STW Game Overview

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Shogun Total war

Shogun Total War.jpg

Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: SEGA
Released: June 13, 2000
Genre: Turn-based strategy, Real-time tactics
Modes: Single player, 2 to 8 Multiplayer over TCP/IP
Ratings: Teen
Platforms: Microsoft Windows
Media: 2 CD-ROM
Requirements: Pentium 233MHz, 32MB RAM, 500MB Hard disk
Input: Mouse, Keyboard

Shogun: Total War (STW) is the first of Creative Assembly's Total War series. It is a history-based grand strategy computer game that combines turn-based provincial development with real-time battles. The player assumes the role of one of seven daimyos (Uesugi, Shimazu, Oda, Mori, Imagawa, Takeda, Hojo) attempting to unite feudal Japan during the Sengoku Jidai period ("The Age of the Country at War") and become Shogun. Sun Tzu's The Art of War is central to the game; its precepts are quoted often, its strategies recommended and indeed the AI based on it.


The player is first presented with a turn-based strategy phase – a map of Japan divided into provinces in which armies are formed and moved. Once all the players (including the AI-controlled faction) have submitted their army's' orders, all troop movement is executed simultaneously. When two opposing armies are present in the same region, the player has the option of determining the outcome automatically or switching to a real-time tactics battlefield.

Sieges are played out using the same engine as the battles in the field. The advantage to the defender comes from the narrow gateway to the castles which prevents a larger force attacking with more than a small part of its strength.

There is no naval warfare. Armies can jump across straits without restriction; for movement of armies over longer distances, there must be ports in both the starting province and the destination province, and if the destination province is held by another player, the attacking player must have a spy in that province.

The terrain and weather are a factor in the battles. Ranged units on high ground get a greater range and accuracy. Units fighting in mêlée are more effective if they are on higher ground than the enemy. Cavalry fighting in forests lose some of their maneuverability and effectiveness, whereas infantry do not. If ranged weapons are used on units that are hiding in forests they have less chance of getting hit. If it's snowing, heavily armored units get tired sooner. If it's raining then guns and bows become less effective or even useless. This adds depth to the game as attacking in different seasons means greater chance of a certain weather condition and some provinces are easier to defend than others. It also means that the mobilization phase of the battle is no less important than the actual fighting, as gaining the high ground may give a player the winning edge.

All units have honor. Honor is basically the experience of success the unit has, and higher honor means greater effectiveness and less chance of routing. Generals gain or lose honor according to their success rate and their honor affects all those who fight under their command. This means that fresh reinforcements are usually inferior to units that have fought before; sending units to battle that they cannot win not only costs you units but enhances the soldiers of your enemy and degrades the honor of your own general (causing the units below him to fight worse). This also means that rebels can become a plague if not dealt with swiftly and effectively, and an enemy commander with high honor should be regarded warily.

Some provinces bestow an honor bonus for certain units - for example, all cavalry units trained in the province of Shinano receive a +1 honor bonus. Various buildings will also give units increased honor. An example is the Famous Archery Dojo, which trains superior Samurai Archers; likewise, the Legendary Archery Dojo trains Samurai Archers who are better still.

The Factions

Battlefield units

The game includes a mixture of archers, spearmen and cavalry, creating a rock-paper-scissors dynamic with a few specialist combat troop types.

The basic units, available with the early archery and spear dojo constructions, are samurai archers, yari samurai and yari ashigaru.

Construction of various dojos and armouries allows new unit types.

  • Foot troops include Naginata Samurai, Sohei and No-dachi (after the 'legendary swordsman' event)
  • Mounted troops include yari, archer and heavy cavalry (the latter including a daimyo's bodyguard.)
  • Gunpowder units, available after trading with the Dutch or Portuguese, include Musketeers and Arquebusier.

The Mongol Invasion expansion pack added three new units to the regular campaigns: Kensai ("sword saints"), battlefield ninja and Naginata cavalry. Ashigaru crossbowmen were also made available during the Mongol campaign.

The Mongol units included Mongolian light and heavy cavalry, Korean skirmishers, Korean spearmen, Korean guardsmen, and thunder-bombers.

The Complete Total War Unit Guide by frogbeastegg contains 23 chapters about all available units and provides playing tips.


Shogun: Total War was followed by the Mongol Invasion expansion pack which added a Mongols campaign, played as either the invaders or as Japan. The Warlord Edition was also released, containing both the original game and the expansion. The Total War series has been continued with Medieval: Total War, Rome: Total War and Medieval II: Total War


Originally, Electronic Arts hosted the multiplayer for Shogun: Total War. There were two separate servers; one for Shogun: Total War, and one for Warlord Edition. In the foyer, players had their points next to their names. These points were called honour. A player started with 100 honour. Based on winning or losing, the player gained or lost honour. In order to prevent an expert from playing a lot of beginners and gaining a lot of honour, an expert who had 49 more honour points than the beginner would lose points even if he beat that beginner. The honour system made the multiplayer fun and challenging. If players wanted to play without a change in honour points, then the host could simply set the game to 'friendly' mode. The Shogun servers had many players when EA hosted them. Role-playing was very popular and this period is considered by many fans as the best and most nostalgic. The battles themselves were very fast-paced, unforgiving to mistakes and highly reliant on individual skill both in army selection but above all army control. In Shogun, any army could win over another using clever, fast and precise strategies. In later Total War games, army selection was given more importance. This is the reason why many fans still refer to Shogun as the purest and most skilful of the Total War games.

Before Rome: Total War was launched by Activision, EA shut down both the Shogun: Total War and the Warlord Edition servers. The players turned to the other Total War series, while the new players avoided the Shogun series. Some players wanted to return to Shogun: Total War. They hosted their own servers where players could join without registering.

The top 100 ranking players have their names listed in EA's Total War homepage (not the recent homepage). The websites of the ranking lists are as follows:



The original music soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeff van Dyck. Van Dyck won a BAFTA (British Academy) Interactive Award for his work in Shogun: Total War - Warlord Edition. He also wrote the soundtracks for the other games in the Total War franchise.


The original Shogun: Total War can not be modified like the other Total War titles. Yet, there are add-ons and tools available, mostly custom maps and historical battles. The expansion Mongol Invasion, currently sold as DVD Shogun: Total War Gold by Sega, supports all mods from Shogun: Total War. It also allows to create campaigns, historical campaigns and custom unit stats.

One can learn more about modification of Shogun: Total War in the STW Modificationforum.

There are samurai modification projects for Medieval: Total War, which uses the same engine as Shogun: Total War and also two for Rome: Total War, which uses a different engine. The MTW project can be found in the Samurai Warlords forum. The RTW projects are called Ran no Jidai and Battles of Asia.


  • The game's introductory video sequence contains scenes from Akira Kurosawa's final jidaigeki film, Ran, although the background music is added.
  • Stephen Turnbull, a professor of Japanese History at Leeds Univesity, was hired as historical advisor. He was the only man to have written a book about the Samurai which was translated back into Japanese


External links