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Thread: Imagawa Guide

  1. #1

    Default Imagawa Guide

    Hello Folks!

    It's about time I whip out another guide and this time I'm going to be writing about the Imagawa clan. Before I get started I do want to give a mention to a couple threads that either inspired my own strategy or simply offered an alternative method. First up is the thread by Drisos that actually is still on the first page of this forum at the time of the writing of this guide. In it he describes wanting to find a unique playstyle for the Imagawa clan that uses the clans bonus which gives a cost discount to shinobi and ninja's. Funny enough, Drisos started that thread at the exact time that I was trying to figure out a similar Imagawa "roleplay" strategy on my own. As I wasn't a member of the forum at the time and I wasn't so sure about signing up, I stayed out of the conversation. Still though, reading the back and forth between Drisos and Reluctant Samurai really got the wheels turning in my head when I was considering the plausibility of such a shinobi and ninja heavy strategy. I'll talk more about my ideas on the subject later into this guide but for now you can check out Drisos' thread here...if you're having trouble finding it.

    https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showt...ies-Challenges

    The second thread I'm going to mention offers a more straight forward version of an attacking Imagawa strategy. Personally, this isn't the type of playstyle that I'm looking for regarding this clan. However, if you're trying to win as the Imagawa and you don't want to mess around with agents then this guide could help you out. At the very least it gave me some ideas with how one can attack from Imagawa's position in the north.

    https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showt...lefield+ninjas

    First thing I have to mention when talking about clan Imagawa is their split domain setup. When playing as clan Imagawa you're going to have three provinces in Kyushu that are surrounded by the Shimazu. And you'll have three provinces in northern Honshu that hug the eastern coast and they're bordered by the Oda, Uesugi and Takeda. Your two separate domains will be connected by a pair of ports and your first consideration when beginning an Imagawa campaign will be whether you're going to attempt hold both positions in Kyushu and Honshu or whether you're going to abandon one position in order to consolidate your forces in the other. This decision is going to decide the difficulty of the rest of your campaign. If you're just trying to win at all costs just to check an Imagawa campaign victory off your list then by all means consolidate your forces in Kyushu and eliminate the Shimazu. As the Imagawa clan, all of your starting forces will be samurai. This means that by consolidating your forces in an effort to crush the Shimazu and taking control of Kyushu your campaign opening will be a walk in the park.

    The second option is to consolidate your forces in Honshu and get into a five way royal brawl that will pit you against the Oda, Uesugi, Takeda and Hojo. This way is more exciting than the first option but it's still very doable. You'll start the campaign bordering the Oda's capital in Owari and Takeda's capital in Kai. Taking either of these on turn two will cripple their respective clans. Conversely you could attack Shinano on turn one which will effectively take all of the pressure off of your core provinces (most importantly your capital, Totomi). With reinforcements arriving from Kyushu it's likely that you'll be able to take two or even three of those targets very early into your campaign.

    The third option is the one I like to go for. Hanging onto your territories in Kyushu and Honshu definitely requires some finesse but I find the challenge of holding onto both regions to be an interesting challenge and it makes playing as the Imagawa clan feel like a unique experience. In addition to holding onto my territories in Kyushu and Honshu I will also attempt to play a shinobi and ninja heavy strategy like the one Drisos describes in his thread. I won't ban myself from attacking but I will focus more on building tall, playing defensively, maintaining alliances, starting rebellions and of course murdering family members.

    With that all out of the way, for this guide I'm not going to do much for a turn by turn guide. Instead I'm going to focus more on giving pointers to try to help you in your campaign if you decide to also play an agent heavy campaign.

