Best Factions in Total War: Shogun 2 (Ranked)

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge weeb, a history nerd, or a simple fan of the TW franchise – it’s fair to say that Shogun 2 is well worth the playtime.

The cultural significance of Feudal Japan all comes together and lets you control the fate of the country by controlling one of the main clans of a Samurai-rich Japan.

If you’re looking to go back and get your game on, I’ve created a list of the best factions in the game which actually comprises all factions in Shogun 2, so you can get an idea of which ones you may want to pick for your next session.

I’d also like to point out that each faction has its own set of pros and cons, and none are really terrible. Some are more difficult to play with than the rest, but there isn’t one clan that just makes me want to uninstall the game, as they do in other Total War titles (looking at you, Rome 2).


12. Otomo Clan

Otomo Clan Total War: Shogun 2 Faction

The Otomo Clan has a great advantage from the get-go: you get one of the best starts, positionally speaking, in the game.

On top of that, if you’re going for naval domination you’re going to use this clan above any other.

They have the best navy in the game. But you’re going to have to pay a decent amount of money for it!

In any case, dealing with religion is going to be an issue if you don’t combat it, as their influence from abroad can divide your people. A challenging clan to play with. But one of the best in the game for sure.


11. Ikko Ikki Clan

Ikko Ikki Clan in Total War: Shogun 2

The Ikko Ikki is the one DLC pack that I always recommend to buy when speaking about Total War addons.

This clan is basically what Austria was to Empire: Total War.

They give you the advantage of having ridiculously large numbers in exchange for weaker troops. Their regiments are made up of almost a third more soldiers than an average regiment of other clans, which puts them at a huge advantage in most fights.

As the old saying goes: “if you can’t beat them, create dozens of Ikko Ikki regiments until they surrender”.


10. Uesugi Clan

Uesugi Clan Faction in Total War: Shogun 2

The Uesugi clan will have you chasing religious superiority with their Buddhist tendencies.

They’ll use their faith to level anything that comes in their path, since they are one of the most aggressive clans in Japan.

And the power of their monks goes to show why.


9. Tokugawa Clan

Tokugawa Clan TWS2 Faction

The Tokugawa might have reduced recruitment costs across all of their provinces, but they’re still a very challenging clan to start a campaign with.

I think the best way to use them, and make the best of their bonuses, is to simply focus on expanding in one direction.

I know that many people go for the old and faithful strategy of ending all of your vassals as soon as the game starts. But I’d say to keep them a bit longer than usual.

Focus on your initial expansion with the Tokugawa and then aim for your vassals before becoming Shogun.

Oh, and you might want to take a look at the Oda before you look elsewhere on the map. These guys can be an actual pain in the ass to deal with.

The Tokugawa gives you one of the most challenging starts in the game, so I’d argue that they’re one of the best factions to pick if you already have a strong grasp of Shogun 2. Stay away from them if you’re a newbie, though!


8. Takeda Clan

Takeda Clan Total War: Shogun 2 Faction

The Takeda is another clan that will provide you with one of the toughest challenges in the game.

You’ll be almost boxed-in when you begin the campaign. Which will put you in a very compromising position where your strategy will play a huge part in whether you survive or succumb to your foes.

You’ll be facing the Date and Hojo clans from the start, and they’re out to get you.

There is a silver lining in all of this, though:

The Takeda has some of the strongest and more versatile cavalry units in the game. This will serve you well as you look to dominate Japan.


7. Date Clan

Date Clan Total War: Shogun 2 Faction

Looking to play as the most aggressive clan in the game?

Then you’re going to want to pick the Date.

These guys are always looking to conquer, and they thrive under battle above anything else.

They can recruit the best Nodachi Samurais for sure, which gives them enough versatility to create the strongest armies in Shogun 2.


6. Mori Clan

Mori Clan Total War: Shogun 2 Faction

Even though Mori ships are slightly inferior to those you can make with the Otomo clan, they’re still better than average. And cost much less to maintain, as well as to produce, than the regular ships from other clans.

This is another fantastic clan to use if you’re looking for absolute naval domination in your Shogun 2 campaign.


5. Hattori Clan

Hattori Clan in Total War: Shogun 2

The Hattori are the lords of ambushes in Shogun 2.

With their superior stealth tactics, you’ll be able to flank your enemies and outsmart them in combat if you’re a savvy enough general.

I do not recommend the Hattori for beginners, but it’s a great faction to play with for sure – especially if you’re looking for alternative forms of combat.

Maybe spend a bit of time learning the game if you’re brand new to it. Then give the Hattori a chance.


4. Chosokabe Clan

Chosokabe Clan TWS2 Faction

Now the Chosokabe is arguably one of the best clans if you’re a fan of infantry gameplay.

You’ll be spending the majority of your time creating new units with the amazing farm income that they have.

It’s a great balanced faction to play with, but you’re going to have to deal with a ton of enemies around you. Get those bows ready and you should be more than good to go.


3. Hojo Clan

Hojo Clan Faction in Total War: Shogun 2

The Hojo has some very strong units, but you’ll find yourself dealing with plenty of diplomatic issues.

Want a unique challenge? Well that’s what makes the Hojo Clan one of the better factions to start a campaign with.

One of the best moves with the Hojo is to pay the Takkeda some money to break their alliance with the Imagawa on turn 1, which will save you a lot of problems in the long term.

Do not focus on rushing to Kyoto – the Hojo need you to have patience if you want to succeed with them.

A fantastic challenge, but not an easy one by any means!


2. Shimazu Clan

Shimazu Clan in Total War: Shogun 2

The Shimazu clan is the easiest one to use, and the one that I would recommend if you still haven’t completed a Shogun 2 campaign.

Let’s face it: Shogun 2 is one of the toughest TW campaigns to finish.

And some people just want to pick a faction that will let them do it. If you’re new but really want to enjoy this game, the Shimazu is for you.

They have a very advantageous starting position that allows the clan to control all of the spice trade from Europe, and even get their hands on gunpowder sooner than any other faction.

That’s not all, either:

They have virtually no neighbors. Your only concern will be to control the western isles. and then keep your maritime frontiers as defended as possible.

Transport ships from your enemies might try to break down your shoreline defenses. But you might be able to intercept their armies before they make it to your shores!


1. Oda Clan

Oda Clan Total War: Shogun 2 Faction

Is there really a better way to play Shogun 2 than with the Oda Clan? We all know that in real life, it was Oda Nobunaga himself who managed to unify Japan as he became the Shogun.

And just like it happened in real life, it’s not an easy feat to achieve in Shogun 2.

I actually find the Oda campaign to be one of the most challenging ones to play, for the sheer fact that they start at war and at a very compromising position to begin with.

Become the rival of the wrong factions too early in the campaign and you’ll end up signing a death sentence for yourself, and for your entire clan.

I’ve even lost Nobunaga in the first few turns in one of my Oda playthroughs!

Extremely annoying, but that led his son to become the Shogun that unified Japan. Which was still as close to history as could be after a catastrophic start to my campaign. And man was that fun.

I know you’ll love to play with the Oda as much as I did – especially if you’re looking for a challenging session.

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Marco Ibarra

Born in the first half of the 90s, video games have been a part of my life ever since I was introduced to Age of Empires I by my dad. I'm a Mass Communications graduate with a specialization in Marketing, as well as a hardcore gamer. My aim is to bring you quality content so you can get the best out of your games and take your experience to the next level!