Total War: Shogun 2 Best Factions (Ranked)

Takeda Shingen raises his war fan signaling troops to advance.
Takeda Shingen staunchly commands his troops to battle!

Total War: Shogun 2 Best Factions (Ranked)

Shogun 2 campaign features 12 feudal Japanese clans that the player can choose to play as. These legendary feudal clans are famous for their historical feats during the Sengoku (Warring States) period of medieval Japan. Each of these clans is led by notorious warlords and is unique in its own way.

In this article, I am going to rank the best faction in Shogun 2 from the worst to the best, ranking each via different criteria, including special units, clan traits, starting location, and economic potential. So without further ado, let's begin.

12. Mori

The Mori are renowned for their seafaring abilities, and their ships are said to be the finest in Japan. This clan’s trait is centered on naval dominance. The Mori have superior naval units that are cheaper and better, and they have a unique infantry unit, the Wako Raiders, that are recruitable from military ports.

Placing the Mori Clan last, because although the game claims they have the superior ships, that is far from the truth; the Otomo takes that place for their Nanban trade ships, which the Mori does not have. But what makes this faction good are their fast and cheap ships. Making them great for pirating trade routes and raiding enemy coastlines.

Mori Strengths

  • Cheaper ships and upkeep give you an early-game naval advantage.
  • Faster campaign map movement for ships is good for evading enemy navies and raiding trade routes.
  • Wako Raiders have vanguard deployment, making them good for ambush attacks and holding their own against Yari, Naginata, and Katana Samurai.
  • Clan Daimyo starts with three sons and has the night fighter ability, allowing him to engage in night battles and prevent enemy armies from reinforcing each other.
  • Home Province starts with a holy site, which is an advantage for recruiting monk agents and warrior monks.

Mori Weakness

  • Wako Raiders, although they fight like samurai, have almost no armor, making them an ideal target for archers.
  • Precarious starting position with potential enemies from the north and west directions, starts at war with the Amako clan.
  • The Wako Raiders require a considerable amount of research time before being able to be recruited.
  • Daimyo has the "Impolite" trait, giving it -20 diplomatic relations with other factions.
  • Doesn’t really have a strong ship in its roster, only an additional +10 men crew and +1 morale for Bune and Kobaya ships.

Pick Mori if

  • If you like Jack Sparrow, naval dominance, piracy, and raiding tactics, try this clan out.


11. Hattori

The Hattori Clan are masters of subterfuge, assassinations, and stealth. Experts in the arts of Ninjutsu, their strength lies in their ability to recruit cheaper Kisho Ninjas and superior Ninja agents; all their generals get to have the “Night Fighter” trait, and Hattori infantry units have vanguard deployment, encouraging aggressive tactics.

Although a pretty cool and badass clan, they actually have one of the most difficult campaigns in the game; all their Ashigaru and Samurai units cost 25% more upkeep than their normal counterparts, forcing you to field smaller armies early on, and their starting province is landlocked and surrounded by "Big Player" clans.

Hattori Strengths

  • Samurai and Ashigaru foot units have vanguard deployment, good for occupying advantageous positions before battle.
  • All Hattori generals have the Night Fighter trait, an advantage for dismantling multiple enemy army stacks.
  • Starting province has a ‘mountain hideout’, allowing you to field experienced ninja agents and Kisho ninja units.
  • Neighbors with the Asai, owning the province of Omi, one of the richest provinces in the game.
  • Neighbors with the Ashikaga Shogunate, theywill never attack you, until realm divide

Hattori Weakness

  • Terrible starting position, you will be in the immediate vicinity of powerful clans like the Oda, Ikko-Ikki, Ashikaga, and Hatakeyama (The largest clan in the early game).
  • 25% upkeep cost for Ashigaru and Samurai units, forcing you to field smaller armies.
  • Despite the claim, they actually have the worst Kisho ninja in the game, having only two ammunition slots for grenades. This was due to CA’s programming that they never bothered to fix.
  • The starting province is poor and landlocked.
  • Hattori bandits are actually bad units; despite their stealth, they have less accuracy and men than their Ashigaru counterparts.

Pick Hattori if

  • You like Ninjas, guerrilla warfare, stealth, and subterfuge. If you want to sow fear and chaos among your enemies, this is definitely the clan for you.


