|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Center of Trade||none|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Japan is a nation in the far East and is capable of forming a power bloc that can rival the Europeans.
Japan in Divine Wind
As of Divine Wind and different than in previous versions, Japan starts divided. The islands are split between four Daimyos varying in power - although all of them are perfectly capable of unifying Japan into one country. Foreign diplomacy is handled by the Emperor who's seated in Kyoto and who holds superiority over the Daimyos. Wars outside of Japan can only be waged by Daimyo which is chosen to be the Shogun - but trade overseas is possible for everyone and encouraged.
The four starting Daimyos (in order of power) are:
- Taira - they can field an army of 12 000 in the beginning, they also control the most populous province of Japan - Settsu which greatly benefits their manpower pool. Their navy is the smallest but they have easy access to the Emperor in Kyoto. They are richest of all Daimyos, their income is almost twice bigger than others. Their weakness is risk of getting into a three-front war against all other factions with whom they share borders. They might have trouble conquering Tachibana without help of another more navally potent Daimyo.
- Minamoto - this Daimyo has the largest manpower pool and can field an army of 11 000 soldiers from their starting provinces. They also hold the title of the shogun at the beginning vastly boosting their economy and military. They are very potent navally (equal with Tachibana) but unlike Tachibana they can't block enemy entirely from entering their lands. They are richer than Fujiwara and Tachibana but Taira outclasses them in income.
- Tachibana - they are 3rd in army size (10 000 starting soldiers) and manpower - but they also have a huge advantage which is their navy - superior in numbers and able to block enemies from attacking them across the straits. Their income is comparable with Fujiwara's but their easily-achieved safety allows them to pick their battles.
- Fujiwara - most of their power lies in 2nd largest Japanese province, Musashi. They are the weakest of Daimyos being able to field only 9000 soldiers at the beginning and also have lowest manpower. Their navy is 3rd in size - but unlike Taira and Minamoto they only can be attacked from one direction.
In the beginning there's a natural conflict between richest state of Taira and the shogunate in Minamoto. Tachibana naturally leans towards Taira while Fujiwara tends to side with Minamoto. Both smaller Daimyos are very likely to benefit from the conflict between two bigger contenders. All have chances to unite Japan and differences between them aren't very big. A province or two switching sides can easily turn the whole ranking around. All Daimyos have same slider settings at the beginning, none of them has advantage in army quality nor headstart towards westernization.
Each Daimyo has unique advantages and disadvantages which should be used to achieve unification sooner rather than later. Minamoto and Taira are likely to jump to each other's throats at the beginning which will either ruin both - or raise one of them in power so much others won't be able to compete with them. To prevent that, smaller Daimyos should pick sides carefully and don't allow any of majors to win too big a victory and grab too many new provinces. Cunning diplomacy from all participants will be key to get an upper hand in the conflict which will set the board for the rest of the game.
Outright annexation of lands in Japan isn't the best way to unify the country. It costs 8 Infamy to add a province which isn't your core. In the meantime, Shogun can easily use spies to forge claims on other Daimyo's lands and get them twice cheaper. That's why the starting goal for each Daimyo should be retaining or acquiring the title of Shogun which in turn will allow them to make incursions into competition's territory without huge price in badboy.
To secure the title of Shogun, a Daimyo needs to first overthrow current Shogun, then request the title of Kampaku and use war and diplomacy to get votes of other Daimyos to support their claim. Afterwards using prestige and positive relations with others is necessary to keep the title.
Certain diplomatic actions can't be pursued if Shogun's power is too high or too low. For example, to declare a war in Japan Shogun's power needs to be under 50, to have a Royal Marriage under 75 and to start a war under 100. To decrease Shogun's influence one can use insults and events as well as war in which Shogun is losing battles. All those will lower his standing and allow his title to be forfeited. Once Shogun is overthrown, claiming the title of Kampaku via Shogunate interface becomes possible and after that Casus Bellis on all Daimyos who voted no are issued ("Japanese Civil War" - it costs BB if another CB is used instead of this one). You can then ask for their vote in the peace resolution. Having secured the title of the Shogun and with the boost in manpower and tax income, successful Daimyo can proceed to slowly take lands from others.
