Total War: Shogun 2 is the seventh full installment in the popular Total War series of strategy games. Like its predecessors, it features a mixture of turn-based strategy on a campaign map and real-time tactical battles. As a sequel/remake of the very first game of the series, Shogun: Total War, the setting returns to Feudal Japan and the Sengoku Jidai period of civil war. Starting in the 1540s, the player takes control of one of the powerful clans struggling for superiority in Japan, with the eventual goal of uniting Japan under a new shogunate.Two expansion packs were produced, introducing new campaigns to the game. The first, Rise of the Samurai, is set during the Genpei War of the late 12th century, which led to the rise of the first shogunate and the dominance of the Samurai class in Japanese society.The second new campaign came in the form of a stand-alone expansion, Fall of the Samurai, which depicts the Boshin War of the 1860s between the Tokugawa Bakufu and the resurgent Emperor. As a result of Japan's opening and contact with western influences, Japanese society is changing rapidly, spelling the demise of the feudal rule under the Samurai which has been in place for almost 700 years.
This game provides examples of:
The Alliance: And one you'll hate with every molecule of your being. Realm Divide in Shogun 2 and Rise of the Samurai is essentially The Alliance of clans who aren't you, desperately fighting your titanic might from occupying Kyoto and declaring yourself Shogun. And you can't make a counter-alliance (or at least keep it for long), because Realm Divide also give you -50 to your diplomatic influence, with another -5 for each turn Realm Divide is going. (To give you an idea, -50 to diplomacy is equal to your daimyo publicly pissing on the tenets of bushido.) The Realm Divide in Fall of the Samurai, meanwhile, makes an effort to balance the above out by giving you the option to lead either the Imperialist or pro-Shogunate clans under your banner. Going Independent and becoming a Republic, on the other hand, warrants more or less the same effect from the original game, namely Everything Trying to Kill You. The only sure way to gain alliances without the negative modifiers during Realm Divide in the original game is to take over and then liberate conquered provinces as vassals.
As with most TW games, this is pretty much inevitable, even playing as the Tokugawa. Who knows what would have happened if Nobunaga never rose to power, or if the samurai order was overthrown by the Ikko-ikki?
Fall of the Samurai makes it possible to see how Japan might turn out had the Shogunate won or if the samurai forge their own Republic.
The onna-bushi (warrior women), heavy infantry units that fight using naginata. Only available when defending a province with a high level castle (Shogun 2) or a high level Koryo dojo (Rise of the Samurai).
Rise of the Samurai adds Onna Bushi Heroines, highly skilled cavalry equipped with naginata and bows.
Anachronism Stew: If you have both Shogun 2 and Fall of the Samurai, it is possible to take an army of sixteenth century samurai and ashigaru, and fight a 1860s army of riflemen, cannons, revolver/carbine-armed cavalry and Gatling guns during online multiplayer matches. There are achievements for winning a match using an army from either end of the Timey-Wimey Ball against an opponent roughly two centuries ahead or behind you technologically.
Annoying Arrows: Played With. Units with heavy armor like Naginata Samurai will shrug off a lot of arrows, but more lightly armored troops will likely get mowed down.
In the Sengoku Jidai campaign, spears (especiallyYari Ashigaru in Yari Wall formation), archers and guns will cause chaos amongst cavalry units, who aren't nearly as powerful as in Medieval II and are far more vulnerable to missile fire. If you're a swordsman, on the other hand... cavalry, while not as capable, are still formidable on the frontal charge against the right unit type, making anti-cavalry more relevant.
Rise of the Samurai lacks yari units, but archers and naginata are sufficient to deal with the cavalry they have to fight against. In particular, the weak armor of Heian-era units and the small size of cavalry combine to ensure that cavalry (even the almighty Tomoe Gozen) need to get out of the line of fire when archers are shooting.
In Fall of the Samurai, in the early game, a cavalry charge (whether to front or flank) can kill Line Infantry rather effectively, but traditionalist spearmen (the Yari Kachi or even Spear Levies) will clear them off the field rather swiftly. Later in the game, the more powerful domains will have developed artillery and modern rifles, and sabre cavalry will become virtually useless.
Certain fortifications designed to provide cover against arrow fire are much less effective against matchlock shots.
Cannons are available in the main game for those who cultivate ties to the West and are available to pretty much everyone in Fall of the Samurai. Heavy armor may as well be tissue paper against these attacks.
Arrows on Fire: A special ability that archer units can use, provided the right technologies have been researched. They're the only way to take out buildings from a distance without siege weapons, so if you aren't going that way, you'll definitely want to research them.
Art Shift: This is played with in the aesthetics of Shogun 2 but is most evident with Fall of the Samurai, which has old-style photographs and Victorian-esque illustrations standing in for the usual Japanese stylings of the main game's interface. Rise of the Samurai meanwhile goes the opposite direction, showing a more archaic and stylized art direction compared to the main game. This is to match the setting of the Genpei Wars, centuries before the Sengoku Jidai campaign of Shogun 2.
