Nobunaga's Ambition: Rise to Power (NARTP) (PS2) FAQ
Version 1.0
07/03/2008

By Leif Powers
E-mail address: LEPmf@yahoo.com

This document is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents 

1.  Introduction
2.  Grand Strategic Overview
3.  Getting the Second Fief
4.  About Officers
5.  About Battle Skills
6.  About Items
7.  About Ranks and Titles
8.  About Troop Unit Types and Armaments
9.  Tactics for Use on the Battlefield
10. Fief Management
11. About Operations
12. About Diplomacy
13. About Strategy Phase Tactics


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1. Introduction

I put a few weeks' worth of effort into this game. In that time, I did a 
number of experiments as well as the usual playthroughs. With this FAQ,
domination of Japan should be straightforward...unless you are the Akizuki :(

Reasons to play this game:

- Great music
- Battle system that doesn't require constant micromanagement
- Wide variety of strategic and tactical options, from marriage alliances to
pillaging
- Lots of interesting Sengoku-period historical details

Reasons not to play this game:

- You are a perfectionist (many many knobs)
- You like up-tempo battles but still want lots of control
- The enemy AI can make ridiculous decisions
- Going from one fief to unification of Japan is a week-long affair, if you're
lucky


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2. Grand Strategic Overview

This game is about soldiers, officers, and muskets. If you have a lot of 
troops, great generals, and 10000 muskets, Japan is yours. The problem is how 
to get them if you're the Akizuki, the lowliest daimyo in the land of the 
rising sun. Winning with them on the hardest difficulty may be impossible.

Expansion is foremost for the minor daimyo, who can't even build enough
barracks to hold enough troops to take on their neighbors. Taking on the
weakest enemies will lift a number of the most oppressive limits, including
the number of buildings in a fief and the availability of ronin to join your
growing empire. 

As you expand your conquest, the biggest problem is defense against the
rival powers in the region. Alliances and diplomacy can play a big role in 
buying time for your manpower and officer corps to develop. 

Finally, once you have a few dozen solid officers in your stable, and you
can send them all out every turn with full troops, success in major battles 
against the great powers will drive your imperial expansion. That success is
driven by muskets, which allow you to eliminate the human waves that the
famous warlords send at you. In the Kessen, where subtle moves are negated
by the mass of the forces, the side with superior firearms will win by
raining down bullets on the melee units locked in battle. 


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3. Getting the Second Fief

Getting the second fief is the hardest part of NARTP. Even if you have
excellent officers, you have limited troops and face time pressure to expand
before the famous warlords gobble up all the weaker players.

The first order of business is to expand your troop capacity. Many fiefs 
start with under 2000 men. At least one of your orders on every turn must
be the expansion of the garrisons. The glacial pace of troop replenishment
and the near-futility of the Draft option (even if you had it) mean that
getting headroom for army growth is the biggest obstacle in your imperial 
expansion.

Next, you evaluate your officer corps. Most minor daimyo have few officers 
over 70 LEA, so unless you are not attacking that turn, you should never use 
these officers for building or operations other than war. 
What you want to pinpoint is the crest of your fighting ability, when your 
troop levels catch up to your officer numbers. There's little point in waiting 
for inferior generals to join the battle, since they can't do much damage in 
proportion to the troops they will lose in the fighting. 

Since minor daimyo start out with 2 orders, that's it. Fighting and 
building immediate war capacity are your objectives.

The other activities in this phase are officer recruitment (should you be
so lucky), mending relations with "Bad" relationship daimyo on your borders, 
and buying muskets from visiting Merchants. All three of these activities
will pay huge dividends in the very near future.

Once your strength in numbers can match the enemy's, or if you have more than
1000 muskets, you go to war.

When you go to war, you have two targets:
1. The weakest daimyo
2. A recently conquered fief. Such fiefs lack the watchtower
and allow you to immediately plunder the city without the obstacle of
very difficult field battles.  

In the first phase of war, you attempt to kill as many enemy troops as 
possible. This will give you the ability to focus exclusively on plundering
if you cannot yet take the castle, and on the structures of the castle when
you can. Another advantage of eliminating units is the prospect of capturing 
one of their officers. Should you succeed in capturing a solid general, you 
can then execute him/her and increase your advantage in the next battle 
against that clan. 

After weakening the enemy's ability to resist, you will then take on the
castle with many spears and few bows/muskets. You must be conservative with
reforming your squads because of your overall low troop levels. Even so, for
most weaker fiefs, taking the castle will be difficult, but straightforward
once you have the necessary manpower advantage to avoid resistance around the
first tower. 
This however, does not apply when the weakest fief has a large castle such
as a four-story keep. In this case, you must plunder the town and strengthen
yourself as much as possible with muskets and items. Once the town has been
demolished, the people of the fief will often rise up and destroy the
offending fortifications. After that, the conquest is straightforward.


