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Giving it a try again, need some guidance

NewbieOneKenobiNewbieOneKenobi Senior MemberRegistered Users Posts: 142
It's been a while but some of you guys may remember me. I'm not really a hardcore fan, though I've played Medieval I-I and now this. I just don't really have the type of focus to keep grinding (I play a couple of different genres), keep finding my own solutions, restart 20 times until it works. And so on.

So, I've managed to finish a Christian Shimazu run in Vanilla and a no-samurai Minamoto run in the RotS (true story) but tried an Aizu game in the FotS and got overwhelmed, swarmed and whatnot. The walking distances were too huge to be able to react to anything realistically, my surrounding vassals were easily capable of overpowering my border garrisons, people from all over the map would declare war regardless of factional loyalty. Worst of all, I was dirt poor, despite being large, developed and trading with everybody on the map (I specifically sent ships around Japan to discover clans and make trade agreements like the first thing I did in previous campaigns). I couldn't keep up with the navy thing and just a ship or two above my paygrade was enough to wreck my income and send me into the negative numbers.

...So from the sound of it, you may think I overextended myself, a classical case of overextension, isn't it? Well, not really in my look at it. I didn't really cut so many corners, I just didn't stay compact most of all, though maybe I should have. And, on second thought, it's kinda true that I had my guys marching both north and south while there was a bit of navy business going on too but I'm pretty sure I'd have been able to get away with that in vanilla or the FotS.

Anyway, I'm not really that set on either the Shogunate or the Empire, there are things I like or dislike in both causes. I'm no fan of the Tokugawa Shogunate or even the institution of the Shogunate at all, while on the other hand I really have issues with the way Yoshinobu was treated. Yoshinobu and the Aizu Matsuidairas with him, to be precise. I might as well play a traditionally inclined clan on the imperial side, especially given the game's hinting at the imperial cause being somewhat the better of the two (imperial Ishin Shishi rally, shogunal Shinsengumi coerce), although I feel some distaste for Satsuma's conduct throughout the affair.

TBH I'd probably prefer to be playing the Otomo in vanilla right now (was going to with a mod but then the DLC came out) but I thought come on, with all the railway shots throughout the interface, I've got to finish at least one FotS campaign.

So, was Aizu just simply above my paygrade due to its steep learning curve or did I do something wrong? Where should I start or what should I do or not do in order not to fail 20-30 turns into it as Aizu? My free time is kinda scarce these days and it feels horrible to die after investing several days into a campaign that ends in failure, since I'm a recreational and not a professional gamer and don't really need the skill at this particular game as an asset (such as e.g. competitive players or popular streamers do) and a loss is, well, a loss and a start-over.

So, gimme some hints here. And I've been to the most general guides via google, there's no need to link them.

Most specifically, was it wrong to have sent out ships to make contact and trade with everybody on the map? Should I have turtled up initially while the other guys were duking it out or even third-party belligerents moved in to kill-steal and capture defenceless enemy cities after I defeated my enemies' armies on my turf? Was I wrong in picking the Aizu as a newbie in the first place?
Post edited by NewbieOneKenobi on


  • damadman228damadman228 Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 2,437
    edited April 2013
    If you're new to FotS I'd recommend not to start with the Aizu, they are pretty much the hardest faction early on due to the long distances you mentioned. I went with Nagaoka and did well on my first try. Granted, I was playing on normal, so if you're playing on a higher setting it is going to be pretty difficult, especially since you don't seem to like the Satsuma. FotS has a harder early game than the other campaigns.
    This might be helpful for those still playing S2 MP:

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  • NewbieOneKenobiNewbieOneKenobi Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 142
    edited April 2013
    Thank you. I'm not really hardcore enough to try it on harder levels. My ideal setup is when I've got no specific leniency from the AI but no handicaps or penalties, either. Just the usual me vs computer and the geopolitical situation.
  • IronCladRoosterIronCladRooster Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 3
    edited April 2013
    I've got to agree with the other poster. Aizu is one of the hardest factions to play. All of their bonuses are awful and don't scale well in to the late game.

    So a few pointers from me. I've played through the game several times on hard very hard, but never legendary. I'm too fond of my save load cheating :(

    I'd recommend Nagaoka or even better pick up the Obama DLC. They have some really good faction bonuses. Only minus to them is starting location is kind of in the middle of things so you end up getting picked on a bit. Other clans that I enjoyed were Choshu (if you're willing to ditch your daimyo's honor and loot every city you take), and satsuma is kind of okay. Kyushu island has lots of very fertile soil which is money in the bank.

