I love strategy games with some sort of historical references or based on historical events or times, so far having played Civilization III, Civilization V, and the Stronghold series. I really enjoy the feel of commanding the troops around in battle, managing a country, and trying to keep the people happy with a balanced economy. So when Total War: Shogun 2 went on sale I just had to buy it. So far I have played 24 hours on it and concluded that it is an amazing, well-thought out, and extremely stimulating game.
Shogun 2 puts you in the middle of the Sengoku period of Japan, where rival clans lead by daimyos fought against each other for the title of shogun, the ruler of Japan. Total War: Shogun 2 allows you to select a clan, based on the historical clans that had fought during the Sengoku period. Each clan has different characteristics and locations so it forces different strategies for each clan. In Shogun 2, you are in complete control of your clan, controlling what each city produces, its religion, what kind of soldier it recruits, how high are taxes, and much more. Unlike some other games, Shogun 2 is not a mindless war game where you just kill for no reason, units must be strategically recruited and used as each unit costs a certain amount of gold and requires a constant amount of gold to pay for the unit’s food,supplies, etc. Therefore just spamming units will just result in your clan coffers going empty.
Making the gold required to build an army advanced and powerful to conquer and unite Japan is not an easy task. Trade routes have to be acquired and protected, trade relations with other countries have to be maintained, and your tax rate must be kept low enough to keep people happy, but high enough to fund your clan. However, maintaining a powerful economy without something to protect it is just asking to be invaded so a powerful military has to be maintained.
In Shogun 2, players have an option to auto resolve battles based on the total strength of the opposing armies or fight the battles themselves. By fighting the battles themselves, players can defeat armies larger than their own through strategic plays. During a battle, many things are accounted for, weather, terrain, troop morale, etc. are considered. Morale is extremely important in an army, low morale would mean that troops would desert more often and would fight less effectively. This was extremely true during World War I when troops sat in trenches for weeks at time and lost thousands of men to gain a few yards of enemy territory. Having to sit in a trench, seeing men die everyday, keeping alert for gas attacks, and being aware of artillery attacks negatively affects troop morale immensely. In “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul and his seasoned soldiers observe how recruits ran away and went insane after being the trenches for several weeks during enemy bombardment. In Total War: Shogun 2, demoralized troops run away from the battle, unable to fight.
Shogun 2 combines parts of two games I enjoy immensely, the economical and political management of a country in the Civilization series plus the strategic management of an army in the Stronghold series. This creates a game that is near perfect in my opinion, combining the best of both worlds. I look forward to many more memorable battles and games in this historically rich era of Japan.