Shogun: Total War
by James Cobb
Tactical battles in Shogun are real time. The units are the animated computer counterparts of miniature stands. Although they are divided into the usual melee, ranged missile and cavalry troops, the class distinctions of the tine are important. The backbone of the strike force may well be the traditional samurai but the backbone of the army may well be the more numerous and more easily obtained Ashigaru spearmen, peasants who can still hold off enemy forces until better armed comrades can win the day.
Archers are the most common missile troops and, because of their indirect fire, more versatile than arquebusiers and musketeers. The higher levels of the eleven unit types represent the more specialized troops of the warrior class. Deadly, they still must rely on the fighting peasants to absorb losses. Combined arms tactics are necessary with every unit type having a role.
Each unit type is characterized not only by the standard attack/defense/movement values but also by morale and the intangible “honor”. When a general or an elite troop goes down, the entire army can begin to run. As daimyo, the player can rally units with more honor, the rest becomes rabble.
Units are controlled on the field by the usual real-time conventions: click-and-point, CNTRL-SHIFT and hold to form groups, etc. Using a drop-down menu, armies can be deployed into nine historical formations. More importantly, individual units can assume three basic formations through the menu or on-screen icons. Missile units are more effective in two or three-rank formations. Click-and drag can form them into a line at the expense of better morale provided by close formations.
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