Syrian Style Shogun

Total War: Shogun 2 has been a fun gallop. I’ve managed to spread my empire over half of Japan and just recently, I’ve drawn the attention of the Emperor himself. Attention is putting it lightly, I’ve drawn his scorn. The remaining clans have allied with him and in one turn, they’ve all declared war against me. This has not taken me by total surprise; I’ve crushed one clan after another under my daimyo’s (and his heirs’) samurai shoes, turned once free peasants into rice producing slaves and taxed the populous almost to the breaking point. Just like Bashar al-Assad, I’ve had it coming, and I most definitely deserve it.

My acclaim among the Japanese clans and the Emperor himself has gradually grown, demonstrated by the expansion of my lands and the in-game notoriety measure. My populous has made regular, feeble, attempts to overthrow my rule but my “peaceful” occupation of each newly conquered province has been resolute. My my daimyo’s rule is one dictated by sword and seed. A sword to keep the people inline and the seed to keep them fed and docile. I give them enough of the sword to fear me, and enough rice to appreciate me. This method has worked from one heir to the next but over time the cold winter of revolution will eventually grow into a spring. Even in a virtual Feudal Japan people rise up against a tyrant and allies align behind them, so should the same be done in the real world.

During my daimyo’s expansion I’ve made temporary packs and promises with other clans, only to break them when it benefited me and strengthen my grip on my provinces. I’ve sent messages of poetic pleasure to other rulers, putting their fears at ease, just so I can encircle them with my cavalry. I’ve opened trade and channels of diplomacy with western worlds with the promise of change at home, only to give my superior military time to entrench itself, and attack those who even peacefully oppose me. In this virtual game, the European traders are quick to sever their ties and their financial support when my legitimacy as a leader is obviously a fraud.

Shogun 2’s Japan has jointly risen to resist me but they will most likely end up at the end of my sword or knee deep in my rice fields. Other in-game countries will not get that involved outside of slap-on-the-hand trade embargoes. The game is not designed to be that encompassing, to include game changing actions from foreign powers, but our real world is. Thankfully my daimyo’s source of trade does directly benefit “his” people, in that they do get fed, but in our real world oil doesn’t go down well with with a cup of saki. I will eventually squash all those who oppose me and conquer all of Japan. I wont feel bad about it because it’s a game, and not real. What does trouble me however, is people’s lack of ability to distinguish between virtual tyranny and reality.

Advertisements

Total War: Shogun 2 – Learning While Bleeding.

I’ve slowly immersed myself into the world of the Samurai as of late. Steam, once again, had my number and that number was $7.50, the great sales price for Total War: Shogun 2 [TWS2]. The Total War series involves large map, turn based, micromanagement of settlements/city states and beautifully detailed real-time game play of large scale battles involving hundreds, if not thousands, of units at once. Like most of the Total War games, developed by The Creative Assembly and published by SEGA, it is full of information pertaining to the period it is set in. TWS2 is played out during Japan’s feudal period (1185 – 1868) and it contains enough Samurai swords and deaths to satisfy the blood lust of any future Matsudaira Naritsugu.

During the three or four hours it took me to play through the tutorial campaign I spent just as much time, if not more, reading about all the different clans from this period, than actually controlling them. The micromanaging aspects of games has always come easy to me but when it comes to the real-time battles, I think a common peasant from feudal Japan could out play me, with one hand planting rice. I am like General Custer, who gets wiped out at Little Big Horn, except the odds are actually in my favor. Thankfully, the Total War games provide you with an auto-resolve option when facing a real-time battle and in TWS2 I use it regularly. About the only time I don’t choose the auto-resolve option is when the numerical and technological odds are so stack in my favor that even I, General Incompetent, can squeak out a victory.

One of the most entertaining and rewarding game play aspects of TWS2, for me, has been the use of special agents that can move around the map and perform special tasks. A Monk, or Missionary, unit can put a newly “acquired” population at ease or insight rebellion, a Meske can bribe opposing generals and manage settlements and a Geisha can spy in enemy territory and assassinate important individuals. My favorite agent, however, is the Ninja. Perhaps I’ve watched The Last Samurai to often and consider the Ninja the Samurai’s nemesis (which is not true but fun to fantasize about) and I use them against opposing Samurai armies as frequently as possible. The Ninja’s ability to assassinate and sabotage make him a very useful ally in the quest to conquer a new territory. What better way to prepare for a castle assault then ordering your ninja to open the gate?

TWS2 brings the eastern version of Medieval Europe into my hands and makes it available to play with. Feudal Japan was a time of bloodshed but also a time of philosophical advancement, literature and honor. Thanks to TWS2 I am able to enjoy war gaming in safety, open my mind to the copious amounts of knowledge and broaden my appreciation for the additions this far eastern culture provided – as long as no one sends a ninja to assassinate me.