Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension
is a true strategy game where you can control the entire empire. I say can because it will all depend on your skill and strategies. It will also depend on factors like the clan you choose, the scenario, and more. I venture to say that some scenarios were just not meant to be won by certain clans, but then historically that was also true. There were definite winners and losers over time.
While there are a lot of options on the Main Menu, there’s really only one way to play. You either start a New Game or Load Game. When you start a game, you choose scenario to play. It can be a bit confusing because it starts off with four officers for you to choose from. I thought that was just my initial choice. Then I noticed that you can press (O) to close that and if you do, it will give you a list of all the scenarios (and officers that go with them) that are available. It also tells you what date that scenario starts. You will notice that most of them are historical, but some are purely fictional. There is also a Tutorial scenario listed first. If you don’t know (or don’t remember) how to play, I recommend starting there. After you pick a scenario, you will choose which clan to play as in that scenario (you can even choose to create your own clan). Next, you will pick an officer. If you just chose one of the officers at the beginning, you will not choose a new one now.
After you get through all that, you choose your difficulty and edit any other settings you want. You can customize a lot of stuff like income, labor, aggression level, and more. Plus, you can set these things differently for your own clan than the other clans. After you set that up, you can change your scenario settings as well. Here, you can change their life span, turn off or on fictional characters, and more. Changing these settings, especially things like fictional characters, can cause your scenario to go off of the normal course of history, but if you’re playing a fictional one, that obviously won’t matter.
Ruling a country isn’t easy. In the Tutorial, you’ll start out as a Retainer and work your way up. Across the various scenarios, you can choose to be a Retainer, Chamberlain, Lord, or Daimyo (in order from least to most power). You will get more power and more responsibility as you climb in the ranks. There are a lot of little details to keep track of. The Tutorial does a really good job of walking you through everything. Each month will start with a Council. Basically you get paid, hear reports, and tell people what to do. The more power you have, the more reports you will get about other clans. As you might expect, Daimyo leaders have more power than Retainers and they can appoint Retainers and such.
You will be given quests as you progress in the game. You do not have to complete them, but doing so will keep things on historical track. You do not have to choose to accept a quest, but if you don’t take some of them, then you might not get future ones that depended on that quest. You will also have to deal with Sieges and Naval Battles this time. A Siege is used to take over a castle. You will need to manage to take the innermost area to take the castle. There are many gates that you can use to get there. While it might seem quicker (and more interesting) to fight your way through, a better strategy is to look out for the gates that aren’t being used and take them. Sieging can take a lot of strategy as you can split your units and try many ways in. Sometimes it is a balancing act. Just like battles, you can pause the game at any time and change up your plans. Naval Battles are less common. If you can manage to start one, good for you; I haven’t figured out how yet. You will just run into them. Also, you don’t really have much control over them, but they are pretty! Keep on fighting and doing the things that you are supposed to, and eventually you might just beat the scenario.
There are other things that you can do from the Main Menu, like edit historical officers, edit created officers, create events, officer directory, feats, downloadable content, and settings. Most of these are things that will allow you to customize your game even more. Of course, keep in mind that if you are trying to stay 100% historically accurate, adding/editing officers and events will change the course of history.