Artificial Brilliance: The AI is generally agreed to have improved greatly in Shogun 2 over previous games in the series. While not perfect, it is definitely a far more capable opponent and will ruin your day on the higher difficulties. In addition, the AI is sometimes smarter than it looks. For example, ashigaru archers can stand their ground against their samurai counterpart in a missile duel and kill a lot more than they themselves cost, maybe even routing the more expensive but less numerous samurai. However, the samurai archers are rather capable in melee and the ashigaru tend to get decimated if the samurai charge, unless there's a melee unit backing them up
Artificial Stupidity: However, the AI is still prone to the occasional moment of jaw-gaping stupidity.
An AI opponent will usually stand idly by as archers outside of an AI defended castle shoot their troops to pieces instead of sallying out. (There is a reason for this, though it doesn't make the action any less stupid. Units inside walls get a large morale bonus and the computer is unwilling to sacrifice that bonus for any reason. Too bad that morale bonus doesn't protect against projectiles...)
If you get two missile units in a duel with one another (one isolated missile unit attacks another isolated missile unit in the field) then you'll sometimes be treated to the sight of archers and gunners forgetting about their area of expertise altogether and charging a wall of bows. Utter slaughter is, naturally, inevitable.
It's perfectly possible to take a bridge, rout the opposing army, and then turn right back around and amass a staggering number of taken heads as the enemy's reinforcements arrive, presumably meaning to outflank you on the ground you have just left. If their comrades have already routed, they will first attack you and then try to run away across the bridge you are now guarding; the result can be some fairly skewed kill ratios.
While Computer-controlled clans are not affected by upkeep, they're woefully incompetent at managing provinces and local infrastructure. Such is the case when you capture provinces with only one or two building slots in the mid or late stages of a campaign.
The AI doesn't know how to get through its own gates if you capture them, and will stubbornly refuse to go around. If you're besieging an enemy castle and they have reinforcements inbound, it's entirely possible to storm their walls, capture the gates and watch as the entire reinforcing army, intent on reaching their allies, crowd around the gates that refuse to open and just mill around looking like idiots while you capture the tenshu or use them as target practice.
If you are defending a fort and the AI manages to destroy one of your gates with artillery, it will then decide that the best tactic is to send all of its troops through that one gate. If this happens in Fall of the Samurai, a mere handful of any rifle infantry surrounding the gate will mow down each invading unit as they enter single-file.
Clans which do something innocuous on it's own, such as revoking military access, can go into a downward spiral of decaying relations where they end up breaking other agreements, which then causes them to not like you, which then causes them to break more agreements. This is especially annoying in Rise of the Samurai, where your first enemy might end up being a former ally simply because they revoked a trade agreement with you to trade with someone else, and now they hate your guts.
As in previous Total War games, a successful low-born captain may be promoted to the rank of General and even be adopted into your clan, to the point of potentially becoming Daimyo. For a historical example of this happening, see Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Your Daimyo's wife, who otherwise is more or less irrelevant, will take over if your Daimyo dies and you have no heirs that are of age yet. This can actually be a good thing if your Daimyo had low honour, since she doesn't even have that stat.
Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: A favored "tactic" of many Ashigaru units. Their relatively low morale means they'll often charge across the battlefield, lose half their company to your archers, and then rout before even making contact with your infantry. Hopefully you have some cavalry on hand to run the cowards down...
Hero units. You have to spend a lot on building and research just to be able to make them in the campaign. And chances are by the time you are able to get them, you probably won't need them anymore.
Kisho Ninja are only good for scaling castle walls, making surprise attacks, and butchering units that are poor in melee, weakened by casualties, and/or already tied up in melee against another friendly unit. If they try to wage a fair fight by themselves against a full-strength unit that is strong in melee, they'll get their asses kicked badly.
Badass Grandpa: Expect to laugh gleefully as you see your highest-level Ninja skilfully fillet enemy Daimyos... at the age of 65!
Badass Family: Given that many of your generals in Shogun 2 come from your family, this can easily result.
In Fall of the Samurai, making alliances with minor clans is a bad idea that can backfire as the clans will usually go to war against each other despite being on the same side, forcing you into a lose-lose situation that permanently damages your clan's diplomatic standing, and honour, through a betrayed alliance.
Sparing a clan by making them your vassal increases your daimyo's honour, gives you a new trade partner and ally, and is obviously the kind, merciful thing to do, right? Well, unfortunately for you, your vassals don't see it that way come Realm Divide, and will betray you just as readily as anyone else.
Ashigaru are not particularly strong or tough units, being relatively unskilled and prone to Losing the Team Spirit unless they are clearly over-matching the enemy. However, they come in large units which can swamp the enemy with numbers, are great for holding down flanks and defending walls, plus they are cheap to recruit and maintain, can be recruited anywhere without any special buildings and replenish their numbers quickly between battles.
