From the original thread. I am condensing individual posts. This thread contains the original discussion on tactics and strategies for STW.
King Haggard (03/03/03 15:39:28) [War College]
Modesty forbids me from naming this thread after myself, though that was offered to me.
This thread is intended to be a compilation of strategies, tactics, tips, and answers to questions. To that end I would ask that anything relevant but not of that nature be posted in another thread instead: (War College Talkback Thread)
This thread and the initial post will be edited with new information as needed, and I give the moderators full discretion to edit and move posts here to keep it up-to-date and on-topic. I had intended for this first post to be an index but I’ve failed to find out how to hyperlink to individual posts in the thread. If anyone could figure that out I’d be much appreciative.
One note: I do not know when I will be available to write here, it is more than likely I will need to leave for extended periods. If you’re a good tactician, go ahead and post some of your own lectures. Or talk to me about becoming an “official” lecturer.
Ok, another note: I am well aware that certain strategies fly in the face of certain other strategies and can cause argument. Usually, both strategies are effective. Therefore debate is excellent and I encourage it, but at least until we work out a suitable method for such discussions I’d prefer you do it in the other thread, so that a unified strategy can be developed before it is posted here and this thread remain a place of study.
King Haggard (03/03/03 15:44:36) [Game mechanics Q&A.]
Sounds nicer than “unintelligent newbie FAQ.” In no particular order, here are brief questions and answers I’ve seen on the boards. They will be updated as more are asked.
Q: I installed Warlord Edition, but now I have no throne room. Did a taifun take it or an earthquake?
A: Either you did the small install, which doesn’t have the throne room, or you did a large install and didn’t check the box in the game options marked “throne room.” (If no box is there and you want the throne room, reinstall the game with it.) That’s the price you must pay for not having to swap the CDs all the time.
Q: Warlord Edition has a different intro movie. What movie is that from?
A: It is from the film “Ran” by Akira Kurosawa.
Q: How do I make ranged units attack in melee?
A: Hold down “alt” and click. That’s one of the things that is in the manual.
Q: How do I transport troops by ship?
A: Just drag them like you move them anywhere else. When you pick up a piece, all possible moves will light up. Those include all your ports and all ports where you have a spy. Spies can move to any port freely. That’s in the manual.
Q: How do I offer an alliance?
A: Drop an emissary on a daimyo piece. Same thing will offer a cease-fire if you’re at war. That’s in the manual.
Q: How do I bribe an army?
A: Drop your emissary on an army to offer a bribe. For rebels, the cost is 150% what it would cost to train those units. If the army belongs to a daimyo, their loyalty will greatly increase the price. Higher level emissaries are more pursuasive. You cannot bribe heirs or daimyos.
Bribery can be a good way to get decent armies from rebels early in the game.
Q: How do I behead enemy emissaries?
A: You can't. You're too civilized. In fact you always seem mildly surprised and amused when another daimyo beheads one of yours.
Q: How do I use ninjas?
A: Drop them on an emissary, a general, a daimyo, or a geisha and they’ll try to kill it. Drop them on a castle under siege by your armies and they may try to open it. This stuff is in the tooltips! I did not answer you how to use them WELL.
Q: How do I change the default unit size?
A: In the game options scroll (from the main menu) there's a slider bar option to set the default unit size to 60, 80, 100, or 120 men. You can actually change this during the course of the strategic game, and it will apply to new units built and your merge limit. It applies to all players. Each individual soldier still costs the same to train and takes time, so a larger unit size may take two seasons to train.
Q: My daimyo’s unit “regenerates” whenever it loses men. Why don’t other units do this?
A: It is particular to the Daimyo. Whenever some of the unit die, the daimyo will select new hatamoto so he always has a full honor guard. However the new hatamoto will be at honor zero, which is likely to "dilute" the honor of the unit.
Q: I don’t have Warlord Edition. How do I bring units back up to full strength?
