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Shogun 2: Total War
Over a decade has passed since the original Shogun: Total War launched the series. With this entry developer, The Creative Assembly, has produced the most polished and addictive blend of real-time and turn-based strategy ever. You can get a good overview of the game in our Shogun 2: Total War review.
This Shogun 2: Total War guide is going to be a five part series. The aim is to offer some useful information on strategy and tactics, explain various elements of the game and help you to emerge victorious. In this first part we’ll take a look at the various clans you can play as in Shogun 2.
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Choosing a Clan in Shogun 2: Total War
Your choice of clan in Shogun 2 is very important. Each clan presents an entirely different challenge because of their starting positions and military or economic specialisations. When you select the clan you get a rough guide to the difficulty level involved in leading them to victory so start with an easy option to get your bearings. There are 65 provinces in total and many are held by minor clans. Remember that minor clans that are not playable can still be powerful allies or enemies.
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The Oda clan start in a fairly tricky territory with powerful clans on all sides. On the plus side you are close to Kyoto and you can increase in size quickly. Their strength is the ashigaru, the basic foot soldiers who make up the bulk of most armies in this period. Equipped with spears or pikes they are especially useful against cavalry. Ashigaru under the Oda have improved morale and also reduced recruitment costs and upkeep costs. If you want to have huge armies then the Oda are a good choice.
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The Shimazu clan is a good choice for your first game. They start at the far west of Japan and there are no other major clans on your island so you can quickly take control. You are also closest to the bulk of the trade route spots so develop your harbours fast and take advantage of that. Their military strength lies with katana samurai who are cheaper to recruit and maintain. They also carry a loyalty bonus for all generals. It’s probably a good idea to build “nanban" ports and trade with the Europeans to get access to new weaponry, though this means converting to Christianity which will cause serious unrest when you move on and conquer Buddhist territories. Focus on consolidating the island to begin with. The Chosokabe can be a good ally because they’ll help protect you from naval attack or invasion.
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If you want to be a naval power then the Mori are the most obvious choice. The nearest clans are the Shimazu and Chosokabe, both off on their own islands. The Mori can build ships more cheaply, the upkeep for ships is lower and they have a movement bonus. They’re well placed to grab the trade route spots early on and rake in the cash.
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The Tokugawa clan presents a real challenge. They have had to develop superior diplomatic and stealth skills probably because they are surrounded by more powerful military clans. You’ll enjoy a +2% chance for metsuke success, a bonus to diplomatic relations and you can recruit better kisho ninja for less money and lower upkeep costs. The kisho ninja are very useful for taking cities but you’ll have to take opposing clans down fast or use your diplomatic bonus to broker peace after a victory to prevent crushing counter-attacks from sweeping you away.
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The Takeda clan are also in a pretty precarious starting position but if you choose your allies wisely and take advantage of their cavalry bonuses then you can ride to victory. They enjoy improved morale for all cavalry, they can recruit superior cavalry and they cost less to recruit and maintain. Ally with the Hojo and the Date and push north to take on the Uesugi. Be careful when you go for the island of Sado (I was expecting an easy victory and it was packed with a fully experienced army and five generals). You also want to watch out for the Tokugawa expanding towards you from the west.
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The Uesugi clan have a powerful Buddhist faith and so you get bonuses for monks. There’s a +2% chance of success for all monk action and you can recruit superior warrior monks for less money and lower upkeep costs. The other bonus is increased trade income and you’ll need it because they start in a vulnerable position and really require some good armored units to back the warrior monks up. Obviously you won’t want to let the Christian faith in so avoid “nanban" ports. Make sure you take Shimotsuke so you get Hallowed Ground for monk bonuses.
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The Date clan are the furthest east and you can quickly quell the revolt in your lands and grab some large territories. By the time you reach the middle of the map some of the other clans will be very powerful already so moving fast is vital. On the plus side they enjoy a charge bonus for all units and they can recruit superior no-dachi samurai for less money and lower upkeep costs. Make sure you grab the trade route in the north early on. The Date are ideal for an aggressive sweeping campaign and you should be able to maintain a single front which makes it easier to focus your forces.
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You’ll start with a small island in the south (Shikoku) all to yourself and there are advantages and disadvantages to this. It’s too close to the mainland for you to protect it with a navy and this is not the best way to defend. The Chosokabe enjoy increased income from farms and their military strength lies in superior bowmen who are also cheaper to recruit and maintain. It is best to avoid “nanban" influence and focus on getting a foothold on the mainland as quickly as possible. The Mori are likely to be your first enemy. If you do manage to get a foothold on the mainland then your home island will be less of a target to your enemies and the cheapest way to defend is leave one army there. Watch out for agents or any other signs of an impending invasion.
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The Hattori clan start close to Kyoto. While there are a number of clans fairly nearby there are also loads of territories that can be quickly scooped up. They have bonuses for specialized units that can hide on the battlefield and possess kisho training. They also enjoy a +2% chance for successful ninja actions. The best plan is to focus on your economy in the early game, stay peaceful with other major clans and make sure you have the revenue to build a large specialist army so you can conquer your enemies later.
Note: The Hattori clan are only available as a playable faction in the Limited Edition of Shogun 2: Total War.
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The Hojo clan are the builders of the empire. Castles are cheaper to build and repair, siege units are cheaper to buy and maintain and they can recruit superior siege units. They also start with two territories which is a nice bonus. They are surrounded so you’ll need to move fast to push the advantage and the siege units are still expensive and don’t have loads of ammunition, so don’t focus on them too much.
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In order to really take advantage of your chosen clan’s bonuses you must remember to build a solid economy. Upgrade your roads, farms and ports and develop the resources you have so you can support a decent military force. Try to get as many trade agreements as you can (but choose your friends carefully). If you have a military specialization or bonus then make sure you take advantage. Ashigaru are the key to success with the Oda, katana samurai for the Shimazu, cavalry for the Takeda, these units can form the bulk of armies. This obviously doesn’t apply quite so much to the more specialist units like siege units or kisho ninja.
This is just a brief overview of the clans, if you have any tips please post a comment. In the next part of our Shogun 2: Total War guide we’ll take a look at some general strategy that should help in any Shogun 2: Total War campaign.
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All information and screenshots from Shogun 2: Total War by The Creative Assembly.
Shogun 2: Total War Guide
- Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 1: The Clans
- Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 2: Campaign Strategy
- Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 3: Generals
- Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 4: Units and Battlefield Tactics
- Shogun 2: Total War Guide - Part 5: Replenishment, Agents and Victory
- How to Lead Your Clan to Victory in Shogun 2: Total War