Popping Cherries and War Stories in Nobunaga’s Ambition: SoI
Yesterday I popped my reviewing cherry when I uploaded my first ever review, which you can read here. The review was for the game Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence, which I played on the PlayStation 4. In my review I mentioned that one of the games strengths is the fact that it lets you tell your own story as you unify Japan, or fail to, that will be different from the thousands of other stories that people who play will have to tell. I opened my review with a story about eliminating my first clan and later in the review I mention that I finished the scenario and unified Japan with the Shimazu clan. My path to unification was full of enemy coalitions, diplomacy and aggressive military expansion, but there’s many different ways that it could have went. After playing the game for a week I have a handful of such stories and I thought I might share one more. Only this time things don’t go so well.
After beating the game’s first scenario I decided to jump into the second one. I left the Shimazu clan behind and opted for the Oda clan, the one Nobunaga himself ruled. The main difference being that Shimazu was situated on the south-west corner of Japan with only two clans on their borders, Oda however was in the centre surrounded by many other clans. Diplomacy was going to be key to my success. As my castles were developing and my army was getting stronger I set about making friends. I decided that I was going to expand westwards across the island so I’d need allies on the east to watch by back. I used diplomacy to gain some small allies but there was one powerful clan, which could make or break me, very close to my borders. The Imagawa clan. I would need a more permanent alliance with them so I sent my most intelligent officer to use diplomacy and raise their trust to one-hundred. This would allow for a marriage which would bond our clans together in an alliance until one of the involved partners died. Success, I raised their trust and proposed a marriage offering up none other than my clan leader Nobuhide Oda, Nobunaga’s father. They accepted and we became allies through marriage.
I now had the security, via strong alliances in the east, that allowed me to safely travel and wage war to the west, so I turned my gaze westward and started eyeing up the clans there. I picked my target, the Ashikaga clan, but one other small clan stood between me and my enemy, the Rokkaku clan. I mustered up my forces and marched on the smaller clan eliminating them and capturing their two castles in around four months. The Ashikaga was on to me and switched their relationship to hostile. No matter, my army was twice the size of theirs and they had no allies. A quick bit of research told me they had 17,000 men and I would need at least 4500 to capture their most southern castle, so I sent 10,000 to be sure. Little did I realise how viscously they would defend their property. Their armies swooped in from the north and my men had to fight battle after battle to get to their southern castle. By the time my army reached it Ashikaga only had around 7,000 men left, but they didn’t send them, they must have given up on their castle. However, it was too little too late, by the time the castle was surrounded I only had a brave 3,000 left from the initial 10,000 men I sent out and they only had enough supplies to last a few days. I called the siege off and sent them home determined to come back in two months and try again.
Now the problem was Ashikaga had being fighting the Kitabatake clan to their south, but they called a truce. I thought nothing of it, they were in a truce while I fought Ashikaga but they were still enemies so I marched a fresh 10,000 on Ashikaga’s southern castle. Again they fought bravely but I beat them back and with around 8,000 men left and supplies to last a few weeks I blockaded the castle, it would be mine in a month. Disaster struck! The Kitabatake clan decided to help their old rival and sent multiple units from the south while Ashikaga sent what was left of their army from the north. I had to break off the blockade and resume fighting but their reinforcements kept coming, I had to retreat.
Back in Oda territory another disaster unfolded. There was two castles smack in the centre of my land that were controlled by another division of the Oda clan which wasn’t under my control. When they were attacked and taken over by the Imagawa, my allies by marriage, I didn’t realise because I was too busy waging a hopeless war in the west. I panicked at first thinking another clan had two powerful castles in the middle of my lands, but the panic subsided when I realised the marriage alliance would last for years so I could deal with Imagawa later. Back to the problem at hand. Attacking Ashikaga again would be pointless because Kitabatake would only reinforce them from the south, so I’d have to deal with them first.
It wasn’t too difficult to take on Kitabatake due to no other clans backing them up. It was a straightforward affair and within a few months they were wiped from the world and I ruled their three castles. A sad thing happened while I fought Kitabatake when my clan leader, Nobuhide, passed away. This made Nobunaga the new leader, now to fulfil his ambition. It was time to refocus on the Ashikaga, who had rebuilt their army to 17’000 men making my first two attacks even more pointless. This time there would be no mistakes, my army was by now 40,000 men strong, so I sent 20,000 to attack Ashikaga. 10,000 from the south and 10,000 from the east. It was only now I realised my error. When Nobuhide died my marriage to the Imagawa clan ended, dissolving our alliance, and they betrayed me! They marched a 25,000 man army to my castle in the south-east and took it over. I had to pull my 20,000 man army out of Ashikaga lands, gifting their leader a priceless treasure to say sorry and turn them friendly. Imagawa would pay!
My 10,000 men that attacked Ashikaga from the south now headed for the base Imagawa had just taken over, the other 10,000 attacked the two bases I previously mentioned Imagawa had taken from the other division of the Oda clan. I took back one of those bases but the majority of my 20,000 men fell to the Imagawa army, but not before dealing a great amount damage to them. I decided to concentrate on taking back the second base in the middle of my lands, but in the mean time I sent small units to the base Imagawa had taken over in the south-east to slow down their advance. Three months later I had taken back that second base and could concentrate on the southern one. The plan of sending small units worked and Imagawa had gained no new land, on top of that while they beat every unit I sent they still received a lot of damage. I gathered up what was left of my army and marched to the castle they had captured. The battle was hard but I came out on top and blockaded the castle that was once mine. They surrendered and I got my land back.
It was a bittersweet victory. I had beaten back the advancing Imagawa tide but my army was in shambles and I was now no better off than when the scenario began. I was too weak to march forward and eliminate the Imagawa clan but thankfully they were too weak to counter attack. There we stood, locked in a stalemate as neither of us made a move, our armies were rebuilding, awaiting the inevitable war to the west that loomed around the corner.
There you have it, my second war story which evidently didn’t go quite as well as the first. It could have went a thousand different ways, maybe the Ashikaga wouldn’t have received backup and they would have been defeated, maybe the marriage wouldn’t have ended, maybe I if I had married into a different clan I would have taken the east with ease, but honestly it looks like I should have went west in the first place. Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence launches today and I expect that by tonight everyone who plays will have their own unique stories, of war, diplomacy, betrayals and more, to tell.