A: The only way for you to do this is to take units who have taken casualties, put them in the same army, and drag one unit portrait onto another of the same type (in the bottom panel.) The result will be a mix of the two units in terms of honor. For this reason you should only merge units that have very close honor levels or you risk “diluting” the honor of your veterans.
Q: I have Warlord Edition. How do I retrain units?
A: When they’re in a province that can train that unit type (not just moved into it,) open the build sheet, click on the army you want to retrain and drag the unit portrait from the bottom panel to the training queue. Once they finish retraining they’ll come out at full men and with any upgrades the province can supply. New men will be at the honor that the dojo and province supplies, and may lower the honor of the unit. (So you should merge veterans instead of retraining.) If the unit is below the honor the province gives, it will be raised to that level. If the province cannot train that type of unit but does supply better equipment, then you can upgrade all your units there for free (they will not receive more men.) You can’t retrain strategic units or your daimyo.
Q: I have Warlord Edition. How do I play the campaigns in other time periods (including the Mongol Invasion campaign?)
A: When you just start a new campaign game, look for two faint triangular arrows on either side of the map of Japan where it gives a description of the time period. Click them to cycle through the time periods.
Q: I want a sword dojo. How do I get the legendary swordsmen event?
A: Kill lots of people. This event takes place when one of your soldiers makes many kills.
Q: I have a question on Medieval/Rome/off topic/other…
A: Go away, before I am rude to you and hurt your feelings!
King Haggard (03/04/03 12:20:29) [Basic principles of tactical combat]
This is by no means intended to be a complete guide to tactical combat, or even a very good one. It's just to quickly point the reader in the right direction and give a rough idea of what to look at.
Shogun: Total War is a game about positioning. Yari beat horses. Horses beat archers. Archers beat infantry. So do nodachi and warrior monks, but naginatas stop them.
It's mostly about getting the right troops in the right place at the right time. How you do that is up to you. But try to keep your main body tight enough to cover each other if you're inexperienced.
And keep a balanced army. Like a balanced diet, it's good for you. If your opponent is using a very imbalanced army, you can imbalance your own somewhat to take advantage of the weaknesses (for example if the enemy army is mostly archers and some infantry, go cavalry-heavy and with some archers and infantry of your own. If they have only infantry, use many archers and a few infantry to screen.)
Archers like to be on high ground. Everyone else likes to run downhill rather than climb uphill while fighing. So don't ignore the topography. It's not easy to win a rock-throwing contest from the bottom of a well.
Forests are very bad for cavalry, and provide some cover from archers as well, making them good defensive spots. And you can hide troops in them to ambush with.
Never fight fair. Never have one of your units fight one of the enemy's units when you can have two or three of yours fight one of theirs. And never attack from one side when you can attack from more sides. Always try to flank the enemy, or hit them from behind if at all possible. Catch the enemy unit in a vise between two or more of your units. This is one of the most important parts of the tactical battle.
Watch your units' morale. Don't send them on suicide missions if they're not brave yet. Veterans are much better for making those dangerous ambushes. Try to lower the enemy's morale by killing their general. Protect your own general.
Use cavalry for their speed to take out archers, not to assault enemy infantry. Use archers to wear down the enemy infantry and then pull them back behind your infantry when the enemy closes.
Have a unit or two in reserve to run down fleeing enemies, take the advantage of an open flank, or patch a hole in your line.
"It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten
to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one,
to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army
If equally matched, we can offer battle;
if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy;
If quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him." - translated from Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"
King Haggard (03/04/03 18:41:01) [Strategic Acquisition of Provinces]
When you have an opportunity to invade a province, it is not always best to do so. You should keep in mind the following factors both when deciding whether to attack or defend:
-Does the province produce much rice?
Good farming lands are important to a prolonged campaign. Though all provinces’ farmlands can be developed, you should make it a priority to take provinces that produce a lot of rice each year, and concentrate on developing those farmlands first.
-Does the province contain some valuable resource?
If the province in question has iron sands (for an armory) or another valuable metal (for money,) or if a specific type of troop trained there is of superior quality, it would be a good idea to take and develop that province as soon as possible.
