Gameboys From Hell: Solium Infernum Part 4

By Kieron Gillen on January 18th, 2010 at 12:30 pm.

WHO WILL RULE HULL? Hull city council.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Before we delve into the open combat, here’s a check-list of the diaries so far…

Kieron/Quinns: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30]
Hentazu: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30]
Poisoned Sponge: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30]

If you’ve only been following what’s been linked here, you won’t have read either Sponge or Hentazu’s 21-30 turn reports, so head over there and come back.

Turn 31 – Kieron:

So it appears it wasn’t a misreading of Scrof’s character at all. But in Solium Infernum, the actual turn results aren’t telling the full story. Between this turn and the last there’s been desperate begging on my part not to go into war. My attack was opportunistic, etc. I realise exactly how close to the edge he’s been pushed, in terms of being openly furious. Everyone’s robbing him blind – I didn’t realise at the time, but does serve him right for going for a Charisma build – and he’s virtually tied down. I basically offer to help him out against Zah’hak by bringing my own powers to bear. While the actual deal appears to have been done in an exchange transcript, here’s a snippet of the talk around the game at this point…

KG: Are we still working together then? I’m altering my diplomatic status to your little friend. Tell me when, and I’ll rob him blind.
Scrof: Yep, but Sponge is pressing down on my north and I can’t afford to lose the Temple of Lust. Won’t be in a position to do anything for a few turns.
KG: May just rob him blind anyway. Sponge will be trouble. He clearly thinks you’re the biggest threat.
Scrof: Sigh. I’m totally shut down. Nothing I can do as long as I’m still the target for Looting the Vaults.
KG: Gimme a few turns and I’ll steal his praetors to equalise the armies a bit.

I can’t even remember now what was truth and what was lies. It’s that kind of game. One thing which strikes me as probably honest is the Praetors situation. I know I need them. Everyone else has neat ones. I only have a feathered chap. It’s time to take one.

Turn 31 – Quinns:
FUCKING SPEEDO DEMON. I want to go to war with the bastard. I want to place a thumb on his meagre legions and holdings, apply some pressure and smear them across the map, but I can’t.

The problem here is that Speedo owns a properly ludicrous praetor, a massive minotaur with a hitpoints stat that suggests he’s not made of flesh but cast in iron. I absolutely can’t let Speedo determine the terms of a vendetta between us, because he always picks single combat of champions and then puts forward this brick shithouse. To set the terms myself and get the ground war I want I need Speedo to refuse one of my demands, but I can’t get a word in edgeways because Speedo’s ceaselessly demanding things from me, thereby tying up our diplomatic status. I’m rapidly starting to see him as my nightmarish wife.

Gurgh. Looks like if I want a war, I’m going to have to pick on somebody my own size. How tedious. And I definitely do want a war, or two, or three. Sitting here and turtling, I’m not going to win, but if I start fighting I might win or lose. Not exactly a hard choice.

Turn 34 – Quinns:
Here we go! This is gonna be rocky.

I’m maneuvering my armies into a position that’ll let me begin two separate aggressions, one against Kieron in the North and another against Zah’hak in the south. If that sounds risky, it’s because it is. If it sounds stupid, well, I guess it’s that too, but just let me explain my reasoning.

(1) I can’t be sure if either Kieron or Zah’hak will accept my demand, thereby stopping my would-be war in its tracks. If I make demands from both of them I can expect at least one of them to refuse. (2) I have an emergency failsafe if either fight gets out of hand. It’s an event card called A Great Fissure, and it’ll let me turn a couple of cantons on the map into an impassable chasm (potentially swallowing any legions occupying those cantons, too). If Kieron or Zah’hak try and turn a victorious defense into a retaliatory invasion, in theory I’ll be able to simply sunder the ground between us.

Besides, fortune favours the bold, right?

Turn 34 – Kieron
As expected since he was slinking his hyperunit close to the border, Quinns has made a demand. This turn, after some thinking, I reject it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got his number.

