The Main Display will appear when it becomes your turn to act. A menu of options will appear on the right. You can press and to cycle through the available options, and press to see the second half of the choices or press to return to the first half. Press to select the command that you are currently pointing to. Press at any time to view a map of Japan and study its current state.
Remember that you are allowed to execute only one command per turn, with a few exceptions, including View, Map, Grant, Other, and Loan.
Use the move command to relocate your soldiers and even the daimyo himself to a neighboring fief. A list of available fiefs will be shown, and you must input the number that corresponds to the fief you would like to move to. It's a good idea to view the map before you execute this command so you can be sure of which number to enter
After choosing a fief, you will be asked how many troops you would like to send. If your daimyo is in the originating fief, you have the option to send the daimyo along with the troops; however, a daimyo must be accompanied by at least one unit of troops or he cannot move. A daimyo will also be unable to move if he is ill.
The War command works in many ways just like the Move command — you are given the same options and choices to make; however, you use the War command to advance an attack upon a neighboring fief who is occupied by a different daimyo. You will be asked which fief to invade, and how many troops, along with how much rice to send with them. Be aware that for each troop you send, it costs one gold. You must choose whether the daimyo will personally accompany the troops into battle, then you will be taken to the Battlefied Display where the war is carried out until one of the end conditions is met.
Battles usually end in one of three ways: One side is wiped out or retreats, one side runs out of rice, or the attacking side fails to win the battle within 30 days, which automatically results in victory for the defending side.
Running you fiefs requires gold. Most gold is acquired through tax revenue, which is collected every fall. As the daimyo, you must determine the rate at which your peasants are taxed. The rate can be set between 0% and 100% in some cases, although some fiefs restrict the maximum tax rate to a much lower value. The higher the tax rate, the less loyal your peasants will become; the lower the tax rate, the more loyal they will be to you. The amount of taxes you collect is based upon the rate that you set, as well as the value of the fief, the wealth of the peasants, and their loyalty to you. Raising taxes too high can cause your peasants to rebel.
A good strategy is to begin the game with your tax rate around 60 - 70%, then on the next turn, use the Give command to give around 20 or 30 rice to your peasants. This will offset the decrease in loyalty, allowing you to collect more gold to fund your fief's development. Just be sure to keep an eye on your loyalty, as it will gradually continue to drop as the seasons go by.
As the ruler of many fiefs, you may decide to redistribute rice or gold from a prospering fief to a struggling one. You are not limited to sending rice or gold to neighboring fiefs — you may send it to any fief that you hold power in. After you select the number of the fief you wish to send goods to, you must enter the amount of rice and gold that you wish to send.
Dams are crucial protecting your fiefs from flooding during the typhoons, which occur during the summer. Dams are rated on a value from 0 to 100. Use the Dam command to make improvements to a fief's dams, thereby increasing their effectiveness. Note that using the Grow command to increase your rice output will consequently lower the effectiveness of your Dams.
When trying to build your empire, you may wish to avoid conflict with certain daimyos, and they may wish to avoid conflict with you. In that case, one daimyo may offer a peace treaty to another in the form of a pact. If you wish to do this, use the Pact command, then enter the number of the fief you wish to offer the pact to. The other daimyo will consider your request. If he refuses, the turn is over; if he accepts, he will ask for a certain amount of gold as payment for his promise. If you agree to the amount, the pact will be enacted.
Once a pact is in place, the other daimyo will be less likely to attack you. However, as time goes by, the pact is more likely to be forgotten, and the other daimyo may attack you anyway. Note that if you attempt to attack a fief with which you share a pact, you will be prevented from attacking, and the turn will end. Curiously, you can still hire ninjas to sabotage or assassinate daimyo's with whom you have an ongoing pact.
The amount of rice you generate every fall is determined by your fief's output. To increase this value, use the Grow command. You are asked how much gold you wish to invest in your rice farms. The more money you spend, the higher your output will become. Be aware that using the Grow command decreases the loyalty of your peasants (because you are making them work harder) as well as the efficiency of the dams.
It's one thing to enter a peace pact with another daimyo, it's another thing entirely to marry one of their daughters. Marrying the daughter of another daimyo will make it even less likely that they will attack you. Not all marriage proposals will be accepted. Your daimyo's luck and charm will play a big role when you pop the question. If your proposal is accepted, you must pay an amount of gold to the daimyo father. If you accept this price, you will be married to the daughter. There is no limit to the number of times you can marry, or even the number of daughters that you can marry from one daimyo.
