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The Bakemono's most powerful combat mage.

Shinuyama is the nation ruled by the Bakemono after the rebellion against the oni kings.

Shinuyama is a goblin nation that’s modeled after Feudal Japan. At a glance, it appears weak, and it’s certainly not the easiest nation to play, especially for a beginner to start with. However, it does have a few distinct advantages over other nations, and some considerable drawbacks. For starters, all of its light and medium infantry and archers, one basic commander, and one priest, are stealthy. It also has stealthy assassins. It also has a naturally amphibious commander and some pretty decent amphibious troops, and most of its other troops have either forest or mountain walk, or both. It has a dozen or so unique summons. Finally, none of its national troops are capital only. However, these cool quirks come at a price, such as labs cost twice as much, your starting army is absolute garbage, no recruit able sacred troops, and sacred troops can only be summoned by your pretender as none of the mages have the paths necessary without empowerment. Shinuyama can be difficult to start out playing, simply because there are so many options available.

Suggested Pretender Design[edit]

Great Sage, Awake[edit]

F3 A2 S6 N3 Scales: Dominion Strength: 7 Turmoil: 3 Luck: 3 Drain: 2

This is actually a really good pretender design for this nation, although you may want to tune down Turmoil to 2 at the expense of something else. For starters, Shinuyama requires a lot of gems to get their national summons in any noticeable amount, and Luck 3 tends to give handfuls of various types of gems every turn. Money may become an issue at times if you’re not getting enough random events to give bonus gold or permanently increase tax collections, but there are ways around that found below. Since Shinuyama can have a makeshift capital anywhere there’s a castle because of the no cap only troops, this pretender isn’t meant to ever leave a lab and is best used researching, forging, or casting spells, but if you need him to for unique summons or spells later, several spells which he has access to will later make sure that if you want to move him, he doesn’t have to be vulnerable in the open. You really don’t want your pretender to die, as it’ll take a very long time for your low level priests to call him back and he’ll lose a lot of his usefulness. Make sure you’re putting down temples, though, as you don’t want an enemy Misfortune dominion in your lands because it will cripple your coffers. It works pretty well, give it a shot.

Celestial General, Awake[edit]

A5E9 Scales: Dominion Strength: 6 Order: 2 Sloth: 2 Misfortune: 2 Drain: 2

This build works well. The Celestial General makes a good SC as air and earth are both good paths for self-buff spells, and the bless is useful for your sacred troops (although a bless strategy with Shinuyama is doom because your sacreds can be difficult to field early), which the high level ones are much better than most nations. The drain scale adds a bit of MR which your Oni summons need to keep from being banished. Additionally, since Shinuyama starts out with such an awful army, he’ll help a lot with early expansion. The only drawbacks here are research you won’t be able to crank out many Dai Bakemonos, but the tough, gold expensive, resource light troops like Kappas and O-bakemonos can hold their own with a few buffs and Rust Mist, or none at all against weaker armies.

National Units[edit]

Troops[edit]