His mega army is the Chosen of Quinns. Its stats are 8/14/3 with 17 Health points. What I have to face him is my disciples, who are a 10/3/3 with 13 health points. That’s actually my one decent unit which I received because I’m a prince, and it clearly hasn’t got a chance in a stand up biff fight against Quinns’ monster. Unless I do something to twist the odds a little.

Looking through the Bazaar, I’ve seen someone who could do exactly this. I’ve just bought him. He’s the chap who’s going to throw a spanner in the works.

Descarbia is a pretty decent little Praetor in a fight, and gives two bonuses to any unit he leads. Firstly, +3 to ranged. Secondly, the ability “Ranged Twice”. What does that do? Well, as the manual helpfully states: “The Ranged round occurs twice in battle”. Now that’s interesting. As you may remember from last time, Ranged damage happens before Melee damage before Infernal damage. Ranged is the only stat I already have an edge on Quinns. Unless Quinns throws something else onto the unit, the combat will go…

Ranged attack, Me 13 versus Quinns 8. -5HP to Quinns.
2nd Ranged attack – another -5HP.
Melee – Me 3 versus Quinns 14. -11HP to me.
Infernal – equal, so no damage.

Second round starts, which is the same as the first. So I do another 10HP damage, killing his unit before he gets a chance to remove those last two HPs from my Chosen. I win. The Vendetta will still be on, allowing me to march forward, reclaim my terrain and start chewing on his land.

I’ll wait until the last minute to actually add Descarbia, to prevent Quinns from being able to do the maths. I also plan to zap him with my new level 1 wrath ability, which just does some HP damage to soften him up before the battle. As the turn hits, he hasn’t added anything… I’m actually quietly confident. As long as he doesn’t do anything, I’ve got him.

Turn 36 – Kieron:

WTF!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I can’t believe the turn results. It actually takes several seconds for me to work out what’s happened. Quinns didn’t do anything. It went according to plan, except…

Looking through the results shows a couple of problems. The first drives me to teeth-grating rage, writing polite-yet-seething mails to designer Vic Davis, having to explain the whole combat system to Delightful Girlfriend for her to get why I was in a black mood and losing an hour’s sleep as I seethe restlessly. The second is fine.

The first? Well “The Ranged round occurs twice in battle” in the manual is somewhat deceptive. What it actually means is “A second ranged round occurs every round, at the end of the combat round”. So even under ideal circumstances, I’d only have done 5 damage, he’d have done 11, then I’d have done 5 again. Then we’d have the second round, where I’d have done 5, and he’d have done 11 and killed me with a couple of health-points left. “Ranged before Melee before Infernal” is one of the key golden rules of the game’s combat. That this isn’t true in this situation and that it isn’t in the manual is… well, awesomely frustrating.

As I wrote recently, humanity can stand anything but unfairness. This felt awesomely, epically unfair. I’d actually digested the rules. It’s just that the rules were wrong. The game’s been going on for a couple of weeks by now. It’s a battle which a lot weighs upon – the majority of mine and Quinns’ military strength. Quinns beating me would have be fine. Random luck beating me would be fine. But for something to be something entirely out of my control sickened me. I haven’t felt as low related to a videogame for all of 2009. I’m still angry at it now, especially as far as I can see, the Manual hasn’t been altered. My mail to Vic was, apparently, one of the politest he’s received on the topic. VIC! DOES THIS GIVE YOU A CLUE SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY FUCKING AMISS? YOU HAVE DRIVEN PEOPLE MENTAL.

(He’s actually altered it in-game in a recent patch, however. So he’s not all bad.)

Of course, it doesn’t matter anyway. Luck had also turned against me. In the last episode, I mentioned there were some modifiers which could apply to combat. Basically, at the start of combat a random number is added to a unit’s level. The person who is highest has “a small bonus in a random, non-zero combat attribute that it possesses”. My unit and Quinns’ were the same level. He’d got a higher random roll. It had randomly been added to his ranged. So that alone was a 16-17% chance. And the small bonus was +3. Which isn’t a small bonus. That’s a free artifact. The manual stating what “small” means (i.e. “A 1-3 bonus” or whatever) would have been helpful, to say the least.

