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You have many options for expansion in all directions. Each direction has its own advantages. Heading north is a high-risk but high-reward strategy. The Ikko Ikki are a persistent problem even after you destroy their clan, because their provinces have an exceptional value, but their early-game advantage makes them dangerous. Noto is a mediocre, but powerful province owned by Hatakeyama. The Uesugi are located east of the Jinbo, so it might be worthwhile to move against them.
You will also be in conflict with Oda factions, who are powerful in the game’s early stages. But you can gain access to the provinces Owari, and Mikawa. While Oda and Tokugawa lands are also difficult to conquer in battle, there is an advantage: no conversion requirements. You could also continue your conquests along the southern coast to the Imagawa and Hojo land. Suruga’s Philosophical Tradition provides benefits for superior Metsuke. Sagami’s Blacksmith and Izu’s Gold Mine provide advantages well into the middle-to-late-game.
The shortest route with a high reward is to head south into the Kii Peninsula. The Hattori in Iga do not offer much incentive to defeat them, besides protecting your homeland. But the Kitabatakes of Ise are not only a tempting opponent but also give easy access to the Tsutsui in Yamato and Hatakeyama province. Yamato has fertile soil and a holy site, making it rich and a place where Monks can be produced. Kii province is home to yet another Ninja Mountain Hideout but its Very Fertile soil would make it a good economic centre, even if the province didn’t have it. The problem is that the Hatakeyama family owns it, and you don’t want to upset them. If you decide to go this route and destroy the Ikko Ikki you have the option of simultaneously attacking their provinces Kii in south and Noto north. This will leave them with just one province, eastern Kanto, and make them less of a threat.
The last option you have is to advance westward, either through the Sakai in Wakasa, or by negotiating Military Access early on with the Ashikaga. These provinces have average or meagre soil when you first meet the Mori. But their specialties, and resources can still make them worthwhile despite the difficulty of access. The Craftwork in Hoki is a good example. Iron in Mimasaka is another. School in Settsu and Blacksmith in Bizen are also excellent. These conquests can be used as final campaigns in the mid-game before Realm Divide. They will give you a decent range of provinces where you can recruit high-quality troops.
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