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4. About Officers

In the middle and late stages of the game, officers distinguish the unifiers
from the pretenders. 

A daimyo can never have too many high-Leadership officers. An officer with 
twice the LEA and equipped with melee weapons will be four times as effective 
as the generic officer - twice as effective on the attack, twice as effective 
in defense. For officers with high LEA, who will always be involved in battles, 
the next most important stat is INT, for the resistance to confusion and
tactics. 

For the capital of your territory, having the highest ehhh LEA/high POL
officers ensures that you make the most out of your limited orders and cash. 

Recruiting officers is simple. Match the family name, affinity, religion, and 
favor high deeds and POL ratings. 

When capturing officers during or after battle, luck plays a big factor in
whether they will accept a post in your army. Even the most loyal and 
accomplished generals can be had if fate so holds. 

Supposedly, the officers from the Tohoku (northeast Japan, towards Hokkaido)
and Hokuriku (adjacent to the Sea of Japan, top of the map) regions hold their
morale higher in snowy conditions. However, you'd be a fool to attack in the
snow. Even on Easy difficulty and with 8 officers, just marching across the
map will almost completely drain your morale. 

If you have powerful officers with low loyalty in your force, make sure
to reward them in some way before entrusting them with troops.


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5. About Battle Skills

Battle Skills are mostly useless because of the requirement of High morale,
which the attacker does not enjoy until the battle is all but decided.

Calm is the most useful of all skills. Muskets/rifles, both from buildings
and from troops, and Confuse skills swing the battle. By having high-INT
officers with Calm, sieges don't turn into debacles. 

Rally is the second most useful skill because it can be invoked at any
phase of the battle. In winter or monsoon season, it makes the difference
between victory and defeat. Beleaguered troops trapped by multiple enemy 
units can escape if Rallied early enough. 

Confuse is very useful for the defender. You wait until they get in range
of your towers and ranged attackers and let it rip. You can pull it out on 
offense as well with similarly devastating effects, particularly on officers 
fleeing to towers.

Charge is a very strong attack that seems to constantly bleed your morale.
If you can see the officer coming, it's often just as well to run away and
try to isolate the officer. 

Demolish is OK, but isn't that useful. 

Volley is probably decent, but it really suffers from the aforementioned
inability to invoke until the battle's over. 

Rampage is lethal, especially when the officer is Dosetsu Tachibana. The
morale penalty will wipe out massed mediocre units. Any officer with this
skill should be leading spears.

Taunt can be useful, but except when the officer to be lured is the enemy
commander and the castle is strong, it doesn't give you a big swing. 


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6. About Items

Items are usually not worth pursuing by themselves, mostly because of the
prohibitive cost. The Quality of the item you give your officer may even
end up hurting you later on with a loyalty penalty when you need to switch
him to something more useful, but less well-made. 

To acquire items, you plunder a fief and receive them as part of the
booty, or you buy them from a merchant. The merchant's selection will not
reflect any items you can't afford. I believe it's also possible to demand
Items in negotations, but have never tried it (or demanding Gold for that
matter). 

Items can bestow (almost?) any skill and can also provide other miscellaneous
bonuses. The best items are those with Calm, Rally, Dragoon, and Fieldgun
abilities. Unfortunately, the latter two tend to be pretty expensive. If your
daimyo is a high-LEA goat, there are ones to keep him alive longer. :)

Items are also useful in negotations with other daimyo. If you happen to have
a valuable item, it can turn a Neutral relationship into a Good one with no
other cash or time investment.  


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7. About Ranks and Titles

Ranks are pretty useless because they enhance POL. Most of the officers who
can receive Ranks are high-LEA individuals, who will be fighting and not
building. 

Titles, on the other hand, have excellent LEA bonuses. I find the best way to 
manage them is to capture the shogun and then loot all the titles. As is 
obvious, I have little taste for negotiations with the shogun, or any 
negotiations in general. Give them out as quickly as you can, unless you
are about to capture a big lot of high-LEA officers in a clan's final battle.


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8. About Troop Unit Types and Armaments

Spears/pikes are the best for taking down structures quickly. They also do
very well against troops. Your highest LEA officers should command these
units. Your highest clan-ranked officers should also lead these units if your
other officers can't command many troops.

Cavalry only excel in pursuit kills, which don't happen enough to
justify the disadvantages in melee combat, building demolition, and siege 
mobility. Sell your horses unless you plan to get dragoons.

Bows are what they are. Yeah, you want muskets. But you have bows. So that's
what you've got. Chump officers only.

Muskets/rifles deliver a decisive advantage in combat. The confusion that
they can deliver, as well as the incredible lethality (particularly against
small units) of each shot, make them the backbone of large armies. Getting
more muskets should be a key goal of the early and middle of the game. The
only disadvantage is that muskets are almost useless in monsoon season. 
Your commander (in big battles) and your weaker officers should carry the
muskets. 

