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The Sengoku Jidai, the Warring States period.
A time of sword and samurai. To live by the

sword, and to die by the sword. That is the
setting of Creative Assembly's strategy

game, Shogun 2: Total War.
If our daimyo is to become shogun – military
ruler of all Japan – you must understand

the weapons of war, among which is the iconic
Japanese longbow, the yumi. In this Popshots

episode, we look at the history of warfare
in feudal Japan, and evaluate the role of

ubiquitous ranged units in Shogun 2.
One can't really talk about Shogun 2 without
admiring the history of warfare in Japan.

The weapons of the samurai are legendary – the
yari, the katana and the yumi. Bows were used

in Japan since prehistoric times, though the
exact origins of the asymmetric longbow are

unknown. Some theorise that the shape was
due to the use of a single piece of wood,

stronger at the base. Others believe that
the asymmetric shape allowed it to be used

while kneeling or from horseback. By the time
of the samurai, the yumi was made from laminated

bamboo, wood and leather, and typically measured
2 metres long.

While we might recognise Japanese archery
through kyudo, the style used in warfare was

kyujutsu. The bow was commonly used in large
numbers with foot soldiers, known as ashigaru,

but the warrior class, the samurai, were expected
to be masters of the bow alongside their other

weapons. The bow was, in fact, the primary
weapon of the samurai. Their expertise in

yabusame – mounted archery – gave them
a unique advantage on the battlefield. It

is for this reason – not because of honour
– that samurai were distinct in not carrying

shields into battle, as all their weapons
were meant to be wielded with two hands.

The yumi would see hundreds of years of use,
largely unchanged, until the arrival of Portuguese

traders. From that point on, the most important
weapon became the matchlock musket, adopted

more widely and aggressively than European
armies, and the bow's presence soon waned.

Shogun 2's place in the Total War franchise
is interesting, bringing the series from the

gunpowder era back to a feudal setting. Unlike
in Rome, the armies in Shogun 2 are fairly

homogenous, consisting of cheaper ashigaru
units and expensive samurai units, with specialised

units composing of spears, swords or bows,
with marginal advantages given to certain

factions. As to be expected from a strategy
game, the strengths and weaknesses of each

unit type are intended for balance rather
than realism.

Initially, players will make extensive use
of ashigaru units, including the bow ashigaru.

These cheap ranged units are available from
the beginning, offering high volume of arrows.

Bow ashigaru have poor accuracy and have the
lowest melee stats and morale. Their main

use is to whittle down enemy formations, especially
other poorly-armoured ashigaru units, but

they find themselves only marginally effective
against the better-armoured samurai units.

After some technology advancement, players
have access to bow samurai. Samurai archers

stand out with better melee ability than their
ashigaru counterparts, though not as good

as specialised melee troops. They also boast
better armour – making them more resistant

to arrows – and better accuracy and rate
of fire, allowing them to be more effective

against other samurai. However, they have
fewer numbers than ashigaru.

By combining an archery school with a temple,
the player can train bow warrior monks. While

having poor melee stats and defense, bow warrior
monks have greater range, the highest accuracy

and rate of fire. Though their numbers are
even fewer than bow samurai, several units

of monks can break multiple units before they
reach combat. Monks also get access to whistling

arrows, which provide a morale penalty to
targeted units.

There are several other specialised ranged
units. The bow hero unit is a very small group

of archers with near-perfect ranged stats.
However, their tiny numbers make them largely

ineffective, and are only good for weakening
strong armoured units.

Bow cavalry are also present. These horse
archers provide some utility on the battlefield,

though with smaller unit size than foot archers,
their effects are not felt as heavily and

they require much more micromanagement.
The Chosokabe faction also has a unique unit,

the Daikyu Samurai, which are slightly better
than normal bow samurai, but not as powerful

as bow warrior monks.
Bows also have a notable role in the naval battles of this period.
Outside of the balanced unit structure, further
advantages are gained from having more experienced

troops and, crucially in the campaign, control
of special buildings that can improve accuracy,

potentially turning your bow warrior monks
into samurai shredders.

Bows also play a prominent role in both campaign
expansions. In Rise of the Samurai, the bow

is used by foot soldiers, but are prominently
used by the samurai units, both on foot and

on horseback. In this campaign, the samurai
represent the pinnacle of combat units, with

samurai units fulfilling both melee and ranged
roles without the specialism of weapon types

in the main campaign. Warrior monks are still
available, providing the same advantages as

before. If there's any downside to these
early ranged units, it's that the default

formation for Rise of the Samurai is open,
so most arrow volleys will not have a huge

impact. This forces the player to adopt more
complex small-unit tactics.

Fall of the Samurai sees traditional samurai
units compressed into foot bowmen and mounted

bowmen. While easily outmatched by modern
rifle infantry, bows have a role to play in

the early campaign, and have unique advantages.
Since soldiers are no longer armoured, masses

of bowmen can cause devastating damage to
infantry formations. In addition, bows can

shoot over hills, which gunpowder infantry
cannot do. There's a certain element of

fun to recreating the stand of the last samurai,
but realistically armies with well-deployed

gunpowder soldiers will wipe the floor with

There are a lot of things that Shogun does
well with its depiction of archery. Bow units

are well balanced and always have a role to
play, whether in offensive, defensive or siege

battles. The variety of archers allows the
players to spam cheap but less effective archer

units or invest in late-game armies with samurai
and monks. The arrow volleys look and sound

Through trivial, Shogun 2 is actually the
first game in the series to actually model

the bowstrings, which were absent due to graphical
limitations in previous games. The arrows

are even on the correct side of the bow for
Japanese archery. That's a huge leap forward!

The downsides of Shogun's archery is mostly
in the inflexibility of the battle engine.

As with other Total War games, the unit formations
are fairly rigid. Bow units operate quite

similarly to gunpowder units in Empire and
Napoleon, with the clearly defined firing

arc and the enemy must be specifically in
that area to shoot. Shooting animations are

awkwardly long for the slow-shooting ashigaru,
and individual soldiers hold onto the shot

for far too long, and realistically, archers
were far more flexible in deployment and rate

of fire.
Perhaps the best display of the bow's utility
is in siege defense, where soldiers on the

walls are not locked into shooting by unit
and shoot arrows continually, resulting in

a rain of arrows closer to what a real battlefield
might have looked like.

While Shogun 2 has fairly monotonous armies
and units aren't really unique enough to

stand out, the game is often hailed as one
of the best in the series, especially after

the mixed reception from Empire, before the
glitched release of Rome 2 and before the

fantasy-based Warhammer instalments.
Shogun 2 gives us a fairly unique way to play
out the battlefields of feudal Japan and witness

the effects of Japanese archers on foot, on
horseback, in castles and even on ships. Though

not the most realistic, there are few real-time
tactical games that are placed in this setting,

and the units forego true historical accuracy
and err on the side of balance and fun – perhaps

the honourable choice to make.
Thank you for watching another episode of
Archery Popshots. This is NUSensei. As always,

shoot straight, and aim for your best.


Archery Popshots | Total War: Shogun 2

241 タグ追加 保存
wei 2018 年 12 月 14 日 に公開
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