-Is the province in a key strategic location?
Provinces that can hold a large area are vital to defense, especially if the areas they guard are not adequately garrisoned. Taking and holding strategic chokepoints is key to a successful strategy. You should look for situations where a handful of provinces that border many enemy provinces can be held with few soldiers. Ideally, you should be able to concentrate your troops in two or three provinces and guard an entire front with them.
When considering whether to move against an enemy keep in mind whether in moving your soldiers you leave your base unguarded, or whether you can advance your front without lengthening the line you must defend. A good border is round without a lot of difficult-to-defend protrusions. Ask yourself whether in taking a province you need a new army to guard it, or can you move an old army forward safely. Of course advancing a front can take several seasons, so if you can acquire useful lands while keeping enough troops to defend them, by all means do so.
One should strive for continuity. An enemy province surrounded on many sides by your lands not only makes an unsightly blemish, but also requires you leave garrisons in all the surrounding provinces. Sometimes these garrisons together are enough to overcome the foe, and should a situation arise where the target province has no friendly provinces adjacent you should be prepared to take advantage of it: the enemy has nowhere to run. You only need rout his army and they will be destroyed or locked up in a castle with no hope of help.
Also take a look at the terrain. Is it easy to defend? Will a token force be able to hold off a larger army? Good defensive provinces have highlands or rivers. Of course those provinces that are easy to keep are usually difficult to take. With sufficient practice (gained mostly from resisting attacks) you will learn the terrains of each individual province and how to defend them.
-Is the province important to the enemy?
Even if none of the other factors apply, a province filled with high-tech buildings is a good target to wrest away from your rivals. Besides the obvious loss to the enemy, the damage you inflict in taking over the province can be repaired in not too much time giving you a good base of operations close to the enemy lines.
An undesirable province to take would be one that has lowland, but poor rice fields, lengthens your lines, and has no minerals or special troops. It would be better to leave such a province alone and not fight too hard to keep it if you have already taken it. An example would be Izu, arguably the least desirable province on the map. It produces not enough rice each year to raise an ashigaru unit, has no specials, and under no condition could be strategically viable. Though it’s possible to advance into Izu without leaving another garrison (if you control Kai,) who would want to? Its neighbor Suruga shares a similar fate. (Note: I have often found that Lord Takeda likes to hide in Izu, and in order to trap him or his heirs we must dance around the surrounding provinces a lot.)
The province of Noto has little value and taking it usually requires a garrison to hold (if you decide to do so at all.) When making the push to Kaga it may be possible to ignore Noto until you’ve cleared the area. On the other hand if you already control Dewa and Sado then Noto is a logical strategic step to take since it doesn’t lengthen your border. If it is defended though, you should ask yourself whether you need the province.
One of the most desirable provinces is Shinano: it can hold a large area and borders many provinces on both sides, has excellent mountainous terrain to defend, iron sands for an armory, and the cavalry produced there are of superior quality.
Another desirable province is Dewa: it has rich rice fields and gold deposits and borders few provinces, making it a good province to have in the back of your territory.
Here is a story that illustrates some of the considerations in taking terrain: In one game I played as Uesugi I held the northwestern tip of Japan (upper-right on the map) including Shinano and the provinces immediately above it. Hojo’s forces were too powerful for me to attack so I had to spread my lines thin all along the eastern front while I pushed south into Kaga. This movement did not require me to leave additional garrisons behind since I could simply move the old garrisons forward. Except in the case of Noto: I sent a unit of yari samurai to take the uncontested province since I planned to immediately take Sado from both sides, leaving the enemy no escape route.
