Too many games
I've arrived back in the UK to a glut of new video games want. I'm particularly keen to play the new Doom despite my system not looking up to the task, Stellaris looks really interesting and Total War: Warhammer is a bonafide childhood dream game. Unfortunately I'm short on cash money at the moment on account of having spent a lot of it seeing the world so I've turned to my Steam back catalogue for my strategy fix.
Shogun 2 Total War is considered by many including Rock Paper Shotgun's Rob Zacny to be the best Total War game released so far. My history with the series goes back to the original Shogun and it's frankly criminal I haven't put more time into it's modern successor.
I love the Total War games and have many fond memories of charging Carthaginian elephants into puny Celts in Rome: Total War.
Late to the samurai party
Playing Shogun I'm reminded how hard these games are. In the real time battles it's usually fairly easy to overcome even overwhelming odds with careful unit placement and some sneaky use of terrain. However the turn based section is brutally unforgiving, overextend, get caught out and you'll be losing your supposedly invincible veterans very quickly.
I've been playing as the Shimazu on the Risk logic that being in a corner is good as it means you won't be fighting on too many fronts. I've played a couple of games and both have ended in major disasters with a combination of the bullish Otomo clan and hordes of angry pitchfork wielding Christians. In my first attempt my poor handling of my economy quickly got me surrounded and bankrupted, in my second game my eagerness to expand put me in the middle of a nasty samurai sandwhich.
This has led to some entertaining engagements and Shogun is at it's best when you've been caught out and have to use the terrain your advantage to hold on.
It was my occupation of Buzen that proved my downfall. In the preceeding turns my General and his small band of spear and bow weilding ashigaru conscripts had comfortably swept aside two clans on their way to the the north of Japan's island Kyushu. They were ill prepared for the onslaught that followed.
The Helms Deep of Kyushu
First the minor clan the Ouchi assaulted with what I thought was a massive force, from my small fort I could see more than fifteen hundred ashigaru surrounding it's walls. They advanced slowly and began scaling the walls but I had enough experienced footsoldiers manning the walls to push them off their ladders and route them from the field. It was a glorious victory my advisor told me.
But just as I began celebrating the Otomo clan declared war and sent in the Uruk Hai. Much more experienced troops and more of them squared up to my depleted and tired defenders. Two and a half thousand men. The Otomo archers were much better trained than the Ouchi's firing lethal volleys of fire arrows which depleted my numbers for the coming melee. Again they began to scale the walls and again my men heroiclly held the line.
I thought I may have bought enough time to replenish my army or send re-enforcements. But just as the first Otomo army had been defeated the Ouchi returned with what little remained of their once mighty army. Again I fought them off but I was losing the war. With Buzen being at the fringes of my territory the troops I was producing in my capital Satsuma were months away. I had hired more ashiguru but I knew that if I faced another major engagement I was likely done for.
This is where Shoguns religion mechanics began hammering in my coffin's nails. As I'd been dispatching troops from neighbouring Bungo to reinforce my main army the local Christian population took it as an opportunity to rise up against their Buddhist oppressors. Given that whenever the game gave me the choice to either spare of execute local Christian preachers I can understand why. Two moderately sized armies appeared in both Bungo and Buzen provinces. They pounced on the heroic defenders of Bungo who and with my small reinforcing army still 4 seasons away I threw in the towel.
Shogun 2 is hard, even on with the difficulty set to normal and playing as an "easy" clan it's punishing. But it's the sort of difficulty that makes me want to try again.