Line Infantry in Fall of the Samurai. Recruitable from cadet schools (the 1st tier infantry building) at the beginning of the campaign, they start out far more cost-effective than Levy Infantry, and they are the cheapest infantry to benefit from Foreign Veterans and researched upgrades. It can be hard to justify building toward Bear Infantry, Imperial/Shogun Infantry, or Foreign Marines when Line Infantry has much lower upkeep, yet still puts a lot of bullets downrange.
Boss in Mook Clothing: It is not rare in any campaign for a "minor" clan to expand massively, swallowing up many "major" clans in the process. The Imagawa, Hatakeyama and, Amako seem to be the clans most prone to this.
Bow and Sword, in Accord: Some archer units are quite capable in melee. The Bow Samurai and Bow Hero units in the main campaign have this as their personal operating philosophy. Switching to melee mode leaves you at least with a chance against charging melee units. This trope is taken Up to Eleven with the samurai units in Rise of the Samurai, which are equally highly skilled with bow and sword. They're some of the best units at range and in melee in the Genpei War campaign, although they will lose out when put up against 19th century riflemen in multiplayer.
Ashigaru units are cheap and easy to recruit, numerous, and die quickly. However, they can be deadly if employed properly, particularly if they have gathered some experience. Their use should not be underestimated. Oda ashigaru in particular are a subversion of this, proving to be terrifyingly powerful combatants, with their DLC Long Yari Ashigaru being more than a match for samurai under the right conditions.
Levies in Rise of the Samurai are pretty much this, being ineffective fighters even at the best of times and only dangerous in numbers. However, castles have larger garrisons than in other eras, requiring subversion by junsatsushi or invasion in force to take.
Levy Infantry in Fall of the Samurai aren't useful for much more than this, having less accuracy than matchlocks and generally existing to take bullets so that your more useful troops don't have to. Spear Levies, on the other hand, are vital in the early campaign (where they begin with an experience bonus), make for excellent Anti-Cavalry against sabres and can take down even Line Infantry if they manage to charge home. They can still be used to fit this trope, but they have far more uses than just that.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Enemy generals who have been bribed to your side have a penalty to their loyalty rating for "disloyal tendencies", increasing their likelihood of being bribed or interfered with again. Also, the campaign AI in general (whether through typical stupidity or incomprehensible brilliance) also likes to make alliances or trade agreements with you, just to declare war a few turns later.
Church Militant: Shogun 2 has both Sohei Warrior Monks (which the Uesugi clan specialize in) and the Ikko-Ikki faction, which is basically an organized peasant rebellion that follows a different sect of Buddhism from everyone else in Japan. There's also the Otomo Clan and their Portuguese allies who seek to spread Christianity across all of Japan with both Missionaries and Matchlocks.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: While it's in a sense on par with the rest of the Total War games, Fall of the Samurai has this completely played straight for the unit cards: modern units wear blue uniforms while traditionalist ones are in red outfits.
On hard and legendary difficulty, the computer controlled clans will use their recruitment discounts to recruit full stack armies and fleets at any time on every turn. Even if a computer controlled clan has only ONE province left, they'll have at least one full stack at ready to make a counter-attack or a last stand despite the obvious fact that their province can't even make enough money to pay for their upkeep.
Even on the easier settings, the AI abuses The All-Seeing A.I. to the Nth degree. And they tend to spawn so many navies it's hard to keep up.
Cool Helmet: The famous Kabuto helmets worn by Samurai units are (obviously) on parade, along with notable or famous examples from history belonging to the Daimyos of the great clans. Of particular note are the crescent-moon helmet of the Date, and the "rolling waves" helmet of the Oda.
Cool Ship: While none of the ships available are terribly uncool, the Roanoke, Ocean and Warrior class ironclads in Fall of the Samurai still outpace everything else by dint of their staggering firepower. Expect to pay through the nose for each one you purchase, though.
Crack Defeat: Is a distinct possibility. One example is the historical Battle of Okehazema, where Oda Nobunaga beat an Imagawa force ten times the size of his own.
The Hattori Clan relies on ninjas instead of standing armies full of regular troops to conquer Japan. This handicap manifests itself as a +25% upkeep cost for infantry units that are not Kisho Ninja.
The Ikko-ikki specialize in Warrior Monks, which are more powerful than any normal clan's warrior monks except the Uesugi, and the Ikko-ikki have a much easier time recruiting them than other factions. However, the majority of their non-monk units are significantly weaker in some respect than regular clans' equivalent units: monk archers (unlike samurai) are useless in melee, and naginata monks are dead against archers unless properly kitted out.
In Rise of the Samurai, the Kiso Minamoto move their armies faster than anyone else and recruit samurai at double speed. However, their civil technological development takes a major hit. A bad quality in a scenario where the gold of a strong economy is often far more powerful than the steel of an army that was recruited in a very short time.
The Takeda Clan's specialization in horse-riding allows them to recruit cavalry that is better and slightly cheaper than their normal equivalents. Unfortunately, cavalry is still an expensive investment which means that the small increases in stats is negated by the considerable amount of money that you have to spend in recruitment and upkeep.
"Master, we are not making enough trade infrastructure in this province". The advisor will say this even for provinces where upgrading trade infrastructure is no longer an option.