    Any way - early game tips from me would be to ditch whatever starting building you have and get a cadet school. Don't recruit any levy riflemen. They are just awful. They couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Line infantry are so much better. Get line infantry and spear levies. Use them for early game fights. Be aggressive. You have to get a few territories under your belt before 30 turn mark or you'll really be hurting because your neighbors will just send stacks of ****** levies at you and overwhelm you.

    It really went against my nature to start this way. I really like to build up my civilization and get lots of economic buildings. But if you don't get those early line infantries you will be overwhelmed.

    TL: DR -
    1.Aizu sucks, go Obama or Nagaoka.
    2. Destroy your starting building (whether it be an inn or a police station or whatever) and build it in to a cadet school.
    3. Spam line infantry and spear levies - take a few provinces. Then build up your econ buildings

    -- Oh and about your ships... yeah I don't know if this is the best advice but I really don't get them till mid to late game. They are just such a drain on your precious resources. My enemies can have the seas. When I loot their capital and kill all their cities then their navies will go away!

    Anyway ask any other questions. I'm happy to help in any way I can.

  • NewbieOneKenobiNewbieOneKenobi Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 142
    edited April 2013
    Thanks, IronCladRooster. Intuitively, you sound right. What about the trade, though? Do I skip sailing round Japan to establish diplomatic relationships for some trade income? I suspect those guys can't DoW me if they can't see me and if I make everybody see me (to trade with me), my life gets all the more complicated. Am I right or not?
  • kaasbriskaasbris Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 10
    edited April 2013
    I believe AI cannot DOW you if they are not discovered. But I suspect it's recommendable idea, since it reduces your intel around Japan to set up long-term strategy. Instead, I rather take good care of diplomatic relations and honour of my Daimyo, which I find quite complicated and hard to do so, though. I rarely DOW myself but let AI DOW me, while try to make friends with factions of same allegiance.

    I didn't play Aizu yet, but when I played Jozai, I conquered Kanto area (Kazusa, Shimosa, Musashi, Sagami, Izu, Shimotsuke, Kotsuke) and several more provinces on the west in fairly early stage, then consolidated them without further expansion - this kind of land mass is close each other, thus easy to defend. I did it mostly with traditional units, so Aizu could do much easier. I kept friendly relationship with Shogunate factions, while checking and encouraging that they are constantly on war with other faction - if not, they becomes variables.

    Optimal number of province shall be around 12 before RD, and those land mass of Kanto (if Jozai or Aizu), Kyushu Island (if Shimazu), Chugoku (if Choshu) seem preferable target. Once subjugated early, they can be defended easily with reasonable force, and AI will regard you as stronger, which prevents DOW from them. As others, I also failed in Northern Japan as provinces are too far located each other, which made my progress so slow that couldn't defend against AI's eventual mega stack.
  • sogayasogaya Member Registered Users Posts: 77
    edited April 2013
    I usually don't send out ships to discover trade partners. Your trade is limited by your number of ports and if your ports are at full capacity you can't trade with other clans anyway. I also tend to keep my navy very small for a long time. I usually keep 1 gunboat in each port and sometimes send a gunboat out to spy on the nearby coast to give me early warning of approaching armies. I would never tear down an inn or other building so that I could build a cadet school. I'm not saying its wrong or bad, it's just not my style and what I'm comfortable with. Usually I don't get line infantry until I capture a province that has a cadet school. I tend to focus on building up my economy as much as possible. The first thing I do is study diplomatic relations hoping that it will influence clans from declaring war on me, and then continue to study the civil side as much as possible.
    You also want to keep a close eye on the diplomacy window. If your status drops to weak, its an invitation to be attacked. Also watch the friendliness of other clans. If that suddenly drops or if they change sides, that can be an early warning to be prepared for an attack.
  • DarkJakkaruDarkJakkaru Member Registered Users Posts: 32
    edited April 2013
    While I do like the somewhat sandbox nature of TW games, they do game starts in a way that is supportive or gives you a slight early bonus to make your survival that much better. In the case of Aizu, you have the Shinsengumi agent. Immediately at start, use him! He is close to walking distance to the enemy castle and can easily instigate a revolt in the province. This will delay your enemy so you can march your army ASAP south. If the Rebel troops have not been defeated after the turn, your agent can bribe some units to join your side so you can get more troops that way.

    In terms of tactical battle, you best unit is the Shinsengumi Police force. This is normally a late game unit which you have from the start. Do everything to ensure this does the majority of the fighting but do not squander this unit away, that is what levys are for. While there is a ton of walking on the Shogunate side of the map, your Tiger Units are better than Levys and will server you well even though they may not be as cost efficient as normal Levys are.

    In terms of strategic battle, set up your south army that is walking distance away to the woods near the road and can ambush the enemy army coming up north. This will give you and advantage tactically in the upcoming battle which otherwise you would not be if out in the open.

