Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Song of Tea and Sushi 3 - A Klash of Katanas

All Alone in Feudal Japan

Tactical analysis suggests I'm going to lose in the long run. Tom has secured a powerful base to the extreme West, out of my reach. Nobody I can get on the diplomacy phone will listen to my offers of coin or military aid to attack him. Nor will anyone consider being my pal. I can probably hold tight where I am, I'm a wily enough general and still have some fairly experienced and powerful armies that can hold what I've taken so far. But I'm not going to get any further without cash.

So my plan is to put all my eggs in one basket, and let tactical analysis go and suck on them.

Like this, but with bow-armed fanatics. 

The scout ship that's been looking over General Hunt's Otomo forces has shown me one critical weakness. His capital province, Bungo, isn't on any of his front lines. It looks like he's spent all his cash on large armies, rather than investing heavily in infrastructure like I have. Bungo is held only by a pretty basic castle and a couple of units of Ashigaru spearmen.

If I stop any attempts at expansion back home and cull my two armies down to two smallish defence forces, I can put together a decent invasion force full of elite monks. Led by my Shogun and a decent-sized fleet, I may just be able to launch a cowardly surprise attack and take that one crucial province from my rival.

It's a long shot, but it just might work.

The Long Game

It takes me almost four years to put this into practice. Three of shuffling armies around and building forts to hold my own depleted lands, one to actually sail my army all the way down the coast.

There's really no chance of this working.

First, I have no money. Army units replenish slowly over time, so my depleted ones need to sit about and regenerate for a bit. As they do that, they keep getting attacked, first by the pitiful remnants of clan Sakai, then by a seemingly unending host of buddist rebels.

Then Clan Uesugi takes out my Jinbo vassal in the East. Luckily, they're losing their war against the Takeda, and I'm just able to take that province back off them. Hunt is leading the Uesugi forces for the battle, he's got a minimal defence garrison but 360 Yari Samurai, armoured spearmen, coming to reinforce. I've got a bunch of peasants and monks, as usual, enough either take the castle or beat off the reinforcements but probably not both. Sure enough, I manage to take the castle. But in holding off the spearmen, I lose almost all my troops including the general. Very bad news, I've only got one general left now, my rather venerable Daimyo.

Down he goes. Horse + Spearman = Kebab night for the troops.

On the plus side, as I capture the province, I can take the option of looting it.

I do that - 6000k in the bank instantly. The money goes towards buying a half-decent fleet to transport my men, rather than the feeble muster of canoes I've got at the moment, and then further boosting my invasion force with ronin archers and extra monks.

Yes, the province hates me and will almost certainly rise in arms. But I decide not to try and hold it, retreating what's left of the army to lick their wounds. They will be tasked with holding Echizen, my capital, while my strike force is away.

Before they can get there, it's attacked by pretty much everything Clan Hatano has.

The Siege of Echizen

Now, Echizen has been upgraded to have a fairly large fort by this point. A three-tiered layer cake of intersecting walls and arrow towers, it will be an exhausting and costly place to take. Sadly, there are only three units actually there when the Hatano army hits - two of elite archers (yay!) and the Daimyo's heir, an untested 17-year-old with a small bodyguard of elite cavalry. I get a motley selection of monks with naginatas and peasants with sticks from the fort itself, plus a tiny unit of killer swordsmen.

I'm outnumbered over two-to-one by Hatano, who have no less than three units of generals (their Daimyo and all his sons), plus a hoard of Samurai archers and spearmen. Immediately, I call my veto for the night in so that I'll just have the predictable AI to deal with.

Hunt presses the wrong button, and is left in full command of my numerically superior foe.

To his credit, he apologises profusely and offers to retreat them all so I can fight the AI next round. I decide I can take them on now, because if there's one thing the AI can do well, it's control numerically superior foes more quickly and accurately than I can. Hunt is a deadly and respectable foe, but he'll only be focussing on a few areas of the battlefield at once, just as I can.

The Hatano forces seethe over the walls in three places, sending a wall of archers from the south, two of the generals round the eastern side and everything else from the west. I more or less stay put and try and whittle them down with archery, but that's not going to be enough alone.

He completely overruns all three layers of the fort, in the end. But he's lost too much. By graciously emulating the AI's rather curious use of generals as a flanking unit, Hatano is deprived of his heirs. They dismount, climb the wall and obligingly die in the reception buffet of angry monks.

Elsewhere, his samurai are bled white as they advance, dying in droves as they ascend each level of walls. Even so, a fair number get all the way to the top, including the Hatano Daimyo in person. My troops have been decimated by archery and desperate melees along the walls by this point. My young heir ends up locked in battle with Mr Hatano himself whilst exhausted archers with no ammo left fight off the equally exhausted attackers at the end of their long climbs.

Ikko Junior manages to win, taking Hatano's head in a personal duel. He gains a trait - this brutal fight leaves him with the opinion that War is Slaughter, and his grimness will help demoralise future enemies in battle.

Mechanic - characters like generals have an rpg-lite levelling system, which gives you a couple of choices of abilities every level. But they can also gain abilities through your actions during the game. Leave them sitting about in cities, for example, and they get fat and slow, or addicted to geishas. 

The broken remnant of the Hatano army flees. They came with well over a thousand men, they're going home with 67 Ashigaru spears, but they nearly defeated me entirely in the process.

I can't afford any more risks like this. It's endgame time.

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