If a merchant is visiting your fief, you can use the Trade command to interact with him. Merchants travel from one fief to another, and they won't always be present to trade with you, except for the ever-present merchants in Yamashir and Settsu.
- Loan: If you need more gold, you can ask for a loan from a merchant. The value of your town helps to determine how much money you may borrow. The interest rate of the loan is indicated in the market table. Once you borrow money, the total amount owed in return is added to your dept. Any money in your possession come fall is automatically used to pay back the debt. Getting a loan from a merchant will not end your turn.
- Repay: Choose this command if you wish to pay off your debt earlier than necessary; but be aware that this command will end your turn. Since loans are automatically repaid in the fall — and you won't save any money — use of this command is never advised.
- Sell: If you wish to earn more gold by selling rice to a merchant, use the Sell command. The amount of gold you receive in return is based upon the current market price of rice, indicated in the market table.
- Buy: On the other hand, if you find that you are in short supply of rice and need some to feed your armies, you can buy some from a merchant. Once again, the cost of the rice is based on the market price, as shown in the market table.
- Arms: Having enough equipment is just as important in battle as the skill of your army. In order to obtain more arms, you must purchase them from a merchant. Just like rice, the cost of arms fluctuates and is shown on the market table.
- Menu: Choose this option to return to the main menu.
Use the Hire command to recruit new soldiers, or hire ninjas to carry out specific tasks right then and there.
Press if you wish to hire more men for your army. You can then enter the number of units you wish to employ. The cost for hiring these men appears in the market table. Increasing the size of your army is necessary to help you overwhelm the larger forces of your opponents, however, you suffer small consequences in the form of decreasing morale, skill level, and arms whenever you hire new troops.
If you wish to hire ninjas instead of soldiers, press . When you enter the number of ninjas you wish to hire, you are choosing the number of individual ninjas, not entire troops. Like soldiers, the cost of hiring ninjas varies, and is shown on the market table. Unlike soldiers, ninjas may be given only one task to execute. You must specify to them which fief you wish for them to operate in, and which task to perform.
- Uprising: A ninja on an uprising mission will blend in among the peasants of an opponent's fief, and spread rumors about the daimyo in power. This will lower his popularity, and may cause an uprising of the peasants if the value of their loyalty decreases enough.
- Revolt: Like an uprising, only among soldiers. The ninja will slip in and spread rumors about the daimyo and consequently lower the morale of his army. If morale falls low enough, the soldiers will lead a revolt against the daimyo, potentially deposing him from power.
- Dams: A ninja may be hired on a mission to sabotage an opposing fief's dams. A successful attack on a fief's dam will lower the efficiency of that dam, as well as the morale of the troops, and the amount of rice that can be grown.
- Assassin: If you don't wish to use one of the more subtle ways to cripple your opponent, you can hire a ninja to make a direct assassination attempt on another daimyo. If a daimyo has a high IQ and a large number of troops at his command, the chances of success will decrease, but the daimyo's health will still suffer. Soldiers of an assassinated daimyo lose a lot of morale. Fief's of assassinated daimyo's go up for auction at the end of the season.
- Arson: A final indirect option, you may hire a ninja to set fire to a town in an opposing fief. If they succeed in burning the town down, the value of the fief, as well as the soldier's morale, will fall.
The skill of your army can mean the difference between winning and losing against a larger army. You must use the Train command to increase the skill level of your army. Training doesn't cost any money, so use it whenever you have no other commands to issue.
With a higher training values, your troops may be more likely to initiate counterattacks against enemy forces, which effectively negates incoming enemy attacks and damages the enemy in return.
A little extra knowledge can be very helpful when forming a plan of attack against another fief, but that knowledge will cost you 10 gold. Use this command to pay a spy to attempt to learn about another fief. If he succeeds, you will see all of their stats displayed just as you see your own when it's your turn. Viewing another fief's stats does not end your turn, and you can continue to pay to see additional fiefs' stats if you wish. You can view that stats of any fief that you control for free. If you enter 99 for the number of the fief you wish to view, you will be shown a smaller summary of all the fiefs under your control.
The value of your fief's town reflects the amount of effort you make to improve it. Use the Build command to invest some money in the town's improvement. When you select Build, you must enter the amount of money you wish to invest. The more money you spend, the more valuable your town will be as a result.
