Nagato Fujibayashi

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Here we are going to see the options that each player has for his starting moves. Given that our campaign won’t last long, our initial choices will largely determine the very important midgame.

The options may seem limited at first but we have to remember that a)one has to combine them in order to build a more overall strategy for the total of his forces and b)no matter what we’ll decide for our forces the opponent will have a different opinion which will anyhow make the situation much more complicated and different in every game, especially if we consider the random forces in the setup and the starting hands.

But, one needs to start from somewhere in order to maintain some chance of winning. Even if one plays fully by intuition, he must have a plan that coordinates his forces at least for the first couple of weeks of the campaign. Uncoordinated play will make him lose valuable time.

So here are the initial options for the larger and not-so-large force concentrations of both sides. The options we will present here clearly depict the very different approach that one needs to have depending on the side he chose to play.

At some points I will be referring to different areas of the map as they were defined here, so please have a short look at the first picture to know what I’m talking about.

I won’t deal almost at all with card economy and speed of movement here- no matter how many cards one chooses to play to move his forces and if he chooses to force march any of them or not, at some point the forces will be activated. Here we will deal only with the strategic purpose of their activation and not how it can be better achieved. I'm not going to examine even when it's a better time to decide each move but beware- many of them depend clearly on what the opponent has decided for himself and can be very non-recommended in some cases.

Ishida opening moves


Osaka-Kyoto and area A


This one cannot think about a lot- Ishida desperately needs to gain full control of area A as soon as he can and for the rest of the game. Almost everything valuable for him lies there- his capital, his reinforcement entry points and, most of all, the ultra-dangerous Hideyori disk that he needs to protect with everything he has.

So normally the forces in the Osaka-Kyoto starting points will normally deal with the Miyazu and Anozu castles, securing Kuwana and Suruga and perhaps even sending some reinforcements to Gifu castle(or try to lift its siege if the Tokugawa player hits there first). In any case, the Ishida player needs to establish a steady flow of reinforcements gathering(I prefer to do this at Osaka normally)and using the main roads to move where necessary as fast as possible.

The main mission of this force is defensive- clear the valuable area A for Ishida and keep it clean from enemy forces. If, now, the opposite player is showing hesitation or he has opened his forces to the east, the possibilities for aggressive movement are two, threatening area D and securing the Fukushima entry point and Okazaki castle before moving through area B.

The eastern front

To the east now, things are quite difficult for Ishida- he is fully surrounded by Tokugawa forces and he is in big danger of seeing his forces being fully wiped out at some point.

The easy(and perhaps even orthodox) way: The forces in the east sit still and wait to meet their doom trying to delay it as much as possible while all the movement happens for Ishida in the west.

If, now, the player wants to make his forces more annoying for his opponent, here are his options:

The Uesugi clan


The Uesugi begin with a significant force in Aizu, where they also have a castle. From there they can

a. move to Shirakawa and then, if the cards allow it, even threaten and take the Date reinforcements entry point. This will need most probably to win a significant battle or two but if they win, the Tokugawa player needs to commit a lot of units from other areas to take control of area C and in any case it will take him much time to do it.

b. move to Niigata, either in full force or leaving a block or two in their castle in order to speed up his moving forces,delay their opponent and force him to spend cards in order to take it. From there they can move towards area D or even deal with any kind of situation that takes place in Ueda castle

c. should Date sit still or move to the north, they can even move towards Edo thus threatening Tokugawas’ reinforcements entry point, especially if the forces starting there have moved far to the west already. This can happen either directly or, better, after finishing successfully mission a.

The Ueda castle


Should the Ishida player decide to use the forces in the Ueda caste for a mission other than delaying the Tokugawa clan’s approach to area A through the Nakasendo road, here are some of his possibilities:

a. move towards area C to reinforce the Uesugi clan(perhaps leaving a block behind to still delay the fall of the castle as much as possible).

b. enter area D, either by themselves if the Maeda forces have moved towards area A or by connecting with the Uesugi clan at Takeda thus building together a significant force.

c. move west to meet/reinforce their allies there, either by main road or, if the enemy is already blocking their way, through turning at Arato towards Matsumoto.

d. a weird possibility and unlikely to happen but if Tokugawa has moved west via Tokaido road in full force and Maeda is the one who is threatening the castle from the north(or even not), the small force can maybe threaten Edo, perhaps together with Uesugi forces to make things more serious there.

The Gifu castle


If this small force survives the first move of Tokugawa or even if it is reinforced early and the Ishida player is in an appetite for unorthodox play, well, things are pretty surrealistic here but we need to see all possibilities.

a. First and most important, if the Fukushima clan moves towards area A through Kuwana, if the Ishida player doesn’t feel the need to use the Gifu garrison to reinforce Kyoto they might just threat the Fukushima entry point in Kiyosu and even take the Okazaki castle. For sure they will be wiped out after a round or two, but if the player sees a good reason to do it, the distance is for sure tempting.

b. move towards the area D entry point at Tsuruga, an important area by itself.

c. move east to reinforce the Ueda castle forces if they still exist when they arrive or with the further aim to take part in the force gathering in Takeda as it was explained before.

Needless to say, they can take part in cleaning or defending area A in any way their commander decides to use them if there is a need.

