Shogun 2: Total War Tips for Generals

Shogun 2: Total War Tips for Generals
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While Shogun 2: Total War does have a turn-based side – trade, construction and diplomacy play a big part in any campaign, you’ll still need to master real-time combat on the battlefield if you want to emerge victorious. These Shogun 2: Total War tips focus on generals and how best to use them. Since they lead your armies and have a vital impact on your empire’s growth generals must be used correctly.

Shogun 2: Total War Tips for Generals

Generals have a massive impact on your clan’s bid for success. You can view your generals in the clan management family screen. Some clans start with brothers, in others you’ll need to wait until your children come of age or you get the option to commission a general (this will cost 1,000). Your children become full-fledged generals at different ages so you can’t accurately predict when this will happen (apparently it’s random).

There are a lot of important points to consider about generals. They can develop skills, hire retainers, and you can bestow commissions on them. Any army with a general will always be harder to beat and they have a range of special battlefield abilities. If your general dies during battle it will have a devastating effect on your troop’s morale. This swings both ways so always take the chance to kill an enemy general, even if it sacrifices some troops, because the benefits outweigh the cost.

Developing Generals

General Character

As you win battles with generals you’ll get the option to upgrade their skills. There is a big skills tree and each skill has three levels so there’s plenty of room to improve them. Some of the skills will improve their ability to command specific unit types, some will offer clan wide bonuses and some will improve their own personal martial prowess in battle. Whatever you choose make sure they are in a position to take advantage (for example if you improve their skills at commanding cavalry make sure they have plenty of cavalry in their army).

You can also hire retainers and they will have various effects (not all of them positive). In addition your generals will develop their own character traits and some of these can be quite damaging. It all depends on their behaviour and the influence of their retainers so be careful how you handle generals.


Takeda Clan Family

It is vital you keep a close eye on the loyalty of your generals (this is displayed on the character cards). If a general becomes disloyal he will be more susceptible to bribes and if things get really bad you’ll have to command him to commit seppuku (suicide). It can be horribly disappointing to have to command seppuku for a tough general but be warned if you turn a blind eye to disloyalty your relationship with the other clans will be damaged. You can improve loyalty by researching arts such as Noh, improving your overall honour, marriage to a family member, a glorious victory in battle and making the right decision with dilemmas.

You can also assign commissions to generals and these will improve loyalty and provide some bonuses. Some apply to the general and the men under his command, others are more general. There are four commissions in all, warfare and supply are the military options, development and finance are the civic options.

While you may be tempted to keep your Daimyo hidden away in a safe city it is actually well worth getting him involved in the action. The bonus skills you can develop and his improved standing will increase honour and provide a boost to the loyalty of your generals.

Generals on the Battlefield

Total War veterans will be well accustomed with the potential importance of generals on the battlefield but it feels even more pronounced in Shogun 2. Your troops will have higher morale and are more likely to stand and fight if they are within the general’s field of influence (you can see this by selecting your general).

Fleeing General

Generals also possess special abilities that can turn the tide of a battle:

  • Rally – this will boost the morale of all units within the general’s sphere of influence. If you see a unit, or a number of units, wavering then get over there and rally them. One of your units routing can spark a chain effect that leads to your whole army running off.
  • Stand and Fight – heavily outnumbered and facing the prospect of a mass rout? Activate this ability and the general will dismount and form a square. Everyone under his influence gets a boost to morale, attack and defence. The general himself will also be very tough to kill.
  • Inspire – select a single unit and inspire them. They’ll get attack and defence bonuses and should perform considerably better for a short period of time. This is best employed on tough units for maximum impact.

You may be tempted to hide your general at the back of your army and keep him out of harm’s way. However, to do this would be to lose his potential impact on your success. You don’t want to put him in the firing line unless you have to but he must be able to get to those crunch points in battles quickly so he can influence them, so don’t leave him behind when you advance.

Generals and Sieges

Dismounted General

When you are defending a city it is easy to keep your general close and have him influence the battle, you just need to watch that you don’t leave him exposed to archers. When you attack it can be tougher to ensure his influence is felt. It is worth remembering that your general can dismount and climb the walls along with the rest of your troops and there are times when you’ll need him to.

Spread the Load

Don’t be tempted to over rely on one awesome general. There is always a risk he will become disloyal or even get assassinated by your enemies. You ideally want at least two generals in the field at all times, this way you can maintain a rolling front and keep your momentum going and you’ll also spread the victories and therefore the skills development. It is also important to note that two generals in the same stack is a bad idea, only the leading general will benefit from the experience gained. Instead give the second general a small army and keep him close enough that he can reinforce the first general in battle.

In the next article in our series we’ll take a look at some Shogun 2: Total War tips for units and battle tactics.


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