Dragoons are fast muskets. Great for harassing pikemen. They can also confront
large formations snug against bases, take some ranged damage, then quickly
hurry back to the base to replenish troops. Given that these require muskets
and horses and an item, an 80s or 90s LEA officer is probably best for this
unit. When firing, particularly against commanders, a glitch occurs where
the enemy unit quickly loses troops and gets annihilated. In ~18
battles with Shigehide Suzuki, this happened about 3 times. 

Cannons/fieldguns are only good for taking down keeps. Slow, very
expensive, and weak against troops, the splash damage and big range only pays 
off against the large castles. They can confuse troops, but muskets do the job
just as well. That said, if you intend to take down Azuchi Castle without
burning the entire fief, bring fieldguns. In my very limited experience,
17 cannons are about as good as 10 fieldguns. This certainly justifies the
use of the fieldgun items. I recommend using low-to-mid 70s LEA officers to 
command the fieldguns.
Mind you, as you wheel up the guns, the enemy sometimes confronts you in the
field with lower troop levels than normal. You can't just bring the guns 
and a couple chump units to take down the castle.  

Of course, you should always bring a large number of ranged attackers into
a defense, and a large number of spears/pikes into a siege. For castle defense,
if you have the choice, have one or two solid, non-commander spear units, and 
make the rest ranged attackers. For field defense, it depends on who's
available. If you think you can take the enemy force head-on, bring the
standard field battle alignment of half and half. If your officers are clearly
inferior to theirs, bring as many muskets as possible and go for the commander
kill. For sieges, I like to go half and half, unless I know they have a lot
of troops. In that case, I'll swap in an extra ranged unit. Similarly, for 
field battles, once I have enough muskets, I'll go with 3 pikes and 5 rifles,
because there are just too many troops out there to effectively maneuver.


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9. Tactics for Use on the Battlefield

The game lets you cheat by seeing the orders of the enemy force in the L3
menu. Not really that useful, but sometimes it's enlightening. 

When on defense and facing a incredibly superior force, go for the home run.
Take all your spears and kamikaze their main base, without even attempting
to intercept the enemy force. Oftentimes, the enemy forces, even in field 
battles, will go demolish your own camp or castle instead of protecting their 
own. Even the Akizuki can reliably pull this off on Expert. 

If you have many muskets, letting the enemy capture one of your field bases can
be a brilliant move. Once the enemy captures a base, the commander will send
all units (including his own) into a headlong charge against your remaining
outposts. This means that you can either play for a commander kill, or you
can go for total annihilation by concentrating fire against the incoming
units. The keys to wiping out the entire army are a ton of muskets and 
good LEA officers blocking off the remaining bases from taking too much
damage. As the battle turns more and more in your favor, you'll need to 
start moving your units forward to prevent the last few formations from
retreating.  
This doesn't work so well in siege battles...:)

To draw out large forces from castles in a siege battle, start plundering
the fief. Then wait at the chokepoints and path-finding lanes with your
muskets. The enemy cavalry may as well bury their horses alive. Another
tactic involves moving your forces far enough out of the way of the main
camp to bait the enemy into leaving the castle and charging it.

On easier difficulties, it's possible to draw out the enemy commander or
other units from the castle walls by harassing them with bows. They will even
chase you all the way across the fief. 

When fighting in a Kessen, the commander kill works like a charm. If you have 
10000 muskets going after the commander, there's really not much they can do 
about it. 

Against superior forces, you can still go on the attack with massed muskets.
It usually takes some working, but eventually you can draw units out away
from the field bases for slaughter. 

Manipulate enemy forces by placing units well out of range, but in the vicinity
of the opposing field bases. There are several uses:
1. Force units to defend other bases and keep them out of the main fray.
Useful when you force high-LEA officers to stay put. 
2. Realign units for ranged attack away from bases and other ranged units.
3. When attacking the vulnerable flank base with most of your army, moving a 
unit or two to the other side keeps pesky cavalry from playing with your 
even more defenseless bases. 
4. Engage units in vulnerable positions as they attempt to shift defenses. 

When fighting large battles, heavily wound one unit and lower its morale. Then
as more powerful or more important (i.e. the enemy commander) units arrive,
the lesser unit will camp in the base, preventing the more important units
from recovering troops and morale.

Against Halls, it's easier to just destroy the Hall than it is to destroy the
interior tower. Similar considerations can apply at other levels of 
fortifications as well.

When taking on the big castles, make sure to bring your highest-clan-ranked
officers so that you can mass your troops and avoid slaughter via Confusion
from the blasted gunfire. 

