Rhye’s and Fall of Japan


Japans unique historic victory conditions are:

  1. Be 1st in score in 1500 AD
  2. No foreign culture in any plot of Honshu (Japanese main island) in 1700 AD
  3. Never lost a single city until 1850 AD

Unique Power

Honor: All military land units have a bonus in city defense.

Unique Building – Slate plant

unique building

Unique Unit – Samurai

Rhye's and Fall Japan Unique Unit Samurai

As skilled swordsmen the Japanese Samurai replace maces. They are not stronger, but start with Drill 1 and already have 2 first strikes. Your enemies won’t know what’s coming for them. The Samurai are extremely useful against China, but definitely need support later against Mongolia.

Japanese Strategy

Japan is a lot of fun (I know I’m writing this about most civilizations in Rhye’s and Fall). Japan is not very challenging (just like Babylon) but still fun, because it takes a while, there are alternative approaches and either way it’s a mixture of military engagement and economic dominance.

Here’s as quick summary:

  • found Kyoto on the spot
  • my favorite other city locations are
    1. Tokyo at the east coast, 1 NE of the rice
    2. Sapporo in the very north 1 N of the dyes
    3. Naha on the SW island (if you feel threatened by Chinese culture on your mainland)
  • build the Colossus (+1 commerce on all water tiles)
  • build the Great Lighthouse (+2 trade routes in all coastal cities, which will be all of your cities)
  • conquer Seoul

The above should get you most of the way to reaching the UHV.

The pacifist Rhye’s and Fall Japan strategy

With the cities as mentioned above, no foreign culture should ever reach your mainland, which secures UHV criteria 2. In case of an attack by China, make sure to garrison Naha and Seoul properly. Your leader traits help a lot here. Tokugawa is characterized as


Free combat 1 promotion (+10%) for melee and gunpowder units and double production speed for barracks (and dry-docks).


Free drill 1 (1 frist strike chance) and city garrison 1 (+20% city defense) for archers and gunpowder units and double production speed for walls and castles.

With that your Longbowmen garrisoned in a city will already have 1 first strike, 1 first strike chance, +45% city defense (with one add. promotion by barracks), +25% garrison bonus bringing them to 10.2 combat strength. Attacks on Naha must be amphibian (-25% penalty) and siege units can’t attack amphibian. Naha will be impregnable. Seoul will be, too, if you only get enough units there.

Becoming first in score in 1500 AD

As Japan you start earlier than most European civs. Try to get Colossus and Great Lighthouse, as stated above. This will be a mandatory push to your economy and reaching UHV criteria 1 will be hard to make without this.

Try to get Moai Status, too, as this will even more push your production capacities. But it’s not really necessary. From there focus on research to stay on top of the ranking. Researching most techs as the first civilization, will give you a head start on building many wonders. With your 4 (or 5 with Naha) cities, the lead in technology and some wonders it will be easy to be in the lead by 1500 AD.


When playing pacifist, you will most certainly be able to conquer the new world and vassalize Aztecs and Inca. An alternative would be to spread Confucianism there (your state religion) and have them become your vassals without military engagement.


Shwedagon Paya can be an immensely useful wonder, too. You will have gotten Confucianism from China early. Maybe even Taoism and getting a Buddhist city also helps. As long as you build your cities infrastructure, Organized Religion (+25% on building production in cities with state religion) helps. If you have one dominant religion, switch to Pacifism later (+100% Great Person birth rate in cities with state religion).

I could spread 3 religions in all my cities – so I switched to Free Religion (+1 happiness per religion in a city, +10% research in all cities). Also this allows you to build 3 monasteries in every city – again +30% research. Getting three religions though, will most likely only be possible with a bit of conquest:

The Alternative: Great Japan!

In Rhye’s and Fall Japan, an alternative to the pacifist and isolationist approach is: Great Japan!

The approach is quite simple: Instead having your cities produce that much research and focusing on specialists and Great Persons – build some units. With your bridge-head Seoul, you can quite easily advance on China. It will become instable by the end of the first millennium anyway, so it will probably be enough to conquer some northern cities. Beijing is also nice to have. I loved also conquering the holy cities of Confucianism and Taoism with 2 shrines granting another +40 GPT. Chinas resources will add to your happiness and health ratings.

Rhye's and Fall Japan UHV Mongol invasion
Conquering china is a risk to your UHV

Once China is defeated it’s essential not keep a very good balance between economics and military production. Mainly because you MUST NOT lose a single city to either Khmer in the south or, which is much more likely the Mongols in the north.

Mongolia spawns in 1190 AD (turn 240) as of the Atlas (check the spawn area there). In my game Jinzhou was inside Mongol spawn area, so I had to decline and have them declare war on me.

By the time they spawn, you should have plenty of samurai and pikemen in your northern Chinese cities. Their Keshiks will crumble at your city walls and wave after wave will be repulsed. Unfortunately Mongolian onslaught won’t stop, even after you make peace (or stay at peace for that matter). In my game they later attacked with hordes of cuirassiers and cannons. By that time you MUST have cannons of your own and musketmen garrisoned in your cities. Ideally fully promoted. To avoid flanking attacks on your defending cannons – use them to strike first.

You only need to defend until 1850. If you haven’t lost a city by then you’ll have achieved the UHV in Rhye’s and Fall Japan:

Rhye’s and Fall Japan – Beyond the UHV

Lasting peace with Mongolia is only possible if you wipe them out, vassalize them or severely cripple them. By 1975 I had vassalized the Native Americans as well as my immediate threats… uuuhm… neighbors Khmer and Mongolia.

The Japanese Empire is a very stable civ until that point, so it makes for an interesting end game. The main risk at this point is China spawning. Make sure to always have options to reload and change that event. Changes in the turn before that impact which civ spawns are (ordered by decreasing preference 😉 ): You making peace with another civ, declaring war on another civ, or different outcome of a major battle.

Rhye's and Fall Japan - Empire 1975
The Japanese Empire in 1975

The usual official strategy guides are still here:

1 thought on “Japan”

  1. Went back to R&F this past month. First game, Monarch-Japan. I conquered China shortly before Mongols spawned. For whatever RNG reason, China expanded south instead of north, so no cities flipping to Mongols. Ended up never fighting the Khan but allied with him. Mongol hordes fought the world while I pushed the research and expansion. 2 out of 3 UHV, I missed the score requirement in 1500 AD. 🙁

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