As mentioned in previous chapter, outright aggression isn't the best way to add new territory. It costs a lot of Infamy so in nature is very slow and it prevents you from getting a province as a core and with all the buildings. Forcing vassalization and then asking for annexation is cheaper in Infamy - but also doesn't grant cores on provinces and destroys all buildings. But it allows to ensure alliance and Kampaku votes of such Daimyo so it can be used as a way to speed things up or as a temporary solution.
If you hire a Spymaster advisor, a National Decision to Hire Ninjas will appear and greatly (+50%) boost your spy efficiency and defence for 100 ducats. This is something you should pursue right at the beginning of the game - because Shogun can use espionage to forge claims on provinces belonging to other Daimyos and take them away at half Infamy (which is added once claim is forged) as cores with all the buildings.
The cleanest of all methods is forcing a Personal Union with other Daimyo and then inheriting all their land as core provinces along with buildings. To do this, target Daimyo should have an heir with low legitimacy, it can be lowered by ruining their prestige, for example when they lose a war or a number of provinces and Royal Marriage with your country. You can't claim the throne using spies (requires Muslim or Christian religion) - you can only do it via Royal Marriage and Claim Throne diplomatic action so you should be married to all other Daimyos at all times. You can use Claim Throne even during an on-going war to suddenly switch your interest towards enemy's crown so as a rule of thumb, be married just in case (bribe competition into RM if you must).
Some Daimyos start without legitimate heirs so their thrones can be claimed right at the beginning of the game provided Shogun's influence is lowered below 50. It's a great opportunity to open the game with doubling the power of your Daimyo. To inherit another Daimyo you need to maintain the union until your ruler dies (relations better than 0 and positive prestige on your side). When your ruler dies you have a chance of inheriting if your relations are above 100 so keep them there when ruler gets old. Remember to secure the title of Shogun before you enslave last Daimyo. After you conquer entire Japan, you can use Shogunate interface to change your country into Japan. You should save your game and load it again afterwards.
The first goal in research should be Government technology 4 allowing to pick next National Idea. This will allow boosting either military or economy and get an upper hand over others. Taira and Minamoto are likely to pick Military Drill so to compete with their armies, you should do the same.
Second priority in research is either Land technology 4 or Production technology 4. Production will allow to build Constables and increase tax income by +25%. Land will allow building Armory which increases manpower and makes training troops cheaper. Each Daimyo should aim to build those in all their provinces but order in which they do it may vary due to their unique character. Minamoto badly needs money to pay for their big army and be able to compete with richer Taira while Fujiwara and Tachibana need soldiers to be able to survive against more populous competitors. At the same time Taira needs both to secure their lead in both areas and be able to take on two or even three enemies at once.
Moving sliders towards Innovative and Centralization right from the beginning is a good idea since it leads towards Westernization. To westernize smoothly you need united Japan and border with a western country. Sell one of provinces in Japan to achieve that second goal. Patron of Arts National Idea combined with an Artist advisor and good ADM ruler allows event called Architectural Development to fire - which moves you 2 steps towards Innovative and speeds up westernization. Whenever you get a ruler capable of such a change, you should quickly switch your NI and hire an Artist to increase chance of this event happening. It will speed up westernization by decades.
Trade in China is a huge boost to income and should not be neglected as long as Infamy stays low. Trade in Kyoto is possible even with high Infamy and should be maintained all the time. Spies can be of great help and distraction in divided Japan. Sponsoring a revolt with 5-6k rebels is a great way of softening the target before you declare war. Remember that all starting armies aren't larger than 12 000 so if you can sponsor a rebel force equating that, your enemy will be in deep trouble. If you fall under Regency, your Legitimacy will start rapidly declining sucking the power of your Daimyo because you can only form a limited number of Royal Marriages to counter that (can't marry outside of Japan). Hire Grand Marshal advisor to address the (bottom-right corner of the culture screen).
