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Ok guys, I gotta admit this TW was harder than any before. Right after getting the game i started playing on VH/VH and got crushed and could not survive like 20 turns. So I've read a lot of posts on this forum that helped me a lot so i want to make a short guide/tip list from all of them + some that i've found on my own.
Btw I've only played Tokugawa but im pretty sure this works with any clan.
Diplomacy: As much as i can figure out, i almost never had been declared war on for no apparent reason like some claim. Whenever someone declared a war on me it was usually because our diplomatic relations were "hostile" or at least unfriendly. However, AI likes to declare war vs you early on in game when your power rating is weak or meager. Rarely will they declare war on you if you are strong or terrifying. Basically, watch out for relations every few turns and send tribute in order to postpone war with neighbors.
However, dont get overconfident on relations status, on VH I had a +250 relation ally backstab me so still be careful about that. Never ever give prolonged military passage to anyone because they will always use it to get deep in your territory where you are undefended and backstab you. However, using a 5 -10 turns military passage as offer to get peace/trade relations is a very good thing and cheap to do.
Ok so some important things to point out are that when you start out, you need to plan from turn 1 to turn 10 at least to conquer about 3-5 territories so that your total # of provinces is from 4-6. In this time period you will only produce ashgaru archers and some spearmen. Basically since im SWT1 player, i use a heavy archer mix in my armies since they were so OP then.
So only in turn 1 and 2 when you have 3k starting money should you build farm, perhaps lvl 1 upgrade to province unique resource or if it is a poor province get farm+port. From then on, you need to pump out army every turn and as soon as you conquer new province build a market there, a metsuke and all other money should be used on troop training.
So basically plan for 1st ten turns or so is to make 4-5 markets, 4 metsuke(you start with one so 5 total) and rest is army. So at turn 1 its really important that you plan out your expansion so that you can get your "back against a wall" in sense, that you have to protect only 2-3 battle fronts so that some of the provinces are protected by either mountains or sea so there is no way that cpu can attack 2-3 of your towns out of 5-6 you have. If you have to defend more than that, the oncoming stacks will eat you alive because you will not be able to sustain 4 armies of 5-6 provinces.
Ok so on turn 1 figure out on map where you can defend well with only 2-3 armies and camp after you made your initial burst expansion. Ideally you want to be able to kill a clan or two with the expansion so you can more easily establish peace. Also use hostages/marriage if possible when making trade. However, dont establish trade agreement with a clan that you plan to attack on turn 1-2 because you get a diplomacy hit because of "broken aliances or smtn like that". However, since at start you have 1 army, get marriage/hostage with a clan that you want to prevent you from attacking first 10 turns since all your army will be focused on attacking other clans and you dont want to bother with fighting multiple sides or keeping army on borders with ppl you are not in war with.
So logic is that as you capture a province, you start building a market in it. If the slot is occupied by something that is a already built, destroy it. I never ever have army producing buildings in a province unless its a province with armory bonus type. U will never have enough money to support samurai for most of the game so you just need to focus on eco. So if you capture a province and it has something besides market/ninja building, destroy it and build market. If its a province that is already upgraded to fortress level 2, then also destroy whatever is build there and build both market and ninja. Basically idea is that these 2 buildings will after like 15-20 turns start paying off while rest of buildings are just dead space.
So fast recap for 1st 10 turns:
1) get to around 5-6 provinces. You will not survive on 1-3 provinces so early expansion is a must because you cannot upkeep enough army vs cpu on so few.
2) use metsuke to increase happiness of towns that you just conquered so that you dont need to garison an additional troop + each metsuke gives like 75-100 gold extra per turn from tax bonus which is so important to my strategy. So use 1st metsuke as a scout and others always as crowd control or/+ eco buff.
3) never fight on open vs cpu unless you outnumber him, use metsuke to scout ahead of army so you dont get caught out of position. Always get cpu to attack you while you are in castle so he suicides his troops and then go for a counter attack unless you feel confident that you will not get caught by surprise (you scouted with metsuke far head of the army)
4)at end of it all, you should have around 5 provices, each with 5 markets, and each having a metsuke boosting its economy. Hopefully you can get peace now established and try to go for 20 turns of only eco buildup.
