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The Battle of the Two Hills - A Sengoku Jidai AAR

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:48 am
by AlbertoC
Greetings everyone and welcome to this AAR of Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun, the new game in development by Byzantine Games and due to release on 19th May on PC.

Today we’ll fight a Skirmish Defend field battle on a Woody terrain. Skirmish battles are fought on randomly generated maps between two different army lists which can be selected or randomized. The map generator in Skirmish mode is impressive: it creates realistic battlefields with geographical features which have to be exploited to gain tactical advantages.

We’ll lead the Ikko-Ikki, an anti-feudal militant movement composed of zealots, monks, rebellious peasants and some landless samurai. Our army reflects that social composition. We have many peasants, nothing more than armed rabble in truth, and we can’t really rely on them on open field. Then we have a few battalions of warrior-monks, wielding bows, “teppo” matchlock rifles and polearms; they are highly trained, and some of them even wear armor. Our army numbers 13,000 men, roughly.

We are facing a strong Tokugawa army. They brought many professional armored troops carrying long spears (the yari) and fighting in thick formation, as well as regiments of archers and gunners and some cavalry. They also brought some battalions of Samurai and Ashigaru warriors wielding katanas: they fight like in the old times, man-to-man. Our scouts estimate that the Tokugawa army is around 11,500 strong, so we’ll have the advantage of the number. That doesn’t mean much though: the soldiers we are facing are better equipped and better trained than most of our army. We’ll have to make the best out of this terrain, then.

Terrain in Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is extremely important. Battles are won and lost by making the right placement of troops. We have taken up a strong defensive position: our left flank is covered by a thick forest, our right flank is protected by a steep hill, and we have erected a long line of field fortifications to defend our center, which is crossed by a long valley and a road. Should we be overrun we can fall back to the hills behind us as last measure.

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The outcome of this battle will be decided at three different spots:

1) The forest, to our left. We can’t allow the enemy to advance through it, as they might just march past our lines and occupy the hills behind our backs. Therefore the control of the woods will be of mandatory importance. We have deployed a large group of warriors and gunners on the nearby hill, ready to intervene and intercept any move by the enemy. Possibly, they might attempt to cross the forest themselves to attack the enemy army on the flank. They are led by general Harunobu.
2) The center. It’s protected by field fortifications, which unfortunately have some narrow gaps in them. We can expect the enemy to try and penetrate these gaps, therefore we are placing our best warriors there, our highly trained warrior-monks. They will close any gap, and allow our gunners to unleash hell from behind the fences on the advancing ranks of the Tokugawa. It will be vital to decimate the enemy before it draws too near. The center is commanded by general Tsuneoki.
3) The steep hill to our right flank. It is a highly defensible position, and our peasants could be of use there as they might be able to stand their ground. Some of them are armed with matchlocks, and could fire constantly on the enemy, taking advantage of their high position. The right is held by general Kunitatsu.

We keep a reserve behind our center: peasants, and a battalion of monks armed with teppo rifles. There, the commander in chief of the whole army, general Toshisato, oversees over the whole battlefield from an elevated position.

The enemy is organized in a checkered formation, and its advance is orderly and precise. Soon they’ll be on us. They have deployed their best armored troops at the center and to our left flank, and most likely they’ve considered the tall hill to our right a tough nut to crack, but they are bringing their archers there: with their longer reach they outrange our gunners and could possibly fire a rain of arrows on our heads, forcing our peasants to abandon their position.
But that’s not the main concern of Toshisato. It seems in fact that a large concentration of Tokugawa soldiers is approaching the woods while the bulk of the enemy army is marching towards the center! Even worse the enemy might try to pass around the forest with its cavalry, as there is a narrow clear path directly leading to our back!

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There is no time to waste. Orders are dispatched, and the reserve is deployed. The gunners are sent in the woods where they will engage and slow down the enemy advance, while a large group of peasants is sent to the hills at the rear flank of the Ikko Ikki army. Toshisato doesn’t think they can really repel the enemy cavalry, but they will surely slow them down and buy time.

