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  • Absolute beginners guide to total war part 1

    TW: Shogun 2
    Absolute beginners guide

    1. Introduction

    Playing Total War: Shogun 2 without prior experience in the series or other war games will be a very confusing and perhaps frustrating experience. In order to closely mirror real historical combat the Total War series uses a high number of parameters where someone new can easily get lost in or be unaware of.

    This guide is meant for these new faces to the Total War series. It covers/will cover the absolute basics of what you need to know. More experienced players may benefit from reading up on the underlying mechanics of the game but should already know these things.

    This guide borrows heavily from the excellent guide for STW and MTW written by Frogbeastegg insert link]. This guide is meant as an update/rework and to make it more of an overview at topics that were heavily linked with the previously mentioned games.

    This guide isn’t completed yet. Extra chapters will be added and reviews will be made. I’ll provide a PDF-file when most of the additions are done.

    2. Tactics

    2.1 Influences


    Soldiers aren’t robots. Self preservation is still very much present on the battle field. Your men won’t just follow you to certain death just because you ordered them to. When your soldiers believe that all is lost, at least for them, they’ll try to get as far away from the battle as possible. Morale is the in-game representation of this. If morale gets too low your units will start to rout.
    This is likewise the case for your enemy’s army. You’re aim shouldn’t be to completely destroy his army but to cause a chain rout as this will be a lot less costly in the end.

    Factors that have effect on morale:
    - Unit: each kind of unit has a different morale score. The higher the morale score the longer the unit will fight on in adverse circumstances.
    - Opposing strength: Units will get discourage when they face a far superior enemy in numbers or in strength. Be aware that this is measured for every unit. You may have superior numbers overall but if one of your units has been isolated and now faces the brunt of the enemies forces alone, it won’t stick around long.
    - Exposed flanks: Most, if not all, formations have clear fronts, flanks and backs. Obviously fighting the formation in front of you is far easier than fighting something at your back or flank. When a unit knows that their flank or back is exposed to the enemy, morale will drop.
    - Casualties in the unit: As said above, soldiers aren’t as willing to die as you might expect. Morale will obviously drop when the unit is taking serious casualties. Be aware that this is relative to the unit size.
    - Result of their effort: When the unit is losing it will start wavering earlier than when it is winning.
    - Friendly unit routing: Seeing a friendly unit rout will significantly lower another units morale. This can even cause a chain rout when a rout will snowball through the army.
    - General: The proximity of the general will boost the morale of any friendly unit nearby. The death of a general will significantly lower his army’s morale.


    The terrain you’re fighting on will make a huge difference in the outcome of the battle. The battle map will present you with opportunities to take and problems to avoid or at least keep in mind.

    Effects of terrain:
    - Hills and mountains: A unit on higher ground has a better chance than one on lower ground. All ranged units gain extra range and damage. Any unit fighting up hill will receive penalties and get tired faster.
    Hills and mountains are also ideal to maneuver units unseen.
    - Trees/walls/fences/…: Trees and the likes are obstacles. These obstacles will disrupt formations, causing problems for units who use formation bonuses. They also slow formations down which has the biggest effect on charging cavalry. A prime example is the serious drop in performance of cavalry fighting in woods. Obstacles also protect your unit somewhat from missiles. Of course they also have an effect on the missiles fired from behind or in them.
    Additionally trees, bushes and such can hide your units (except your general). Laying an ambush can have a devastating effect.
    - Impassable terrain: Obviously, units can’t cross impassable terrain such as cliffs or bodies of water. This can be used to make a choke point or to protect a flank or a rear.
    - Bridges: Bridges form wonderful choke points. Units can only cross bridges slowly and in single file. This makes them an easy targets for missiles. When they are coming off the bridge they are still subject to the penalties for being crowded together. This makes them easy work for the enemy’s hand-to-hand units. Crossing any bridge is a bloody job, which will cost many lives. Armour and lot’s of men are the only answer.
    - Surface: Certain soils, like sand, will have an effect on the movement speed of your units.


    Weather can have a number of influences on your army. Whether it obscures vision, fatigues soldiers or hinders the performance of certain technologies.

    - Precipitation: Rain, snow, … has an effect on missile units. Wet bowstrings cause loss of accuracy. Wet powder causes misfires or the failure to fire at all.
    Wet conditions also have an effect on fatigue. Armor is held together by silk threads. These threads get heavier when wet and thus causing fatigue for armored units.
    Rain would also have an effect on morale.
    - Obscuring weather: Mist and thunderstorms can conceal units or even whole armies from there opponents.
    This article was originally published in blog: Absolute beginners guide to total war part 1 started by Peasant Phill
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