    On turn one I will simply take Shinano off of the Uesugi clan right away before immediately trying to reach a cease fire with them. I don't want to get into a long protracted war with them, I simply want to take Shinano because seeing it in enemy hands is too scary. I once tried a campaign where I didn't take Shinano and I just made allies with the Uesugi and I simply just tried to build up to high level ninja's using only my starting provinces. It didn't work. The Uesugi quickly built up a massive army advantage and triple stack sat in Shinano until they smelled fresh fish and decided that invading my three home provinces simultaneously wouldn't be too hard for them. It turns out it wasn't, they made short work of me and it was time for me to try a new strategy. The thing I like about taking Shinano is Totomi is then protected and as long as Mikawa and Suruga and Shinano all have castles in them then I'll only need one stack sitting in Shinano to deter any attack. Of course I eventually will build up to a second stack but Suruga and Mikawa will only need a single unit in each province who can then retreat into their castle if they're ever attacked.

    I'll use the same "satellite defense" strategy in Kyushu where I'll build castles in Chikugo and Chikuzen which are each garrisoned by an Ashigaru while a full stack will post up in Hizen incase the Shimazu want to attack either of my border provinces. In Kyushu I will build a tea house and start building my shinobi there. I like to use my shinobi in squads of six (minimum) to cause unrest in enemy territory. Of course this is a viable tactic for all clans but I like to save it for my Imagawa playthroughs. It feels thematic and it doesn't feel too OP when you're playing an Imagawa campaign where you're attempting to hold onto both outposts. I'll recommend using your first shinobi squad to mess with the Shimazu. The Shimazu will be feeling feisty way sooner than you'd expect so go on ahead and use your shinobi to slow them down and keep them from attacking you. There will often be a border fort built in Higo so you can skip that province and go straight for Satsuma. If you're ever unsure of border fort placements killing your shadow agents then use your emissary to scout ahead for border fort provinces.

    In addition to messing with the Shimazu, you'll also want at least one shinobi squad messing with either the Hojo or the Uesugi. You can actually just keep switching between the two based on who's the most powerful at that time. Just be careful when you're doing this, the A.I. will start acquiring some pretty beefy generals just off of farming rebels that you've helped spawn. There's no way to really avoid this but I will recommend eventually attacking the Shimazu and taking Kyushu for yourself. This will just help you create some space for yourself and it'll give you more provinces to build ports in for that additional income.

    I would also move my ninja production to Kyushu so that I can keep producing high honor archers in Totomi. Now I personally teched up to a couple geisha houses and continued to train ninja just to keep in theme with the clan. From there it's simply a matter of keeping friends with the right clan at the right time and hunting and killing off their family members with ninja's and hoping that their territory falls into your hands instead of the rebels. I will say that the first time I completed this campaign while using this strategy everything went pretty dang smooth. The wars were manageable, my economy was sufficient and my ninja's got the job done. Along with all of that I was able to inherit a decent bit of territory from assassinated allies. The second time however...lol uh...nothing was every that easy. I still won though! But it was a struggle. And my ninja's ...oh my poor poor ninja's. Cities could be built from the bones of deceased ninja's in that campaign. To add insult to injury this also happened to be the campaign that was recorded for my youtube channel !

    I have just a couple notes to close things off: While playing this strategy it's important to be able to make alliances/ceasefires with other clans. This means that going Christian is unfortunately not a good play. This is going to make money tighter than it otherwise would be but it's still manageable.

    Imagawa Yoshimoto starts off as a four star Daimyo and this is second only to Mori Motonari's five stars! Unlike Motonari however, Yoshimoto is young and he should survive long even if you're playing a slower campaign. Another benefit of playing a slower campaign is getting a chance to use Tokugawa Ieyasu and is six freaking stars that he comes of age with!! This is on par with Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin so use him well! (also how the heck is Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi not six star generals?!) Other than your family members the Imagawa clan will start to get some pretty solid generals later on in the campaign that represent Ieyasu's lieutenants. I'm pretty sure all of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake will be available at some point, which is pretty cool because these guys were such legends.

