Total War

Mythbusting Shimazu Gameplay

Content of the article: "Mythbusting Shimazu Gameplay"

Excerpt from the guide I posted originally on Steam. Sharing it here for a wider audience.

Myth 1: Shimazu should take down the Ito clan in the early game

This is a myth which readily ensnares new players for two reasons. One: the game steers the player into a conflict with the Ito clan. Shimazu is at war with them at campaign start, and the first game mission Shimazu players receive is the conquest of Osumi province, one of Ito's two territories. Conquering the Ito's territories is also part of the Shimazu victory conditions. Two: this was the advice players were sharing when Shogun 2 was launched. There is genuine wisdom in this approach to the game, and following this approach won't put you in a bad position by the mid-game. But this is absolutely the sub-optimal approach.

Let me explain why. First, we've discussed earlier that the provinces held by the Ito clan, Hyuga and Osumi, are the least valuable provinces in Kyushu. Hyuga has the lowest fertility level at 600, while Osumi's fertility level is average at 900. Neither of them also have any game bonuses.

Second, Shogun 2 imposes penalties on provinces you conquer later in the game. Your tax rate drops as you conquer more provinces. Similarly, the permanent public order/happiness penalty in conquered provinces rises as you conquer more provinces; while the first province you conquer would have a zero permanent penalty, the next provinces would have a penalty of one, then two, then three. Since Ito's provinces are already crap, the maximum benefit from conquering them is achieved when you delay conquering them as long as possible.

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Third, the game mission to conquer Osumi province does not actually have any time limit. In fact, the only ways you can fail the mission are as follows:

  • Making a military alliance with the Ito
  • Vassalizing the Ito

Don't be fooled by the "4 seasons" information in the mission screen!

And lastly, the game bonus from completing your mission is actually more valuable later in the game, when you have more provinces and hence more recruitment centers. Triggering the game bonus when you own only one province gives you one extra recruitment slot; triggering it when you own three provinces gives you three extra slots.

I hope these reasons seem convincing. But if this is the case, why did I acknowledge that there is wisdom in the standard strategy of conquering the Ito in the early game? It's because Shimazu needs to be at peace with the Ito before conquering the juicy provinces to the north. You can't have an enemy Ito army marching on your capital while your own army is busy elsewhere. So before you embark on your conquest, you need to inflict enough casualties on the Ito army to convince the AI daimyo to accept a peace agreement. The AI will stick to the peace agreement for at least 10 turns, and that's enough time to conquer the north and build up a secondary deterrent army in Satsuma.

Myth 2: The travel time between Kyushu's provinces prevents an early game snowball

The other myth I want to disprove is that holding off on conquering the Ito deprives Shimazu of its only expansion opportunity in the early game. By the time a Shimazu army reaches the north of Kyushu, according to this myth, the AI clans there would have built up half-stack or even full-stack armies that are beyond the player's skill to defeat. As with the first myth I debunked, there are genuine grounds for this concern.

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Travel Times from Satsuma by Land Routes

Let me direct your attention to my illustration above. This shows that the Shimazu army will take 4 turns before reaching Higo's castle town. It will then take 2 more turns to reach its next destination, whether it's Hizen's castle town or Tsukushi's castle town. If the army heads east instead, as per the standard game strategy for Shimazu, it will take 4 turns to reach Hyuga's castle town, 2 more turns to reach Bungo's castle town, and another 3 turns to reach Buzen's castle town. Marching from Satsuma in southwest Kyushu to Buzen in northeast Kyushu would therefore take anywhere from 7 to 10 turns, and that is with the assumption that the Shimazu army can win all the battles it will have to face.

Let me explain why this is not the end of the story.

Travel Times from Satsuma by Land and Sea Routes

First, let me direct your attention to my illustration above. This shows that sailing from Satsuma's port to Hizen will take 3 turns. Since a naval landing consumes one turn, this means that the travel time from Satsuma to Hizen can be reduced by 1/3rd! Similarly, sailing from Satsuma's port to Buzen will take 4 turns; this means that the travel time from Satsuma to Buzen can be reduced by almost half.

Second, let me direct your attention to

. Please click on the link for more details.

Because of this exploit, building up the port infrastructure in Satsuma province on turn 1 makes total sense. Once you're able to recruit the most basic ship units, you can station them along the western coast of Kyushu, thereby enabling your army to travel the distance between Satsuma and Hizen in two turns! (One turn to complete the naval landing, and another turn to reach Hizen's castle town.) And after all, the idea of a Shimazu naval invasion on Hizen province is very much in line with history; in real life, Shimazu Iehisa, the fourth son of Shimazu Takahisa (your starting daimyo), led such an invasion and defeated the Ryuzoji clan in the battle of Okitanawate.

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