Bandit
The Bandit is a medium infantry with a spear that is stealthy. It’s not a bad unit overall, probably the best choice for infantry for stealthy squads, and would maybe find a place in your regular army.
Bandit (archer)
The Bandit with the bow isn’t worth the cost. It costs a whopping 17 resources. If you need a more armored archer, feel free to indulge yourself. However, the Bakemono-sho archer is also stealthy, and while it has slightly worse stats, it’s not nearly as expensive.
Bakemono-sho
This is a pointless unit, chaff only. They are cheap and easy to mass, but die quickly and frequently. They’re also stealthy.
Bakemono-sho (spear)
This is another pointless unit, although this one at least has a spear and a chance to repel attackers, probably the superior choice at an additional cost of 1 resource. Stealthy too.
Bakemono Archer
These are a good unit. They’re cheap to mass and shoot arrows, so their low hit points, size, and armor aren’t much of an issue as they don’t get hit as much. Arrow exchange with other types of archers, though, is likely to have you on the losing side. They’re stealthy as well.
Bakemono-sho (medium)
This is a good medium infantry unit. It’s stats are nearly identical to that of the Bandit with small changes here and there, but the can hold their own and with spears have a chance at repelling attackers. They’re cheaper than the Bandit, too.
Bakemono-sho Archer (medium)
This is a good alternate choice to the ligher Bakemono archer if you have resources to spare as they can take a hit a bit better. I usually go for quality over quantity with archers though as it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in this case.
Bakemono Warrior
Standard medium infantry, however since they don’t carry shields I find that the Bakemono-sho with the spear is superior because it can repel better. They’re also slightly more expensive, so they rarely find a place in my armies.
Kappa
This is a great unit overall, especially for early expansion. First, they’re fully amphibious so getting into those hard to reach underwater provinces is easy for Shinuyama and compared to most underwater units they’re really tough. They also have recuperation which helps them shed afflictions. Finally, they’re stats are great for their cost. At only 25 gold and 1 resource you’re getting a 15 hit point 15 prot unit with two attacks, one of which is armor piercing and has a chance to cause the "limp" affliction. They’re not invincible, but they can hold their own.
O-bakemono
The O-bakemono is a pretty good unit for some select purposes. First, they make good arrow catchers at 28 hit points. Their strength is high, so high protections units are still getting hurt when they hit them, and low protection units with a lot of hit points like elephants fall quickly. If you cast Legions of Steel on these guys you can sit back and watch them destroy armies with ease. Their low MR is a problem, so that might need a buff if you plan on using a lot of these guys. I do if have the cash to spare, they cost 40 gold each but only 2 resources so they’re a good investment if you’ve spent most of resources elsewhere.
Dai Bakemono
First off, these guys cost 30 gold and 34 resources, so it’s not a cheap unit by any means. But, they’re worth it. They’re stats are good in every category, even their move is 2 and they have mountainwalk, which is rare for a heavy infantry, and they’re hard to kill. Really just a good unit overall if you can afford them.
Dai Bakemono (archer)
I’m not sure what the use is for these guys. They’re really heavily armored archers with a lot of hit points. They’re the only unit Shinuyama has with a long bow, but at 38 resources it’s hard to find a place for them when, for nearly the same cost, you can recruit 9 Bakemono-sho archers.

Commanders[edit]

Bandit Leader
The Bandit Leader is a basic stealthy commander. They’re cheap with a movement rate of 2, so if nothing they’re good for ferrying troops to your front lines. There’s another stealthy commander with magic and the same leadership, so these guys are outclassed in every way. Can’t go wrong for the price, though.
Bakemono General
This unit is great for a leader. They’re expensive in both gold and resources, but have 80 leadership and good stats, so they’re hard to kill. Give them a bow and keep them safe and there’s not much to worry about.
Kappa Chief
This is a good choice for heading underwater if you can’t give a mage the means to get there. They’re pretty tough and can recuperate afflictions. What I like to do though is to give them a Fever Fetish. They have 23 hit points so they last a long time and generate a lot more gems than an undead unit, and they only cost 70 gold.
Mujina
An assassin unit. They have somewhat low stats, especially protection which is 0, but have fear and a routing commander in an assassination is as good as a dead one. I like to give them a bane blade and try and target old mages which will die almost instantly. Watch out though, because even a blood slave can kill this unit.
Shuten-doji
Here’s a cool unit. It weighs in with good stats and high leadership, 100, so it’s a bargain at 100 gold. Even with no armor it has 8 protection which isn’t shabby. The coolest part about these guys is they have an aura which activates every turn that’s supposed to entice units not to attack it. The aura is quite large and cast automatic each battle turn. The aura increase fatigue of foes (MR negate). There is a bug (Version 3.04) so that the aura also affect friendly troops. The Shuten-doji has a life-drain attack but is not undead. With the right equipment he can become a Thug.

Mages[edit]

Uba
W1 D1 N1 ?1 (WEDN 100%)-She’s a pretty basic mage. There’s a handful of useful spells for her, like Ghost Grip, Decay, or a few evocation spells depending on picks, but she’s not best used in battle. She can summon the early national summons, and some of the late ones for Shinuyama without help, and make decent researchers. The poison Dagger is not very useful because she is not much of a Melee fighter. She can change shape to the form of a cat. While losing most magic skills in this form (all magic -1), she gain stealth ability and start move 3.
Bakemono Shaman
?1 H1 (FWED 100%)-The Bakemono Shaman is a good unit to lead stealthy troops with a leadership of 40 and can cast a small variety of low level spells depending on picks. It has both mountain and forest walk, so it can get around quickly so if you don’t want to tie up a different unit, building temples is a good job for him. However, at Holy 1 stealthy preaching doesn’t have much of an effect. But then again, H1 is the highest priest level you can recruit. You only need a temple to build this unit (possible bug?).
Bakemono Sorcerer
F2 W1 E2 D2 H1 (FWED 100%, FWED 10%)-This is your combat mage and general purpose summoner. He gets quite a bit of magic for 300 G and is holy, so you’re sure to find a lot of uses for this guy, from summoning to forging, to attack spells. Their main strength is that they can all cast Rust Mist regardless of their paths, which makes even strong units like Knights fall quickly, but be careful not to get your own troops with it. All Bakemono Sorcerers start with Old Age, and Old Age will hurt Precision.

