How To Become The Shogun in EU4 (Tips + Mechanics Guide)

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Becoming the Shogun in EU4 is straightforward. You just need to conquer Kyoto as an “Independent Daimyo” or “Daimyo” nation.

Every Japanese-cultured nation has access to these government types.


The Situation in Japan During the Game Period

The Shogun was historically the military dictator of Japan.

While the emperor was nominally in control of the entire country, the shogun was the de facto central power.

The daimyos, essentially local rulers, owned allegiance to the emperor and by extension to the Shogun. Despite that, their realms functioned as autonomous states, which is represented in-game by the unique government type of the Shogunate and its interaction with the daimyo vassals.


Daimyo and Shogunate Government Types



The daimyo government has the following bonuses:

  • +10% morale of armies
  • +10% infantry combat ability

It also has some extra unique mechanics:

  • Prohibits changing government
  • Fixed Dynasty
  • Fixed to Duchy rank
  • Can ally, form coalitions with, and start wars against other daimyo without intervention from their overlord
  • Special “Sengoku” casus-belli on neighboring Daimyo
  • Special “War for the Emperor” casus-belli on the Shogun
  • Can become the Shogun by owning Kyoto

As a Daimyo, you have a casus-belli on all your neighboring fellow Daimyo to conquer their provinces.

You can eventually become the Shogun yourself, automatically vassalizing all the other Daimyo by wrestling control of Kyoto away from the current Shogun.

Your allies will be called on your side automatically in this war, and all other Daimyos will defend the emperor, unless they are currently at war. You can take advantage of that and time your declaration carefully to make your task easier.

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Declaring war on the Shogun as a Daimyo.

Independent Daimyo

The independent daimyo government has the following modifiers:

  • +10% morale of armies
  • +10% infantry combat ability
  • -150 government capacity

It shares some mechanics with the “Daimyo” government:

  • Prohibits changing government
  • Fixed Dynasty
  • Can become the Shogun by owning Kyoto


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The Shogunate government reform.

The Shogunate’s biggest advantage is that any vassals you end up with are considered Daimyo. These vassals only consider their OWN strength compared to yours, instead of the sum of ALL vassals’ strength.

This means you can amass a huge number of vassals who will have relatively low liberty desire.

Much like the HRE, this can be exploited for easy world conquests.

The Shogunate government reform has the following bonuses:

  • +1 diplomat
  • -25% envoy travel time
  • +5 maximum absolutism

Additional effects:

  • Prohibits changing government
  • Fixed Dynasty
  • Fixed to Kingdom rank
  • Cannot change primary culture
  • Can have Daimyo vassals
  • Can use “Shogunate” abilities
  • Can use special interactions with Daimyo vassals
Special Vassal Interactions
  • Change Isolationism – The daimyo’s isolationism becomes one step closer to the Shogun’s. +25% liberty desire.
  • Conscript General – Transfers the daimyo’s best general (except rulers, heirs, and consorts) to the Shogun. +30% liberty desire.
  • Force Seppuku – Order the daimyo’s leader to commit suicide. Only available on daimyo that have started a war. The daimyo’s successor will be less likely to be a warmonger. The shogun gets 5 monarch points per skill of the daimyo’s new ruler. +15% pdxredliberty desire.
  • Contribute to Capital – The daimyo loses 2 development in its most developed province, and the shogunate gains 1 development in its capital. +25% liberty desire.
    This interaction is only available if the most developed province of the daimyo has at least 3 development of the same type and at least half the development of the shogun’s capital.
  • Return land – Forces the Daimyo to return another Daimyo’s core province. +5% liberty desire per province development.
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The Shogun’s vassals and the interactions tab.
Shogunate Abilities
The three unique Shogunate abilities. / EU4
The three unique Shogunate abilities.
Ability name Effects on Shogun Effects on all Daimyo
Sword Hunt +250 manpower per Daimyo
+0.5 land force limit per Daimyo
-1000 manpower
-2 land force limit
Sankin Kotai +3 diplomatic reputation -1 diplomatic relations
Forcibly Expel Ronin -5% liberty desire

All these abilities come at a cost of -20 legitimacy and their modifiers last for 10 years. Multiple actions may be in effect at the same time.


Wrestling The Shogunate Title

Unless you start as the Ashikaga clan yourself (Shogun at game start), you will have to fight them to claim the title.

This differs if you are trying to do it as an outsider or as a Japanese Daimyo vassal.


Becoming Shogun as a Daimyo

Your goal when starting as a Daimyo is always to become the Shogun.

There are two ways on how to achieve that.

Method #1: Taking Your Time

As a vassal Daimyo you can simply play the game normally, forming alliances and conquering your neighbors. Confined only to the isle of Japan of course, as you are limited in your diplomatic actions.

You could even annex every single other Daimyo and then finally turn against the Shogun.

Method #2: The Diplomatic Way

Daimyo allied to you will be called on your side when you declare the war for the emperor.

What this means is that you can split Japan between you and your allies. A typical campaign would look like this:

  • Choose your allies – Ally a strong Daimyo on the other side of Japan and some other ones that will not fight between themselves.
  • Get stronger – Attack your neighbors and grow your and your allies’ power base, eliminating future enemies in the process
  • Declare on the Shogun – When you feel strong enough, declare on the Shogun and demand Kyoto in the peace deal. You do not need to go overboard with how much stronger your alliance is. Hire mercenaries, take loans, and go over the force limit.

Successfully demanding Kyoto in the peace deal will automatically make you the new Shogun and give you a full core in Kyoto.

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Demanding Kyoto in a peace deal.
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Pop-ups when claiming the Shogunate.

Becoming Shogun as an Outsider

This is where things get trickier.

You can change your Tier 1 government reform to “Shogunate” if you fulfill the following requirements:

  • You have your capital in Kyoto
  • You are in the Japanese culture group
  • Japan does NOT exist and has never existed

However, this will not make you the overlord of any Daimyo.

All Daimyo become Independent Daimyo when Kyoto falls to anyone without the “Independent Daimyo” government.

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Conquering Kyoto as a non-Daimyo nation.

So, ideally, you will have the Daimyo government-type before conquering Kyoto. That way you automatically get the al the former Shogun’s vassals.

The only nation with Japanese culture that doesn’t start as a Daimyo under Ashikaga is Ryukyu in Okinawa. As Ryukyu you can simply change your tier 1 government reform by spending 50 government reform progress.

In any other case you want to first culture convert into the Japanese group. This can be achieved by having more than half of your development in Japanese-cultured provinces. Your options are:

  • Move Capital to Ryukyu – Move your capital to Okinawa and unstate all other states. You can then convert culture to Kyushuan.
  • Convert provinces to Japanese – Conquer Ryukyu and start converting provinces (starting with Taiwan) to Kyushuan. Highly inefficient way.
  • Conquer land in Japan – You will have to win a war against the Shogun to take Kyoto at some point. Might as well win the war and demand some other provinces instead (make sure they are all the same culture). Unstate provinces so the newly conquered land amounts to more than half your total development and flip to their culture.

When you have the correct culture, simply go to the government tab, press the button on the top-left and change your tier 1 reform by spending 50 reform progress.

Now you only need to conquer Kyoto. Congratulations, you have successfully usurped the Shogunate!

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Conquering Kyoto as an Independent Daimyo.
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G. Tsechilidis

Born and raised Greek citizen. His love of history, geography, and all things map-related, are certainly a contrast to his pursuit of a master in civil engineering. An avid gamer from a very young age, he found the perfect match in Grand Strategy Games. If not for a good chess match or a round of carambole billiards, you'll certainly catch him firing up EU4 or a Total War game to spend the evening.