Tips for various Daimyos
Tachibana is England of the bunch, they should make a point in maintaining a navy bigger than Minamoto's and able to take out navies of both Taira and Fujiwara at the same time. It guarantees safety, allows to pick battles and block enemy movement (for example trapping him on one of islands preventing him from going back home where you siege him). Then a careful consideration and evaluation of power of opponents should be done - and alliances signed accordingly. Don't let Taira beat Minamoto too much but also don't let Fujiwara and Minamoto split Taira's lands between themselves.
Minamoto is France of the bunch in the beginning but their relative poverty needs to be addressed quickly if they are to compete with Taira. While researching Production 4 and building Constables a strong navy to block Tachibana and a strong alliance with Fujiwara against Taira will ensure safety in case of a war. They should immediately work on their prestige to strengthen Shogunate and prevent Taira's aggression until they get stronger economically.
Fujiwara being the weakest Daimyo needs to immediately strengthen their position and war between Minamoto and Taira is a perfect opportunity to do that. Claiming one or two new provinces from Taira despite huge Infamy cost can be a real turn of events for them. Alliance with Minamoto to achieve that goal will be required.
Taira is richest and has biggest army but they are squeezed between Fujiwara and Minamoto which they can't beat alone if attacked by both. Alliance with Tachibana is required to distract Minamoto while Fujiwara's army is pushed back. Tachibana will also provide much-needed naval power to the alliance making up for Taira's relative weakness in this area.
Has Europe, with its petty religious squabbles and Eurocentric attitude finally become too boring? Well, Japan is an excellent and exciting alternative. Japan offers a much different game play experience from Europe, the Middle East, or even Ming China. Japan is an island nation, which means that its choices are somewhat limited. Japan cannot hide behind endless swarms of ground troops, like Ming, nor can it easily absorb new territories without taking certain national ideas or changing your domestic policies, like the nations of India. Yet, the wealth of Asia is waiting for Japan to take it and in following this in this guide, the Orient may well be under Japan's thumb before those grubby, rude, round eyed devils from Europe show up with their missionaries and guns.
When the game begins, the first thing that the player should notice is that Japan and Ming share a very similar situation to France and England. The basic strategy for dealing with Ming is comparable to the strategy England would use to neutralize France. To be safe, Japan will need to become a naval powerhouse, with fleets bigger than those of its rivals. To stop Ming's march of assimilation, Japan will need friends to fight the endless battles with, either to send aid or to contribute to a favorable warscore.
This is a crucial moment for the future of Japan, a moment that will steer the country in a whole new direction. If the player begins too quickly, Japan may not be prepared for the difficult future ahead of it.
Here are a few useful tips before unpausing the game:
- Don't hire any advisers unless there is a Master of the Mint among them, not even a +stability. Japan cannot immediately afford the cost.
- The player should move the slider towards Innovative or Centralization. Free Trade should be avoided, as Japan will be bared from trading in Jiangsu for the whole game.
- Full investment in Government technology. Japan should get its first National Idea around 1420-1430 depending on its luck in trade.
- Disband Japan’s starting cavalry unit and don't train any for the next century.
- Declare war on Ryukyu, make Japan’s Shogun a unit leader and put him on boat with all available starting armies on route to Okinawa to conquer it.
- Request a Royal Marriage with Ming.
- Request a Trade Agreement with Malacca.
- Send merchants to Jiangsu to boost Japan’s research.
First 25 Years
The goals here are fairly simple:
This shouldn't be very adventurous period. Ming will guarantee Japan, Korea and Manchu so no wars between powers-to-be will be possible unless someone is very stupid. This is a period of time when the player should be busy laying foundation to Japan’s future empire.