Cutting the Knot: Subverted. You'd think destroying the Ashikaga Shogunate and presumably the Shogun before Realm Divide kicks in would stop it, but you'd be wrong.
Darker and Edgier: Fall of the Samurai has a noticeably darker and more ominous tone compared to both the Sengoku campaign and Rise of the Samurai.
Deal with the Devil: The DLC content features a new building called Land Lease which gives you a one-time lump sum of 4500 gold but permanently reduces your Daimyo's honor. It's bad enough that you're in league with the Portuguese and helping to further their invasive agenda of aggressively spreading Christianity but do you really need to piss off the tenets of Bushido and Buddhism even further AND promote sentiments of betrayal among your generals... just for a quick injection of cold cash?
Decapitated Army: Downplayed. The loss of a general in combat is not necessarily an Instant-Win Condition for that battle, but it does cause a huge morale shock to the side that loses them, potentially causing them to break and flee. Sufficiently dedicated troops can withstand this and fight on anyway, though if the general is dead he was either making some very questionable decisions to put himself in harm's way, or the battle was already all but lost to him anyway.
Distant Finale: The ending, in a nod to the original Shogun. The cinematic ends with a transition of your daimyo's statue in a park at the middle of a very modern Japan... with your clan's emblem proudly displayed in the background, implying that your efforts continue to live on well into the present. note If you achieve victory with the Tokugawa clan, the statue it shows exists in real life at the Maruyama Park in Kyoto.
Early Game Hell: The game seems to progress from early game hell, to middle game heaven, and then to late game hell when "Realm Divide" kicks in. At the start, you'll struggle to balance fielding an army and developing your provinces as your aggressive neighboring factions torment you relentlessly. Expect to be short on funds as you exempt newly acquired provinces from taxes to maintain public order and field armies of mostly ashigaru units to Zerg Rush your enemies. Eventually, once you've carve out a nice territory and establish trade relations, your economy will rebound so you can start to produce stronger units and develop your cities. Things will go swimmingly for a while as your high grade troops carve through Japan like a warm knife through butter...then Realm Divide will kick in and everyone will be against you.
Monk clans (which means the Ikko-Ikki and Uesugi) in the original are going to have this, as Warrior Monks are a cut above the norm both in power and price.
The Minamoto in Rise of the Samurai are almost certain to rely on this, as samurai units (which the Minamoto specialize in) are small, expensive and devastatingly powerful. The Taira and Fujiwara can go this way if they want, or they can choose to rely on traditional Attendant forces (and the Taira gain benefits for doing this).
The Otomo Clan Pack introduces the Portuguese Tercios in the most recent DLC: armored European infantry who can stand their own against at least a good chunk of Japanese units.
The foreign units in Fall of the Samurai (who come in British, French and American flavors) are as powerful as, if not even more so than their most modern Japanese counterparts (with Guard Infantry being the local equivalent), not to mention are apparently immune to winter attrition.
Elite Tweak: Warrior monks with proper armor, which requires you to upgrade a province with smiths to Master Armourer level and preferably have an Encampment with an Armoury as well, completely nullify the big disadvantage of warrior monks (their vulnerability to archers). Of course, these are expensive, but you don't need giant armies of these to deal with most threats.
Rise of the Samurai starts off at the very twilight of Japan's "classical" Heian period, marked by the Genpei Wars as well as the titular emergence of the Samurai.
The vanilla game's intro cutscene narrates the collapse of the Ashikaga Shogunate, causing a headlong plunge into the Sengoku Jidai and a lawless, mad struggle for dominance. The campaign itself kicks off decades after the events it narrates, and chronicles the end of the Sengoku period, when the most powerful daimyo gained the submission of weaker daimyo and maneuvered to reunite Japan under a new shogunate.
Fall of the Samurai uses the Boshin War, Meiji Restoration and Satsuma Revolt as its backdrop, clashing the old order against the sweeping tides of Westernization.
Enemy Civil War: In Shogun 2 and its expansions, you can actually cause civil wars with Monks/Missionaries (Shogun 2), Sou (Rise of the Samurai) and Ishin Shishi/Shinsengumi (Fall of the Samurai) agents, who rally the populace of a province in an attempt to overthrow the clan that currently is in control.
Do not, I repeat, do not try to storm a gate in Shogun 2 while firebombing it at the same time. The gates are Made of Explodium, and if you're foolish enough to have anyone directly in front of the gate, they will die in spectacular fashion. (read: flaming bodies flying across the map as if shot by a catapault.
A ninja is inside a castle perched upon a cliff. His target is at a balcony looking out over the garden. Ninja takes a running start and attempts a flying kick to his target's head. Target ducks.
Et Tu, Brute?: In Rise of the Samurai, your chosen clan starts off closely allied to one run by the same family as you. But as you rise up in power and Realm Divide kicks in, don't expect familial ties to keep them from turning against you.
"Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Or close to it, anyway. When the player's clan is destroyed (and thus the daimyo dies), he recites a historical "death poem", written by samurai before they either committed seppuku or went off to a Last Stand.