If morale or loyalty is beginning to sink in one of your fiefs, it would be a good idea to turn that around as quickly as possible by giving back to your subjects. After choosing this command, you must decide whether to give to your peasants () or your soldiers (), then you must decide whether to offer gold () or rice (). Finally, you must enter the amount of the offered good you wish to give. In addition to increasing peasants' loyalty or soldiers' morale, it will also increase your charm.
This unusual command allows you to hire a spy for 10 pieces of gold to bring additional money along with him and bribe peasants of an opposing fief to leave their home and move to your fief. After paying the spy, you must enter the amount of money you wish to spend on bribery. Successfully luring peasants away from a fief will lower that fief's loyalty to their daimyo.
After a battle, you may feel that your army is unevenly or ineffectively distributed among the five available combat units. You can reassign the number of men in each unit, but it costs 30 gold for the privilege of doing so. Once you begin, you must use and to select the unit you wish to reassign, and press and to alter the number of troops in each unit. You may use any configuration you like, but you must have at least one troop squadron in each unit, and you may not assign more than 20% of your men to the rifle unit. For this reason, it's always a good idea to put the most number of men in the rifle unit that the game will allow.
The Rest command is an important means of increasing your health and recovering from illness. When choosing to rest, you must enter the number of seasons that you will spend in recovery. You may not enter any other commands until your rest period comes to an end. Resting actually begins at the start of the next turn, and health does not increase until the rest period ends. If your fief is attacked while you are resting, you cannot issue commands, so the computer takes control of your fief's defense. In general, it should be necessary to rest only 1 turn in order to recover from illness.
In addition to simply pressing , you can use the Map command to view a map of all of Japan. Japan is depicted in a traditional manner, with the southern end on the left, and the north end on the right. Use the direction pad to see various sections of Japan. Press to return to the main display. Viewing the map does not end your turn.
If you find the thought of keeping track of, and issuing commands for all of the fiefs that you control, you may wish to use the Grant command to hand the responsibilities of governing a fief to the computer. This is a good idea for less important fiefs or fiefs who have no neighboring hostile fiefs. To enable this feature, you must issue the command from your home fief. Additionally, it does not end your turn. After granting control of your fief to the computer, use must choose an aspect of growth for the computer to focus on.
- Industrial (Ind): Chose this aspect if you wish for the computer to develop the town's value and the peasants' wealth.
- Military (Mil): Chose this aspect if you wish for the computer to increase the size of the fief's army, as well as the morale and amount of arms.
- Balanced (Bal): This choice will instruct the computer to place an equal level of focus on the growth of the town, the military, and the agriculture of the fief.
- Farming (Farm): Chose this aspect if you wish for the computer to improve a town's output, along with the peasant loyalty.
- Direct (Dir): Finally, if you want to resume control over a fief from the computer, choose this option.
- Menu: Select this option to return to the main menu.
Choosing Other will bring up a small menu of options. You can change some of the settings of the game, and save it to memory. Using any of the Other commands will not end your turn.
- Sound: To determine whether the sound should be played, press to turn the sound on, and to turn it off.
- Animat: Animations can be interesting to watch, but they do slow the pace of the game down. If you wish to see the animations, press , otherwise press to turn them off.
- Wait: If you wish for the messages of the game to remain on the screen for a longer period of time, set this value high; if you wish for the game to move quickly by displaying the messages for a shorter period, set this value low.
- Save: Issue this command if you wish to save your game, but bear in mind the game will not actually save until the current season comes to an end. Wait for a message to indicate that your game has been saved before you quit or power off the console.
- Battle: In the beginning of the game, you are asked if you wish to watch to computer-controlled opponents battle. If you want to change your selection, use this command.
- End: Choosing this command will end your game. In a single player game, you are taken to the Game Over screen where you must reset or power off your system; in a multi-player game, only the player who chooses this option will end their game. The computer will take over for this player, and the remaining players continue as usual. Note that choosing this option before receiving confirmation that your game has been saved will cause you to lose your progress.
- Menu: Choose this option to return to the main menu.
If you have absolutely no other command to issue, you can use the Pass command to end your turn. You will receive no benefit and your turn will end. At the very least, you should always choose Train instead of Pass, unless your army is at the highest skill level allowed. Remember that using the Train command costs nothing and has no negative consequences, so this action is much more preferable to forfeiting your turn.