(For perspective, if the random odds were the other way around, that +3 would have been enough for me to kill Quinns, even with the changed turn-order. Hell, even a +1 to ranged would have done.)

Fans of Solium Infernum will say that you really need to read the manual to play it properly. What they don’t say is that sometimes it doesn’t bloody matter.

FUCKINGSHITPISSINGBASTAR–oh, waitasec. Plan B.

Turn 36 – Quinns:
Zah’hak didn’t bite, but Kieron did. Poor Kieron. I’m currently devoting myself in my mighty entireity to tearing a chunk out of his territory. Again. He doesn’t have any nearby Places of Power, so this time I’ve set my victory condition for the vendetta as capturing 4 of his cantons. This is thoroughly useless territory I’m taking, but it doesn’t matter. I’m in this for nothing more than the prestige of slapping a weakling into submission.

I’m thoroughly enjoying our war so far, I must say. It’s been invigorating and refreshing, like a fruity beverage. I can’t believe I spent so long sitting on my hands, content to let the prestige roll in from my places of power! This is much more fun.

Kieron’s Very Angry about losing our first fight. He did come surprisingly close to winning, but a ritual he’d targeted at my advancing legion didn’t work. I’ve attempted to soothe him by hinting that it wasn’t just bad luck, because at character creation I took the perk that helps me resist deceit rituals. With any luck, he believed me. That might put a stop to him targeting me with them in the future.

In the same conversation Kieron came out with this, which makes me smile:

“I fully admit, I was relying on your overconfidence. IT ANNOYS ME THAT IT WASN’T QUITE ENOUGH.”

Turn 36 – Kieron:
You know, if you have to rely on one thing, surely you can rely on Quinns’ overconfidence? He’s worse than I am.

As an aside, worth noting that I did fall for Quinns’ lie about the anti-deceit perk. While it doesn’t stop me actually using deceit rituals against him when I need to further in the game, it does mean that he’s never my first target for opportunistic pilfery and that whenever I use a ritual against him and it works, I’m grateful for my good luck.

How dare he lie to me? That’s my job.

Turn 37 – Kieron:

For some reason, I turn down Speedo’s demand – almost certainly because I want my resources right now – which means he claims vendetta by single combat. I’m not going to send any of my Praetors to die on his blade, but it’s the last straw. I’m going to have to do something about Speedo after I win with this Vendetta against Quinns.

No, I haven’t given up. I’m blasting Quinns with destruction blasts, but they’re not even fazing his unit. There is a back up plan.

Meet the back up plan, freshly bought from the Bazaar.

More on this in a couple of turns. With any luck, it will involve Quinns screaming.

Turn 38 – Quinns:
I can dance all day! I CAN DANCE ALL DAY! My conquest of Kieron’s territory continues unabated. Better still, I’ve just picked up a lovely trinket from the infernal bazaar – The Tongue of the Liar.

Ah- don’t touch it! You don’t know where it’s been (aside from in the mouth of a liar). So, yes- this relic gives me a bonus to my deceit, which bumps me up to a high enough deceit level to steal other relics from my enemies. And hey! All I need to do is steal one relic and I’ll have completed my chosen objective, Envy. That’ll net me a cool 30 prestige at the end of the game.

And it only gets better! For the first time in real-life weeks I’ve managed to get a word in edgeways at the Infernal Conclave and make a demand of Speedo Demon before he makes one of me. Next turn I’ll have completed my vendetta against Kieron just in time to turn on Speedo Demon if he’s stupid enough to refuse my demand.

Jesus though, the pace of this game is getting more and more fierce. Not only are our archfiends becoming richer and more powerful, we’re all improving our personal grasp of the rules and subtleties of Solium. This game is starting to feel like kayaking down rapids. Worse, the game only ends when the conclave casts all 15 of its votes as to which of us will be the new leader of Hell. At the time of writing, they’ve cast… 6. Seems we’re in this for the long haul.

Turn 39 – Kieron:
Plan B is go!

Turn 39 – Quinns:
Haha. Hahaha. Fuck Kieron with an icicle.