Though I had rich farmlands, building and reinforcing garrisons left me strapped for koku each year. When Takeda invaded Shinano with a high-tech and powerful cavalry army, I used the terrain and my spears to advantage (with a good dose of tactical planning) and managed to deplete their forces sufficiently to invade Kai, the only worthwhile province Takeda possessed which served both as their troop training province and primary source of income. I wanted to take Totomi province since until the siege at Kai was over (storming the castle was made impossible by continued attempts by the enemy to liberate the province; my men’s displays of valor gained them much honor) I only had two provinces producing campaign-quality troops and only one province that produced archers at all. Unfortunately by taking Totomi I could not always keep enough men there to hold it safely, so I razed a few buildings and left, to return later. Hojo invaded my land shortly thereafter with the entire garrison from one of his rich provinces, and I was forced to pull back into the castle. I shifted armies to break the siege and moved a garrison from a neighboring province to take the one he had abandoned. In this particular case the acquisition helped my finances and didn’t lengthen the line, but it is always a good idea to try and take a province that’s left empty, even if you’re only going to raze everything and withdraw. Just be alert that the enemy might bait you and cut your armies off, and remember that you can use this tactic yourself. Falling back is not admitting defeat.
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - quote credited to Sun Tzu
King Haggard (03/05/03 07:39:49) [Weather]
Posted by killemall54:
"To my recollection there are two kinds of fog, thin and thick and I swear there are four kinds of rain, besides intermittent and they range from light to really dark,stormy, along with lightning with driving hard rain, and two kinds of snow which are light and heavy. Fog can and will occur alone or in combination with snow and rain.
Fog has no effect on morale to my knowledge or any other effect except on your vision. As you know some battlefields are bigger than others. As an attacker, it is not advisable to play hide and go seek the last YA hiding in any kind of fog as when the clock runs out you lose even if there is only one defender. Therefore do not attack in fog if you can avoid it. Generally fog occurs in spring and winter so summer and autumn are good campaigning seasons. If you are the defender the AI will probably find you even if you don't find him when you are the attacker.
Thick fog. Can even hide you in a big province. But don't count on it. Send troops to divert their attention so your last remnant can run out the clock. Again thick fog is favorable to the defense. The AI enemy will move around your flanks and otherwise hide in thick fog. They are really more active.
In thick fog battles I throw out 3 Cav Archers ahead of the main body, across the whole front. I switch from unit card to unit card to see the view from that unit so I can quickly sweep the whole map. When they see the main body and dispersed troops i click on whatever units I need and click on the targets. This is the unrealistic fire and forget tactic. In real life the scout could not communicate the moves of the ai, but once you lock on, unless the target is BN or goes down away under a hill, your targetting units will seek out the AI, even if you lose eye contact.
So I say especially in major battles with lots of units and reinforcements do not attack in fog. But say you have 400 and they have 6 or 8 hundred. By careful manuever, in thick fog or rain, get around and flank the enemy and roll him up. When you are outnumbered like this but not when there are thousands of men, you can win.
Finally, I advance the speed slider in the move to contact phase, even in fog. This is dangerous. On more than one occasion the AI has surprised me by attacking into me and I have lost. I have tamed my overconfidence. Overconfidence and fog are a bad combination.
Rain. Damps missle and gunfire. But strings and matchlocks dry fast in intermittent rain, so arquebusiers can be deployed in that kind of scenario. Muskets will fire in all rain except the very heaviest described above. Some of the old experts argued this with me, but the muskets work. You can see the flash and a roll of smoke. I didn't ever hold that their fire was all that effective. Arrow fire is just plain less effective, but if you concentrate your archers the enemy is still dead.
Morale effects of rain. I don't believe there is any effect in light or medium rain and fatique effects are low. In heavy and Heavy Driving rain described above there is some kind or morale penalty for defender AI. I never felt or observed it when I was the defender. But I didn't wand my troops to check.
I will tell you this for sure. Mongol Defenders are much shakier than Hojo attackers in Heavy and Heavy Driving rain. This is important. Sometimes, the Mongol has position and you must attack uphill in trees against thousands of Mongols and tons of Mongol Heavy cavalry attacking downhill. I don't care who you are, you will lose and lose big. Except if you wait for a really heavy thunderstorm. I don't care if you outnumber him or he outnumbers you by a lot. Attack. Attack. Attack. Chances are the Mongol will bolt and you will have a province you could not otherwise take without many attacks and horrendous losses. All defenders are susceptible to this, but Mongols more so.