    Smash the army and cause a rebellion and that should be enough to land you your first conquest province and obtain a foothold into the Kanto Region. Do what you can up north to keep the peace as long as possible. The rest is up to you on how you want to continue at this point.
  • IronCladRoosterIronCladRooster Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 3
    edited April 2013
    ... In the case of Aizu, you have the Shinsengumi agent. Immediately at start, use him!

    Shinsengumi agents are cool except for how darn expensive their abilities are. If you can really afford starting a revolt go for it, but I don't usually have that kind of disposable income until mid game.

    Back to the boat thing. I'm awful at naval battles, so that's probably the real reason why I don't build up big navies. If you really want to discover a bunch of other factions then build a single gunboat and have him explore around, but as was mentioned earlier it is more likely than not just going to put you at war with far away factions that got the itch to take on some shogun clan. That isn't a big deal until they randomly come all the way across the map with a huge army and land on one of your provinces. Super annoying.

    But to encourage the budding strategy discussion here what techs do you guys start off with in early game? I used to just go econ techs, but I've found that getting armstrong guns is just too valuable to pass up. I usually get one or 2 early civ building techs, then go almost all military after that. Get those modern infantry and those armstrong guns early (i usually skip naval techs for later, and I don't bother with cavalry techs for a while, but that's just my play style).
    Techs might be slightly different for the Aizu faction which has all those bonuses towards traditional stuff.
  • NewbieOneKenobiNewbieOneKenobi Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 142
    edited April 2013
    I tend to go all-econ too and my sailing-round-Japan diplotrip is part of the strategy. It basically comes down to maximising the income the most efficiently I can. But I didn't know that clans can't DoW me without vision and, like you say, their habit of offloading a doomstack somewhere on your doorstep in super annoying. Especially with the Aizu, who need years to go anywhere.

    Regardless of the faction choice, I wanted to stick with the traditional ways. But this isn't really so simple, just like the shogun vs emperor choice is not.

    For the record, my personal inclinations skewed RotS for me to the point that while I played as the Minamoto clan, I never actually had a samurai unit other than maybe from bribes. And probably most of my armies came from this brand of recruitment, especially the more advanced or expensive stuff. I had commanders surnamed Taira. ...And I probably auto-resolved all my battles, often relying on 2-3-stack zerging. :( (As Shimazu in vanilla, I could do that with the katana samurai at some point.)
  • SchepelSchepel Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 1,540
    edited April 2013
    A few basic guidelines which work very well for me:

    - Prioritise economic buildings INSIDE your cities, which includes larger cities.
    - Anything in range of coastal bombardments is virtually worthless until you can afford a navy.
    - Don't bother with a navy early on.
    - Garrison all your cities with cheap upkeep units. You can defend almost anything against huge armies with a bunch of levies, if you know what you're doing.
    - Get all types of agents to level up passively. They are an early priority.
    - Do not rely on trade port income.
    - Pick your fights. It's very easy to get embroiled in an all out war with everybody, but very hard to survive that sort of thing.
    - Get the best artillery as soon as you can.

    If you want to a nice start, the Jozai offer a very solid starting position. Nagaoke and Aizu are the two hardest clans to play.
  • anhalibutanhalibut Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 22
    edited April 2013
    some good advice here.
    I would just add that my favorite early army is half spear and half rifles.
    As I conquer provinces and get more money, that ratio changes until my armies are all rifle (plus arty and some cav, of course).
    Parrot Guns are great artillery - you really don't need to upgrade further.
    The "Kneal" ability is devastating; don't neglect to research it.
    Revolver Cavalry is pretty awesome.