Generally speaking, while Ishida knows what to do in area A from the beginning and needs to move very fast there, in the east he may need to see how Tokugawa will act first and respond accordingly. Especially how will Tokugawa decide to use his forces starting in Edo and Kanazawa can offer Ishida good ideas on how to annoy him the most in his rear. Using the word “rear” may sound irrelevant in a civil war game where the opponent forces are mixed together but as I’ve learned to see it so far, the “neck” of the map(Tsuruga-Sawayama-Kuwana)is actually the “front” around which all the important clash is happening, especially in the beginning. Both players are really trying to clean their territories and gather as many forces as possible in order to give a decisive strike to their opponent in this area and since Tokugawa has a big area to clean and long distances to cover, Ishida must make good use of his forces in the east and do his best to prevent him from doing so. If he manages to do that, perhaps he can then push through area B chasing his opponent.

Tokugawa opening moves


Tokugawa has pretty large concentrations spread across the map- as we said before, how he will decide to use each one of them will decide the nature of the game.

The Fukushima forces


Like the Ishida forces starting in area A, Tokugawa can’t think of too much here. The most surprising and unorthodox move would be to move them to the east through area B, but this is pretty unlikely to happen. I have seen them retreating to a secure place to the east couple of times, only to return when the cards allow it.
Otherwise, their initial targets are two: attacking the Gifu castle and controlling Kuwana(if they do it fast enough they can prevent Ishida from taking Anotsu castle, which is very good for them). From there on, they can(they MUST) generally disturb Ishida in area A and wait for reinforcements to arrive to help them do that.


The Tokugawa forces in Edo


Tokugawa begins the campaign in Edo with a pretty large force- 6 blocks. To maintain their speed, he may spread them but he can also choose to move full force, especially in area B where the main roads will help them move fast enough. So we have the following options:

a. take the Tokaido road and move west to go meet the Fukushima clan and fight in the asea A border.

b. take the Nakasendo road, either to attack and take Ueda castle(may need some time to do that if the defenders remain there)or leaving the task to the Maeda clan and keep moving west. Should the Tokugawa player want to secure his leader, he may move him to the north towards area D, which is normally a pretty safe territory for the Tokugawa player in the beginning of the game.

c. send forces to help the Date clan clear area C and wipe the Uesugi clan out. This has many benefits, but also commits a significant force to the east leaving Ishida more loose in the west. If Tokugawa chooses this path, he must use the Maeda clan plus reinforcements to go west in support of the Fukushima clan.

The Date clan


Date are the ones who clearly need to Deal with the Uesugi in order to gain full control of area C. Any movement towards the east will take very long time. So two are the main options here(apart from sitting still and wait for reinforcements to arrive):

a. take Shirakawa and either wait there for reinforcements from Edo or push to take Aizu castle if the Uesugi have chosen to move to the north.

b. move north, either to meet the Maeda clan in Niigata or perhaps “sandwich” the Uesugi with a force moving in C from Edo.

If both options go well, the Date can move towards Takeda and from there on futher to the west through any path they will choose. Moving south is also a long path but it will offer no benefits on the way like the one in the north.

The Maeda clan


How the Maeda clan will choose to move can largely determine what is better for the Ishida player to do with his forces in the east. He mainly has two options, moving east or west, and a third one of spreading his forces to both sides. Let’s see what the different paths offer as short term objectives:

a. Move to the very important Tsuruga area and from then threaten all the important targets that are close, together of course with the Fukushima force that starts the game close by. The ultimate goal, of course, is to penetrate the all-important for Ishida area A.

b. Move to the east, which offers two options itself. b1 is to go south and deal with the ueda castle(if the defenders wait there in full force they may need some reinforcements or a very good hand of cards to do it alone) and b2 is to continue moving west and join the Date clan in area C against the Uesugi.

So while Date and Fukushima know more or less what to do, Maeda and Tokugawa need to coordinate their movements and objectives - moving them both towards area C will leave Ishida party in A, while moving everything towards A must make sure to kill Ishida fast because his forces will be more loose to cause damage in C and other important areas like D and the area around Edo.

While all this may sound very well organized, the reality most possibly will be total chaos as the opposing forces will try to prevent each other from achieving their goals. I repeat, it is much better to know at least what one would like to do in the beginning as the game is short, the movement is slow and it is very easy for a new player to see his forces rush in one part of the map in order to help the ones in the other who fight desperately for their survival but the distance suddenly will seem much longer that what it was thought to be in the beginning.

The type of victory one will try to achieve can also largely decide the initial use of his forces- it is much different to move towards the enemy leader than to claim production centers and castles.

The important thing as I mentioned in the beginning and as I hope it is apparent now is not the initial objective of each force independently but rather the combination of them that must be harmonic and combine many different goals rather than doing just whatever because the initial setup looks chaotic and perplexed anyway. Wherever the opponent moves in the beginning thus revealing his short term objectives as we saw them here, will leave behind him areas open and vulnerable that we can exploit(....having, though, to also sacrifice something of our own).
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Ik ben een kleine boefje
Spain
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2006/2011 (Amsterdam - Maastricht - Apeldoorn - Den Haag -Delft) Vijf jaar dat ik ga nooit vergeten.
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Excellent sir. The biggest fear I have with Sekigahara is its replayability value, and such posts make me think that the game is actually more replayable than I thought.
 
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Roger Greenwood
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The game is very high on replayability. The cards in hand force different strategies and there are a vast number of opening combinations of cards.
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Josh Lacey
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Gelete wrote:
Excellent sir. The biggest fear I have with Sekigahara is its replayability value, and such posts make me think that the game is actually more replayable than I thought.


Not to mention there is variance in starting armies due to the random draw on top of the standard forces.
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