Faction Calculus: Usually doesn't apply, but in Rise of the Samurai, the lines can be (roughly) drawn between Minamoto (Powerhouse), Taira (Balanced) and Fujiwara (Subversive). Note that the Fujiwara do not employ the Zerg Rush; instead, their strength is in their civil technology, and especially their agents.
Felony Misdemeanor: The historical Battle of Sekigahara. A short way into the battle the Shimazu forces that promised their aid to the player's forces (which is the side that historically lost the battle) refuse to help...because the messenger that came to them to ask them to attack didn't dismount from his horse when he arrived.
Femme Fatale: Geisha are highly effective super-assassins, whose main modus operandi is to seduce their targets, then brutally murder them.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted, though ranged units do try to avoid hitting friendlies, especially riflemen. If they don't stop in time, though...
The Western soldiers from Fall of the Samurai, in an unusual inversion. The Americans, for instance, are very Christian and hammy blood knights, while the British are indifferent and rather detached eccentrics.
Shinobi, Shinsengumi and Ishin Shishi can acquire a retainer which allows them to disguise themselves as a westerner.
Inevitable in the main campaign: when you control about 1/3 of the landmass, the Ashikaga Shogun will sic everyone in Japan who is not you, at you. It's called Realm Divide, and is the sole reason you kill everyone on your way to the throne instead of sparing them by making them vassals. Same thing happens in Rise of the Samurai, only it's the Emperor himself calling the rest of Japan down on you.
The effect is less strong in Fall of the Samurai in that you can opt to lead either the Shogunate or Imperial forces all over Japan. But should your clan say "screw it" as its Realm Divide choice, everyone is out to kill you.
Gatling Good: Gatling guns are present as a late-game unit in Fall of the Samurai. Getting within range of one typically results in a rather grim recreation of The Last Samurai. Spamming them is basically an 'I win' button in the campaign. Kotetsu-class ironclads are also armed with a pair for close-range defence, which have a predictable result on enemy crews.
The No-Dachi Samurai from Shogun 2 have a very powerful attack, a large charge bonus and an ability that gives them unbreakable morale for a short time,. However, they lack any kind of melee defense or armor, so one must get them into combat with a charge or watch them get slaughtered.
Fire Bomb Throwers and Kisho Ninja. Able to dish out truly frightening levels of damage (often breaking their targets' morale in a single volley), but if any other unit as much as sneezes in their general direction... this (and their very short range) makes Fire Bombs somewhat Awesome, but Impractical, but the Kisho Ninja can use their stealth ability to actually get close enough for the cannon part of the trope.
Warrior Monks will wreck enemy units in large numbers with the Bow, Naginata, and Matchlock. Unfortunately, their lack of armor means that they are easy prey to cavalry and missile fire.
Later artillery units in Fall of the Samurai (Armstrong cannons, Gatling guns, etc.) can be very powerful...until they engage in melee.
Bow Cavalry can be absolutely devastating if kept away from melee units and out of the range of enemy archers. However, if engaged by enemy cavalry or spear infantry, they'll get cut up like wet tissue paper. Needless to say, proper use requires significant micromanagement.
Gorn: The Blood PackDLC is explicitly designed to put this trope in the game.
Götterdämmerung: The backdrop the Genpei Wars in Rise of the Samurai still has traces of what Heian period Japan was like even as it comes to a violent close. This is reflected in the stronger emphasis on agents and the leading three clans originally from the Imperial court in Heian/Kyoto rather than from among the Samurai, as well as loosely-organized formations of the in-game units.
While the Matchlocks units are generally well balanced (and have been considered overpowered at points) in the main campaign, the one cavalry unit that uses matchlocks doesn't go into battle loaded, and reloads very slowly only once an enemy is within its range. The Donderbuss cavalry from the Otomo Clan Pack DLC are a lot stronger, however.
Fall of the Samurai plays with the trope. Japan is in the transition period between pre-isolation and the Meiji Restoration, so while guns are very much not worthless, it'd be wise to back them up with melee units in the beginning of the campaign; spears and swords are not out of the running just yet, and if you're not ready, they'll be more than happy to validate this trope for you.
Harder Than Hard: Legendary mode takes away the pause part of the Real Time with Pause, removes the save function - except autosaves after turn passages and battles - to foil Save Scumming, and you still have to deal with the rules of Very Hard. As this can make coordinating your forces an absolute nightmare, and there are no second chances, even hardened veterans can find this difficulty mode a struggle.
Heel-Faith Turn: Your monk/missionary can enlighten the agents of another clans, effectively disbanding them from their service to their lord. You can even do this to ninjas... if you can spot one.
The Oda clan's tendency to develop the "Rude" trait in their family members is likely a reference to Oda Nobunaga and his famously abrasive personality.
One of the first clans to get knocked out in campaign tends to be the Tokugawa, despite being the real life victors of the Sengoku Jidai and the last Shogunate.
Hope Spot: Most of the cutscenes shown when a clan is destroyed have one.