10. Tokugawa

The Tokugawa Clan was historically the victorious clan towards the end of Sengoku Jidai. Masters of intrigue and political maneuvering, they are renowned for their diplomatic skills and their superior metsuke and ninjas, who keep their home province and borders secure.

This talent was developed due to their delicate position, as their home province, Mikawa, is squeezed between two ambitious clans: the Imagawa to the west, with whom they seek refuge, and the powerful Oda to the east, who keeps encroaching on their land so the need for intricate diplomacy and cunning became their number 1 strength.

Tokugawa Strengths

  • They have one of the best cavalry killers in the game, the Tokugawa mounted gunners.
  • Defensible province with good chokepoints
  • Superior Metsuke has a +2% success chance for their actions.
  • Starting province Mikawa is fairly rich and has warhorse resources for experienced cavalry recruitment.
  • +5 diplomatic relations with other clans.

Tokugawa weakness

  • Very difficult clan to play, the only clan that starts as a vassal to another clan.
  • Difficult starting position, starts at war with the powerful Oda.
  • They start as vassals of Imagawa, so expanding your clan will require you to rebel against your overlord.
  • Declaring war against their overlord, the Imagawa will reduce Daimyo's honor and incur diplomatic penalties with other clans.
  • Tokugawa mounted gunners require Gunsmith building, which requires you to invest and research further in the tech tree.
  • Kisho ninjas, despite being advertised as superior, suffer the same terrible glitch as their Hattori counterparts.
  • Almost no game-changing trait.

Pick Tokugawa if

  • If you want a diplomatic approach and underhand plotting and scheming, this clan plays that way, and above all, if you like a very difficult and challenging campaign, Tokugawa is your best bet.


9. Chosokabe

Masters of the land, as stated in their description, Chosokabe is a noble clan that claims descent from the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang. They are known to be skilled farmers as they gain extra income from farming, and above all, they live up to their reputation as skilled archers.

They start on the island of Shikoku, isolated from other major clans; this is somewhat of an advantage as a protection from land-based invasions. One of the best strategies for Chosokabe is to conquer the entire island of Shikoku and making the province wealthy, then moving on to conquer the island of Kyushu.

Chosokabe Strengths

  • Chosokabe bow Ashigaru, Samurai, and warrior monks have increased accuracy and melee stats with cheaper cost and upkeep.
  • Increased income from farms.
  • Starts with a lumberyard, which provides additional income and cheaper recruitment costs for ships.
  • Can recruit the Daikyu Samurai, a powerful samurai bow unit that has a higher range and is on par with the bow warrior monks.
  • An easy starting position that is highly defensible, as you start on the island of Shikoku.

Chosokabe Weaknesses

  • Starts at war with the Kono clan in the north.
  • Daimyo is pretty old at the age of 41, with the male heir being only 6 years old.
  • The archery bonus only applies to Bow infantry but not to Bow cavalry.
  • Shikoku doesn't have a craftwork specialty, so using bow units to their full potential requires invading territories outside Shikoku with a craftwork specialty.

Pick Chosokabe if

  • If archers are a vital component in your army and you want most of your battles to feel like Agincourt, this is your best pick.


8. Hojo

The Hojo are known as masters of fortifications and are renowned for their efficient castle building. With their skills in building magnificent castles, they also have knowledge of destroying one; therefore, the Hojo are also known for their siegeworks.

Hojo’s advantage lies in two things: their wealthy land and their siegecraft. Being able to field siege units at a cheaper price and having a cheaper castle cost make the Hojo capable of becoming one of the wealthiest clans by mid-game.

Hojo Strengths

  • Daimyo starts with a Night Fighter trait, fitting as Hojo Ujiyasu historically won most of his battles at night.
  • The only playable clan that starts with two potentially wealthy provinces, one with a gold mine and the other with a blacksmith,
  • Superior Fire Rockets, Hand mortars, and Fire bombs Ashigarus are great for dealing damage and morale shocks.
  • Castles cost 10% less to build, repair, and upgrade.
  • Reduced recruitment and upkeep costs for Siege units.

Hojo Weakness

  • Although siege units are cheaper, their Mangonels, Hand mortars, and fire bombs are pretty inaccurate, almost making them useless in field battles.
  • They are in the vicinity of two powerful clans, Takeda and Oda, to the east.
  • Starts at war with the Ogigayatsu Clan to the west.
  • Powerful siege units take a long time to research before being able to recruit.