    Lastly for my Imagawa army comp I really tried to make battlefield ninja a working focal point of my army but this would often come with mixed results. Every time I tried to get fancy with them and use them on the flanks to potentially get at the enemy taisho or even to draw off units into the woods so that I could surround and kill them...I just couldn't figure it out. My ninja's would just end up being hunted down and killed. Now, using them in close support to my main infantry body however did have decent results every once in a while. Clearly I just need more practice using them and I do intend on hoping into some customs battles with them because I'm not ready to give up yet! So if you came here looking for battlefield ninja tactics, sorry but we'll have to wait for Reluctant Samurai to show up and school us in the ways of the ninja. If you want to see how not to use battlefield ninja though I have a whole playlist of my Imagawa/Ninja failures that still ended up with me somehow winning the campaign Check it out if you'd like!


  2. #2
    Toh-GAH-koo-reh Member Togakure's Avatar
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    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Bringing back a lot of memories. It's been almost 20 years! I found the 1580 Tokugawa campaign to be quite challenging and unpredictable, and played it often back in the day.

    I usually kept Hizen only until I was ready to attack Owari, then I'd strip and abandon it, and focus on establishing firm control of central Japan. I'd hit the Oda in Owari soon after I've combined all of my ninja units into one large group in Mikawa. When the Oda leave Owari with just a small garrison, I attack it with only the "battlefield" ninja--their fear-factor is very high as the AI cannot "see" them (use ONLY BFN units). Usually, the Oda units flee without a fight. I then garrison Owari with Honda's army from Hizen. You can "terrorize" any lightly-garrisoned enemy province with your BFN group like this provided a larger army is not next door to reinforce the garrison on the next turn.

    Economically, Owari easily makes up for the loss of Hizen and is easy to defend, being a river province. What happens thereafter is anyone's guess--as you've pointed out, there are heavy-hitters nearby and you don't start with a big income, so you have to play your cards more carefully than when playing other factions. I've found that the quality that made Tokugawa Ieyasu famous works well when playing this campaign--patience. That being said, one still must be able to recognize golden opportunities and take advantage of them when they present themselves.
    Be intent on loyalty
    While others aspire to perform meritorious services
    Concentrate on purity of intent
    While those around you are beset by egoism


    misc kanryodo

  3. #3

    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Togakure View Post
    Bringing back a lot of memories. It's been almost 20 years! I found the 1580 Tokugawa campaign to be quite challenging and unpredictable, and played it often back in the day.

    I usually kept Hizen only until I was ready to attack Owari, then I'd strip and abandon it, and focus on establishing firm control of central Japan. I'd hit the Oda in Owari soon after I've combined all of my ninja units into one large group in Mikawa. When the Oda leave Owari with just a small garrison, I attack it with only the "battlefield" ninja--their fear-factor is very high as the AI cannot "see" them (use ONLY BFN units). Usually, the Oda units flee without a fight. I then garrison Owari with Honda's army from Hizen. You can "terrorize" any lightly-garrisoned enemy province with your BFN group like this provided a larger army is not next door to reinforce the garrison on the next turn.

    Economically, Owari easily makes up for the loss of Hizen and is easy to defend, being a river province. What happens thereafter is anyone's guess--as you've pointed out, there are heavy-hitters nearby and you don't start with a big income, so you have to play your cards more carefully than when playing other factions. I've found that the quality that made Tokugawa Ieyasu famous works well when playing this campaign--patience. That being said, one still must be able to recognize golden opportunities and take advantage of them when they present themselves.
    If you bought it on release, it's been almost 22 years! I've only been playing for two years myself so everything still feels relatively fresh. I'm really looking forward to someday playing some campaigns on the 1580 start date. It looks like a really interesting scenario. It's just that I have a schedule that I want to keep regarding my youtube channel output. I want to switch to some Medieval playthroughs later this year to celebrate MTW's 20th anniversary! But I'm still learning the game and man oh man, it's a way bigger game then STW So unfortunately it's going to be a while before I explore some 1580 campaigns but I'll get to it eventually.

    I'll have to keep your advice in mind for when the time comes because according to your accounts and Reluctant Samurai's accounts of the 1580 Oda start these sound like some hardcore challenges!