Turn 10 to 25-30
Basically in this part you want to have all farms upgraded, have at least 1 port upgraded once so you can train ships in there. Basically idea is that as soon as you are at peace, which should be at turn 10 or earlier, you want to conquered all trade nodes, so build 1 cheapest ship each turn and send them to secure each node. At same time, you still need to build army, basically aim to have around 5-6 archer groups in each town with 2-3 spearman and a general. This should be able to stop up to like 1.5k armies and upkeep is not that terrible, basically 3 provinces can support those armies and the 2-3 extra provinces you have bring in about 1k koku extra per turn which you use for development.
So for turn 10-30 plan is to get all nodes occupied, build fort level 2 in each of the battle fronts that need to be protected (2-3 of them, fort lvl 2 gets turrets that you can abuse so much to survive vs AI) and I rarely or almost never upgrade above that since that is enough in late game to hold of full stack samurai army with full stack ashgaru and lvl 4 last stand general in town. So aim to get all trade nodes, or all but the date clan one and then get 10 trade ships on each. At this time you should be getting some surplus cash from the markets, farms, and metsuke so you should start to develop your trade ports to lvl 3 so that each can build a trade ship and later one you will get trade from those ports to so benefits will stack.
Basically this is when i start my 2nd expansion, maybe even earlier than turn 30. All you need to wait for is for your economy to kick in from trade posts that you can support big armies. At same time pay tribute to keep peace if necessary and pull those 5 cheap war ships, fire bane or smtn and set them close to your ports since pirates will start blocking it eventually and in first few turns those 5 should be enough to defend vs pirates.
Ok so you are now kinda ready for expansion, you have the 3 forts build up, you got like 5x10 tradeship on each node, and u got around 8 stacks protecting them and you got 20 stack(full stack) ready to attack and expand. Hopefully you can get even more than 20 stacks to be spared for attacking, but even that should be enough. If you cannot get all trade nodes, that is fine, just get as many as possible. Also since now you have 6 provinces or 5 you dont need to produce troops each turn after turn 10, only enough so that you can protect your castles, so like 8 troops per castle, probably even as low as 6 and then you can stop with those for a while, like 5-10 turns and just pump ashgaru 3-4 turns before you plan to move out(since you have 5-6 provinces you get 6-7 ashgaru per turn so to get 20 you need 3 turns and you dont want to pay extra upkeep if you can use it to further improve farms or ports)
Now here planing is kinda important, since i play on domination rules, i have to get 60 provinces but around 22-24 the realm divide kicks in. So you want to plan to attack in such way that when you get to 22-24 provinces you again have to defend only 3-4 fronts. Basically as tokugawa I made 5 more battle ships and landed on date ground and started clearing japan from top towards middle so that at 24 i was back to my capital and formed a line of only 3 battle fronts. This is important because it makes it easy to defend and make a blitz krieg attack since you need only to sure so few battle fronts. If you are located far from Date, like in middle of japan i would suggest that you go for bottom part of japan first and clear from there. Or even attack the island that is in the middle bottom part of japan that has like 5 provinces and get the bottom left island that is like 6 provinces. Basically this is something that I should even done as Tokugawa because securing those provinces near trade nodes is really important since later after real divide AI actually sometimes does bother to push my trade ships away from it. So if you are close to date, use ships to drop on them and start clearing from top to bottom. Or even make the 1st 5 expansions towards them if you are playing as Hojo or smtn. Otherwise go for bottom left island 1st that has only 1 access route by land. Then get the 2nd island that has no land access but has 5 provinces and then plan to move out.
So eco during the from initial 5 you have to 10-15 province push. As you conquer provinces still produce that market/ninja combo. However, since you plan to upgrade sometime in the game all markets into rice exchanges plan kinda ahead and don't always produce markets but sometimes only ninja in provinces that have only 1 building slot. I made a mistake of overproducing markets and then upgrading them and after expanding to 15 territories i was at -2 global food and had serious problems because AI had upgraded all their fortress so all provinces i conquered were +0 or -1 food, so plan to have at least +2 or +3 food before expanding as well as researching CHI tech for upgrades for farms at same time.
Ok so now you should have around 15 territories, you should upgrade all markets to rice if food allows, and upg all ninja buildings to level 2. After a few games you will get a feel how many provinces can have market/ninja so that you dont starve for food due to -1 food that rice market causes. Also you should be starting to get roads now ( they are at my lowest priority, i go markets/ninja/farm/port and only when that is maxed out i go and upg roads)
So now goal is to have 4-5 battle fronts open, probably with maxed out ashgaru stacks in all of them. I usually have around 8 spear ashgaru and rest archers. This should take be able to take care of 2.5-3k armies easily(so like 20-25 stacks) if my hero has last stand which gives like 2.5x or something reload rate to archers.
