Saturday, December 31, 2011

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If you know your enemy and know yourself, you will not be imperilled by a hundred battles. If you do not know the others but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one. If you do not know the enemy and do not know yourselves you will be in danger in every battle.

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Shogun Total War is set in the Sengoku period of Japanese history. Now, unless you’re a Japanese historian and recognise that this means The Country at War, that probably doesn’t mean very much to you. By the time you’re playing the game (and if you’ve read at least some of this manual), you will realise that this is one of the most dramatic and exciting times in the history of Japan. In fact, it’s one of the most dramatic and exciting periods of history anywhere in the world!

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Act after having made assessments. The one who first knows the measure of far and near wins � this is the rule of armed struggle

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the space of a little of over one hundred years, samurai armies fought for control of Japan. They were lead by the daimyo, a group of hugely powerful warlords who would have been kings and princes in their own right anywhere else in the world. Some of the daimyo were undoubtedly heroes, and some were undoubtedly utter monsters, but all of them were vastly ambitious! You’re about to be pitched into the middle of this epic struggle between the daimyo. The prize is to become Shogun, the military ruler of Japan, and the controller of the nation’s destiny. The shogun is a more powerful man than the Emperor himself. The reward is tremendous, but the price of failure is death for you and your adopted clan!

To perceive victory when it is known to all is not really skilful… It does not take much strength to lift a hair, it does not take sharp eyes to see the sun and moon, it does not take sharp ears to hear the thunderclap.

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

History and warfare doesn’t happen by accident. You’ll understand the game much better if you read at least some of this manual. You don’t have to remember everything (there’s no test on this stuff, we promise), but if you do know why daimyo A hates daimyo B but is willing to do a deal with clan C from how real history worked itself out, you’ll have a lot more fun while you’re playing the game. At the very least, it’ll explain who all these people are, and who knows, it might even help you win Shogun Total War! Think like a daimyo, and you’ll win like a daimyo!

Those who know when to fight and when not to fight are victorious.

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The game has been designed and programmed to think like the daimyo and follow the ideas of Sun Tzu, the Chinese author of The Art of War. If you do the same and follow his principles of warfare, you will triumph and end up as the new Shogun!

When on surrounded ground, plot. When on deadly ground, fight.

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

So trust no one. Keep your friends close… but remember to keep your enemies closer still!

So who was Sun Tzu?

All through the Shogun Total War game and this manual, you’ll find references to � and quotes from � Sun Tzu, and most especially his book, The Art of War. So why was a Chinese writer who’d been dead for centuries so important to the samurai?

In ancient times skilful warriors first made themselves invincible, and then watched for vulnerability in their opponents.

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu was a contemporary of the great philosopher Confucius, and lived around 500 B.C. in the kingdom of Qi, which is roughly the modern Shandong province in Eastern China. During his life, China was being torn apart by a series of wars as lesser states fought for dominance. None of these states recognised the central authority of the Zhou Imperial dynasty any more. As you’ll see later, this is a similar state of affairs to the Sengoku period in Japan.

Sun Tzu was therefore quite familiar with warfare in all its forms. He is supposed to have written his book for Hel├╝, the King of Wu during 514-46 B.C. He ruled part of the lower Yangtze Valley and was locked in constant warfare with the rival kingdom of Yue. Other than that, little is known about Sun Tzu’s life. Biographies from as little as 00 years after he was alive don’t include much more definite information than that, other than repeating the tale of how Sun Tzu convinced his king that he knew how to train soldiers.

The story goes that Sun Tzu claimed he could train anyone to obey military orders, and so the King challenged him to turn the court concubines into soldiers. Naturally, the women were far from being any kind of soldiers (much less good ones) and disobeyed all of Sun Tzu’s orders. He explained his instructions carefully and patiently and tried again, with equally disastrous results. Having done all that he could as a commander, he ordered that the leading concubines should be put to death, as once orders have been clearly explained it is the duty of the soldiers to obey! The King wasn’t very happy about the idea his two favourite concubines being executed, and told Sun Tzu that he really did believe he could train troops using his methods. Sun Tzu replied that once a general is directing his troops, he should reject further interference from his sovereign. It’s the ruler’s job to find the best general, and then let him get on with winning a war. The women were put to death!

All at once the rest of the concubines suddenly discovered that they could, oddly enough, obey any orders to the letter. And although he was rather put out by the death of his favourite courtesans, the King of Wu recognised that Sun Tzu knew what he was talking about.

What is known for certain about Sun Tzu comes from his key work on the theory and practice of warfare, The Art of War. He was obviously a clever man, a clear thinker and someone with practical military experience. Sun Tzu took his accumulated knowledge of how to fight wars and applied careful thought to the problems that he had found. The product of all his thought was the earliest book in the whole world on what might be termed the philosophy and practice of warfare.

His book, however, is more than just a how to win strategy and tactics handbook on Chinese warfare. Although a study of warfare, The Art of War applies to situations on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aims are invincibility, victory without battle and unassailable strength through understanding every aspect of conflict. This is a remarkable set of claims for any book. What is even more remarkable is that The Art of War achieves all it sets out to do! It lays out strategy in such a clear and wise fashion that at times it almost seems too straightforward and obvious � almost too simple � to be right.

Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the controllers of your opponent’s fate…

� Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Shogun Total War uses the strategies and lessons found in The Art of War as a major part of game play. The game has been programmed to follow Sun Tzu’s precepts because the daimyo and their samurai did so too. Over the centuries, the Japanese have had a long tradition of taking the best and most useful ideas from Chinese culture while managing to keep their independence. The Art of War was one of the many books that arrived from the mainland and was seized upon by the Japanese for its good sense and usefulness. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why the Sengoku period was as violent as it became. Had only one of the great daimyo warlords read and learned from Sun Tzu, the wars would have been over very quickly. However, they had all learned from reading the same master of strategy.

The samurai took Sun Tzu’s book and used its wisdom in their many wars, but they also brought their own unique Japanese perspective to the principles of warfare. In the process they gave warfare a character all their own

Cutting down the enemy is the Way of strategy, and there is no need for many refinements of it.

� Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings, The Wind Book

Sun Tzu would not necessarily have approved of Musashi’s apparently simplistic attitude at all!

Although times and weaponry have changed over the centuries, the problems confronting military commanders have not, and Sun Tzu remains as relevant today as he was when he first formulated his thoughts, and when he was read assiduously by the samurai. It is still considered essential reading by modern military strategists. Even today, The Art of War remains one of the definitive guides to warfare, and has been read by great commanders the world over.

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