Heroes[edit]

Yukinaga the Heart Hider
Fire 1 / Death 1 / Research 4
Immortal

National Summons[edit]

Summon Ko-Oni
D1 10 Death Gems-These guys are awful on all levels. There’s more a more efficient use of Death Gems than this, they’re not much more than bad light infantry. They get a second life if they die when they come ethereal and lower hit points.
Summon Ao-Oni
W1 D1 10 Water Gems-Summons 4 Ao-Onis. A running theme for the Oni summons with Shinuyama is that they have low protection. This one is no exception, however they have slightly higher hit points than your average Shinuyama unit and they have an excellent special attack called Cold that does 20 points of armor piercing, stunning damage. They’re effective in large numbers and away from arrow fire. They too get a second, ethereal life.
Summon Karasa Tengu
N1 A1 1 Nature Gem-The Karasa Tengu isn’t a bad unit persay, they have low protection and no second life, but they’re flying and sacred and get a few lighting bolts for ranged attacks which work well. Only thing is, you need a pretender to summon them, or empower another unit with air magic which is expensive. They’re a great unit for a single nature gem, but hopefully you can find something more valuable to do with your pretender or gems than summon these one at a time. A bad choice overall not because of the unit itself.
Summon Aka-Oni
F1 D1 10 Fire Gems-Summons 3 Aka-Onis. Like all Oni, this one gets a second life. This is a good Oni to use at range like an archer because it’s capable of hurling high damage fireballs.
Summon Kohona Tengus
A1 E1 5 Air Gems-This spell summons the Karasa Tengus in packs of five. Again, you could probably find something more useful for the gems or your pretender, but it’s certainly a better deal.
Ambush of Tigers
N2 10 Nature Gems-This spell summons seven tigers. Since you have no calvarly to speak of, it’s not a bad investment. It’s pretty similar to Pride of Lions in efficiency, so they’re almost interchangeable. Nothing special here.
Summon Oni
E1 D1 10 Earth Gems-Summons 3 Onis. These guys are actuall pretty good. Their stats are good, except for protection, and they have exceptionally high hit points. They can also hurl a javelin pretty far, which does good damage. It’s not a bad investment overall with the right buffs.
Ghost General
D3 10 Death Gems-Summons a single Shura. These guys are really good commanders and make great thugs for the price, like a cheaper and better Bane Lord (lower hit points, but ethereal and fear). Just stick them with a few magic items, like a Wavebreaker, Horror Helmet, Chainmail of Displacement, Winged Shoes, Anti-Magic Amulet, and Luck Pendant, and watch them go.
Dai Tengu
A2 E1 55 Air Gems-This spell is again more Karasa Tengus, but there’s a few bonuses to it. It comes with a Dai Tengu commander, A3E1N1H2, which is a higher priest level than you can recruit, and Tengu Warriors who are upgraded Karasa Tengus. They’re all sacred as well. It’s not a bad spell for what you get, a good raiding squad that can hold its own.
Contact Nushi
W2 N1 25 Water Gems-You get one standard W3D1N2 mage here that can change shape into a snake. The best part about her is she can forge a Clam of Pearls, so I’d make use of this spell just for that.
Summon Kuro-Oni
D2 F1 10 Death Gems-For this spell you get 4 units that are nearly identical to an Oni, except they can throw flames like an Ako-Oni and Spit Poison, so they have more dangerous ranged attacks. Not a bad unit for the price, certainly more efficient than an Oni in any case if you can spare the death gems which often have better uses.
Summon Oni General
E1 D1 20 Death Gems-This is an optional upgrade to the Ghost General. The stats are universally better and it’s sacred and gets two lives, in addition to having a few missile weapons and minor magic and three wolf guardians, however it isn’t ethereal at the start and has encumbrance so fatigue is an issue, so it’s a toss up in that regard, but they work well. I personally prefer the Ghost General because they’re cheaper though.
Contact Kitsune
N2 30 Nature Gems-The Kitsune is a N3?1 mage that’s stealthy, which means it’s a perfect upgrade to lead your stealthy raiding parties if you use them.
Summon Dai Oni
D4 F1 45 Death Gems-The Dai Oni is definitely strong thug, but doesn’t quite have the stats for an SC alone without at least Construction 6. First, it’s sacred and also has the wolf guardians, and magic paths of F2D3E3H1, so some good buffs and attack spells, like Bane Fire or Soul Vortex are an option. They have massive undead leadership, 210, and only improve from there. They also start with Fear +3, and with a horror helm it gets as high as +8! It’s really a pretty good unit for it’s price.

