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This is diplomacy guide for those who don't know how diplomacy really works or who wants to learn something more than they already know. I'll describe here what true politician should do according to Sun Tzu to win his battles.
The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.
Take heed and bear witness to the truths that lie herein. Don't let yourself be defeated on the field of battle to the point when you'll be forced to accept another clan's protection as its vassal. The most important thing to remember is that vassal clans (like Tokugawa in the begining) can't declare wars on their own. They can declare war only against enemies of their masters. Your hands are pretty much tied if you don't have common enemy then. You also can't ally with anyone although you still can trade. Additionaly you'll lose money as tribute to your lord.
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
You won't believe me but peace is all. Peace with the clans let you wage war against those who will wage war against you. To achieve this goal you'll need how to convice you enemy not to attack. As an example; you battle against an enemy clan who did declare war on you and at the same time you have message that another clan, very powerful, on the other side of your domain wishes to attack you. Prevent this from happening in the first place. It's always cheaper to buy peace than loan swords and bows to win peace. Offer money (pay at once or in tribute), hostages, marriage, trade) and try to make millitary alliance with this mighty clan. Once you do that they should be your valueable allies rather than fearsome foes.
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.
Question is: when is it the right time to strike and when not to? Check out your neighbours and their allegiances. Daimyo's honor dictates that he must go to war on side of his ally, who has been attackedorlose honor. Stay your hand. Let yourself be attacked because by doing so you'll deny your foe ability to call his allies for help significantly. It's always easier to beat one foe than coalition of them. If you have to attack then find the clan who has no friends nor allies and is weaker than you or have different religion. Also be sure to have many supporters for your cause to make the enemy weaker because they'll have to fight more enemies on multiple fronts.
He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
Take your time. Wait in shadows. Observe. Then strike. Let your neigbours to wage war against themselves and decide for yourself when to draw your sword and to whose side. Pick up your battles rather than let yourself be led to fight them that way you will suffer no defeat.
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
Don't war more than you need. If there is a possibility to cease figthing when having wars on multiple frontsdo it and use your spared army to break the might of another clan. Don't throw lives of your subjects recklessly beating down already beaten opponent but secure peace and move on to another threat. You also need to remeber that seizing multiple provinces too fast gives you diplomatic penalty so better avoid conquering everyone as fast as possible, especially in situations like that.
Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.
Use agents like ninja to sabotage armies. The less they do move the more time you have to prepare your defences or ambush them and the more inactive they are the better off you are always, it's like destroying an entire army for one turn. Destroy farms to make sure they'll have to keep their armies in cities and thus dening their strenght. Convert the populace with monks, convert agents so they can't work against you, make cities rebeling to make their armies occupied. Also bribe medium armies with your metsuke: people who join your side and abandon their lord at the same time are double gain, because he did lose troops and you bought fast troops. Remember that anyunsuccesful or failed attempts of your agents will reflect negative in your diplomatic relations. Always have spare money for agents to do their job.
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.
Don't loot cities. You'll get some money of this but after that you'll need to keep strong garrison here thus making most of your army unmobile. It's almost like lost of an army. Other than that looting damages daimyo's honor which can reflect your diplomatic relations.
Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.
Maintain good standing with most powerful clan all the time by marriages, military alliances, attacking common foes and giving the gold from time to time if you're rich enough. Also don't wage war on clans that are too far away - except if you want to land on their beaches and set up another base of operation from there - because integrity of your land will make your provinces easier to defend with less forces required.
Only when these rules will fall, because your enemy believe you to be weak, go to war. If you'll follow these simple rules you'd be able to succed both in diplomacy and war.
"I can be beaten a hundred times, and still I will rise again, as strong as before".
"Cowards and traitors deserve no second thoughts, only their complete annihilation".