The super Legion that’s kept me safe the whole game, the Chosen of Quinns, were intercepted by one of Kieron’s legions as they moved to take the last canton needed to fulfill my vendetta. It was a massacre, of course, but Kieron equipped his boys with the Orb of Oblivion, an artifact that mysteriously vanished from the bazaar a few turns back. It meant my legion was obliterated after they won the battle. Well played, Kieron. Well. Fucking. Played.

This is more than a setback. This is… this is, this is. This. Yeah. Not only have I just lost all the prestige I bet on the vendetta and handed it to Kieron, but I’ve also just gone from having a northern border so strong I could make demands of my neighbours to my northern border being totally defenseless. With the exception of my places of power, it’s barren. And this is the goddamn turn goddamn Speedo Demon chooses what to do about my goddamn demand. Prior to losing my legion, this was my chance to deal out some payback.

I’ll have my revenge on Kieron, but there’s simply no time to think about vengeance now. I need to heal, and think.

Turn 39 – Kieron:

Yes, I turned a cheap-ass unit into a suicide bomber. Never give up, never surrender, etc.

For all my grouching upthread, this is absolutely Solium Infernum at its best. As Quinns said around the time, one of the things he likes is that no matter how much someone looked screwed, they can totally show their teeth. I’ve actually won the Vendetta – Quinns’ unit was annihilated before it could claim the last hex – and removed Quinns’ best unit from the game. Being his chosen, it will re-incarnate – but it’ll reincarnate with lower stats. Quinns’ no longer an unassailable military superpower. Game on.

With hindsight, I’d fucked up a bit with the battle. Blasting the enemy was stupid. Rather than the destruction, I should have used the level 1 deceit skill which would have – since I had Deceit 4 – would have allowed me to reduce one of his skills by a big old chunk (1-6+4, if memory serves). There may have been a reason I didn’t do it, of course, like a lack of funds. But still! You live, you learn. Except Descarbia, who is screaming in the pit. Serves him right, him with his silly rules.

Turn 40 – Quinns:
Right. Not only did Speedo refuse my demand, therefore allowing me to claim a vendetta if I only had a legion left to actually fight him, Kieron’s made a demand of me. Urgh, irony. That Northern front suddenly looks like my deathbed, and the expense of buying a legion, equipping it, and marching them up there to protect me would be immense. I can’t possibly afford that.

I guess I’ll bow to Kieron’s demand and fob him off with what have to be the last 4 crap tribute cards in the entire game. Oh, and it’s only this turn that I’ve only just figured out how to draw secret objectives. God damnit. It’d be ridiculous to draw one this late in the game, with so little time to fulfill it.

Wait. Oh my. I’ve just figured out how I can claim that vendetta and go to war with Speedo Demon while keeping my forces in the south. Oh my goodness. Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.

, .

93 Comments »

  1. Rinox says:

    And here I was wondering what to read during lunch break…problem solved!

    • Drexer says:

      I had my lunch on my desk as I started reading this, I was so engrossed that when I finished I was still holding my fork with a piece of meat halfway to my mouth. The same piece I had been cuting right before starting to read.

  2. Yargh says:

    you are so close to making me buy this game….

  3. Thesper says:

    The max combat bonus something can get is the same as its max number of attachments, half its level rounded up. Which is a useful thing to know.

  4. Riesenmaulhai says:

    I guess these reports are such a success you should consider giving them away only to subscribers.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      That.. that’s just fiendish!

      But not a bad idea, altogether.

  5. Dolphan says:

    While it’s a fair point about the manual, it does actually explain how ‘Ranged Twice’ works in game, if you look at the praetor in the bazaar or in your forces screen …

  6. Web Cole says:

    Woo, this is awesome :D

    Hopefully lots more people will buy it now and we can get tons of RPS games going!

  7. sonofsanta says:

    I know many people who used to do all the weirdy play-by-mail games (Serim Ral et al) who would adore this. I am going to have to start forwarding all these diaries around to everyone I know and encourage them to spend their moneys on it too. You bastards. I am so broke already.