- Annex and convert Ryukyu. After they are converted they will become Japanese, so there will be a far lesser chance of revolts from them.
- Japan will obtain colonists very slowly, but as they come, the player should colonize Taiwan, the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. It may be necessary to Save and Load repeatedly so that the colony succeeds and has a worthwhile trade good. Start with Taiwan. Place 4000 infantry, but don't attack the locals. If they revolt during the colonization phase, the troops will kill them, and if they don't revolt they will join your population.
- Concentrate on inventing Government Technology 4 and pick the Unam Sanctum National Idea. This will be elaborated on below.
- Build some new Galleys with spare funds. Try to reach Japan’s naval force limit, as well as trying to keep force limit upkeep low so that the player can save money.
- The player should try to keep Japan’s inflation down and stability high as much as possible.
- Trade a bit but don't become overstretched. Galleys are generally more important than research.
Ming should be busy conquering the Mongols during this period and the player should let them. It is important to stay away from war as much as possible, unless it is unavoidable. If the player feels it is necessary to have an ally, a generally peaceful nation such as Korea should be chosen.
The player can immediately begin laying the foundations for challenging Ming once Gov. Tech 4 has been researched and Japan’s navy is bigger than theirs.
- Upon reaching Gov. 4, switch research to Trade. The player should get to tech level 7 as soon as possible, so that they can pick Quest for the New World instead of Unam Sanctum, when Japan is ready to westernize.
- Keep moving sliders towards Innovative and Centralization.
- Keep building Galleys with all the spare cash the player has. To aid in this, it is advisable to ignore advisers and cavalry units. After the colonies the player founded have grown to cities in the mid-1400s, Japan will be able to build at least a few Galleys yearly. It will be nearly impossible to take on Ming without a strong navy.
- Japan also needs many friends. This is for the most part easier if they are forced to help in the fight against Ming, without the opportunity to back out of a simple military alliance. This strategy will require Japan to throw its muscle around and vassalize many nations.
- Indochina (modern Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia) is full of countries that can be easily vassalized with a general and 10,000 infantry, so that's where Japan should look for its lackeys. Indochina is, for the most part, a chaotic mess for most of the game, until one nation gets an upper hand. There is a constant shift of alliances and wars that Japan can easily take advantage of. A good place to start is with Champa, then slowly advance through Indochina, conquering and vassalizing, one by one. It is important to leave each vassal with around 3 – 4 provinces and to make sure that the player allies with each of them.
- This is also where Unam Sanctum comes into play. This National Idea will allow Japan to declare war on any nation that does not share the Shinto religion, which is every other nation in the game, without having to have a casus belli, nor take a stability hit.
- It should be fairly easy for Japan to acquire 10-17 vassals in Indochina before any major engagement with Ming.
First War with Ming
The emperors of Ming will eventually look greedily at Indochina, which by now should be considered Japan’s sphere of influence. They will attack one of the player’s vassals there (Dai Viet most probably) and this shouldn’t go unpunished. Japan is on its way to becoming a superpower and in that scenario, there's no place for Ming. So, around the 1440s the player will have to answer a call to arms from one of Japan’s allies and challenge Ming for control over the east.
- First of all DON'T PANIC. This war will take decades so sit comfortably and focus.
- Now, the player should have a bigger navy than Ming, so they may not be too willing to sail around and will probably stay in Jiangsu. The player will need to lure them out, so try to bait them with a small naval squadron. When they attack them with all they've got, join the action with the rest of your navy (get an admiral if you can afford him). The player should be able to sink their navy and even take over a few ships. Repeat until they have no navy at all.