    The provinces to the north of Aizu are fertile and/or very fertile. Take them to secure your back and get money.
    Those distances north are pretty big, though. If you're playing a short campaign, you may just want to drive south towards Edo, instead.
  • sogayasogaya Member Registered Users Posts: 77
    edited April 2013
    I haven't played Aizu for a while but the last time I did, my shinsengumi really saved me. I was stuck with 3 provinces and was being attacked from all sides. I couldn't do anything. My army had to be centrally located so that it could rush to reinforce whichever castle was being besieged by two or three stacks. The only thing I could do was to send out my shinsengumi to incite revolts. Eventually 8-10 provinces were held by rebels and at one point every neighboring province was rebel held. With that buffer zone around me I was finally able to send my army out to start taking rebel provinces.
    I also keep my navy small and try to build out of bombardment range, but if I have cash to spare I also build things that might get bombarded. If they do get hit I just let them burn until they repair themselves or the threat is gone. When I do get more ships much later in the game, I don't use them for navel battles unless forced to. Ships are used for spying along the coast, transporting invasion armies on occasion and for bombarding enemy armies. The only fleets I want to waste my time chasing are the ones carrying armies. If they want to bombard my farms or raid my trade routes I mostly ignore them.
  • sogayasogaya Member Registered Users Posts: 77
    edited April 2013
    Also, after the rebels take a castle, send in your geisha to enchant the rebel general. Then station the general right next to the rebel castle hiding in the woods if possible. Your geisha's experience goes up much faster through active missions and the general is a spy that can give you advance warning of other clans passing through rebel territory. Also the general can prevent any non-enemy clan from taking the rebel province, saving it for you to take when you get around to it. If another clan attacks the rebels, your general will be reinforcing , but will be in control. Fight on the battlefield but immediately concede defeat.
  • YfainYfain Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 18
    edited April 2013
    i tend to only research the beginning econ techs then the trade port techs. i like to then just get parrot guns and do alot of navy research i tend to love the FoTS naval battles and am pretty good at them so getting my ships upgraded is one of my top priorities. i use them alot for ground battles as well usually stationing them on the coast of city's i wish to take and bombarding the **** out of them. u can do alot of damage with navys so i would never underscore there uses. Raiding ship lanes, bombarding armies (once u get explosive shell u will do alot more damage with this ability), destroying enemy fleets the other side sends over full of armies before they land.

    other than that i do like to do traditional armies with only a few line infantry and a ton of katana's (makes taking castles a breeze) and the only reason i have line infantry is to stand up to other armies in open terrain battles. oh and the second im able to i research kneel fire, after that i view all other econ techs as only supplemental and will only research them when i feel my econ could use a boost.
  • Half_Life_ExpertHalf_Life_Expert Senior Member Oak Park, CA , USARegistered Users Posts: 4,686
    edited April 2013
    Aizu is not a good clan to start with, they are hard.

    if you want to play as Pro-Shogun, I would advise playing as Jozai, they start on a peninsula near Edo (Tokyo).

    If you want to play as Pro-Emperor, I would say ether Satsuma or Choshu.

    Choshu are on the western-most tip of Honshu (the large, main Japanese island)

    Satsuma have essentially the same starting spot as Shimazu, which you say you have played as, well the Satsuma are the direct descendants of the Shimazu

    all three of the clans I have mentioned start in positions that are ether far away from most enemies, or near a number of potential allies (except enemies that are very weak)

    in regards to your last question about establishing a lot of trade early on, I would advise against it. It is best to start off having to worry about only a few clans at once, your immediate neighbors. Now that Ships can attack land targets other than ports, making yourself known to everyone before you grow you military forces (particularly your fleets) is a very dangerous risk.

    basically, it's best to lay low at first until you've got some real power happening.
    "we have officially entered into pre-whinning about our games."- Cogre

    I will always respect differing opinions on here, so long as they are presented maturely and in a civil manner

    "No Battleplan ever survives contact with the enemy"- Helmuth Von Moltke the Elder

    The WWI Thread: https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/30914/why-a-world-war-i-themed-total-war/p1

    I'm skipping TW: Warhammer
  • sogayasogaya Member Registered Users Posts: 77
    edited April 2013
    The last time I played Aizu, it was at the hard level and it was a struggle to survive early on. I just started a very hard Aizu campaign yesterday and it started really easy. I don't think I've ever gotten to 5 provinces so easily and quickly. I was surrounded by friendly clans and had a couple of strong allies. My only enemy was the morioka and I had the very friendly yoenzawa in between as a buffer. Then in the spring of 66 the nagaoka broke our alliance, they had flipped to imperial. On the next turn they declared war. At the same time the morioka had taken Miyagi and were marching a huge army towards fukushima. The yoenzawa declared war as did the terrifying obama . In one turn the whole game flipped from easy to a potential disaster. I managed to survive the initial onslaught, so naturally the chosu and tosa have joined the war against me. This game can be so weird sometimes. You always have to be ready for anything.
  • Crossed_SabersCrossed_Sabers Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 12
    edited May 2013
    The only clans I have been able to beat FoTS with on Legendary are Satsuma on the Emperor's side and Jozai on the Shogun's. I personally like playing as Satsuma the best because they start with two provinces, the daimyo has +1 honor due to the already established vassal, they have a smith which you can upgrade to a gunsmith, significantly improving the accuracy of your troops, and the home province has a nice bay with a narrow opening where I just park an ironclad which usually is enough to protect your foreign trade port from attack. And as someone else mentioned, that island has very fertile farmland which will make lots of money if you can manage to keep them from being bombarded by enemy ships.

    In the early game I usually only recruit a few levy infantry and 4-5 spear levies for defending towns until I have enough income to sustain a better offensive army of line infantry with some foreign marines and artillery.
    "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." Sun Tzu
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