“As one man can defeat ten men, so can one thousand men defeat ten thousand.
However, you can become a master of strategy by training alone with a sword, so that you can understand the enemy’s stratagems, his strength and resources, and come to appreciate how to apply strategy to beat ten thousand enemies.” From the Book of Fire by Miyamoto Musashi.
In Total War Battles: Shogun it is all about utilizing limited resources in such a manner that a small force can beat a larger opponent. Placement is as important, as having the correct armor and weaponry.
“Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good. Timing and rhythm are also involved in the military arts, shooting bows and guns, and riding horses. In all skills and abilities there is timing… From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy. It is especially important to know the background timing, otherwise your strategy will become uncertain.” From the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.
There is a time for rushing the opponent, but there is also a time to stand back, wait and focus. In Total War Battles: Shogun you have to manage your buildings, and make sure that there are always new troops ready to enter the battlefield. This is a game focused only on battles, and making sure that you defend your commander. Not too far in essence from Samurai Bloodshow, but replacing the cards with real time strategy elements such as buildings instead. To make an even simpler description of the game it is what would spawn if Shogun: Total War had a child with Plants vs. Zombies, and the child was delivered by Command and Conquer.
You can build a number of different buildings giving you access to new troop types such as archers, and heavy cavalry. Buildings also generate income that is needed to purchase troops. There is also a cap on the number of units you can command making it vital to have a proper strategy to what units you put on the battlefield. Once placed a unit will act on its own in self-defence if attacked, or attack if an opposing force wanders within range. You can control the units by selecting them. Halt, and march are the basic commands. You can also change lane up, and down to move the units across the battlefield. A unit can not walk backwards, and it is vital not to rush them out, as you can get them lost behind enemy lines not able to defend your buildings.
How different units have strengths, and weaknesses depending on the opponent is highly logical and taken from real life. Spears are effective against cavalry, and arrows are effective against infantry. Moving your units in coherent larger units is a great strategy to keep your archers safe, and making sure that you aren’t easily flanked. The game does a good job by giving you different objectives, challenges and limitations that makes it impossible to use one winning strategy for long.
Those who feel let down that the title is not at all close to the large scale strategy game Shogun: Total War are still in for a great piece of strategy gaming. The Risk style elements are nowhere to be found, but instead you get a quick on your toes strategy game that is a lot of fun.
There is multiplayer, but sadly only limited to two players on the same device. You get a limited number of units to send out in battle against your foe. Both have control over movement, but the game is limited to only the movement of troops. I found it to be slightly lacklustre, and I would love to see some online multiplayer with the full RTS experience of buildings, and resource management.
When it comes to the presentation this is a game that really shines when it comes to the sound. I highly enjoy the Japanese strings, and other arrangements that help setting the mood. The graphics are good, but I kind of expected more. I am playing it on a New iPad, and I am not sure if this is retina resolution or not. Having the story told through still images, and text is ok. The characters aren’t that memorable though, and merely serve as a backdrop for the excellent gameplay.
”In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.” From the Book of Water by Miyamoto Musashi
Total War Battles: Shogun is an excellent strategy game for iOS devices. There is a load of missions in the campaign, and depending on your skill you can get anywhere between 12-20 hours out of it. The multiplayer is more of a distraction for the bus ride than a reason in itself to get the game. If you are looking for a strategy game that is easy to get into, and still have a lot of depth Total War Battles: Shogun comes highly recommended.
Total War Battles: Shogun is out now as a universal app for $6.99 from SEGA. Get it on the