- In Indochina, they will most likely steamroll the player’s vassal whom they declared war upon and there's nothing Japan can do about it. But afterwards, their army will go somewhere else and that's when the player should attempt to retake the land of their allies. Run away at first sight of 30000 cavalry Ming stacks though. For the most part, the vast reserve of vassal-allies the player has created will kick in and start harassing Ming across their wide borders and perhaps cause enough chaos to be useful.
- When their navy is at the bottom of the Yellow Sea, they have no way of attacking Japanese territory on the islands anymore. But the player can easily take Macau and Hainan and blockade their armies from retaking it by putting a naval force over the strait.
- The war will take many, many years so the player needs to make it as easy for the Japanese population as possible. Don't throw troops into any big battles; even keep troop upkeep low to save money and manpower. Don't raise war taxes. Don't pay max upkeep for your navy unless it needs to be repaired. Don't spend cash on generals except the initial admiral. Try not to own any cavalry, as they are expensive and useless, since you shouldn’t be engaging in any battles with Ming directly anyway. For the most part, the player needs to wait out the storm, hold Macau and Hainan, and sow chaos whenever possible.
- Ming, on the other hand, will have huge armies, war taxes and their War Exhaustion will sky-rocket. Their revolt risk will go up to 20% in all their provinces and soon rebellions will start popping up everywhere. After a few years, an army of 50000-60000 rebels will become Japan’s unspoken allies.
- Ming will beg for a white peace eventually but the player shouldn't accept until their manpower goes down significantly. If at all possible, take Hainan and Macau in the peace deal and either sell it for 0 ducats to Dai Viet, so the poor Vietnamese people become Ming bait, or keep it for yourself.
The player will fight many, many wars like this. It often takes around 100 – 200 years to finally dry Ming out of manpower and drive their inflation so high that Japan can actually enter their lands with its own troops and get some land for itself. In the meantime, it isn’t uncommon to take nothing more than what was colonized and conquered in the beginning (Kurils, Taiwan, Sakhalin and Ryukyu).
Why shouldn’t Japan attack Korea, Manchu, or any of the Malayan states? Because it is not advisable to have any wrong-culture, wrong-religion provinces rebelling and raising stability cost when Japan westernizes.
Japan is in the Chinese tech group and it means the player has 40% research rate compared to Europeans. Since they will eventually come to conquer the Orient, it would be good to be in their tech group rather than in the current one. So, around the 1500s the player should start looking to westernize.
- If the player was a good planner, then they’ve already invested all their slider moves up to this point into making Japan more Centralized and Innovative.
- Japan should still have the Unam Sanctum National Idea, which now that Indochina is vassalized, is basically useless, since there is no one left to wage a war against except Ming. So, switch Unam Sanctum for Quest for the New World and go look for some Europeans.
- The first condition for Westernization decision even showing up on the list is to border a European country. The player is most likely to find the Portuguese/Spanish in Africa. Wherever the player finds them, try to take a province or two away from a Native population (such as Swahili) that borders the European’s province. The Westernization decision should now be available.
- Now the player has to meet the rest of the requirements. Move sliders more towards Innovative and Centralization if possible and wait for a good Administrative ruler, who will be able to make the decision itself. Also, keep the Stability of Japan high and try to hire Artist advisors if available.
- When the decision is to Westernize is ready, the player should return their entire military force home, sign peace with Ming and click the decision.
- Westernization is done in steps. Each step means a -5 Stability hit, so the player really needs those Artists and also full Stability investment to do it fast. It also very important to have all of Japan’s troops home to fight the rebels that will pop up.
- The first step will move Japan from the Chinese tech group to the Muslim group, which is an improvement from 40% research rate to 80%. Not bad.
- When the player is back at +3 Stability, the second step of Westernization will move Japan from Muslim to European Eastern tech, from 80% to 90%. Repeat the steps above.
- The final step will move Japan to the European Latin tech group with full research rate and the neighbor bonus in research will skyrocket to +100 for each tech.
