Understanding Religion in Shogun 2

By Scipii | Forum thread

Religion can play an important part in the success or failure of a particular campaign in Shogun 2. Not only can the religion of our clan negatively impact on our relations with the other feudal clans in Japan, but it can also lead to public order problems and ultimately religious revolts. The better we understand how Religion works in Shogun 2 the better equip we are to use it to our advantage, and to lessen its disadvantages.

There are three types of religion in Shogun 2, and all three have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The predominant religion of feudal Japan’s waring clans during the Sengoku Jidai, the setting of Shogun 2’s grand campaign, is Shinto-Buddhism. One exception to this are the Ikko-Ikki, they practise a sect of Buddhism called Jodo-Shinshu (referred to as Ikko in Shogun 2). Last, but not least, the arrival of the Naban (foreign Portuguese traders) to the shores of Japan signals the arrival of Christianity as a legitimate religious choice in Japan.

There are legitimate reasons why we should always ensure that our clan’s official religion is the dominant religion of our domain, and none more serious then the fact that the presence of rival religions in our provinces can cause public order issues. As we can see above, the province of Echizen has 10% of the populace practising Shinto-Buddhism and 90% of the populace practising Ikko. As the Ikko-Ikki we want the percentage of the populace practising Ikko to be as high as possible to avoid unwanted religious unrest. Remember, that what applies to us also applies to the AI so spreading religious discontent in enemy provinces can be a profitable tactic if we wish to damage a province’s public order sufficiently enough for it to revolt. To control the religious makeup of our provinces we need to examine Religious Zeal, as well as what generates it.

Here we can see that with 10% of the populace of Echizen province practising Shinto-Buddhism that we are experiencing one “non-clan religion” unrest.

There are several ways to produce Religious Zeal in a province, and even a couple of ways to spread it in to bordering provinces, in Shogun 2. Our first option when it comes to generating Religious Zeal is to research the Zen art in the Way of Chi tree to gain access to our respective religion’s sacred temples or chapels, which also allows us to recruit religious agents from those holy sites once built. Our second option for generating Religious Zeal is to rank up our Generals so we can upgrade them with the Religious skill, preferably to the skill’s maximum level for maximum effect. Ikko-Ikki Generals can unlock the Religious skill as soon as they become rank two, while other Generals will have to rank up thrice to rank four and invest some skill points in the pre-requisite Poet skill. Sometimes an Agent or General may also be lucky enough to start with, or earn, a character trait, like the True Believer trait, which also generates Religious Zeal. Now that we know what generates Religious Zeal we will examine exactly how it works.

After reaching rank four, and putting a skill point in to the Poet skill, a non-Ikko Ikki General can then put skill points in to the Religious skill.

Religious Zeal is the rate at which the populace of a province will convert to a certain religion. As an example, let’s say that the province of Settsu has a perfect 100% following of Shinto-Buddhism among the populace. Now if we move a rank one (stock) Missionary, who converts the populace to the Christian faith, in to Settsu each turn a certain percentage of the populace will now begin to swing towards following Christianity. So a turn after moving our Missionary in to the province of Settsu a larger percentage of the population will now be practising Christianity instead of Shinto-Buddhism.

Now that we understand the basic mechanics behind Religious Zeal we shall examine what happens when two competing religions both have a source of Religious Zeal generation within the same province. For this example imagine that the province of Settsu has both a stock Missionary and a stock Monk, who converts the populace to the Shinto-Buddhist faith, stationed in it. Since both the Missionary and the Monk generate one Religious Zeal they will cancel each other out, meaning that the populace of Settsu province will retain its religious status quo. Now imagine that the Missionary generated 1.5 Religious Zeal, while the Monk continued generating just one Religious Zeal. In this situation 0.5 Religious Zeal will be generated towards converting the populace of Settsu province to Christianity.

As we can see above, the populace of Echizen province will swing by 2% next turn towards more predominantly practising Ikko. This is due to Ikko’s stronger generation of Religious Zeal in the Echizen province compared to Shinto-Buddhism.

While in my experience it is uncommon for all three of the religions in Shogun 2 to be fighting out a religious conversion war in the same province, we shall none the less be examining this rarer phenomenon. Thanks to the rareness of this situation within my Shogun 2 campaigns it is harder to examine just how a three-way religious struggle works. However, assuming it works largely the same as a two-way religious struggle then theoretically the religion with the strongest Religious Zeal present will gain religious support among the populace while the other two religions lose followers. In the case of a two-way tie we can only speculate that the losing third religion may have to share its lost followers equally between the two tied dominant religions of the province.

As proven in this Ikko Ikki grand campaign, a three-way tug-of-war sees the religion with the strongest Religious Zeal presence win the hearts and minds of the populace. While Christianity will lose some followers in Buzen province, it is Shinto-Buddhism who will lose the most followers due to the combined Religious Zeal of Christianity and Ikko working against it.

As mentioned in the introduction religion can play a key role in diplomacy and how the other feudal clans of Japan perceive us. Usually clans with a different official clan religion in Shogun 2 will see us in more of a negative light. This means that, for example, if our clan religion is Christianity and we are negotiating with clans who have Shinto-Buddhism as their clan religion that we will find it harder to strike deals with them as we will typically enjoy less of a warm relationship with them due to our differing religious views.

As demonstrated above, our diplomatic relationship with Clan Shoni has decreased by 40 points due to our differing clan religions.

As we have learnt religion can have a massive impact on the public order of our provinces and our relationships with the other clans. We have also learnt that what applies to us also applies to other AI and human clans, meaning religion can be a powerful tool in our campaign to become Shogun of all Japan. Our lesson now is to remember these simple principles in future campaigns and to apply them correctly to our advantage, and hopefully to our enemy’s disadvantage.