At this time i also start to get out 5 ninja and usually just place them inside town so they get experience unless i want to mess with a neighbor that i plan to attack soon because you get - diplomatic relations if you use ninja on someone. Goal is that by turn 60-80 you have 5 ninja each lvl 3 or higher, all specialized in army sabotage.
So use only 1 skill point as level 2 to unlock sabotage and save rest for upgrading army sabotage. Also make sure that your metsuke are positioned in highest earning provinces as well and that you upgrade them for so that they get even greater bonus to taxes( at level 2 metsuke is already maxed out) and it takes him like being in town for 2 turns to get to that.
So when you have borders secure and 2 extra stacks ready for attack you can move out. Now your goal is to get from 15-24 provinces and stop there so you don't activate the real divide. At same time, as you expand now, start to build temples in towns that have upgraded forts since you probably will be somewhat starving for food so get ninja/monk temple. If you get a province that is maxed out fotress with 3 or 4 slots but no +to armor or +to attack benefit destroy all buildings and just build market/ninja/monastery because you also want to eventually be able to support all 5 monks before you start to push out and declare war w the whole of japan( realm divide)
So when you get to realm divide, you want to make sure you have about 2-3 stacks per each border ready to move out(so if you planned it correctly on map, you should have only 4 provinces, maybe 5 connected to someone) and you need about 2 stacks for each of those before you can activate realm divide. You also need about 2 stacks of navy to make sure you cannot get an army dropped behind your back as you move out. You also want to make sure all your provinces have maxed out farms, merchant guilds and the 3/4 roads, ports.
Also since you have like 20 provinces, you should have one with +armor or +attack bonus. This is the only one/ones where you will train samurai so you should max upgrade this one so that you can train samurai archers/jari and get the third slot to also be the upgrade for armor or weapons. I usually only get armor upgs so my armies have gold armor when everything is set up. So i just get jar (jari depends on what tech i managed to research, but best defense jari available/archers in my army)
Basically you need to make sure your all provinces are upgraded, you have required troops, that your 5 monks, 5 decent ninja are ready and that you pull out 1-2 most experinced metsuke with you into your army. Also you only get as much army as you can support with no trade, because since its legendary diff. i lost all my trade partners like 5 turns after real divide, so you can only upkeep as much army as the trade nodes and your own land can support. So always check the income you get from resources from unsold trade and from taxes. I usually aim to have +5k-10k koku each turn coming even when i move out and all my trade dies. So this pre- realm divide period is the one where i just try to maintain peace by buying it, getting married with other clans and exchanging hostage /paying to get peace back if i get attacked.
From here your only goal is to get your 2 full stacks to fight vs 1 of theirs and kill them. I've beat most of legendary on autocombat since you get a nice bonus if you outnumber the opponent. Like if i had 3 stacks vs 1, i would have 6000 men vs 2500 and i would lose only 300 men but if i played it out on battlefield it would still bet 2500 vs 2500 unless my men started running away and got replaced. However, use autocombat only when you are like 80% favorite or more since otherwise you should play out the battle yourself since autocombat solve thing loses too much in those scenarios.
So use ninja to make sure that even if they drop behind your lines, you can sabotage him to death so that he cannot move until you get your army back. Use monks to get pet monkey and such upgrades so that once you conquer a province you can stack 3 monks and make sure that with turning off the taxes, 0 army needs to stay in there so you can conquer like 2 provinces with 1 army per turn and still get 0 riots. so use monks to either remove enemy special units such as metsuke/ninja/other monks. Use ninaj mostly to just sabotage army in place so they cannot reinforce(like dont allow cpu to get 5 stacks in 1 place on map which will be hard to destroy). Use metsuke to bribe armies, so all metsuke you train, should at start of game get the tax bonus and then get maxed out on bribing armies.
From this point, you just need to make sure you upgrade and maintain population happines at 0 or better even if it means you turn of taxes in a province for 10 turns. Don't stop with your army for more than a turn in a town if you can help it and always move in 2 stacks because cpu can spawn 1 stack out of nowhere so you don't want 1v1 stack fights.
From this point on, you just clear provinces and build ninja buildings/upgrades since lvl 2 ninja building already gives +3 happiness which helps a lot in population control vs resistance to invaders.
I know the format for this will kinda look terrible and I'm sorry for my poor writing skills but I hope this will at least help a bit people beat this game.
So some tips i wish i knew but didint.
