Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 3 (Final): Ride Forth Victoriously

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Total War: Shogun 2, by Peter S

Welcome to the final instalment of my Let’s Play of Shogun 2.

Previously, I stood on the verge of Shogun 2’s endgame — “realm divide”, in which most of Japan joins forces to stop the player. My armies were ready. My treasury was bursting. And so, I resumed the offensive after a long period of peace. Here is the situation, shortly before the end of Part 2:

S2 power blocs

In the east, my armies had just won their first victory against the Hatekayama clan (green). In the west, I was at peace; I shared my border with an allied clan, the Imagawa (grey), and a former ally, the Jinbo (light blue). Further west, past the Jinbo and Imagawa, was the single largest computer player: the Otomo clan (blue, also my ally).

Once I resume the game, Takeda Shingen and his son Nobushige lead my eastern armies against the Hatekeyama’s remaining force.

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Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 2: Patience and Preparation

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Total War: Shogun 2, by Peter S

Welcome back to my Let’s Play of Shogun 2.

When we left off, my Takeda clan controlled a modest slice of Japan, to the north and west of modern Tokyo. To the east were my enemies: the Satake and Satomi clans. Further north were my old foes, the Uesugi clan; an uneasy peace prevailed between us, ever since I crushed their last invasion attempt.

My previous victory against the Satomi in Part 1 gave me a window of opportunity. and so, my first order of business is to march east. Takeda Shingen, lord of the clan, is off on another frontier. Command falls to his two brothers: Takeda Nobushige in the north, leading his army out of North Shinano province, and Takeda Nobukado in the south, crossing the river from Musashi.

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Let’s reunify Japan in Total War: Shogun 2! Part 1: Awakening the Tiger

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Total War: Shogun 2, by Peter S

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to my Let’s Play of Total War: Shogun 2.

Shogun 2 casts players as a daimyo, one of the regional warlords of sixteenth-century Japan. The ultimate goal is to march on Kyoto, at the centre of the map, and enthrone oneself as shogun. Along the way, the player must manage a realm, raise armies, and command them in battle. The game triumphs on every level — as an exercise in strategic decision-making; as an epic come to life; and as an aesthetic treat. It is my favourite strategy game of all time.

For this run, I have opted to play as the Takeda clan, led by one of the most renowned warlords of the period — Takeda Shingen. This is, in fact, my second Takeda attempt — I abandoned the first after painting myself into a corner. I turn the game’s difficulty up to “Hard”, which affects both the strategic map and the tactical battles. My intent is to turn down the battles to “Normal” — the computer cheats on higher battle difficulties. Instead, I forget. As a result, the game so far has been entirely played on Hard.

I’ve chosen the Takeda for two reasons. First, their location in central Japan will make for a nice change — I won my last Shogun 2 campaign (using the Fall of the Samurai expansion pack) as an outlying island clan. Second, I’ve been meaning to make more extensive use of cavalry in Total War games, a job for which the Takeda are well-suited — all their horsemen receive a bonus.

Here is the opening cinematic for the Takeda:

And here is the situation at the beginning of the game:

S2 Takeda startThe Takeda start in Kai province, a landlocked mountain pass that runs north/south. All cavalry trained in Kai will receive a bonus, courtesy of the province’s superior horse pastures; this stacks with the innate Takeda bonus to cavalry.

To the north of Kai is North Shinano, also landlocked. It is home to the Murakami clan, who begin at war with me — you can see a small Murakami army near the border. To the south are Musashi province, home to modern-day Tokyo, and Suruga province, home to the allied Imagawa clan.

To win the game, I have to hold 25 provinces, including Kai, Kyoto, North Shinano, and three other provinces all to the north of Shinano. Before then, I must face one of Shogun 2’s most distinctive challenges — realm divide. When I draw close to victory, most of the remaining computer players will declare war on me; I’ll need to build my empire around surviving that final difficulty spike.

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The World That May Have Been, a Europa Universalis IV Let’s Play – Part 5 (FINAL): Bend with the Wind

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Europa Universalis IV, by Peter S

If you walk around London today, you will still find monuments to the war heroes of the 18th century, and cross streets named after the ministers who led Britain to victory over France and Portugal and the Dutch. But from a modern perspective, what stands out is how much blood was shed for so little effect. When the century opened, Britain, France, Portugal and Spain were the foremost powers of western Europe; and a hundred years later that had not changed. The true change of the period occurred inside borders, not between them.

 

EU4_pt5_1_revolutionaries

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The World That May Have Been, a Europa Universalis IV Let’s Play – Part 4: The Death and Rebirth of the British Empire

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Europa Universalis IV, by Peter S

EU4_Pt4_01_FranceoccupiesGB

 

In 1665, Great Britain lay in ruins, her navy and trade fleets sunk, her cities occupied by French soldiers. It was the culmination of a series of unsuccessful wars waged throughout the 17th century, and as His Britannic Majesty’s hangdog envoys filed into the negotiating room, it was in doubt whether Britain would even survive. Previous wars had seen Wales, Cornwall, Northumberland lost, albeit temporarily. Could her victorious enemies even force her to give up Scotland?

