Content of the article: "Shamoke’s Campaign is a complete mess."
I've played several Shamoke campaigns now and utilized several pivotal save points to get some branching paths. Afterward I can't help but feel his faction just doesn't work like it should. Let me point out what I feel are the issues below.
First – Domination/Cooperation
Shamoke gets stacking bonuses for either confederating Nanman or vassalizing them. With a maximum of 10 for each it would require 20 other tribes to max both so it is clearly intended the player choose one or balance the two. HOWEVER, after the first turn three other tribes will die to Zhu Rong, Meng Huo, and Mulu leaving 15 tribes for your mechanic. This puts you on a tremendous timer to aggressively pursue other Nanman factions. The big issue here is you start out at war with both a Han faction (Zhu Fu) and Jinhuansanjie AND Jinhuansanjie has 2 settlements to boot. You are immediately faced with a difficult decision, waste time finishing off Zhu Fu to the south and let Jinhuansanjie build up and other Nanman factions get eaten as well OR rush west to deal with Jinhuansanjie and get your mechanic going.
Furthermore this mechanic is plagued by terrible vassal diplomacy issues, they declare independence despite great relations, someone might sign a non-aggresion with you then declare war on your vassal, or you sign peace with someone then they declare war on your vassal… the list goes on.
In addition the vassal co-operation bonus is lost if you annex a faction, meaning you lose your point in co-operation and it instead moves into domination. You cannot lose points in domination though.. On top of this if you grant a Nanman cave lord independence making them a vassal you do not gain co-operation.. you might be able to kill them to get another point in domination though.
In the 194 start 5 tribes start out defeated leaving you with only 13 tribes for your mechanic and on top of that Duosi is your vassal but does not give you a point in cooperation! You still are at war with Zhu fu and Jinhuansanjie but lucky you Jinhuansanjie only has 1 city this time around.
Second – Nan or Han?
Staying Nanman or reforming to Han. Once you unite the tribes you are faced with a dilemma.
Stay Nanman – For 20 turns you get +15 satisfaction for you Nanman characters and -20 diplomacy modifier for han factions. This option basically plays out just like Meng Huo, Mulu, Zhu Rong… and gives you the Nanman victory conditions. It's fine but bland.
Reform to Han – Holy moly is this option awful, for 20 turns you get +80 diplomacy modifier for Han factions and -30 satisfaction to your Nanman characters. Ok fine, so the game clearly wants you to change your court over to Han characters, but wait…. your candidate pool is still full of Nanman and your court is still tribal council and cave lords with only 2 positions for characters above rank 4! So you basically have to capture and recruit your entire court lest they have -40+ satisfaction based on your difficulty. (side note: i do remember seeing some han characters as candidates one or two turns in my multiplayer campaign but the vast majority of turns appear to have all Nanman candidates).
Fine, so the Nanman characters hate you for 20 turns and you have to capture damn near all the new Han court members you want. But wait there's more!! Having united the tribes you had -95 base diplomacy with Han factions and the +80 appears to negate it entirely FOR ONLY 20 TURNS. Want to try to offset this with research? Well you can get +65 from other research. This will put you at a grand total of -30 base assuming everything works… lovely they all still hate you.
What I would change–
In 190 – Start Shamoke's army in Fuling and give Duosi the Fuling -Jianwei settlement. This allows the player to first turn get a stack of their domination/cooperation mechanic and lets Duosi be a stronger ally that you can vassalize and or annex later. This also buys you time to eliminate Zhu Fu if you wish. I feel this start would just make much more sense from a mechanic standpoint. Allowing the player to get their bonuses rolling from turn 1.
When the player chooses to reform to Han fill their candidate pool now with a hybrid of Nanman and Han characters. In addition change their court system to that of a Han faction with chancellor, grand commandant, grand excellency, etc…
Have the Nanman research give +95 diplomacy to Han Factions to completely offset uniting the tribes and reward the playing for taking the left side of the diplomacy tree.
Allow the cooperation mechanic to get points for giving cave lords or administrators independence (they are a vassal after all).
Cut the cooperation/domination tracks in half. Have them max out at 5 and then rework the numbers so that its not too brokenly OP.
Maybe eliminate Shamokes -10 satisfaction to Nanman… not sure on this one its not too big of a deal
Fix Vassal Diplomacy issues…
As of right now Shamoke is a pain to play, his mechanics feel way too hard to get paltry value out of and they pale in comparison to Mulu, and Zhu Rong. I hope he get some serious love as I genuinely feel his faction isn't working correctly but could be amazing if polished.
Let me know what you think of Shamoke's campaign.
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