Strategy[edit]

Battlefield Tactics[edit]

Your early armies will probably include a lot of Kappas and O-bakemonos, which can free up resources for other troops. I usually put them in the front because they can take an arrow from most archers. Put your archers behind them, and on the flanks put your Bakemono-shos set to attack rear to swarm the enemy. This works well for a while, but your army is going to take losses.

As you capture provinces around your capital you can start to enlist the help of Dai Bakemonos and start summoning the various types of Onis. I put the Onis in the center and forward and set them to either fire or attack depending on the type, because most of them have the hit points to take a hit or two, and when they “die” they turn ethereal which makes them even harder to hit, so they’ll keep the enemy archers and front lines pretty busy despite their low protection. On their flanks I put the Dai Bakemonos and O-bakemonos and Bakemono-shos, with archers to the rear. As mentioned, one of the best points Shinuyama has is casting Rust Mist so everyone has low protection, but your troops will have better hit points and strength on their side. Battle spells are very important to Shinuyama compared to other nations.

You may need to adapt differently to situations, for instance some troops cut through Onis like butter, but would have more trouble with Dai Bakemonos. An elephant, for instance, drops quickly to a small group of O-bakemonos, so there’s no need to get your better troops trampled, or if you are using Behemoth summons yourself you’d change your formations drastically.

Scale Design and Research Goals[edit]

If you chose the Great Sage, the first thing you should begin to research is Evocation to level 3. There’s a lot of great spells in that school that will help with early expansion. Rust Mist is a great spell throughout the whole game. Fireball is good for killing barbarians, as is Acid Bolt. That’s going to be your first thing to set.

Early expansion isn’t critical to be quick, but rather efficient and careful. Your starting army is weak, so it may take a turn or two to build up a respectable force depending on the game settings. Target provinces you know you can take with small losses, and make it a point to target forest/mountain provinces near your capital first as you need the resources more than the gold in the beginning. You’ll be poor, but hopefully lucky events will start to go your way; your income isn’t determined by the land type as it would be with an Order scale, you’ll be getting most of your gold from random events that will either increase income permanently with a free magic site, or just give you extra gold outright. The other benefit that Shinuyama needs from a Luck scale is the handful of gems events you’ll be getting every turn, this will help you keep summoning Onis which don’t cost upkeep and other summons. It’s also not unusual to get a free mage or two as well as a lucky event. It’s very important to keep enemy dominions with Misfortune out of your provinces or it’ll cripple your income.

As you get to Evocation 3, you’ll want to switch to Thaumaturgy 2. First, it gives a few useful spells to your Ubas, like Decay and Frighten. Secondly it gives you the ability to remote site search with your mages or pretender (for Air sites), you’ll want to get as many gems as you can early, especially fire gems.

At this point, it’s time to switch to Construction 2. In addition to being a good site searcher and researcher, your pretender is built especially for forging Fever Fetishes. Give these to Kappa Chieftains, they have the hit points to last a long time and will give you plenty of gems before they go, which can be used to summon Aka-Onis which are good archer types, or to alchemize into gold if you need it. Alternatively, you can wait to give them to a Black Servant (which can Hide) or Revenant (which can boost research a little) if you don’t like to micromanage (a dead commander won’t return it’s items to the lab so you need to watch them), but you’ll get far fewer gems.

Then, switch to Conjuration 3 to begin summoning Onis and to get the path boosting Summon X Power spells which really open up your Bakemono Sorcerers. By now you should have some spare gems and your armies should be strong enough to fight against other nations. It may seem like a lot of turns to get this far into research, but with the Great Sage it doesn’t take long at all. Before you hit Conjuration 3 try to avoid conflicts with other nations unless you’re confident you’re much stronger than they are. It may be unavoidable, but hopefully you can stay alive until this point.