 

The troubles had begun in the year 1600, when Great Britain had barely found its feet after the last century’s Wars of Religion. Decades earlier, Catholic rebels had not just wrested Ireland from the British crown; they had pledged their fealty to France. For Britain’s king, Octavius I, this was intolerable. His plan seemed foolproof: the British fleet would keep the French bottled up in harbour, Britain’s Austrian and Spanish allies would keep the French army busy on the European mainland, and Britain’s own modest army could seize an undefended Ireland. What could go wrong?

 

As it turned out, plenty. Distracted by rivals closer to home, the Austrians soon signed peace with France. The French demolished the Spanish army, and occupied Spain. Britain in turn occupied Ireland, but compared to the victories the French had racked up on the continent, that mattered little. The war settled into stalemate – the French fleet unable to match the British, the British army unable to match the French – and it could have dragged on forever.

 

(If this were a normal war Spain would have separately capitulated, but Spain and I were in a coalition war, in which individual coalition members can’t sign separate peace treaties. This rule seems a little odd – after all, if Napoleon could pick off coalition members, why can’t we?)

 

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The World that May Have Been, a Europa Universalis IV Let’s Play — Part 3: If You Can’t Beat Them…

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Europa Universalis IV, by Peter S

In 1584, under siege by French-backed Catholic rebels, King Augustus I of Great Britain renounced the Protestant faith. It was a last resort; the British treasury was empty, the army shattered, the realm ruined – and the rebels endless. One could almost hear the cackles in Paris as Augustus put his signature to the document reinstating Catholicism as the state religion of Britain; it was the greatest humiliation a British monarch had suffered since the Hundred Years’ War. Well satisfied, the Catholic rebels went home. The British Wars of Religion had come to an end.

 

eu4_pt2_001_endofreligiousturmoil

 

Or had they?

 

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The World that May Have Been, a Europa Universalis IV Let’s Play — Part 2: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Europa Universalis IV, by Peter S

The Navigator Queen

 

eu4_pt2_001_anne

 

In the summer of 1475, Anne, Queen of England, celebrated the fifth anniversary of her assumption of power from her regency council. They had been five fruitful years; her first act had been to standardise weights and measures throughout the realm. Some of these we still use today. Her second act had been to order the reconquest of Wales and Cornwall, which had broken away after the English defeat in the Hundred Years’ War. These campaigns did not last long: the English army was a pale shadow of what it had been a generation earlier, but it still outnumbered the Welsh and Cornish three to one. Now, as foreign ambassadors filed in to pay their respects, the queen seemed justified in resting on her laurels.

 

(Anne was a competent though uninspired ruler – she had a 3 in all her stats, out of a maximum of 6. Still, after Henry VI’s solid zeroes, this felt like manna from heaven.)

 

Then, as Anne waited for her next audience to begin, a man tumbled out of a rug. A moment later, he began to speak – very quickly, as the queen’s guards and the bolder courtiers were advancing on him. Apologies for the intrusion, but this was the only way he could think of to gain an audience. His name was Albert Gloucester, navigator and sea captain. He planned to sail west through the Atlantic, and that way reach distant Asia. Would the queen sponsor him?

 

eu4_pt2_002_quest_for_the_new_world

 

She would. The next year, in May 1476, Gloucester set sail from the Portuguese-controlled Azores with three ships. He was not heard from until the following January, when his three ships limped back into the Azores, badly damaged, their crews half-dead, starving… and bearing tales of a New World.

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The World that May Have Been, a Europa Universalis IV Let’s Play — Part 1: Never Pick on Someone Your Own Size

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Europa Universalis IV, by Peter S

The World that May Have Been

 

eu4_map_---_1444_11_11_1

 

 

Introduction

 

November, 1444. Under the Ming Dynasty, China is the greatest empire in the world:

 

Eu4 Ming Start

 

Further west, the rising Ottoman Empire dominates the Middle East and is pushing into eastern Europe:

 

EU4 Ottoman Start

 

Western Europe is a chaotic patchwork of kingdoms and duchies and free cities:

 

EU4 England Start

 

The world system that existed just a century or two ago, which saw Europe and China tenuously connected by the likes of Marco Polo, has fragmented; now Europeans and Asians and Americans carry on in their separate spheres.

 

The world will not stay this way.