Instant-Win Condition: Even if the last garrison unit is destroyed during a siege assault, the defender can still win if that very last unit manages to rout the attacker's last unit. This video is a very rare and amazing example of that.
Jack of All Stats: Naginata Samurai are intended to be this, being better infantry-fighters than yari troops but not quite as good as katana samurai, and better cavalry-busters than katana samurai but not quite equal to yari samurai.
Jerk Ass: Almost In the Blood for the Oda clan, as their Daimyo begins the game with "Rude" as a trait, giving him a whopping -20 to diplomacy. His sons seem to be quite prone to developing the trait as well.
Jidai Geki: The base game is set at the end of the Sengoku Era. Rise and Fall are set in the Genpei War and Bakumatsu eras, respectively.
Just a Stupid Accent: The Japanese-accented English used by the advisors in Shogun 2. By Fall of the Samurai, however, just about everyone is given the same treatment.
Katanas Are Just Better: Katana samurai are arguably the best general-purpose melee units in the game,note (certain other melee units might be situationally better but can also be situationally worse) and will carve their ways through almost any other unit type if they get into range.
Leeroy Jenkins: The Date clan has this as their specialty: They gain a bonus to charging units and their specialty unit is the No-Dachi samurai, a unit that's most effective when charging an enemy unit.
Leitmotif: In Fall of the Samurai, each foreign veteran gets one depending on who they belong to. France gets a excerpt from "La Marseillaise", the UK gets "God Save The Queen", and the USA gets "The Star Spangled Banner".
Losing the Team Spirit: Like all Total War games, morale is a huge factor in battle. If you can cause the enemy to waver and break, you have swung the battle to your advantage even if the enemy still has substantial strength left. Having other units in close support range, outnumbering the enemy, and having the general nearby all but a few of the factors that govern morale. In general, Ashigaru have the weakest morale, being primarily trained peasants. Samurai, accepting that they will die in battle eventually, have strong morale and only break when the odds are clearly impossible. Monks have fanatical morale, and almost never break.
Macross Missile Massacre: The faction that builds the Arsenal has access to Fire Rockets, which are more powerful than European cannon, often causing enemy troops to be launched into the air when they hit.
The Otomo Clan are surrounded by enemies and normally die a painful death before they can properly bring that bonus into play; easy imported matchlocks help, but they're often not enough to stave off the opening wave of enemies. If they survive long enough to climb the tech tree, however, they can conquer Japan with a wave of cheap and powerful matchlock armies and skill at spreading Christianity.
Likewise, the Hojo Clan bonus applies to siege units, but the most powerful siege units are pretty deep into the tech tree. Should the Hojo get access to the Arsenal, however, their hand mortar and fire rocket troops shoot with bow-like accuracy and utterly demolish both gates and enemy formations.
The Uesugi Clan's strength lies in their Warrior Monks which, unfortunately, costs a lot of time and money to research the proper technology and build the infrastructure needed to recruit them. Their exceptional ability to dominate the battlefield with the Naginata and Bow is offset by their lack of armor and high recruitment and upkeep expenses, but once you have the infrastructure in place to take away these weaknesses, their armies can utterly demolish any other force in the game.
In Fall of the Samurai, the Nagaoka start in an inconvenient position, and their bonuses support reliance on modern units, which only become really good after you climb the tech tree. On the other hand, once you acquire modern rifles and build some markets, their armies are probably the most elite in Japan, and they can make good money from building lots of financial districts.
The Tosa's strength lies in their Naval Tradition which, unfortunately, isn't very helpful at the start of the campaign since you don't have the proper technology or infrastructure to properly exploit it. It's only when you get a Drydock and several Ironclad ships up and running that this bonus finally comes into good use.
One of the traits a geisha can have in Shogun 2 is "fox lady", and it's unclear whether this is meant metaphorically or literally. For the Shirabyoshi in Rise of the Samurai, this is averted; the implication is pretty clear that she's the real deal.
One of the skills Fall of the Samurai generals can get in Avatar Conquest is "Last Man Standing," preventing the general from being killed while anyone in his unit still lives. The description is vague on if it is actually magic or the general is just really lucky.
Megacorp: The Zaibatsu Fields structures probably become these post game.
More Dakka: Hits probably the franchise's zenith in Fall of the Samurai, where proto-World War I weaponry makes its debut. Case in point, in the historical Battle of Hakodate, a small three-regiment force you control (600 riflemen) is charged by a force five times larger if they're not helped. Properly placed, even in higher difficulty levels your force has about an even chance of mowing down the entire attacking force before running out of ammo.
Neutrality Backlash: In Fall of the Samurai, breaking a military alliance with a clan that calls upon you for help will inflict a penalty to your diplomatic relations. A premature termination is even worse: Your Daimyo's honor goes down which will also drop public order in your provinces and the loyalty of your generals.