At this point the research path is dependent upon your needs. For instance, if I’m facing Jotunheim I’ll often go for Evocation 5 for Falling Fires. If I think I need some thugs I’ll research Construction 4 and Conjuration 4 for Ghost Generals and you also get Legions of Steel. Thaumaturgy to 3 isn’t bad just for Panic if your Ubas are left without much to do. Enchantment to 4 isn’t bad for Behemoth and Flaming Arrows. In the long run though I suggest Conjuration and Evocation to be the main focus of your research as there are so many good spells to use with Shinuyama in those schools.

Using the other Celestial General pretender, the strategy is a bit different. The first thing I tend to research is Alteration 2 for Stoneskin and Mirror Image if you’re in a hurry, or 3 for Ironskin and Mistform, which makes your pretender quite powerful without any items and helps early expansion. You’ll also be targeting Farmlands as a priority because gold is much more valuable here.

After that, it’s on to Evocation 3 for Rust Mist. Since you’ll be using many more low resource troops, bringing the enemies protection down really allows your O-bakemonos to stomp them quickly with high damage attacks.

Then, at this point I almost always go with Construction to 4 to both gear up my pretender and get access to Legions of Steel which will greatly improve the survivability of your troops. During this time, it may be wise to empower a sorcerer and invest in some Fever Fetishes as well if you have the Nature Gems lying around. Depending on my picks, I might move to Conjuration to 3 for the Summon X Power spells, or I’d move onto Enchantment to 4 for Strength of Giants, Flaming Arrows if you use a lot of cheap archers, and Behemoth. After that, it’s based on your needs.

This pretender strategy is a lot better in the early game when Shinuyama needs the most help. Finding Air sites can be good too, as this bless greatly improves the Tengus and the troops from the Dai Tengu spell to where they’re pretty tough, and in the late game when your good thug/SC summons are sacred.

Suggested Magic Schools[edit]

Conjuration
As mentioned earlier, all the unique nation only summons are fairly useful from levels 2 to 8. Tangle Vines at 1 isn’t bad for your Ubas early on, and Ghost Grip at 5 is a good spell that nearly everyone you recruit/summon can cast. Dark Knowledge at 2 is a must if you’re site searching, and Harvester of Sorrows at 7 is a cool unit that’ll really tick your neighbors off. There’s a lot of other useful spells here as well, it’s a great school for this nation if you’re using the Luck scales as you’ll have plenty of gems lying around.
Alteration
There are some great spells for the Celestial General in this school, but not so much for the Great Sage until you’re getting your high level summons out (it’s an OK school, but there are better for that strategy). I’ve already mentioned a few, but early there’s Protection at 2 and Swarm at 4 for your Ubas to spam. At level 5 you can have your Sorcerers use Incinerate which is useful if you’re going underwater I suppose, and Iron Warriors which can substitute for Legions of Steel. Invulnerability at 5 is also useful for the Celestial General and Dai Onis. At 6 Iron Bane is great for the Celestial General strategy as Kappas and many of the Onis don’t wear armor, and Soul Vortex is great for Dai Onis too. Level 7 brings Marble Warriors which is great if you’re fielding the Celestial Generals armies. At 8 Conflagration can be cast by your Sorcerers. And finally, at 9, Army of Gold and Army of Lead are great spells, and Wish can be cast by your Great Sage pretender eventually, and Utterdark is an option because your national troops all have 50% ultravision. There’s a lot to be had here, but it’s not a high priority past a few levels for either build until later in the game when SCs start to become important.
Evocation
Evocation is probably my favorite school for Shinuyama, next to Conjuration. It’s been mentioned a few times, but Rust Mist at 3 is a great spell. Not that many mages in the game can cast it, but all of your Sorcerers are able to regardless of picks. I use this spell throughout the game, it’s that good. At 4, depending on picks, Acid Rain and Blade Wind, especially for the C.G. are solid spells, and Water Strike is great for going underwater and all of your mages can cast it. Earthquake at 5 can be hard to cast for most mages, but it’s not a bad spell, and Orb Lightning can be good for the Dai Tengu if you summoned it and the C.G. Shadow Blast is a good spell that requires a gem, but nearly all of your mages should be able to cast it. At level 6 Banefire and Magma Eruption are both good spells that are easy to cast. Of course, Wrath of God is a cool spell for your Great Sage to cast. At level 7 there’s some really good spells that most of your Sorcerers can cast, including Ice Strike and Cloud of Death, and some of your Ubas with the right picks or a Thistle Mace can cast Storm of Thorns. At level 8 Pillar of Fire should be an easy pick that’s a good spell. Finally at 9 the Great Sage can cast Strands of Arcane power which may not be necessary to go that far, but it’s a cool spell nevertheless.
Construction
You really can’t go wrong with Construction with any nation for forging alone. Legions of Steel at 3 is a great spell for this nation and buffing up all of your troops, especially the Onis who really need the protection. The higher level spells are not bad, with the Juggernaut if you took the Great Sage, and the Siege Golem and Poison Golem shouldn’t be much of a problem to cast. Mostly though, you come to this school for the items.
Enchantment
This is a mid priority school, it has a lot of uses but none of them are too essential to survival initially. I’ve mentioned a few spells already, but more are Animate Dead and Animate Skeleton at 1 are good uses for your Ubas early. Fire Shield, at 3, is a good spell for your Oni thugs. Pale Riders at 5 give you a lot of Cavalry, and Gift of Health is good for all nations with the new Old Age system, and the Great Sage can cast Dispel to get rid of any annoying globals. Later in the game there are a few globals that will give you lots of gems which is nice, particularly for Shinuyama, but getting paths that high takes some work. Ghost Ship Armada, at level 7, is a cool spell that’ll help you come out of the water if you’re having trouble doing it with just Kappas and other summons.
Thaumaturgy
This school is great for site searching, which can be essential if you want to take advantage of your summons and forging quickly. Other good spells include Decay and Frighten, and Dust to Dust for undead killing, at level 1. Rage is a neat little spell at level 3, try casting it on an elephant and watch it wreak havoc on the enemy army. Iron Will also comes at 3 which raises MR, so if your Oni are getting banished you can turn to that spell. There’s a few other cool spells, but most of the spells in this school are for dealing with the undead, so against Ermor this school is a priority but, past level 2 research is better spent.

