This article deals with opening strategies for the Chosokabe Clan in the Sengoku variant. For the uninformed, Sengoku is a historical transplant of Diplomacy to medieval Japan, during one of the most interesting periods in all of history, IMHO. To take a look at the map and house rules, visit the sengoku homepage at http://home.earthlink.net/~bthester777/sengokuhome001.htm.
Assuming you've got the map on screen in front of you, and at least browsed the house rules, most of this will be simple to follow. Players have typically avoided the Chosokabe assignment like the plague, and it's fairly easy to see why. They are surrounded on three sides, and isolated on an island (Shikoku). The knee-jerk reaction for most players has been to try and grab the two SCs closest to them, Bingo and Bungo (don't laugh, that's really what they're called), and then sail south to wreck the Shimazu clan alone. I've seen this done with mixed results, depending upon the generosity (to be read, skill) of the Mori and Miyoshi players. The following is a very tasty alternative strategy called the Lotus Blossom.
w/Mori - Assure him that you're going to do exactly what 90% of Chosokabe players do: Take Bingo and Bungo, then build a fleet and an army to sail south and convoy over to Kyushu (Shimazu's home island). Don't actually do a single word of that after the part about taking Bingo and Bungo.
w/Shimazu - Promise him whatever it takes to get him to send both fleets around the left side of Kyushu, and not bounce you in Bungo. Assure him that you are attacking Mori, and that Bungo is the only territory you want on Kyushu.
w/Miyoshi - Smile, kowtow, promise never to enter Osaka Bay (that should be enough to get him off your back), and then ask Oda to keep him busy for a year or two.
w/Oda - Ask him to keep Miyoshi busy for a year or two. : )
w/Takeda and Uesugi - Try to get them tangled in Musashi bounces so that they can't effectively attack Oda for a few years.
Now, on to the actual moves.
Spring 1565 (the first year)
Chosokabe Mori Shimazu
F Iyo - Inland Sea F Iwami - S. Sea of Japan F Satsuma to E. China Sea
F Tosa - Bungo Straits A Hagato - Iwami F Osumi - Satsuma
F Inland Sea - Bingo, F Bungo Straits to Bungo.
Hopefully, you were able to convince Mori to swing F South Sea of Japan to the fertile fishing grounds of Wakasa Bay in the fall. Mori A Iwami should have claimed Izumo. Shimazu should claim Chikugo, with an eye to neutral Hizen and the Korea Strait next year. A best case scenario has Mori building a fleet Iwami, but much more likely an army Iwami or Fleet Hagato. Try to get Shimazu to build a fleet in Satsuma, not an army or Fleet Osumi if it's at all possible.
F Bingo supports F Iyo - Inland Sea, F Iyo - Inland Sea, A Tosa - Iyo, F Bungo - Suo Sea.
The ruse is up. Mori will probably soil his diapers, if he didn't already suspect something after the builds. Right now, you're going to know if this will work or not. If after the build, Mori is still convinced you're going after Shimazu, he will probably build a fleet in Hagato, and try to beat them to the Korea Strait and Tsushima. That's perfect for you. If he stayed at home with the build in Spring 1566 though, it's time to abandon the Lotus Blossom before it's too late, and convert against Miyoshi or Shimazu. The ideal target here is Hagato, and if he's sitting there, especially with support, you've only got 50-50 (or worse) odds of successfully convoying onto the mainland. If he's in the Korea Strait, the convoy route is clear, since Suo Sea cannot be dislodged, nor Suo territory covered. See the following for an explanation why:
Fleet Suo Sea C A Iyo - Suo, F Inland Sea S A Iyo - Suo, A Iyo - Suo, F Bingo holds.
If you reach this point successfully, it's probably all over for Mori, and Shimazu as well if he doesn't act fast. Either the two units bordering Hagato will take it early next year, or you can force your way into the Korea Strait (via Chikuzen) and then to Mori's north coast with your fleets. Shimazu is too slow to fight his way past neutral Hizen and into the strategic Korea Strait before you can get one or the other. It's then a simple matter to swallow Shimazu whole bolstered by the Mori homeland builds. However, this plan is far from a sure thing. Mori has to fall for it from the very beginning. Even more importantly, Shimazu has to sweep the left side of Kyushu and allow you control of Bungo. Miyoshi has to stay disinterested or otherwise engaged throughout. Fortunately, each of these feats is quite possible, and a master diplomat just might manage all three at once.
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