Aside from being one of my favorite strategy
games, Shogun - Total War also features my favorite video game character of all time: a nameless Samurai
general, who served as an honor guard for my Daimyo
It was my first campaign. I had chosen to play as Clan Uesugi, starting out at the north and east end of the map. I had, from the start, relinquished my holdings in Shinano and Hida, preferring the defensive strength and rich farmlands of Mutsu. For years within the game, I had fought bitterly with Clan Hojo, them trying to gain control of Mutsu, and me trying to gain control of the river province of Musashi, with Kozuke and Shimotsuke trading hands in between the brutal battles.
Our strategies were as different as could be. The Daimyo of Clan Hojo was recruiting conscripts as fast as he could muster them. Peasant spearmen (called "ashigaru") and archers made up the backbone of his armies, and since they were so cheap to recruit, arm, train, and maintain, I was commonly contending with forces of well over 5,000 men. I, on the other hand, went with a quality over quantity approach. My weaponsmiths and armories were hands down the best in Japan. I had the finest trainers in the land, the finest metals, and the rich farmlands and gold mines of my territories gave me plenty of money for recruitment. Displeased with the unreliability of peasant conscripts, I had nary a one recruited in my army, an arrangement which I'm sure was more than amenable to the peasants. Nay, my armies were held together with forces of naginata, well-trained pikemen with well-forged heavy armor, as compared to the thin clothing of the ashigaru. Backing them were the best-trained archers, along with hundreds of heavy calvary, warrior monks, and, of course, my prized unit.
They fought alongside my Daimyo almost from the very beginning. In Shogun, when a unit wins battles, their general gains honour, which increases the effectiveness of the unit. My samurai were very, very honorable. Over time, they began to get impetuous, almost to the point of being irritating. Many a time, I fought a battle where I had been keeping the samurai unit as a reserve, only to look up and find them smashing into the enemy units, cutting with wild abandon, and steadfastly ignoring my orders to disengage. Eventually, the brash tactics of the samurai cut down on their numbers, leaving only the general still alive out of the original sixty men. I kept him next to my Daimyo, trying to keep him alive until I could recruit him another unit to command. Increased rebel activity near my recruiting and training center, the small island of Sado, however, kept me from doing this for some time.
Then came the battle that secured this lone samurai's place as the most stupendously badass character I've ever seen in a video game.
It was a brisk spring morning when Daimyo Hojo led a force of over three thousand peasants to attack Mutsu. I was defending with a force of around nine hundred. I immediately found a handy hillside to defend my territory, forcing the enemy to work uphill. My naginata were packed into tight ranks in front of my spread-out archers, with my warrior monks on my left and right flanks, prepared to sweep around and decimate the enemy conscripts. My army stood patiently in formation, the very epitome of discipline.
The enemy army came into view, stretched out in lines as far as the eye could see. A few scattered units of archers fired arrows ineffectively at my naginata as the peasants began their long charge up the hill. I waited patiently, then sent the order for my archers to fire. Rain upon rain of arrows poured down on the peasants, slowing their climb. Finally, the ashigaru hit the naginata like an ocean wave over rocks, and like a wave over rocks, they broke. The heavily armored naginata cheerfully ignored their ineffectual attacks, and tore through their ranks with glee. The warrior monks were flanking around, and I could see that the enemies morale was faltering.
I sprung the final phase of my trap. Heavy calvary poured out of the trees at the top of the hill, charging into the already faltering enemy forces. It was over before they even got there, as the enemy routed before the horsemen even made it to them.
I chuckled as the army turned to its heels and ran, and recalled my forces to their original formations. Some generals liked to chase down the opposing army as they ran, but I'd defeated many an army by pretending to rout, only to rally on the other side of the map, destroying the newly fatigued and disorganized forces. So I didn't hold much stock in chase tactics.
Once the last horseman had stopped in its formation, I immediately noticed that something was wrong. I could still hear the clash of steel, and the sounds of men dying, and my 'battle active' indicator was lit up. What was going on?
I quickly sent my omnipresent eye across the battlefield, surveying the fleeing troops. All of them were still fleeing for their lives, so they hadn't rallied. I then checked my units, one by one, to make sure all of them had gotten the command to resume formation. They were all there, except... Shit.
I clicked on the unit listing for my single samurai, who I had explicitly ordered to stay at my Daimyo's side, and sent the command to bring my viewpoint straight to him. There he was, katana in hand, miles away from the rest of his army, running like a madman after the nearly 2,000 enemy troops as they fled for their life before him. I frantically issued the command for him to disengage, but he just wouldn't obey, opting instead to wildly chase an entire enemy army back across the map and back into their own territory, hacking them down as he went. There wasn't a thing I could do to stop him. All I could do was watch helplessly as this swarm of enemy troops retreated, my single samurai killing them en masse the entire way. Occasionally, a group of twenty or so men would turn and try to stop him, but he would just slice through them, and keep right on chasing. He was on their heels until the last enemy troop left the map, and I imagine he took the time to yell "and stay out!" in some archaic Japanese dialect before hiking all the way back to the rest of my army to clean the blood of his sword.
When the battle totals came up, I had, of course won. I fell into fits of laughter, though, when I saw the kill total for the lone samurai. He had, completely solo, killed one hundred and ninety seven men. That's right: 197. Over three units had fallen to this man alone.
Eventually, he was killed in combat. He single-handedly attacked two hundred horsemen, against my orders, of course, and had killed almost sixty of them before they finally managed to drop him. It was almost as if his death were an omen; not long after, Mutsu fell. In the attempt to retake it, my Daimyo was killed, and with no heir, my Clan was reduced to rebels and outlaws. The leader of the Hojo Clan eventually became Shogun.
I'm told this entire scenario was due to a bug which allowed Clan Hojo to recruit completely unrealistic numbers of conscript troops.