    I am interested in your use of BFN fear factor stacks, do the units themselves cause fear? Or is it like the mechanic where a unit loses morale if they're ambushed by a unit hiding in a forest? I'm curious because I'd still like to incorporate them into a "balanced" Imagawa army where I'm using around four units of BFN. And if I can use them for morale breaks without needing a full stack of them that would be pretty groovy. As is, the 'hide' mechanic seems pretty silly since they're only hiding if they're not moving...like, how am I suppose to use them for flanking? (this reminds me of the Invisible Boy in the movie Mystery Men, where he can only turn invisible if no one is looking ) And counting on fog or forests to hide them in seems too situational. Again, I'm sure this is just an example of me needing more practice with them

  4. #4
    Toh-GAH-koo-reh Member Togakure's Avatar
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    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Pity the others, particularly MizuYuuki and Sasaki Kojiro, have departed as they had a better understanding of the raw mechanics than I did. From what I remember, the BFN "fear-factor" was similar to the fear-factor related to Warrior Monks, but I can't remember if it was a direct morale effect or something more specific to these two unit types.

    I was disappointed in BFN performance too when mixed in with other units in a stack. Individually they are very powerful, but there are only twelve in a unit and they are EXPENSIVE both in koku and time to produce. I did have situational success hiding them and then using the classic Mongol "feigned retreat" tactic with my other "visible" units (cavalry usually, for speed and antagonization--got a thing for horsies, lol), the goal being to get the enemy army's general to impetuously charge after them--right into the hidden BFN cluster. If a general is killed there is a well-documented big morale hit for the entire enemy army for a short time, and a smaller lingering morale penalty thereafter. BFNs will make short work of a hatamoto unit provided they catch them by surprise and unsupported.

    This kind of tactic works well at a bridge--place your BFN near the mouth of the bridge but far enough away that you can choose when to use them to choke the bridge on your side. Don't move them at all until you want them to attack. No point in surprising initial ashigaru fodder and bait, but when the boss tries to charge across ....

    But as I mentioned, I found they work best in an exclusively BFN attack force. In the scenario I mentioned, the Oda usually attack Mino very soon after game start. In 1580 you start with nine BFN units as Tokugawa. On the turn that the Oda leave Owari except for a small garrison, I attack with the BFNs only. You'll have to attack via the 3D battlefield (not auto-resolve). Owari is a two bridge province so I split them and cross each bridge, the intention to bracket the defending units. But very consistently, provided there are 300 or less defenders, they will turn and flee the field as the BFNs approach. I just chase them off--BFNs way too expensive to waste on cheap standard units. I then move the big regular army stack waiting in Mikawa to Owari (the original Hizen stack) as the BFN cannot effectively defend the province from certain counterattack. Usually the Oda will retaliate immediately, but are easily devastated when they attack my full stack in a double-bridge province. Given this is early in the game, taking Owari and crushing the avenging army will cripple the Oda henceforth and allow you to focus on the Takeda, Hojo, and Uesugi. The Takeda are very dangerous early on in this scenario ....

    You can use this tactic situationally in other provinces too, just need a strong BFN stack (9 is minimum; I slowly add to that until it's a complete stack of 16) with a regular strong and balanced army stack next door.

    BFN special forces can also attack poorly defended ports this way--a great way to make koku, which is very important for Tokugawa in 1580 as his province income is limited. Send an emissary, shinobi, or ninja to the port, verify the nature of the small defense garrison, verify that a large defensive enemy stack cannot move to the target port province in one turn to defend against the BFNs, and then attack with the BFNs. The goal is to capture the province, raze everything for koku, and leave immediately--preferably to the next lucrative poorly defended port target. Might want to leave the port so you can come back later after they've rebuilt :).

    Many players felt this was an exploitive tactic given the simplified STW mechanics for port-to-port attack. My take is: in single-player do what you want. 1580 Toku is hard, so I didn't feel too bad when circumstances presented the option.