Recruitable as agents and as battlefield units. In keeping with the emphasis on realism, these act mostly as spies, saboteurs, and occasionally assassins, going into enemy territory in the "Risk"-Style Map and compromising them behind the lines. Kisho Ninja can also be recruited as a battle unit. They will get swamped in open combat, but they can use an ability to hide in plain sight for a short time, climb castle walls quickly and safely, and use blinding grenades to stun foes and finish off critical targets, making them an excellent utility unit in the right hands.
The Monomi in Rise of the Samurai are the predecessors of ninja, but are not widely used; they can only be recruited from special buildings or a random event. Kisho Ninja don't exist yet.
Shinobi and Kisho Ninja return in Fall of the Samurai. They are traditionalist units; broadly speaking, Secret Police are more useful, but shinobi are still fine assassins and kisho ninja are useful for trick plays.
Ninja Run: Unsurprisingly used by ninjas. Justified in the case of Kisho Ninja, as the low stance reduces their visibility profile, allowing them to flank the enemy unnoticed among the chaos of a battlefield.
The Musketeer: All ranged units are capable of fighting in melee, but are mostly rather poor at it, the one thing that makes the traditional vs. modern multiplayer battles reasonably balanced. However, Imperial/Shogunate/Republic infantry, their elite Guard variants and the foreign marines in Fall of the Samurai are all rather capable in melee, and actually have some very good charge bonuses, to the point where they can outclass certain melee units like yari and katana kachi later in the game.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: There's nothing stopping you from fielding ninja warriors (kisho ninja) and sending them on a pirate ship. In fact, this is an effective combination if you want to strike a general who hides behind several layers of thoroughly garrisoned territories. Barring mods though, the game doesn't have zombies or robots.
Not Playing Fair With Resources: The AI gets discounts on unit recruitment on Hard, Very Hard and Legendary, allowing it to assemble larger armies than the player.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore/Game Changer: This is in a sense what Fall of the Samurai is in a nutshell, no matter how you play it. The Time Skip to the 19th Century reintroduces some elements from Empire and Napoleon, particularly if your chosen clan decides to follow the tides of modernization. But once you gain access to naval bombardments, gatling guns and rifle infantry regiments, there's really no turning back.
One-Hit Polykill: The Shimazu Heavy Gunners are a borderline Game Breaker since their bullets will go through everything that's in their path, resulting in multiple kills per volley. These twovideos show how ridiculously devastating the unit can be.
Glass Plate Camera: +5% to this agent's chances of being killed in single combat.
Opium Pipe: -5% to the chances of escape following an unsuccessful action.
Pyrrhic Victory: Almost inevitable, given the nature (and the design) of the game. In Shogun 2, it's actually called a Pyrrhic Victory if you have a lot of casualties in a battle you won, though depending on the circumstances, this can be a mere annoyance.
The Otomo Clan DLC has hints of this, depending on how you play the aforementioned faction. If Christianization and prolific matchlock access don't give this away (among other things), then the ability to deploy Portuguese Tercios (i.e. European infantry) against your foes definitely will.
The Satsuma Clan from Fall of the Samurai gives impressions of this, having the biggest favour with all three of the foreign powers.
More than half of the failed assassination/infiltration videos involve the would-be assassins/spies getting caught doing something fairly obvious and getting killed instantly. Especially notable in one of the geisha assassinations, where the geisha approaches two guards with polearms armed with two very short daggers. If successful, she kills both of them, while if unsuccessful....
Taking on later modern units (rifle and Guard infantry, Armstrong cannons, Foreign Marines, etc.) with traditional ones in Fall of the Samurai is more likely to result in a Curb-Stomp Battle against you if taken head-on.
Recycled Soundtrack: Some of the tracks in the Rise of the Samurai DLC were either repurposed or updated versions of ones from the original Shogun: Total War.
Save Scumming: Nastily averted in Legendary difficulty; the game takes the power of saving away from you and puts you in the hands of the autosave, which saves too often to get much mileage out of Save Scumming, though thankfully, you only need certain provinces and arts to hire better agents.
In Rise of the Samurai, these are at the height of their importance, and there are never enough to go around. The Junsatsushi do everything that the metsuke did (except instead of arresting enemy agents, they bribe them to retire), and they also convert provinces to support their ruling clan, and can convince provinces to pledge allegiance to their clan (which can conquer minor clans without a fight).
Fall of the Samurai introduces The Shinsengumi and Ishin-Shishi, who can convert provinces, bribe armies, incite rebellion, and assassinate enemy agents. They are essentially the roles of Monk/Missionary and Metsuke combined into one agent, or a weaker form of junsatsushi.
Self-Imposed Challenge: In Fall of the Samurai, the Traditionalist Challenge: unite Japan (ideally, under the Shogunate) while only using traditionalist units. Different players have different views on what's permissible tech-wise; the common challenge is "no modernization," but others prefer climbing to Tech 2, because of the traditionalist arts not available at the first tech tier.
Semper Fi: The USMC are recruitable if you build a US military mission in Fall of the Samurai. Of the three foreign marine choices they're the cheapest and strongest in melee, but are balanced by being poorer shots.