Pick Hojo if

  • If you love explosions, bombardment, and artillery, this is a faction you will definitely like. Why starve your enemies behind the walls if you can just rain fire on them?


7. Uesugi

A famous clan hailing from the province of Echigo, known as the masters of faith, they specialize in fielding superior warrior monks. Though Buddhist monks are known for their peaceful nature, the monks of Uesugi are different, as they take pride in their worship of Bishamonten, the god of war.

As a sign of reverence to Bishamonten, their daimyo inscribed the word "Bi 毘" on his banners to let his enemy know that "It was Uesugi Kenshin, the Avatar of Bishamonten, who takes command of the field."

They have one of the most difficult campaigns due to their location and proximity to warmongering clans. The Echigo and Kanto regions are geographically difficult to defend due to their large area and open plain. Meeting the Takeda clan will eventually result in conflict, as the game is hard-coded for the two to hate each other, a reference to the historical rivalry between Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen.

Uesugi Strengths

  • Can recruit cheaper and superior warrior monks, great units that have great morale and melee damage.
  • Monk agents have a +2% success chance when performing actions.
  • +5 Accuracy and morale for Bow warrior monks; couple this with Fletcher upgrades and they become deadly.
  • Uesugi Kenshin is 15 years old, the youngest Daimyo in the game. You can secure an alliance with the Asano or Jinbo by marrying one of their Daimyo’s daughters.
  • The island of Sado is nearby; it has a gold mine and a relatively rich province, one of the best money-making provinces, as other clans usually ignore this province.
  • Your home province, Echigo, is a really large land; therefore, you have time to prepare your defense against land invasions.
  • Increased trade income.

Uesugi Weakness

  • Even though Echigo is large, it is also disadvantageous, as marching against another province will take a lot of turns.
  • Starts at war with the Jinbo
  • In the vicinity of aggressive clans, like the Hojo and the Ikko-Ikki sect (Their religious rivals) and the Takeda (Their clan nemesis). The latter, Takeda, is hard-coded to hate Uesugi; therefore, war against them is inevitable.
  • Threat of constant wars as most of Uesugi’s neighbors are aggressive and treacherous clans.
  • Early to mid-game is quite difficult. conquering large lands will be very difficult to defend, therefore requiring careful maneuvering of armies.
  • Their vassal, the Yamanouchi, may drag the Uesugi into pointless wars against other clans.

Pick Uesugi if

  • If you like the idea of Buddhist monks whooping samurai units and going to war just to embody the spirit of Bishamonten, the war god, then this is the clan for you.


6. Date

The Date are known as the masters of battle; they are a proud clan that traces its lineage to the Fujiwara clan. Ruthless and ferocious in battle, it is reflected in the charge bonus to all of their units and their superior No-Dachi samurai unit, a hard-hitting unit that will shred infantry within seconds.

They start in the Province of Iwate, a fertile and very large fief located in the northeastern corner of Japan. It is a double-edged sword; although it is difficult to invade, Date armies have to spend more time traveling through it. They also get easy access to the iron trade node from the Ainu tribes in the north.

Date Strengths

  • +2 Charge bonus to all units, including the generals.
  • Reduced recruitment costs and upkeep for No-Dachi Samurai.
  • Can recruit superior No-Dachi Samurai.
  • Home province is large and defensible; Iwate lies in the northern part of Japan, far from other major clans.
  • Home province is rich and fertile.
  • Home province has a blacksmith specialty; therefore, melee and armor upgrades are accessible early on.
  • Starts with a sword school, making Katana Samurai recruitable early on.
  • Daimyo has two brothers; one is a general, and the other will soon come of age.
  • Bulletproof samurais are great anti-cavalry and anti-gunpowder units.

Date Weakness

  • Starts with a civil war within your province.
  • Starts at war with the Mogami clan.
  • Borders the most powerful clan at the start of the game, the Hatakeyama, who owns four provinces.
  • Conquering neighbors will take multiple turns, as neighboring clans also have large territories.
  • No-Dachi is good for initial engagements but does not fight well in prolonged combat.

Pick Date if..

  • If you want to perform fanatical Banzai charges that demoralize enemy units and demolish them, this is the best pick for such tactics.


5. Takeda

The mighty Takeda, Masters of horses, are renowned for their skills in the saddle. Long before the Sengoku Period, the primary use of horses was mobility, as Samurais were initially horse archers until Takeda Shingen introduced the concept of cavalry charge, which eventually "changed the game" of samurai warfare in Japan.