 

Welcome to my Let’s Play of Europa Universalis IV, a grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studio set during the early modern era of world history. I am playing as England from the earliest possible start date, 1444; I will continue until either the game ends (in the early 19th century) or I stop having fun. In that time, I’ll explore aspects of the game such as exploration, trade, diplomacy, and war. I am also playing Ironman mode, which means I have just the one save slot and can’t abuse save/reload, and I am not using any mods except for one that enlarges the font (uncomfortably small by default). Lastly, I’ll emphasise narrative rather than gameplay, and if I do interject with an “out of universe” comment, I’ll mark it clearly, (like so). Onward to the game!

 

Part 1: Never Pick on Someone Your Own Size

1444 to 1469

King Henry VI, Queen Anne I

 

War has many faces, yet one face everywhere: anguish for the victims in the middle of it. – Lauro Martines, Furies: War in Europe 1450-1700

 

The winter of 1444 saw the Hundred Years’ War between England and France enter its twilight. 17,000 English soldiers huddled in continental garrisons, split between northern and western France; confronting them were over 40,000 French soldiers on the northern front alone. Henry V of England had beaten those odds a generation earlier – but his son, the reigning king in 1444, was no Henry V. Continue reading

Let’s defend Scandinavia in Wargame: AirLand Battle! Part 2 (FINAL): Who Dares, Wins

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Wargame: AirLand Batle, by Peter S

WAB Day 4 Pt 2 Start

 

Welcome back to my Let’s Play of Wargame: AirLand Battle!

 

In Part 1 of this LP, my effort to defend Scandinavia (playing NATO in the War in the North campaign) got off to a promising start:

 

1. The Danish army wiped out two Warsaw Pact brigades that attempted to seize Aarhus;

2. The Swedish army did the same with an amphibious landing at Malmo;

3. As at the end of the last instalment, the Swedish and Norwegian armies had recovered their fighting trim and were in position along an Oslo-Stockholm defensive line.

 

What were the key lessons learned? First – and I am indebted to this excellent guide from the official forum – that the objective in battle isn’t to kill so many of the enemy that the survivors run away, it’s to wipe them out (which will earn me the morale points I need to win the campaign). In game terms, that means (a) pinching off the enemy reinforcement sectors so they can’t retreat, and then (b) win the battle by hunting down their command vehicles. Unable to flee, the losers will surrender.

 

In practice, the campaign is designed such that it is difficult to decisively win battles unless there is a large discrepancy (due to some combination of morale, initiative, positioning, and equipment) between the combatants. Otherwise the two forces tend to get stuck in a spiral of falling initiative (reducing the forces they can deploy) and increasing morale (making it harder for them to rout the other), broken only when the arrival of a fresh brigade tips the balance. Other players have complained about this, and I can see both sides of the argument; I like what the developers were aiming for, but I do agree it could do with some reworking.

 

For present purposes, though, what the rules should be is beside the point. The key is to focus on what the rules are, and if I need to engineer massive mismatches to win, then that is what I shall do. That means (a) ensuring each sector of the line has fresh brigades in reserve, so that they can polish off a weakened enemy, and (b) conserving my strategic buffs/debuffs (e.g. air raids) until the time is right.

 

With that in mind, let’s see how the rest of my Nordic campaign plays out.

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Let’s defend Scandinavia in Wargame: AirLand Battle! Part 1: Something Rotten in Denmark

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Wargame: AirLand Batle, by Peter S
Welcome to Scandinavia, the setting of Wargame: AirLand Battle

Welcome to Scandinavia, the setting of Wargame: AirLand Battle

March 1985, Moscow. Mikhail Gorbachev loses the race to succeed Konstantin Chernenko as head of the USSR.

 

Early September, 1985. A clash between Soviet and US Navy aircraft leaves several pilots dead. The world totters on the brink of war.

 

Late September, 1985. World War III erupts. Norway and Denmark, comprising NATO’s northern flank, are on the front line. The Norwegian army manages to halt the Soviet advance – only for Soviet troops to roll into neutral Sweden, threatening Norway’s eastern flank. To the south, the Soviet advance into West Germany leaves their forces on the border with Denmark.

 

NATO’s troops are badly battered. Enemy reinforcements abound. Scandinavia hangs in the balance. Can my leadership save the day?

 

Welcome to my Let’s Play of Wargame: AirLand Battle.

 

Introduction

 

Wargame: AirLand Battle is  a newly released strategy game for PC, a blend between the real-time strategy and traditional wargame genres (for more background, check out the other posts I’ve written about the Wargame series, linked  at the top of this page). In addition to multiplayer and skirmish modes, AB offers four single-player campaigns of varying length and difficulty; I have finished the shortest and simplest campaign, which is really a tutorial in disguise. For this LP, I will be jumping all the way to the longest and most challenging, “War in the North”.

 

WAB WITN Intro Cropped

 

The game bills this campaign as “Very Hard”, but I’m confident I’ll be up to it. (And, hey, everything worked out the last time I LPed a difficult game.) I will play the campaign either until I win/lose, or until it stops being fun. Here goes!

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