This Total War: Shogun 2 mod lets you play out the real historical war that inspired the FX TV show

Shogun 2: Total War Sekigahara Campaign
(Image credit: The Creative Assembly, The Sekigahara Campaign mod)

While PC gamers all over the place are flocking back to Fallout after having a great time watching the new Amazon TV series, I'm over here quietly despairing that there's only a single episode of FX's Shogun left to air. The new adaptation of the 1975 novel has been so excellent I even considered playing the 1980s PC games that tried to put their own spin on the story just like our news writer Joshua Wolens did, but then I came to my senses and went looking for options that aren't quite as old as computers with 64 kilobytes of RAM.

And I found the perfect one in the first place I looked: the Total War: Shogun 2 Steam Workshop.

The Sekigahara Campaign jumps Total War: Shogun 2's campaign forward in history approximately 50 years, to the 1590s. During the time period of the game's vanilla campaign starting in the 1540s, warlord Oda Nobunaga and his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu won a string of victories until he was betrayed and assassinated by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide; not long after, Tokugawa allied with another of Nobunaga's allies, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to quickly defeated Mitsuhide. The two would later be enemies and then allies again, and Hideyoshi would go on to unite Japan and end the "warring states" period of the last 100-odd years. The broad strokes of those events form the backdrop for James Clavill's novel, with all the major players having their names changed: 

  • Tokugawa Ieyasu - Toranaga
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi - Hidetoshi (The former Taiko, only seen in flashbacks)
  • Hosokawa Gracia - Mariko
  • Honda Masanobu - Yabushige
  • Ishida Mitsunari - Ishido

The events of Total War: Shogun 2 let you play through the decades prior to the show and novel, then, but the Sekigahara Campaign jumps up to just before the events of the TV series. Should you choose to take command of the Tokugawa clan, you can lead the real-life version of Toranaga to victory. Or, instead, step into the shoes of Hidetoshi a few years prior to his death or control the clan of Toranaga's main rival from the council of regents in the show (Ishida Mitsunari is the real-life figure).

I installed the Sekigahara campaign with a click from the Steam Workshop and had no issue getting it running. My campaign, unfortunately, didn't fare as well. I'm clearly not the savvy politician of the show's version of Tokugawa, because my initial attempts to trade with my neighbors—who I was on "very friendly" terms with—were flatly rejected. They didn't even want my youngest son as a hostage!

When I finally declared war on a nearby clan and marched my new army off to war, I got Tokugawa killed by charging into a unit of spearmen. Let's hope his 18-year-old son, who's suddenly now the leader of my clan, is a little more competent than his analogue in the TV series.

The Sekigahara campaign mod makes a few big additions in terms of units, which are covered in this guide. It makes matchlock rifle units more common and also provides each clan a hero unit, a feature The Creative Assembly would embrace itself with later Total War games. It does away with religion and replaces it with political alignment, with each clan leaning towards either Tokugawa or Toyotomi. It also replaces monks and missionaries with political agents who have the same function, but it's a nice parallel to the TV series, which focuses in so tightly on the intra-clan politics of the period.

While the mod has some optional faction packs that change who you can play as, I recommend just sticking with the default install to pit yourself against the main players from Japanese history (and the novel's alternate history). With just one episode left you may not get to see the aftermath of Toranaga's ascendancy, but in Total War you can live it yourself.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).