But it’s the center where the first blood is spilt. The Tokugawa general, Nobumori, wastes no time, and orders a full assault on the whole line of Ikko Ikki’s defence. The rebels answer by unleashing fire on the enemy, opening large gaps in the tight formation of spearmen.

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The Tokugawa advance is relentless, nonetheless, and the battle is fierce. Thousands of spears clash on the Ikko-Ikki ranks, with teppo fire causing great damage on both sides. The Tokugawa try to penetrate the line of defence by focusing their attack on the gaps between the fortifications, something which, if successful, might bring them through and past our lines. It’s a real danger, considering that most of the Ikko Ikki reserve has been deployed to the forest and there wouldn’t be enough troops to stop a breakthrough.
The Tokugawa don’t seem to be able to pierce the defence line, however. Their morale suffers a huge blow when the general commanding their right flank, Kuninosuke, is killed while trying to conquer a hill nearby the forest.

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The battle rages on. The Ikko Ikki gunners reach the outskirts of the forest and open fire on the Tokugawa reinforcements, but they are charged. Bitter fighting ensues, and the gunners are forced to fall back, but they still delay the enemy advance.
To our right, the enemy continues to rain arrows on our forces and makes an attempt to attack us there and conquer the hill, but they are pushed back.

The Tokugawa seem unable to make any progress near the road, and keep attacking stubbornly, always being repelled and leaving many dead on the ground. In the meanwhile, their cavalry seems to have reached our peasants protecting our rear flank. They are held for they are attacking uphill, but for how long can our peasants stand this furious attack?

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By turn 8, things change for the worse for the Ikko Ikki: at great cost, the Tokugawa finally manage to break through the rebel defence line to the right of the road, with more battalions quickly entering through the gap, while to the left our gunners have been forced to retreat. We are losing the forest and there is a breakthrough in the center!

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It was a bloodbath, though. The Tokugawa paid dearly for any step forward, and they are exhausted. The whole center of the Tokugawa collapses as a group of heroic monk-warriors leads a frontal charge and sets the enemy on a route, and general Tokugawa Nobumori is felled by a polearm.
In the meanwhile, our gunners and archers have retreated to the hills and are unleashing hell on the feudal forces in the woods and the ones they have managed to breakthrough, who now find themselves cut off from the rest of the army!

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Two Tokugawa units, including the cavalry which rode around the woods, have managed to get past our force but they are in no condition to do great harm to us as the rest of the enemy army has been routed.
We turn to face them and intercept them, and they wisely decide to retreat. The Tokugawa assault has been repelled and the Ikko Ikki won the day, killing, wounding or capturing nearly half of the enemy army!

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In Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun battles are always a close call. Good maneuvering, correct placement of troops and right choice of terrain as well as simple luck sometime can turn the tide and reverse the fate of a doomed situation. You can never feel too confident of victory, as the AI will exploit any sign of weakness. This time we managed to defeat the highly competent AI, but we had a really good starting tactical position.
Despite this advantage, the AI still managed to give the human player a run for their money.

Re: The Battle of the Two Hills - A Sengoku Jidai AAR

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 2:58 pm
by Pixel
Really enjoyed the ARR! Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun looks like it is shaping up nicely.

Re: The Battle of the Two Hills - A Sengoku Jidai AAR

Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 1:50 am
by Huskie
Great skirmish battle, agree with the above comment. The Ikko Ikki did suffer some loses as well, but at least they were victorious

Re: The Battle of the Two Hills - A Sengoku Jidai AAR

Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 1:41 am
by FroBodine
Excellent stuff! Oh my gosh, I want this game!

Re: The Battle of the Two Hills - A Sengoku Jidai AAR

Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 5:32 am
by jomni
Good writeup. And very nice camera angle on the screen shots.