Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Song of Tea and Sushi 2 - A Feast on Futons

The Early Ikko Years

I begin my plan for domination by making polite overtures to the clans to my West. They're all very rude back, but at least none of them actually attack me. This is the softly-softly approach, be all sweet so they suspect nothing then just as they're BAM invasion hah surprised you.

To the East, I do the opposite. I crush the minor clan Jinbo and turn them into a vassal state. They occupy a province that blocks advances from two of my more powerful neighbours - the horse-crazy Takeda and the buddhist nutters of Uesugi. As a vassal, they have to trade with me, and they'll act as a handy early warning system if either of the bigger clans starts expanding.

My other neighbours are the Hatakeyama. They're a minor clan, but a fairly big and powerful one. Luckily, their other provinces are all on the other side of the map. Poor planning on their part - it means I can grab this one and hope they get wiped out before their revenge armies can reach me.

All these gambits work pretty well. My home territories sprout new harbours and larger castles, and within three years I'm on my way to getting the monks trained up. I've doubled my starting holdings without any major setbacks.

Except one.

My armies can smash my opponents. All those fanatical loan sword peasants can cut through enemy spearmen like corn. But they're so poorly equipped that even when they win, most of them are usually dead. So my armies are already tattered and weak, and it will take almost two more years before they're replenished and ready to go forth again.

Then I get frozen out.

Cold War

Nobody will be my friend unless I conquer them. To conquer them, I need larger and larger armies, because they're all building up too. This requires money, money requires trade, trade requires friends. I have none of any of these vital resources.

Uesugi and Takeda start fighting each other to the East, which is good. But I can't really make any advances that way either. To the West is the weak clan Sakai, but they're allied to the Hatano. Hatano are doing very well, they hold a lot of land and have some big armies. They've even wiped out a major clan already.

I wish I'd known all that before I invaded the Sakai's province. Okay, I have their castle and quite a large port, but now there are some big and angry stacks of samurai heading for me.

I still don't really know what the Huntster is up to. I've fought a couple of his battles, losing each one. That's not unexpected, all our fights so far have been wildly in our own favours, but we're both taking much higher casualties than we usually would.
Tom's fights generally start like this, with his matchlocks mowing down score upon score of rubbish peasant spears...

I managed to virtually wipe out a few of his musket units by outranging them with bows, reducing one of his advantages. He bled one of my armies dry in a fort siege by focussing all his bow fire on my pyjama-wearing monks.

...then they progress to this, with his matchlocks feverishly reloading as the rest of the peasants close in...
...and finally degenerate to horrible melee confusion with bloodied bannermen bleeding in all directions. 
So I send a lone ship off towards Kyushu to find out. This has the secondary advantage of introducing me to several new clans. This, in turn, has the tertiary advantage of giving me some new insulting rebuffs to trade offers. The old ones were getting tired.

We cannot do this: you have nothing that our people could possibly desire.  
Trade with your merchants might well offend our merchants, so we decline your offer. 
Our townsfolk are, sadly, quite set in their ways, and unlikely to buy your shoddy goods. 
I have seen your lands' goods. I have heard of your markets. We want nothing of either.
I have heard that your goods are not of the finest quality. So, no, there will be no trade.

Blah de blah de blah, banana hat. Get a new theme song.

As I try to shore up my Western front with the Sakai and Hatano, my home province is abruptly attacked by an invasion fleet of the Honma. These pirate bastards have a single province, a tiny island rich in gold mines off the coast a ways to the East. I've got no hope of striking back at them, and worse, Echizen is only garrisoned by a minimal amount of troops so I'm horribly outnumbered.

Mechanics - Fortresses give you free defenders when attacked. The larger the castle, the more you get. Mine are, of course, mostly shitty peasants with ideas above their stations, rather than the usual samurai, but I get monks too.

Horribly outnumbered but at least safe behind walls. Well, thin wooden fences on top of cliffs, anyway. Japanese forts are very different to Western ones. They're much easier to get into, for a start - attackers can climb over the walls reasonably easy. And the gatehouses are all wood and paper, you can set fire to them in no time. Defence depends more on hitting people hard just as they get in rather than keeping them out.

This is hard when you're horribly outnumbered, and even harder when all your attackers have bows but your defenders have only spears.

Open Fire! Oh, they're not throwing spears. Bollocks. 

A Crushing Realisation

Somehow, I win. The nice thing about free troops is that they're expendable and instantly replenished after the fight is over. The bad thing is that they're pretty rubbish, of course. I just nearly lost my capital - I need to fortify and build up a stock of troops badly. I have 69 koku to do this with.

That's enough rice to feed 69 men for one year. A unit of crap spearmen costs about 240.

Around this time, my scout ship arrives off the coasts of the Otomo holdings. They send home a lot of very depressing news.

Otomo now holds almost the whole island of Kyushu. Trade routes from mainland Asia thread into their happy ports like the tentacles of a golden octopus.

See? Exactly like that.

Large armies under the Cross of Christ swarm the shores, crushing local resistance and adding to the clan holdings. According to the diplomacy info I can get on them, the Otomo are a prosperous, wealthy and hostile clan.

I have 34 koku left after repairing the damage done by the Honma raiders. The treasury predicts I will get 68 more next season. A large Hatano army is heading for the battered fort I stole from their Sakai minions.

I'm going to lose.

It's at times like this, when I take stock of everything and see nothing but darkness in my future, that I ask myself searching and tactical questions in the desperate hope of an answer. Tonight, I take inspiration from my reading matter.

In this situation, what would Walder Frey do?

Well, I'd probably start by diversifying my army composition, then begin scouting forays in the direction I'd intend to expand whilst simultaneously attempting maintain a monopoly on several trade goods to fund the overall technological and military superiority of my faction. 


  1. Is there a cheat mode where you can call on Richard Chamberlain to save the day?

  2. There ought to be. I'll search in the mod database.

  3. Yes! He won't save the day, but you can deploy units of 200 tiny Richard Chamberlains in place of spears.

  4. I can think of nothing more terrifying that a 200-strong chorus reprising "ding diddy ding ding" from The Slipper and The Rose.