Here are some priorities in research after westernization:
- Naval 9 will allow Japan to blockade ports. Naval 11 unlocks the Caravel. So, go for Naval 11 and expand Japan’s naval forces with a few dozen Caravels.
- Land 13 unlocks Defensive Asian Footsoldiers and Samurai Cavalry. These troops will be important if you are interested in conquering China or making war upon Europeans.
- Government 9 and 11 both allow the addition of new National Ideas. If the player enjoys colonization, they can keep Quest for the New World and pick up National Bank and either Grand Navy or National Conscripts. If the player plans on making the Orient their private playground, drop Quest for the New World and pick the other three mentioned above. Bring Japan’s inflation below 1% and start accumulating cash for Workshops.
- Production 9 allows the building of Workshops, which raises the end-year tax income a lot.
- Trade is not that important, since the player should have 5 merchants in all of the nearby Centers of Trade already.
When the player has National Conscripts, Grand Navy and National Bank, as well as level 13 troops, Ming is essentially doomed.
- Build some modern cavalry, maxing the troops Japan can afford. It is possible to use stacks of 2000 cavalry and 8000 infantry, plus a larger force of around 10000 cavalry led by a general to chase down fleeing armies.
- Warn Ming and wait. When they attack, take leadership in the war. If you’re tired of waiting, declare war upon them and force your allies to join in.
- Bait them out of their ports, sink their navy and blockade the whole of China. Now, wait for their stability to drop and for rebels to start popping up.
- Infiltrate their administration to be able to see their whole territory and wait for the right moment, preferably when their big army is routed by a rebel stack.
- Take the opportunity and launch a full scale invasion with Japan’s newly modernized forces. Besiege as many provinces at once as possible. When their big stacks (they should have two of those at least) come, go for a decisive battle. Using your general, superior cavalry and luck, rout their army and chase them down with a large cavalry force.
- Don't assault the forts that have been besieged. Due to Japan’s low manpower, the player should aim to lose as low an amount of men as possible. Waiting out sieges is a priority, because the player’s position only improves with time, where as Ming’s deteriorates.
- If the player can quickly destroy Ming’s armies, they will be able to besiege and conquer the whole of China up to Mongolia. If the player can't destroy their armies, they should settle for a few provinces and repeat the process a few years later with better planning.
What to take? Many people like to take provinces up north and eventually Jiangsu too. It could be preferable to take Cantonese (southern) provinces since they produce Tea and Chinaware, not Grain. Taking them also prevents Ming from harassing Japan’s vassals in Indochina ever again.
When the player has all the land they are satisfied with, force Ming to release Xia and whatever Mongol states they have annexed so far. This will shrink them considerably and future wars will be much easier.
- Vassalize everything between you and India. Korea, Manchu, Brunei, Malacca and Aceh are too big to be vassalized in one go, so it may be necessary to take a few provinces from them in the first war, wait five years, DoW them again, force-vassalize and then sell the provinces taken back to them for 0 credits. After these are under Japan’s boot, the player can say they rule Asia.
This is when Japan’s Golden Age starts. Research is booming, allies are numerous and the whole region lives in what can be called Pax Iaponiae.
The player should switch to Administrative Monarchy when possible no matter how tempting Empire might be, Japan needs the production bonus more.
- India probably isn't united yet, so going there for some additional Silk, Tea and Spices would seriously increase Japan’s incomes. This is the best route to take to expand Japan’s empire but the player may be tired of constant wars and instead choose not to go into another Ming-size war yet, especially if Persia or the Timurids are looking to take India from the west.
- Islands of Indonesia and the Pacific are Japan’s chance to expand Japanese culture over a huge area. To colonize them, the player will need to take a whole century and a crazy amount of money. It will also require multiple national ideas to pull off successfully. Not to mention, the player will need to go back to Narrowminded from almost full Innovative.
- The choice is up to the player. They can sit back and enjoy their hard work, or expand as far as the eye can see, so that the Rising Sun never sets on the Japanese Empire.