Total War: Shogun 2 is the seventh full instalment 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 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 1860's 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: The Naginata Samurai in the main campaign have a lot of armor that prevents arrows from getting almost any kills against them. Most other units avert it to different degrees. The excellence of the Japanese yumi (bow) and the skill of its users makes arrows fly farther and have a higher rate of fire in Shogun 2 than in any of the post Rome:Total War games. Even a couple of Ashigaru bowmen firing from a rampart looks like someone firing an arrow machinegun.
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.
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.
Armour Piercing Attack: Certain fortifications designed to provide cover against arrow fire are much less effective against matchlock shots.
Arrows on Fire: A special ability that archer units can use, provided the right technologies have been researched.
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. The AI is sometimes smarter than it looks. 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.
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.
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...
Bloodless Carnage: Without the Blood Pack DLC, the game plays this trope straight. With the DLC, it goes somewhat in the opposite direction. Despite the fact that he just disemboweled someone, the Red Samurai in the intro sequence of Shogun 2 has not a speck of blood on his sword.
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.
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..
Cannon Fodder: Ashigaru units are cheap and easy to recruit and numerous. However, they can be deadly if employed properly, particularly if they have gathered some experience. Their use should not be underestimated.
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.
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.
MASTER, WE ARE NOT MAKING ENOUGH OF THE TRADE INFRASTRUCTURE IN THIS PROVINCE.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Femme Fatale: Geisha are highly effective super-assassins, whose main modus operandi is to seduce their targets, then brutally murder them.
Friendly Fireproof: Riflemen will generally try not to hit friendlies, and will not fire if there are allies between them and their target. That being said... they don't always succeed in holding their fire in time or in place.
Funny Foreigner: The Western soldiers, in an unusal inversion. The Americans, for instance, are very Christian and hammy blood knights, while the British are indifferent and rather detached eccentrics.
Also, shinobis can acquire a retainer which allows them to disguise 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.
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 Pack DLC is explicitly designed to put this trope in the game.
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 Donderbus 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.
Hope Spot: Most of the cutscenes shown when a clan is destroyed have one.
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.
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.
Leeroy Jenkins: The Date clan has this as their specialty: They gain a bonus to charging units and their speciality unit is the No-Dachi samurai, a unit that's most effective when charging an enemy unit.
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 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.
Morton's Fork: To a degree in Fall of the Samurai. Nothing's stopping the player from going wholesale traditional against your increasingly modernized and Westernized opponents. But the game is designed such that going for modern options and units provides considerable advantages while simultaneously reducing the effectiveness of traditional methods to guerrilla warfare and sheer numbers as the campaign progresses. So while it's not impossible to win in "the old ways," there's little incentive to.
Ninja: 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.
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.
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 Quisling: 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.
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.
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.
The metsuke in the Sengoku Jidai campaign, bureaucrats who also double as judges and spies. They can arrest enemy agents, increase repression and tax rates in cities, protect armies from Ninja sabotage and bribe armies and settlements to join you. While they can't be normally dealt with by armies, they can be neutralized, one way or the other, by enemy agents.
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.
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.
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.
Suicidal Overconfidence: While generally considered a vast improvement over its Total War predecessors, the campaign AI in Shogun II 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.
In Fall of the Samurai, you can recruit a Foreign Veteran as an agent.
Video Game Historical Revisionism: Fall of the Samurai averts this in the usage of traditional units. The samurai caste had been more or less entirely defanged as warriors since the inception of the Edo period, and the Boshin war had both sides using modern weapons and professional armies (or armies-in-the-making). Traditional weapons like spears and bows were used during the opening stages because they were all that were available, not because of any wish to preserve the 'old ways'. It is, however, solely the player's choice if they want to make use of traditional units; they're not required, as firearms are available from the beginning with every faction.
Violence is the Only Option: 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.
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.