Listening closely to routing Black/White/Red Bear Line Infantry in Fall of the Samurai can allow you to hear some of their retreating dialogue. One of which is a panicked yell of "Run to the hills! Run for your life!"
Diplomats from other clans in Shogun 2 will sometimes praise your diplomacy as a "good conversation" with nearly the exact same pronunciation and intonation as Katsumoto from The Last Samurai.
One can deploy policemen from nearby allied metropoles on the battlefield. And what's their favourite line? "Wot's all this then?!", of course.
The "Realm Divide" mechanic's reasoning (your daimyo is so skilled and powerful that you are declared a threat to the realm and an outlaw) is very similar to the overarching storyline of Shogun.
Smash Cut: The trailer for Fall of the Samurai begins with a philosophical and peaceful, yellowish introduction of the process of forging and wielding a Katana, as well as its strong and ancient cultural ties to Japan. It stops abruptly in the very middle, and then cuts to a bluish view of the same samurai from the intro being mowed down by multiple GatlingGuns handled by Imperial Japanese soldiers, with a hammyAmerican voice-over moderating the technological peculiarities of the weapon, and then asking the listener whether they now want to sign the contract.
Standard Snippet: The exceedingly famous, and ubiquitous, tune of "Sakura" shows up regularly in the strategic map music.
Suicidal Overconfidence: While generally considered a vast improvement over its Total War predecessors, the campaign AI is still prone to making some suicidal decisions. For instance, "minor" clans with only one or two holdings will suddenly decide to raid the shipping lanes or destroy the rice paddies of their much larger, much more powerful neighbors for seemingly no reason. The AI on the battle map, just like the previous games, averts this by making much more intelligent decisions.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: While the sheer mind-boggling amount of units renders this somewhat moot in combat, Shogun 2 has a clear-cut case in the specialist characters on the strategic map: Ninja/Geisha beat monks/missionaries (they can't detect ninja, ninja/geisha are hard to convert, monks/missionaries are vulnerable to assassination, ninja scouting armies makes them harder to demoralize), monks/missionaries beat metsuke (monks are hard to arrest and metsuke are vulnerable to conversion, adding monks to armies make them harder to bribe), and metsuke beat ninja and geisha (are good detectors, ninja/geisha are vulnerable to arrests, metsuke are harder to assassinate and overseeing armies make them resistant to assassination and sabotage).
Take a Third Option: While your chosen clan in Fall of the Samurai can side either with the Shogun or Emperor, it can eventually opt to basically say "screw it" as its "Realm Divide" choice and go against both of them as a Republic.
Thieves' Guild: Shogun 2 has this as possible building, requiring only an empty building slot in a province and the right research down the Tech Tree. It functions on the face of it as a vice industry, but also engages in smuggling and other illicit trade, giving an economic boost to the province. It doubles as the source of ninja to serve as saboteurs and assassins.
Throw Down the Bomblet: Bomb Throwers, who do exactly what they sound like. Notably, they have a long wind up time and short range on their attack and their small numbers mean they are easy prey in melee, but when their attack connects the effects are devastating on structures, men, and morale. They are best employed as sappers to open fortress gates, defenders to rain Death from Above on fortress walls, or ambush units set to hide in forests.
In Fall of the Samurai, you can recruit a Foreign Veteran as an agent, as well as foreign marines (British Royal Marines, French Infanterie de Marine or U.S. Marines depending on who you establish a military mission with).
To Win Without Fighting: In Rise of the Samurai, it's possible to knock out a one-province minor clan without fighting them by causing their province to pledge allegiance to you. This is probably the favored way to expand in the early game, especially for the Fujiwara.
Played straight with the "Realm Divide" event. Once you have control of about one-third of the map, the Shogun will send EVERYONE against you. All of the remaining clans (except those allied with you, but don't expect them to stay that way for long) will also promptly stop fighting each other, ally with one another, and declare war against you. And they'll often send full stack armies of 20 units each (of varying degrees of quality) at a minimum. At this point, diplomacy is both worthless and amusingly impossible. Clans which you have never met before will quickly declare war on you because of the "Realm Divide", then because they started a war with you they will really hate you.
Downplayed in Fall of the Samurai. After Realm Divide, unless you decide to declare a Republic, you can still engage in diplomacy with your own side (Imperial or Shogunate).
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: A Level 6 Ishin-Shishi/Shinsengumi still has a very low chance of assassinating a Level 1 Geisha.
Zerg Rush: In Shogun 2, this is required in the early game on higher difficulties. You need to get an army out, and get it out quickly, otherwise you will be overwhelmed. Ashigaru, thankfully, are pretty good for being the bog-standard cheap units; use this to your advantage to get an army out quickly and get in the face of your rivals. The Oda clan is especially good at this, due to having cheap and powerful ashigaru forces that allow them to swarm over their neighbors from the very beginning. The Ikko-Ikki are often forced to this early in the game, due to their diplomatic penalties and poor economic performance, but their ashigaru are generally inferior to other clans', forcing them to get out of this strategy quickly if they want to survive.