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Sengoku-Jidai Database


Weapons of War
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Strategies and Tactics


During the Sengoku-Jidai period warfare had evolved for Japan. Due to the use of guns and other innovations strategies, tactics, deceit, treachery, etc. were used whenever the opportunity arose. Here I will list some of the tactics that were used in this period.

==Military Tactics==

Here I will add all military tactics. This specifically corresponds to battle tactics used in battle to defeat an opposing army rather than tactics of alliance, etc.

==Stunt Double==
This is one of the most interesting strategies used in the time period. Primarily because of the new dangers of warfare in this period, many lords used stunt doubles! Lords would use stunt doubles primarily to raise morale. A great example is a famous duel allegedly between Kenshin Uesugi and Shingen Takeda. Kenshin Uesugi supposedly rode up to Shingen and attacked him while Shingen fended off his blows with his iron Tessen. However both Kenshin and Shingen were actually stunt doubles! The troops and officers of both sides were inspired to see who they thought were their lords fighting.
Stunt doubles were used in another way too. Often lords would die during this period and it would lead to confusion and chaos. A stunt double was sometimes used to mask this death or prolong the news of it so the troops and officers wouldn't panic. This strategy was as simple as finding a look-alike for a lord but could be extremely effective. These stunt doubles often worked amazingly.

==Gun Ambush==

Guns during the Sengoku-Jidai, Edo, etc. periods had a horribly slow reload time. Even though they were greatly effective weapons which both instilled fear among the enemy and could kill an enemy in one shot, a charging army could also decapitate a force of gunmen before they could reload! So some lords used ambushes with gunmen to defeat enemies instead.
A gun ambush generally was different than a regular ambush. Gunmen had to remain hidden unlike troops which could just pop out and charge at the enemy. Gunmen would hide in trees, bushes, etc. and make general use of the terrain around them. So would the main troops. When the enemy came they would be confused by the lack of enemy soldiers or they would keep marching to find the enemy. Gunmen would then pick off some troops, particularly generals and commanders if possible. (In the early phases of the period this worked a little too well and many lords would die in battles) After picking off soldiers (or generals and commanders) the enemy would be disarrayed. Then it was time for the troops to charge! Troops charged at the enemy. The gunmen reloaded and their position was still either concealed or unable to be reached by the enemy. (Due to the enemy's current occupation of fighting the infantry) After that gunmen would reload for a second round and the process would continue.

==Wheel Attack==
Kenshin Uesugi used a genius tactic in one of the battles of Kawanakajima that deserves mention. Realizing that often the troops in front get tired, while the troops in back wait for battle he used a special formation that allowed him to take advantage of this. Basically the troops in front would fight and then rotate move to the side and down through the ranks. The next troops (in back of the front troops) would now be fighting in the front. The formation allowed a continuous onslaught. First his troops would fight. Then move while the next troops in line moved to fight.
This tactic allowed Kenshin Uesugi to decimate Shingen Takeda. His troops moved and Kenshin Uesugi's stunt double fought a stunt double which Shingen Takeda had arranged to guard the main camp. Neither died.


A fusillade is any sort of rapid fire. This tactic was used in the Sengoku-Jidai period with firearms. Since firearms had slow reload times leaders would line up gunmen and have some fire while others reloaded. The gunmen in front would stand up and fire while the gunmen in back would sit down and reload. Then after the gunmen in front had fired the ones in back would stand up and fire.
This was one type of fusillade however generally the gunmen would fire faster than they reloaded. So often the gunmen who fired were in different places and so were the ones who reloaded. Lords mixed this up. Sometimes lords would place their gunmen behind barricades with holes to fire. Only some would fire at once and then the next group would fire while those reloaded and then the next group would fire while they reloaded.

==Fortress Snipers==

Archers were often less effective in this period compared to gunmen. This was not always true. Trained archers were largely more effective than gunmen because of quicker reload times. The main problem was archer took longer to train while gunmen could be trained quickly. They simply needed to fire into the enemy ranks.
However the Hojo developed a special archer techinque. Trained archers would be tucked away in fortresses. These fortresses would have a space which the archers would shoot from. The archers pelted enemy invaders from the field with arrows. This strategy enabled archers to pick off enemies before they could besiege the castle. Other lords beside the Hojo used this but the Hojo used it commonly.

