By Hussarknight | Forum thread
This guide was written and tested while playing on Very Hard difficulty. Other difficulty levels may pose different challenges, but this should work as a guideline in all cases. For tips on Legendary difficulty, see Swra Latckretcnin’s forum post.
In the far south of Japan, the Shimazu have an excellent starting position: quick access to the trade points, an easily defensible island as home region and some nice clan bonuses they’re a popular choice among Shogun 2 players. Below you’ll find a walkthrough to help you make the most from their huge potential. The first six turns are described on a turn-by-turn basis. When you’ve completed those you’ll be on your way to controlling the trade points around the south coast, you’ll have eliminated the Ito, and you’ll have started recruiting the Katana Samurai backbone of your armies. After that this guide contains more general directions for the rest of the campaign.
Send your daimyo from your capital to join your army, then march towards the first Ito town and besiege it. As you’ll see, there’s a small garrison and a bigger army nearby. To minimize your casualties, you should assault immediately. If you then deploy on the right-hand side of the map you’ll be able to cut of the re-inforcements before they can join the castle defenders. With numbers and topography on your side you can beat them with minimal casualties before capturing the castle. When asked, choose to occupy it. This will complete the mission “Establish a Foothold” which gives you one extra recruitment slot in all provinces for four turns.
Train a unit of Katana Samurai at your capital and start building a harbour in the coastal village. Repair the castle in your newly conquered town. Public order is so low exempting them from tax won’t keep them satisfied, so keep the taxes on for now. Start researching Bushido. Your turn is over.
Osumi is too unruly right now to leave already, so recruit two Yari Ashigaru and adjust taxes as needed. Start construction on roads in Satsuma to let you move armies about quicker.
Start research on Strategy of Attack. You’ll want to get Way of the Sword as soon as possible to further boost your Katana Samurai and get a free unit of them for the mission you get on turn 2. Send your newly trained Katana Samurai to Osumi. When they get there, turn taxes back on.
Your harbour is finished, so build a Bow Kaboya there. These will be used to hold the trading points while you’re building trading ships.
Osumi should be stable enough to move your army on. Take both the daimyo and general with you, but leave one unit of Yari Ashigaru behind and exempt the city from taxes to keep the populace under control. Train another unit of Yari Ashigaru in Osumi to help stabilize the province. Build a trading port in Satsuma to continue towards the recruitment of trade ships. Send your newly recruited Bow Kobaya to capture the trade point directly south of your port.
With your army, march north into the Ito province. You will suffer casualties from attrition but in my opinion it’s worth it because you can get to the Ito city sooner. If you encounter an Ito army, attack it and take it out. If you don’t find any Ito they will probably attack you during their turn. The area provides some nice hills you can use to defend so you should be able to defeat them. Don’t forget to use your generals to mob up enemy routers so you don’t have to fight them again. Move as far as possible towards Hyuga’s castle town.
Move your army further towards the castle of Hyuga, dealing with any Ito (remnants from the previous army or new troops) as you encounter them. Train another Bow Kobaya at Setsuma.
The army can now besiege Saito, Hyuga’s castle. The size of the garrison depends on whether you encountered an Ito army in turn 5, so see and decide for yourself if you want to attack the castle yet. If you don’t they’ll probably sally when you end your turn, which gives you a good opportunity to use a defensive position on a hill to defeat them. In both cases, occupy the settlement.
Train a unit of Yari Ashigaru in Osumi and a unit of Katana Samurai in Setsuma. Start research on Way of the Sword and move your new Bow Kobaya to the trade point south-west of your position.
If you haven’t captured the Ito castle yet, go ahead and occupy the province now. With Hyuga under your control you have a solid base on Kyushu.
With a firm base on Kyushu you can take a short break to build your economy and forces. Construct as many trade ships as you can and send them to occupy the trading zones around you. When you can afford it build a navy to protect your trade ships from pirates and enemy clans. Also don’t forget to upgrade your farms and roads as they earn a lot of money in the long term and will make you less dependent on trade income.
During this time prepare for war to conquer the rest of Kyushu. The Shoni and Sagara are likely to launch an attack on you so always be prepared to defend and strike back. The A.I. is often vulnerable to a counterattack so after fending of an enemy army launch an attack immediately. This will help you gain control of Kyushu, although of course you should take the initiative and attack your enemies whenever you’re strong enough. Keep using Katana Samurai as the backbone of your armies to replace any left over ashigaru.
With Kyushu united under your banner you have two options: you can cross the landbridge in the north to invade Honshu or invade Shikoku by sea. I prefer the last, as the island doesn’t provide a big enough base for the Chosokabe to become very powerful. More importantly, Shikoku is a good base to launch attacks on Honshu and it puts you close enough to strike at Kyoto with less risk of being struck yourself.
If you choose this path, it is a good idea to ally with whoever controls the southern-most part of Honshu so your flank is secure.
After capturing Shikoku you should start preparing for the realm divide. Get your navy ready to defend your trade ships and sink enemy invasion fleets. I’d recommend you specialize one or two generals in naval combat to help with this, while two others specialize in land combat.
When you feel you’re strong and rich enough to take on the other clans it is time to invade Honshu. By now, one or two clans will dominate everything west of Kyoto, so there’ll be a good amount of poorly defended provinces. This is where you should strike first, as it will give you a base of operations at low cost. Attack from two sides: land one army in the south-west of Honshu and the other south-east of Kyoto. These two can squash the other clans between them and later on meet at Kyoto to take down the old shogunate together.
After you’ve conquered a couple of regions the shogun will get angry and declare you an enemy of the state. The remaining clans will declare war on you; only your closest allies may stay on your side, but over time your relationship will deteriorate and they will abandon you. Gifting large amounts of cash can keep them on your side, but this isn’t worth it as it’s cheaper to raise another army and conquer them.
The most important thing to remember is to keep moving. All the other clans combined are more powerful than you so you can’t win by only defending. Don’t wait for new buildings to start recruiting new units, push on with what you have as far as you can. This is no time for rest, this is a time for total war.
When your armies finally reach Kyoto they should be able to take it without too much casualties, if you use them together. Thanks to the lake the area around Kyoto is easy to defend, so use this to your advantage and take a while to replenish your armies and re-build your economy.
After four seasons you will be the new shogun. You still need some more regions for victory, so send your armies further to the north and east and simply capture as many as you need.
Now then, victory is yours! The Shimazu banner drifts across Japan and you are Shogun! Congratulations!