Attack the adjacent fence instead of the gate when besieging castles. The
fence is weaker and will cause the main gate to also disappear when you
destroy it. This doesn't work well with cavalry...so use spears for crying out
loud. ^_^


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10. Fief Management

Declare as soon as possible to save the torment of constantly
re-stationing officers. This of course will weaken your defenses, but compared
to spending hours on swapping, it feels much better.
However, when preparing for Kessen, you should re-station your best generals
to lead your fiefs. 

Delegation isn't too nice. The random officers in whose persons you have 
vested responsibility can often let their fiefs' order deteriorate and cause 
problems. Of course, the alternative doesn't make sense when you have more
than 15 fiefs.

When seeking to prevent tumult in your fiefs, make sure the order is above
60. 70 is better, but the peasants get quite testy below 60. 

Identify all fiefs with smiths and make sure they get juiced up.

Management of the capital involves ensuring that it can hold all 20,000 troops
you really need to be comfortably sending out full assault teams. Switching
troops back and forth between the other fiefs each turn gets really old. The
Agriculture will also help with the hack work as well. There's no need to
build up Foreign, other than attracting famous merchants. 
If the enemy has gotten far enough into your territory to be knocking on
your castle doors, you have bigger problems than the size of your castle.
Just because the CPU likes to Declare on its borders doesn't make it a good
idea...heck, anything the CPU does is probably a bad idea.

Make sure that any fief with a ton of buildings has high Order, Loyalty, and 
Flood ratings. The puny fiefs can wash downriver burning from revolt if they 
like - it's not worth the effort to improve them yourself. Let the peons
overseeing the small fiefs do what they like.

Camps could be much better if offensive battle skills (Confuse, Taunt) actually
mattered. 

If you're in the position of razing buildings after passing Major daimyo
status, you are not spending enough money on muskets, fieldguns, and items.

You only really need one officer to hold a fief. Obviously, you would like
to have more, but given how thin you spread in the midgame, one officer has
to do.

Training your officers (Hunt, Poetry, etc.) is a total waste of time unless
you have very few fiefs and good officers. 


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11. About Operations

When first attacking a multi-fief state, start at the beginning of the season.
Then in the first battle, target the strongest officers for annihilation.
This will ensure that your follow-on battles will feature 50 LEA chumps 
instead of seeing the elite corps over and over again. 

Be careful about obliterating all a daimyo's troops if you want to recruit
their officers. You will fail to capture officers if you take the last fief
without a battle due to no mobilizable units.

Don't underestimate the power of vassals as your empire expands. Given that
you can usually send some chump officers to threaten the minor daimyo, it's
almost free buffer. 

It's usually not worth immediately finishing the second strongest rival clan 
on your borders, unless they are out of troops or all their best officers
have been removed from battle that season. Having reduced them to one or two
fiefs, they won't be able to come back off the mat for quite a while. 

Never attack a snowed-out fief. This means you generally expand west 
(southwest, depending on your compass) first. Attack in monsoon season if you 
have rifles and officers with Rally. 

If the enemy has strong castles and weaker castles, attack the weaker ones
first and hope to bleed them out of troops. Then you can seize the strong
castles without resistance. 

Make sure to initiate joint attacks that capture a castle. Acting as 
reinforcement in joint attacks that result in field battles are OK too, so
long as it doesn't result in your partner taking a key castle in your 
expansion path. 

Don't forget that your weaker officers in interior fiefs can be put to use
against weaker daimyo. Make sure to send the full eight officers and at full
troops. This saves time in not fighting the battles, and also speeds
your conquest by saving your crack officers for multi-fief field battles and
difficult sieges. Using this, it's easy to take 6 or more fiefs in a single
season. 

Do not underestimate the utility of just viewing their fief and seeing their 
castle in planning your attacks. Given that officers can't easily insert
spies on higher difficulties, this makes up for a lot of their information.


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12. About Diplomacy

Accept all Joints. Become a vassal if that puts minor daimyo at your mercy.
Don't bother with the slow Imperial Court unless you like grinding them with
money that should be spent on muskets, fieldguns, and items. Don't bother
fooling around with the shogun, just capture him and make him give up all
his Titles. Appease strong neighbors with "Bad" relationships (Poor tend to
be hopeless). Reduce your neighbors to service when you don't intend to 
expand in that direction for some time. Defend your allies and vassals with
full force of ranged weapons.

And make sure to make your new maidens officers. Why you would want a marriage
alliance when you could have a solid officer...


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13. About Strategy Phase Tactics

Tactics are pretty nice on easier difficulties (especially Spy), but become 
an exercise in frustration on Expert. I haven't ever been able to
get an officer to Betray his force even when I have him adjacent to my
commander. All the daimyo pretty much hate each other, so no need to try to
worsen relations. Razing buildings could be useful, but it's not a great use
of the player's time past the early game, when you can just invade the fief 
and do far better.