==Poison Arrow==

Samurais commonly used poison arrows in preceding times. Though they became less commonly used in the Sengoku-Jidai period due to the use of guns during this time.
Samurai would carry poision arrows on a quiver on his right side. (or his left depending on which hand he was more skilled with) He would quickly pull it out and fire it at the enemy. The arrow combined with poision would kill a samurai enemy quicker or at least have a greater chance of killing him period. This tactic made arrows a deadlier weapon.


Samurai initiated raids often. They used these raids for one of two reasons. The first which was the more common was to entice the enemy and provoke the enemy into a field battle. This could accompany another tactic such as provoking the enemy into a field battle while assigning another force to capture the city while the enemy was busy fighting on the field. Samurai drew out the enemy with raids while simulataneously getting a few kills or destroying a small force.
The other way this tactic was used as to pursue an enemy. Rather than fully attack an enemy, a small raid could be used to pick off enemy forces and force them to flee quicker. The raid allowed tired troops to not fully charge after the enemy and rest instead.


In the first naval battle between the Mori and the Oda the Mori clan used a special technique to defeat the Oda navy. For starters, the Mori were more experienced at naval warfare. Secondly the Mori utilized brands, flaming objects such as burning ceramic pots to burn the Oda navy.
Brands were slung at oncoming ships. The ships caught fire quickly when multiple brands were fired. Thus the Mori could destroy an enemy fleet before it even encountered them. This tactic might have turned the war in the Mori clan's favor but in the next major naval battle between the two factions, Nobunaga would realize a way to defeat this tactic.


Nobunaga Oda clad his ships with iron to defeat the Mori in naval battle. The Mori in past times had used fiery objects to burn the Oda ships. By making his ships iron and large, the Oda fleet could survive the enemy onslaught and then mount a counter-attack. Nobunaga's ships were called tekkousen. 
This battle marked somewhat of a turning point in the war. The Mori suffered a major defeat in this battle. Their tactics had failed.

==Political Tactics==

Here I will add political tactics particularly used for alliances, deceit, treachery, etc. Some of these are somewhat battle tactics but used for political causes. Many of these correlate to specific examples. Some do not but examples will be mentioned.


Marriages were commonly arranged to make a political alliance between two factions. Nobunaga Oda used this tactic commonly. Nobunaga did not have any daughters. Instead he married his two sisters off to different lords. One he married to Katsuyori Takeda, the other he married off to Nagamasa Azai. The latter was named Odani-no-Kata and her daughter would also be the mother of Hideyori Toyotomi.
In the example mentioned earlier Odani-no-Kata married her daughter Cha-Cha to Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Hideyoshi successfully won a war against Katsuie Shibata, Odani-no-Kata's husband. The two perished but Odani-no-Kata wished to secure her 3 daughters futures. She sent all 3 to Hideyoshi and Cha-Cha gave birth to Hideyoshi's heir. This wasn't really a political agreement but it did allow Odani-no-Kata's daughters to live in exchange for service to Hideyoshi. So it was more like a trade-off.
Marriages secured the unity of the two clans by making the two lords family members. For instance Saito Dousan married his daughter to Nobunaga Oda, effectively making Nobunaga his son-in-law. A marriage alliance however sometimes was broken. For instance when Azai attacked Nobunaga and broke the unity of the two clans after marrying Nobunaga's sister Odani-no-Kata.

==Child Servitude==

Often lords would sell their children to other lords in desperation for help. Although this could be used for alliance, it was more commonly used in exchange for a favor. This was done commonly although I will list one particular example in which a lord did this.
Ieyasu's father sold the young child off to Yoshimoto Imagawa. He did this so Yoshimoto would help him to defeat a force sent by Nobunaga's father. Yoshimoto Imagawa allowed Ieyasu to add "gawa" to his name. He kept this for the rest of his life hence the name "Tokugawa."

==Draft Law==

Many lords such as Shingen Takeda had a special draft law. He would assign a certain area to drafts. This area only had to pay a small tax compared to other areas which made them more willing to serve the Takeda army. Furthermore the system was very effective and because there was little sudden change with his system the people were happier.
Peasants who were drafted to fight would take swords with them. If they did not have swords they would have to improvise and use farming implements such as sickles. Many of these weapons became popular ninja weapons. Tonfas and Kamas are two examples of these. (Source:

"Strategy is the craft of the warrior. Commanders must enact the craft, and troopers should know this Way."
-Miyamoto Mushashi

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