Played a game of Shogun (one of my favorites), two nights back, and had the following issue: Farmer Armies become something of a nonentity, come the second year. For instance, when we cleared the tower, at the end of the game, only one green cube came out.
I understand that Rice Revolts in the first winter scoring round are the only real way of restocking the Farmer Armies in the cube tower...but most players are too cautious to fail to feed more than one or two provinces, so there's not a lot of restocking actually going on.
This, despite the fact that we (incorrectly) play that the second, not the third, tax on a province scores you a Revolt vs. two Farmer Armies.
To the end of changing this, I wonder if anyone has a good idea for restocking the tower with green cubes.
A few options I'm kicking around in my head:
Option 1): Throw one green cube in with every attack on an opponent's territory in which a revolt marker is not present. In cases where the Farmers will fight for the owner of a territory, make them a factor in every fight (not just 'any that happen to come out').
----Down side: Highly favors defense. I'm not sure this is a terrible thing...many of our fights don't come down to one-cube victories...but there's only two attacks per year as it is.
Option 2): At the end of the Winter Scoring Round, add an additional 10 Farmer Armies (green cubes) to the Tower, the same as in 'seeding the tower' for setup. Discard any that fall back out, leaving any player-colored cubes in the tray.
----Down side: Not effective enough? Generally, most of what goes into the tower (mine anyway) comes back out. I doubt this would add more than, say, three Farmer Armies to the tower...and has the bonus down side of previewing the first few attacks in favor of whomever's cubes come out with the Farmers, to be used in the next battle.
Option 3): Throw one green cube in for every fight, regardless. Revolt Markers change the allegiance of the Farmer army from Defender to Attacker. Thematically, I kind of like the idea of the Farmers fighting for Invaders of territories whose owners they're upset with.
----Down side: Favors Attack on prime money/rice territories. Of course, such territories already have targets painted on them, and should be well-defended. *shrug*
What say you?
I think there is a thematic justification for the decreasing strength of farmers. The game is supposed to be about the consolidation of power by the Shogun candidates. In the beginning, the candidates take several of the neutral provinces. Historically, as the different warlords got more powerful and conquered more of the neutral regions, the farmers would be less likely to resist. First, it would become quickly obvious that resistance was very unlikely to succeed, and second, it would be more appealing to attach yourself to one of these candidates as they continued their ascent to power. At least, that's the historic rationale I've always used to explain how farmers' roles decrease in the game.
That said, I would play with any of your variants at least once. My preference would be your first one. The second one makes me a little bit shy, as it may punish the first attacker in the second round.
I don't really see much need in fiddling with this aspect; in the second year the primary obstacles should be the other players' armies, not the peasants.
Still, if I would choose one of your options to play with myself, I would choose the second, as it has the least impact on game strategy while still helping to accomplish the task (generating more greens in the tower). The first option favors the defence too much, as you said, while the third doesn't quite feel right considering that provinces that get conquered keep all the revolt markers. If the peasants are angry no matter who's dominating them, why would they risk their lives to help another warlord who's just going to keep abusing them?