    Anyway, I'm ramblin' on. Though you are playing Imagawa, the starting scenario is similar and you have eventual access to BFNs. You could always experiment with the first ten turns of 1580. I actually spent a lot of time playing the first ten turns of most the factions/campaigns, trying different openings (like chess :). It's the only faction/campaign that starts with already trained BFNs available to the player.

    I enjoyed watching the video you linked. Thanks for the post.
    Be intent on loyalty
    While others aspire to perform meritorious services
    Concentrate on purity of intent
    While those around you are beset by egoism


    misc kanryodo

  5. #5

    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Togakure View Post
    Pity the others, particularly MizuYuuki and Sasaki Kojiro, have departed as they had a better understanding of the raw mechanics than I did. From what I remember, the BFN "fear-factor" was similar to the fear-factor related to Warrior Monks, but I can't remember if it was a direct morale effect or something more specific to these two unit types.

    I was disappointed in BFN performance too when mixed in with other units in a stack. Individually they are very powerful, but there are only twelve in a unit and they are EXPENSIVE both in koku and time to produce. I did have situational success hiding them and then using the classic Mongol "feigned retreat" tactic with my other "visible" units (cavalry usually, for speed and antagonization--got a thing for horsies, lol), the goal being to get the enemy army's general to impetuously charge after them--right into the hidden BFN cluster. If a general is killed there is a well-documented big morale hit for the entire enemy army for a short time, and a smaller lingering morale penalty thereafter. BFNs will make short work of a hatamoto unit provided they catch them by surprise and unsupported.

    This kind of tactic works well at a bridge--place your BFN near the mouth of the bridge but far enough away that you can choose when to use them to choke the bridge on your side. Don't move them at all until you want them to attack. No point in surprising initial ashigaru fodder and bait, but when the boss tries to charge across ....

    But as I mentioned, I found they work best in an exclusively BFN attack force. In the scenario I mentioned, the Oda usually attack Mino very soon after game start. In 1580 you start with nine BFN units as Tokugawa. On the turn that the Oda leave Owari except for a small garrison, I attack with the BFNs only. You'll have to attack via the 3D battlefield (not auto-resolve). Owari is a two bridge province so I split them and cross each bridge, the intention to bracket the defending units. But very consistently, provided there are 300 or less defenders, they will turn and flee the field as the BFNs approach. I just chase them off--BFNs way too expensive to waste on cheap standard units. I then move the big regular army stack waiting in Mikawa to Owari (the original Hizen stack) as the BFN cannot effectively defend the province from certain counterattack. Usually the Oda will retaliate immediately, but are easily devastated when they attack my full stack in a double-bridge province. Given this is early in the game, taking Owari and crushing the avenging army will cripple the Oda henceforth and allow you to focus on the Takeda, Hojo, and Uesugi. The Takeda are very dangerous early on in this scenario ....

    You can use this tactic situationally in other provinces too, just need a strong BFN stack (9 is minimum; I slowly add to that until it's a complete stack of 16) with a regular strong and balanced army stack next door.

    BFN special forces can also attack poorly defended ports this way--a great way to make koku, which is very important for Tokugawa in 1580 as his province income is limited. Send an emissary, shinobi, or ninja to the port, verify the nature of the small defense garrison, verify that a large defensive enemy stack cannot move to the target port province in one turn to defend against the BFNs, and then attack with the BFNs. The goal is to capture the province, raze everything for koku, and leave immediately--preferably to the next lucrative poorly defended port target. Might want to leave the port so you can come back later after they've rebuilt :).

    Many players felt this was an exploitive tactic given the simplified STW mechanics for port-to-port attack. My take is: in single-player do what you want. 1580 Toku is hard, so I didn't feel too bad when circumstances presented the option.

    Anyway, I'm ramblin' on. Though you are playing Imagawa, the starting scenario is similar and you have eventual access to BFNs. You could always experiment with the first ten turns of 1580. I actually spent a lot of time playing the first ten turns of most the factions/campaigns, trying different openings (like chess :). It's the only faction/campaign that starts with already trained BFNs available to the player.

