I knew it was late. It wasn't that I had any real concept of time, I didn't, but I vaguely remembered chatting to a mate on Steam at 2am and that seemed like ancient history. If anyone had come across me at this ungodly hour and asked me, in that annoying, condecending way people always use when you are up late, what time it was, then I would have replied "1561". So at least I knew what year it was, at least in Shogun 2. In the back of my mind I recalled a meeting I was meant to go to in the afternoon, but that didn't really seem important in the grand scheme of things. My mundane responsabilites would have to take a back seat to my dreams of conquest.
In my role as the Daiymo of the Shimazu clan I was a pretty solid leader, perhaps even Shogun material. I rapidly expanded our territory and swiftly wiped out all of the weak clans on Kyushu but didn't stand for looting after capturing cities. I was a fair and merciful leader. Of course that all stopped when those bloody foreigners started to manipulate my weak-minded citizens. My enemies had created ports and churches which encouraged that dasterdly foreign religion known as Christianity. Before I knew it I had rebellions coming out of every perceivable orifice. "Enough is enough!" I said. I actually did say this, I stomped my foot, punched my wall and slapped my PC and yelled it loud enough so that my flatmate joined in by punching his wall. At least I think he joined in. He might have just been telling me to shut the fuck up in punch code.
It was winter and three of my provinces had rebel infestations. I had refused to lower taxes, I wouldn't train any priests and I was trying to stem the tide of religious conversions. I had a lot of rather miffed members of the JC fan club. So I did what any wise, fair and generally intolerant leader would do. I burned down the churches, I destroyed the ports and I gathered my troops and slaughetered my own people. This violent and generally unecessary crusade was rewarded with an event which sped up the conversion of my large Christian population to Shinto-Buddhism. Job done, back to domination.
As I continued on my march to Kyoto my foes did everything they could to slow down my steamroller style progress. They used small armies as bait to lure me into ambushes, during battles they always seemed to find a way to the high ground or forests where their plethora of hidden archers could rain down hell on my exhausted troops, they actually bothered to flank me (AI actually flanking!? In Total War!?), they would split up their forces to attack from all directions and attack in well thought out phases. They really were a wily bunch. But they were AI and this was still Total War, so I soon had Kyoto in my sights.
Unforuntely, our dear Shogun was of a nervous and paranoid disposition. He had got it into his head that I was about to take over Kyoto. Smart chap. Within a turn I had gone from having one almost wiped out foe to having every single clan, apart from my one ally, gunning for me. A smarter, more patient fellow would have slowed down, consolidated his forces and slowly chipped away until he created a buffer zone between his foes and Kyoto. I'm stupid. So I decided, fuck caution, I carved a straight line through my enemies towards Kyoto, ignoring everything else.
It all went rather well. That is, if "rather well" means I was cornered into a city with few defenses and surrounded by nine armies belonging to three different clans, with reinforcements on the way. I managed to hold on to the city until the battle ended. Most of my archers were dead, fleeing or out of ammunition. I frantically searched for a button that would allow me to throw dead bodies or simply piss on the invaders, but alas. Despite the losses I'll admit to a certain cockiness after such a close victory. I had another army on the way, and my one ally was sending reinforcements. I actually thought I could hold out. I would, at this point, like to reiterate something I mentioned earlier. I'm stupid.
My reinforcements were ambushed on the way, they managed to come out of the battle victorious, only to be defeated by a second army which had fled after the failed siege. The reinforcements from my ally turned back to free one of it's cities which had been conquered by a very sneaky army. I was fucked. I took a deep breath, lit a cigarette, saved the game and switched of the PC. I looked up for the first time in a while. It was 7am. I took a shower, had breakfast and made my meeting. I didn't think about Shogun 2 at all.
Now I'm venting.
The venting is now over.
Shogun 2 really is Creative Assembly at their peak. While Rome remains my personal favourite, that is as much due to the historical period as anything else. Objectively, I do feel that Shogun 2 is the best game in the entire franchise. It's quite a relief to see that, after creating the worst Total War game, they went and made the best. It's a ridiculously addictive, intuitive, smooth and pretty goregous game and I just felt like sharing my experience with it so far. Because, underneath all the strategy and warfare, it's also a game where you can craft an epic story. I think it does that better than any other Total War game and, indeed, I can think of few examples in the entire genre that do it so well.
On a slightly more serious note, despite the levity of this post's title, my heart goes out to everyone in Japan and everyone who has friends and loved ones over there.