Takeda's strength lies in its cavalry and its capabilities on the battlefield. The Takeda lands are not fertile, but they make up for it with superior warhorse breeds, as the Takeda starts with a warhorse resource. The Takeda Fire Cavalry is a great shock unit, although a little more expensive than the Yari cavalry. It is still superior with the same upkeep cost and can be acquired a little early on, requiring only Stables and Proving Grounds.

Takeda Strengths

  • Improved morale for cavalry units.
  • Can recruit superior cavalry units.
  • Reduced recruitment costs and upkeep for all cavalry units.
  • Kai, the starting province, has a warhorse specialty, giving the cavalry an early-game advantage.
  • Starts with a stable building, granting access to a light cavalry unit early on.
  • Starts on good terms with the neighboring Hojo clan and Imagawa clan to the south.
  • Clan Daimyo Takeda Shingen starts with a Bloodthirsty trait, giving a morale penalty against enemy units fighting near Shingen’s bodyguard unit.

Takeda Weakness

  • Starts at war with the Murakami clan to the north.
  • Uesugi is hard-coded to hate the Takeda Clan; meeting the Uesugi clan might lead to war.
  • With a heavy cavalry army composition, micromanagement is necessary when playing this clan.
  • Landlocked starting province.
  • The starting province has average soil.

Pick Takeda if

  • If you like Cavalry, hammer and Anvil tactics, and performing deadly cavalry charges, this clan is the most fun for that.


4. Ikko-Ikki

The Ikko-Ikki is not officially a noble clan but a militaristic sect of followers of Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism, or simply called "Pure Land Buddhism". They are mostly composed of peasants, monks, merchants, and ronins who are disgruntled with the ruling samurai lords, who are constantly waging wars and destruction across Japan.

The most unique faction in the game, they have a unique religion and a unique roster composed of armed peasants, monks, and ronins. Although lacking in Samurai units, their Ashigaru are a rival to the Oda Ashigaru, making them one of the clans that can rival the Oda expansion in the early game, and their warrior monks also rival those of the Uesugi clan. Kaga and Echizen are wealthy and defensible provinces, giving them a great advantage.

Ikko-Ikki Strengths

  • Can recruit large units of Ashigaru, adding an extra +40 men, weak but with high morale.
  • Generals can convert provinces to the Ikko faith.
  • Can recruit superior warrior monks.
  • Can recruit the cheap loan sword Ashigaru, the only sword-wielding Ashigaru unit. Powerful early-game unit that scales well into the late-game.
  • One of the only 3 playable clans that starts with two provinces
  • The best starting provinces in the game Echizen, which has a crafting specialty, and Kaga, which has a blacksmith specialty, and both are relatively rich.
  • Highly defensible position with two chokepoints.
  • Ikko monks can summon Ikki rebels that can capture provinces for your clan without declaring war.

Ikko-Ikki Weakness

  • Cannot recruit Metsuke, making the Ikko-Ikki prone to ninja assassinations and sabotage.
  • Almost every other clan hates the Ikko-Ikki because of their faith.
  • Samurai units are Ronin, which have 25% fewer men than their samurai counterparts.
  • Naginata and No-dachi samurai are not available on their roster.

Pick Ikko-Ikki if

  • You want to play as the underdogs and one of the most persecuted factions in the game.
  • You want a different play style.
  • You like the idea of controlling an army of rebels and misfits.


3. Otomo

The Otomo pride themselves as the masters of gunpowder. Being a convert to Christianity brings a lot of advantages, as an easier trade with the Europeans brings wealth and guns, but it also comes with disadvantages, as the Otomo generals have less honor due to being converts, they are viewed with distaste by other clans, as they follow the religion of the "Nanban" or barbarians; and their regions are unstable due to religious conversion.

Although the Otomo are in a ‘shaky’ position with other clans, they can field powerful matchlock units that neglect the Armor of samurai units. They can also recruit the legendary Portuguese Tercos - armored units that fights well in melee, and uses matchlock, making them a great all-around unit that can adapt to different situations. Being located on the wealthy island of Kyushu, they have the potential to be a really wealthy clan.