Useful Magic Items[edit]

Lesser
With either pretender design you’re going to have access to a lot of items, so I’ll just highlight some of the more important ones. Fever Fetish, obviously, works well with this nation, and if you can Clam of Pearls. I also like items that can give melee commanders something to do in safety, like the Scepter of Authority, Black Bow of Botuf, or Ice Pebble Staff. Bane Blades are good for assassins, and the Horror Helmet is good for a lot of purposes.
Greater
Here’s where most of the better equipment for thugs lies. The Endless Bag of Wine becomes important because your Onis are very supply intensive even though they are NNE, and a wasteland will probably starve out your regular troops in even moderately sized armies. A couple of other items to note are the Bane Venom Charm which is great for sticking it on a Black Servant and letting him sit in the enemies provinces. A couple of upgrades to your regular commanders include the Wand of Wild Fire, Staff of Corrosion, and Skull Standard. The Skull Staff is good for getting to D3 or 4. The Charcoal Shield is a good item for a thug. Elemental Armor, Robe of the Sea, and Robe of Etherealness aren’t bad choices for commanders. Boots of the Messenger are great for casters and thugs, and there’s a lot of path boosters around too. I’m partial to the Wavebreak or Sword of Quickness to Ghost Generals.
Very Powerful
More upgrades here for commanders include Rod of the Phoenix and Banefire Crossbow. There’s also a couple of path boosters, like the Staff of Elemental Mastery or Water Bracelet. Of course the Wraith Sword is great and the Lantern Shield has it’s uses. Bone Armor is great if you can get your hands on it, as is the Robe of Invulnerability and Wraith Crown. The Boots of Stone are good in a pinch.

Closing[edit]

Shinuyama isn’t really pick up and play, so it takes a bit of practice to figure out what works and what doesn’t and the first few turns can be very difficult. Once you get it down pat though, it’s a bit easier. I do think the nation could use some minor tweaks in future patches, such as giving some sacred summons to your national mages to at least make a bless strategy viable as there’s really no way to summon enough units to keep up with another nation with a couple of castles, but the strength of the later sacred units kind of makes up for it. Anyway, you can still have some fun with it.