naginata Levy, 2 Bow Levy and 2 Bow Warrior Monks. Despite their high unit count, each unit is depleted, fielding less than 2/3's of their men. The enemy forces are barely touched, but lesser in number with 2 Foot Samurai, 1 Bow Attendants, 2 Naginata Levy and 1 Bow Levy, all enhanced with a weapon-smith buff (+4 melee attack, +1 armour). They will fight to the death in their Stronghold, a death Tomomori will gladly give them.
Click here to see the battle!
"We fight to end these Minamoto bastards" yelled Tomomori. "We fight for glory! Today, we fight for a friend, we fight for a man who stood beside us, a brother who needs our help."
With only 3 available approaches, the western route gives us the best option. As the gates are open, we can use the additional ramps to force more troops in and overwhelm the defenders. A detachment approaching from the east to the other open gate will force the defenders to split their already meagre forces, giving us a that much better chance of punching through and seizing the central courtyard.
The battle was bloody, yet never did the men doubt in Tomomori, never did they stop fighting to save a fallen comrade. The victory was all the sweeter for their desperate mission, as soon as Tomomori had secured the town, he rushed to the physician.
"We have siezed the town" announced Tomomori. "We will move him now"
The physician looked down, sadly. "My Lord, we are too late. The illness was too great. He bade me give you his last message. He said you he was honoured to serve you until the end and still owe him a koku for that archery bet."
Tomomori looked blank, only the slowly whitening knuckles on his hilt betrayed the helplessness and rage inside him.
"My Lord, we have the town" reported an attendant. "What do you wish to do with it?"
Tomomori turned slowly, his face carved stone.
"Burn it all."
A bloody and desperate fight on both hands which resulted in the loss of a Bow Warrior Monk unit and the destruction of anything resembling combat effectiveness in the remaining forces (with the exception of our legendary Foot Samurai and Tomomori himself). Considering the quality and strength of the forces we were up against, it's an exceptional victory and hard fought. Not once did the will of the men Tomomori fought beside waver, as they knew that the god of war rode beside them!
The sacking and burning of Sagami brought one thing to light, with the capture of Prince Mochihito, the rallying point of those who would oppose Emperor Antoku and the Taira.
The false prince's head was sent to all the remaining opponents of the Taira as a chilling warning and proof of heaven's disfavour.
The kills and losses tell the story of the bloody battle that was fought for Japan. Each unit performed well, holding their section of the battle line and slowly driving back the Minamoto defenders. Yet this was not without heavy cost, as the Minamoto made the Taira pay for every inch in blood. Yet the Taira were glad to pay this, knowing that every man in Japan relied upon them, professional warriors, religious monks, simple farmers, fathers, sons. They were unfaltering. They were unwavering. They were Taira.
With the false prince dead and the destruction of both Minamoto clans, none would dare raise sword against the Taira. Demonstrations of the Taira's strength and the unconditional support of the Imperial house swiftly brought further conflict to an end, with Munemori declared military leader for all Japan, unopposed by the youthful emperor Antoku, as who would fight kin? The Taira would hold the Shogunate for many years to come, ushering in a new level of peace and development. Sadly, not all of Munemori's descendants would have the wisdom, strength and courage as the children of Kiyomori...
With the control of 25 provinces and all named victory provinces, we have won the campaign and taken control of Japan! The Fukuhara Taira will be remembered forever as those who united Japan and kept the true Emperor on the throne. Kiyomori's ghost can rest at peace, knowing that his children and the future of his clan have been secured and that peace reigns once more upon Japan's fertile soil.
Click here to see the campaign ending video!
The victory screen gives us a wonderful little map of Japan, the timeline from all the way back at our first turn as well as a whole score of statistics, some of which are rather interesting.
We won on turn 49 (out of 100), so we had 51 turns in the bag to finish it off. For those wondering why I spent so much time with Levy, we are really only approaching the mid-game now and I already have endgame units and the capacity to produce them in bulk! It's no wonder Japan accepted her rightful rulers. Of our 43 land battles, we won 42 of them and 2 were heroic victories (which we were just talking about how tricky getting them can be!), I certainly remember one heroic victory where Tomomori held against 2 full stacks of Kamakura Minamoto with oodles of Foot Samurai and I believe the other was Ietoyo against the Kiso Minamoto with their many Foot Samurai and Ietoyo commanding Levy (If that wasn't heroic, it should have been!).
While we lost 12 units, we destroyed 305, over 15 stacks worth!
Of our 7 agents, not a single one died over the course of this LP. For Shogun 2, that's basically unheard of and I have no idea how I pulled it off. I would like to thank the RNG for being so nice to me.
I want to end this update with a memorial to the one death in the course of this LP, our original Daimyo, Kiyomori. He never lived to see his dream of a Taira unified Japan completed, but I know he would be proud.
Thank you for reading this LP everyone, you have been an absolutely fantastic thread and I couldn't have asked for more support. Feel free to start your conjecture on which clan we are going to play in Shogun 2, I would love to hear your theories...
Sneak Peek:The Epilogue!