Otomo Strengths

  • Reduced recruitment costs for gunpowder infantry.
  • Can recruit superior matchlock units.
  • Faster import of matchlocks
  • Reduced cost for missionary actions.
  • Improved rate of conversion to the clan’s religion.
  • Starts with a Nanban trade port.
  • Starts with two provinces, Buzen and Bungo.
  • Starts with two matchlock units.
  • The Portuguese Tercos are beasts of a unit; they provide matchlock firepower and fight well in melee.
  • Starts with a nearby trade node, potentially making Otomo one of the richest factions.

Otomo Weakness

  • Cannot recruit warrior monks due to their Christian faith.
  • Diplomatic penalty with other clans due to their Christian faith.
  • Starts at war with the Ouchi and Shoni.
  • Clan Daimyo does not have any unique starting traits.
  • Faith conversion is required to stabilize newly conquered provinces.

Pick Otomo if

  • If you want to Christianize Japan and recruit foreign mercenaries to win your battles, this clan does not shy away from that.


2. Shimazu

The Shimazu are a proud clan with a long history worthy of their pride; they trace their lineage to the legendary Minamoto clan. They are known for their integrity and strict adherence to the old ways, or ‘Bushido’, and therefore their Katana samurai are deemed to be the finest in Japan and their generals are known to be paragons of loyalty

Their location in the southernmost part of Japan is very advantageous, as they can get easy access to three wealthy trade nodes that will bring tremendous wealth to the Shimazu. Their generals are an envy to other Daimyos; they are known for their integrity and are less likely to betray the clan. Having a sword school available in the early game gives them a powerful early-game advantage.

Shimazu Strengths

  • Reduced recruitment costs and upkeep for Katana samurai.
  • Can recruit superior Katana samurai.
  • Can recruit superior Katana heroes.
  • Increased loyalty for all generals.
  • The best starting position in the game, highly defensible and rich home province.
  • It starts with a blacksmith in the province, providing buffs for units in the early game.
  • It starts with three nearby trade nodes that you can immediately claim.
  • Daimyo starts with three sons that will soon come of age.
  • Shimazu heavy gunners are excellent gunpowder units that also provide knockback damage.

Shimazu Weakness

  • Daimyo does not have any game-hanging traits.
  • Due to their distance from Kyoto, Shimazu will tend to claw their way to Kyoto.
  • Does not have any starting agents.
  • Starts at war with the neighboring Ito Clan, which controls two provinces at the start of the game.
  • Shimazu should also invest in naval strength to secure the nearby trade nodes.
  • In the vicinity of the Otomo clan, their missionaries might attempt to convert your lands to Christianity.

Pick Shimazu if

  • It is your first time playing Shogun 2. They are the most vanilla faction, but they also provide great samurai unit bonuses.


1. Oda

The legendary Oda clan has a formidable reputation for fielding quality Ashigaru units. These common soldiers are cheaper to recruit and maintain than Samurai. They are known as masters of the peasantry because of their great command of the Ashigaru on the battlefield. Their special unit, the Long Yari Ashigaru, acts like a Greek Phalanx formation, devastating almost any unit caught in the yari wall.

Being number one on the list, they are actually a really fun clan to play as. Their Ashigaru units are so cheap and superior that most of the time they can steamroll central Japan in just a few turns. Quality Ashigaru units are all you need to secure the early game, and also an upgraded Oda Ashigaru can scale really well into the late game, even beating superior samurai units, Investing in Ashigaru units saves money in the long run to invest in other projects or build more armies!

Oda Strengths

  • Improved morale for all Ashigaru units.
  • Can recruit superior Ashigaru units.
  • Reduced recruitment costs and upkeep for all Ashigaru.
  • Their strength lies in their superior and cheap Ashigaru units, making them the strongest clan in the early game.
  • Home province of Owari has very fertile soil.
  • Daimyo is brave, thus providing +1 morale for units, an advantage for the early game.
  • Oda Long Yari Ashigaru units are very difficult to demolish when in Yari wall formation, but they can hold their own against Katana samurai.

Oda Weakness

  • Starts at war with three neighboring clans, the Saito, the Imagawa, and the Tokugawa.
  • Starts with a rebellion in home province.
  • Starts in central Japan, where the Oda tends to fight on two fronts.
  • -20 diplomatic relations with other clans due to the Daimyo’s impolite trait.
  • Far away from valuable trade nodes.

Pick Oda if

  • If you like to build a cheap and powerful army of peasants with sticks, this is the best faction to pick, plus they are number one on the list.

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