Shogun 2: Total War Strategy Guide

Shogun 2: Total War Strategy Guide
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Shogun 2: Total War Strategy

In the first part of our series we looked at the clans. Although each clan is well suited to a specific tactical approach there are some general strategies and tips that should help with any campaign game. In this Shogun 2: Total War strategy guide we’ll take a brief look at building an economy, trade routes, diplomacy, city management, buildings, religion and researching the arts.

Getting Started

For any clan to wage war on a large scale a healthy economy is required. The amount of money you bring in is directly related to a number of factors. In general terms the more territories you possess the larger the army you can support. It is a good idea to strike early, most clans start with a neighbouring enemy so attack them within the first few turns. The faster you expand your base, the better. In the first few turns build a few extra armies and develop your farms, your roads and your ports. Some territories also offer extra resources that you can exploit but they can be very expensive, so you may want to delay their development.

Trade Routes and Diplomacy

There are a limited number of foreign trade route spots that can be claimed. Geographically certain clans have an advantage and should be able to grab these before their opponents (the Mori are well placed and have naval bonuses). Since you need a Trade Port before you can build trade ships you should start building your harbour immediately. You can also build a couple of military ships and send them out to claim the trade route spots then send your trade ships on later. It is worth sending multiple trade ships for each spot so you maximise your income but you will need to contend with pirates and attacks on your trade routes so you’ll need a navy to respond to these threats.


You can also set up trade agreements with other clans. It’s a good idea to send a ship off round the coast early on so you can meet as many other clans as possible. Decide on your ideal allies, the earlier the relationship is established, the stronger it will become over time. Just bear in mind if you actually ally with another clan they might drag you into wars, although that goes both ways. You can see the likelihood of success for each proposition before you make it so experiment with the terms to see how this is affected. A marriage between clans can be a great boost to relations and you don’t need to be allied to do this.

You really need to avoid reneging on deals or your honour will suffer and all clans will begin to dislike you. Don’t make deals with clans you intend to attack in the near future. Once you reach Legendary Fame you’ll trigger Realm Divide and the Shogun and all the other clans will decide to attack you. There’s a good chance your allies will turn on you too so be prepared for this. To become Shogun take and hold Kyoto for four turns (you’ll get a tax and morale boost).

City Management and Buildings

Long term in any campaign your ability to generate food is vital. It may be tempting to shoot off researching the Bushido arts and developing your military prowess but don’t neglect the Chi or you’ll end up having to disband that huge army. Each of the building chains requires various arts to be researched before you can construct the better buildings. Since farms are your only source of food and a great source of income too, make sure you research Chi, Todofuken and Equal Fields before you progress too far into the game.

Building Menu

Most provinces have some other resource you can exploit such as cotton, iron, crafts or stone. There are other specialities too like the Hallowed Ground at Shimotsuke which offers special bonuses to monks. Make sure you develop these and think about which resources will benefit your empire most. This can help you decide where you should be focussing your attack.

Focus your building – beyond improving farms, roads and ports you need to choose carefully. You can expand the available construction slots by upgrading the Fort and obviously this will give you defensive bonuses and better public order too. You’ll need markets for metsuke and sake dens for ninjas. Even if you don’t intend to use them widely it pays to make sure you have them to protect your top generals in the field.

As you construct more buildings you’ll find that researching arts is slowing progress and preventing you from constructing the next building in the chain. Try to plan ahead and select the right research so you can build the structures you want.


You have the option of adopting Christianity or sticking with Buddhism. The most obvious benefits to converting are access to European weapons (siege cannons and cheaper Matchlock Ashigaru). You’ll also unlock the Mission chain of buildings which ultimately provides more bonuses than the Buddhist chain. The Nanban Trade Port and Nanban Quarter also improve your trade.

If you go this route then wait until the conversion of your people is well underway before converting yourself. You can convert the Daimyo in the family screen of your clan management (there’s an icon next to him). Just remember you can’t convert him back again.

Another thing to consider is that other clans and even your own generals will react to this. If they are Buddhist then relations worsen, if they are Christian then relations will improve. The majority of provinces you take will be Buddhist so be prepared to deal with some unrest until you can convert populations. This can really slow your progress down.

Researching the Arts

Shogun 2 Arts

You can speed up your research of the arts considerably by building the right structures, the temple or mission chain are great for Chi, the castle is great for Bushido and the Magistrate or Library chains offer bonuses to both. If your generals develop in the right direction they can also boost research rates.

You’ll also get events or dilemmas that pop up and offer different bonuses for various actions or just present you with a choice of focus. Make sure you take advantage of these limited boosts.

In the next article we’ll move on to the battlefield for some more Shogun 2: Total War strategy advice and discuss some unit types and how to get the best from your generals.


All information and screenshots from Shogun 2: Total War by The Creative Assembly.

This post is part of the series: Shogun 2: Total War Guide

Learn how to conquer Japan and gain a victory in Shogun 2: Total War with this five part guide. We’ll offer some strategy, tips and advice to help you in your rise to shogun.

  1. Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 1: The Clans
  2. Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 2: Campaign Strategy
  3. Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 3: Generals
  4. Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 4: Units and Battlefield Tactics
  5. Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 5: Replenishment, Agents and Victory
  6. How to Lead Your Clan to Victory in Shogun 2: Total War