1) Hostages and marriage give +100 diplomatic relations. However, marriages give -40 diplo. relations with clans that are enemies of the one you got married to..watch out for that
2) use hostages as trade whenever possible since its cheap buff to diplomacy
3) dont make allies or vassal out of anyone unless they are super strong ally. Basically for each time you don't help an ally in war or vassal you get -1 to daimyo honor which really sucks in late game when you are faced with realm divide and you have -30 to everyone in diplomacy due to -3 honor
4) don't use threats vs anyone, if you threaten someone but don't attack you lose -1 honor..
5) metsuke are OP, get all 5 of them as soon as possible and you will get a tons more money. A skilled metsuke can give me up to like 35% tax buff on a province but with diminishing returts but its still nice when you have metsuke in a profince that has 5k income, and with no metsuke it would have like 22% taxes so income on it would be like 1100 while with metsuke you get 35% total or something so you get 600 extra per turn etc..
6)Use ninja to fight multiple stacks. Since you should always keep at least 5k in midgame or 10k in lategame use them to sabotage armies. They should have like 75% success rate vs anyone and it costs 1k vs full stack armies. I've defeated a 4 stack samurai army by using ninja to bind in place 3 of them and metsuke to buy a stack with no general for 11k. Basically then i attacked with my 2 stacks each of the stack individually since when you sabotage them, stacks dont combine and usually they don't run so all of them die in the battle. So with 2v1 stacks it was like 5k vs 2.2k and i would lose 300-400 men each time of the 3 battles on auto combat.
7)don't use autocombat if attacking a castle with few men. if they only have the 45 retainers and you use autocombat they will damage the castle and you wont be able to build troops + you have to pay for repairs. For some reason whenever you use autocombat on siege the castle + buildings get ruined, but never when you carry the battle out by yourself. Also, AI is kinda dumb, they never leave the castle so if you have a archer heavy army you can just nuke them from outside, even if they have level 2 fortress with turrets, the turrets have a blind spot on opposite sides. If they have archers in same scenario(this is useful early in game when its 500 vs 500 men), and they only have 1 or 2 archer stacks, just put archers in front of the each of the stacks, but just outside of the range and then pull all other stacks and go shoot them in the back. For some reason they never turn around to defend because the 1 stack in front makes them stay focused and just hugging the wall while getting shot in the back. Once you kill the archers you can just shoot the rest of the castle from outside and you get an easy win
8) you should tech fast to get market tech in chi, and then get both the 50% reload for archers and fire arrows in bushido. Then get upgrade for farms and 10% movement on sea. After that you should probably be getting only CHI upgrades for most part. Mostly the diplomacy and eco ones, i completely ignore ninja and metsuke ones till the end.
9) in late game after you trigger realm divide, you should have money for 3-4 armies of each having 3 stacks. Use this to break castles easy, for some reason on autocombat you win 6k vs 2.5k with 500 loses even though they have maxed out castle, and damage is evenly distributed across all units so in 1 turn they are replenished to full and you can move on, or you just take the castle and move on to border of that province so you still get replenished.
10) aim to get 4-6 generals level 4, so when you get 1 general to lvl 4 you don't need to use him as much. You should always split your generals before fight in separate stacks since if you have 2 generals in same stack only 1 gets experience, but if 1 of them is "reinforcement" both will get exp. If you start as tokugawa etc like i did with only 2 generals or less, just split your whole army when attacking easy battles. This way if you have 1k koku in treasury one of your troops will be promoted to general. Rinse and repeat until you have enough generals.
11) if a province is under heavy attack at start, such as Oda campaign, get roads in that province for that replenishment bonus and castle first, before getting farms or other upgrades. So this is for cases where you start out your campaign at war.
12) shogun save files are located on hard drive.. Basically you can backup the save file by alt tabing whenver you want into a seperate folder, i suggest doing it every 10-20 turns because you don't want to replay the whole campaign just cause you made 1 mistake or misclick..
Btw in regard to difficulty, ignoring the fact that autosave is not only at end of turn but after every moves, makes the game hard in sense that 1 mistake or mislick can make you reroll the whole campaign..Like i had few times moved with my army out of the castle and lost it and coudn't get it back anymore and had to restart. If you remove that factor, i think the game difficulty is like 3/5 if you compare it to civ or some other games..i mean AI is much much better, since it actually made me think this time and not just rolfstop game from day 1 like other TWs
I know this is super long and really unstructured but there should be useful info. I have no idea how to make it shorter and i dont wanna spend 5 hrs formating it