    I enjoyed watching the video you linked. Thanks for the post.
    You've really got me thinking about BFN strategies now and I really like the idea of jumping into a 1580 campaign just to give them a shot. I'm glad for the advice because I've always felt that there's a element of tactical potential with the BFN's that could be really fun and it would provide for some really unique battles if I could just figure them out. I don't like dismissing units just because they don't fit within the conventional infantry, skirmishers, cavalry battle line. If there's an application, I'd like to find it! Also I know that there's similar units available to the Muslim factions in MTW and I would like to know what to do with them once I start playing that game!

    It is a shame about Sasaki Kojiro and the others. It was Sasaki Kojiro who made a Takeda campaign report that inspired my Takeda strategy. I've learned a lot from reading old threads but it would've been a real treat to have actually been a part of this community and of course playing this game back in the early 2000's.

    I appreciate you watching the video and thank you for your advice and support

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  6. #6
    Weird Organism Senior Member Drisos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Hey Khan of Steppe, thanks for the shout out. ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by Khan of Steppe View Post
    The thing I like about taking Shinano is Totomi is then protected and as long as Mikawa and Suruga and Shinano all have castles in them then I'll only need one stack sitting in Shinano to deter any attack. Of course I eventually will build up to a second stack but Suruga and Mikawa will only need a single unit in each province who can then retreat into their castle if they're ever attacked.
    I was wondering about this, I've seen multiple people advocate for castles as a defensive tool, but I don't understand it. If you 'Retreat to Castle' and Sally+Invade next turn, the enemy still can Damage/Destroy your buildings (and get Koku for himself), and you're forced into a battle where you have to attack instead of defend. For one thing, the timer will be against you. Am I missing something?

    I occasionally do retreat to Castle, but I consider it a mistake and try to have the garrisons to prevent attack or defeat whatever they throw at me.
    - Chu - Gi - Makoto - Rei - Jin - Yu - Meiyo -

  7. #7

    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Drisos View Post
    I was wondering about this, I've seen multiple people advocate for castles as a defensive tool, but I don't understand it. If you 'Retreat to Castle' and Sally+Invade next turn, the enemy still can Damage/Destroy your buildings (and get Koku for himself), and you're forced into a battle where you have to attack instead of defend. For one thing, the timer will be against you. Am I missing something?

    I occasionally do retreat to Castle, but I consider it a mistake and try to have the garrisons to prevent attack or defeat whatever they throw at me.
    Hey Drisos! It's good to see you stop by

    This castle defense strategy was mentioned in the published guide (was it Prima?) and in there this strat was called a "satellite defense" I believe. The downsides to using a satellite defense, as you've mentioned is that you will lose buildings. So the answer is don't build buildings in your frontier provinces. This is still a downside but I like that this strategy gives you something to consider. Use it if if fits your playstyle/overall campaign strategy. Or don't use if it doesn't. I prefer to use as few armies as possible in my consolidation/build up phase so that I can pay less upkeep and therefore have more money for economy/military infrastructure.

  8. #8
    Weird Organism Senior Member Drisos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Imagawa Guide

    Hey there!

    Yeah, I also generally avoid building on my front line. However some regions I really want to build in (i.e. Nagato as Shimazu, Hitachi as Hojo, Shinano as Uesugi/Takeda/Imagawa), and some of the clans starting capitols ofc. In those cases I commit large garrisons.

    Btw, I just realized, in some cases the downside I mentioned might actually be an upside. If you want to conquer a certain region on your border, but attacking that region would be harder than attacking your own region. Struggling to think of an example, ... Perhaps playing as Takeda, when Hojo has a decent number of SA in Musashi. Instead of the usual river crossing tactics, build a castle in Sagami and place a small garrison, it's very tempting for Hojo to take it. Instead of having to do the typical river bait, you can effectively use your cavalry to mow down those archers on the plains of Sagami. There's probably better examples elsewhere. ;)
    - Chu - Gi - Makoto - Rei - Jin - Yu - Meiyo -

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