Snow. Everything I said about rain and fog applies equally here. Yes, everyone fatigues including the AI but it less than you. That makes units harder to rally if they break. So why would you ever stand around while fatigue drops to zero? Armored guys fatigue quicker than unarmoreds. Horses don't go so fast in snow. But its never slow motion. I promise. Snow fatigue has never cost me a single battle. I have lost battles in snow because of carelessness or negligence. I have had many really fun battles in snow with snow on the ground because it impairs your visual perceptions. Call it pretty clutter and it can either heighten your perception or distract it. You can lose battles by dispersing your men in snow storms and it is hard to know where they are on the map which leaves them vulnerable to ambush, counterattack or AI reinforcements. Disorientation is your enemy. "
I'd like to briefly expand on this, and perhaps offer another perspective on a few points:
Killemall neglected to mention wind. Wind will cause your arrows to miss their targets more often (unless well-trained and experienced archers can compensate for it, perhaps.)
Sometimes in winter you get "cold days". I suspect this may increase fatigue (since heat and thus energy leaves the body through the armor) but the visibility conditions are good unlike other "inhospitable weather" conditions (rain and snow.) I always fight on these days because they're rare.
Rain and snow decrease visibility, decrease the effectiveness of achers and arquebuses (rain more than snow,) and increase fatigue (snow more than rain.) You can also see the wind by the way the rain/snow is moving. When you select a day for attack you can actually see the weather, not just the forecast, so pay attention to the weather you see. If it says "intermittent rain expected" and you are looking at a thunderstorm, ignore the forecasters and their stupid weather balloons. Quite rarely you will get a thunderstorm, I love to fight in these. Visibility comes and goes in brief flashes of lightning.
A "fine day" is the perfect weather for archers. If your army is archer-heavy, try to attack on fine days. If the enemy army is archer heavy and yours is infantry heavy, try to attack in "hostile weather" conditions. If you have stealth troops (ninjas) or your plan involves stealth, try to attack in fog.
Fog should dampen bowstrings, but I don't think it does.
Personally, I greatly enjoy attacking in fog when I have ninjas or cavalry, or even nodachi or warrior monks. Reduced visibilty increases scouting and tactical options, and I just send my army every which way after I "win" to root out any hiding units.
Since you can't affect the weather when you defend and can barely choose it when you attack, I try to fit myself to the weather rather than the other way around. Since all my defense forces try to incorporate archers, a fine day is good for the range and accuracy and hostile weather is good because the enemy will be fatigued. In both cases my behavior is the same, including scouts (I scout in good weather just in case.)
I don't plan attacks years in advance like the AI sometimes does, at most I might hold off an attack to wait out the winter. Otherwise I just make do with what the weather offers when my troops are ready. Often I'll attack on the first weather offered, or the last as I can't find one I like. Depending on the troops I have and the weather, I will generate my general attack strategy.
In fog I will send out ninjas and elite task forces to hide around the enemy army.
On clear days I will march straight up and assemble in front of them.
Depending on the level of rain or snow, I may spread out my forces to converge on the enemy, sending my cavalry out first to cover the advance. In rain I will pull my arquebusiers back to sit out the battle, or use them as bait. The AI seems to be aware that they are no threat but likes to try and kill them.
Perihelion (03/05/03 09:09:36) [Weather]
A bit about the weather... I don't know if there is a correlation about the stats of your units being higher armoured = quicker fatigue, but I have noticed Kensai, HC, Naginta C, all fatigue at the same rate (Very Fast) I know the NC has a lower armour rating than the HC, but they still tire very fast...
However, BFN who have a higher armour rating than HC and NC don't fatigue as fast, even if running. Perhaps the stats are a misleading on this, because physically BFN would rely on being quick and less armour, just to balance I guess?