  8. Fuu says:

    I have folded and purchased the game. Curse you sly tongued salespeople.

  9. Iucounu says:

    Really loving these reports. I spent some time playing the demo but it doesn’t seem nearly as much fun vs the AI…

    On a minor and incredibly pedantic note, it’s ‘faze’ not ‘phase’, as in ‘it didn’t faze them’. You’re in good company: Mark Twain made the same mistake.

  10. Ian says:

    I was holding off purchasing this because of the price but I DON’T WANT TO HOLD OFF ANY MORE AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

    EDIT: I should point out I don’t think the game is necessarily bad value, I just didn’t think it’d be worth it because I’m wary of multiplayer-only* for the most part.

    * Which, despite the single player mode, I gather this game is essentially multiplayer only if you want to see anything like the best of it.

    • tekDragon says:

      This game does look promising and interesting, but the price point is ludicrous. I respect the production that went into it, but relatively speaking it doesnt make sense by comparison to other games’ prices.

      Paying $30 a piece for me and 6 of my friends to play this is just not going to happen. if the game were $10 I’d buy if for a few of my friends, at $5 I’d buy a 6-pack.

  11. Wichtel says:

    “I was holding off purchasing this because of the price but I DON’T WANT TO HOLD OFF ANY MORE AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.”

    this …

    I hope Vic is paying you for this :D

    • Rinox says:

      I’m still going strong in my intention to wait for a sale or other miracles (steam christmas spoiled me), because for now a tax refund-fueled 100 quid Amazon purchase earlier this month has me in a financial guilt headlock for this month.

  12. Jeremy says:

    My prayer’s were answered in the time it took me to have a bath. Glad to see round 4 up. Now, how about round 5? :D

    I love reading this stuff. I’ll never play, for several reasons, but I thoroughly enjoy AARs, and this is a great one.

  13. StalinsGhost says:

    Real princes of lies don’t need fancy digestive muscles to spin their yarns of corruption!

    Really wishing I’d made notes now.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Stalin: I didn’t make notes after the first 20 turns. I’m using Quinns’ turns to remind me the rough shape of what happened, and they downloading the most important turns. If you just run them in the folder, you’ll go back in time to that point.

      KG

  14. Ivan Joukov says:

    Haha Orb of Oblivion was a marvelous move, awesome!

  15. Ergates says:

    A question those that play this: How do you arrange your lives around a game that could take days/weeks to play? Do you just accept that there might be days when one of the players doesn’t get a chance to play? Or do you all make a commitment to make at least X moves per day?

    I’m interested in the practicalities of pbem as I’d love to play this (against people natch – if the demo is anything to go by, the AI isn’t brilliant) but fear RL would interfere too much.

    Also: More Please…

    • Hentzau says:

      You don’t, generally. Unless somebody is away most games proceed at a minimum pace of about one turn a day, since people take their turns when they get home from work/uni/whatever and check their email. If somebody /is/ away then they usually have the good grace to inform the rest of the players so they know there’ll be a delay. I’d say it’s fairly sedate, except for the fact that waiting an entire day to find out whether your risky gambit actually worked is sheer torture.

    • Dolphan says:

      Worth noting that a turn takes about 5-15 minutes, so it’s not too strenuous. I’m doing them for our current game in my lunch break at work and when I get home, so I manage two a day at least and I don’t have a great deal of spare time.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Ergates: In addition to what Hentz said, there were times we all were in a chatroom for a few hours and the turns whipped back and forth – I think we got to turn 20 or so in the first session or something. Then it was basically a couple of turns a day, unless someone was slow. There was definitely times when some players were either busy – Quinns lost a week, I lost a few days, Sponge’s PC blew up.

      In other words, can play very quickly or very slowly.

      KG

  16. sinister agent says:

    This is sounding more and more like a game I would enjoy far, far too much.

  17. Haggai Elkayam says:

    This is fascinating. You should do things like this more often. Maybe make a voice recording of yourselves while playing an RTS or something.

  18. TCM says:

    Things got very interesting at Turn 37, mainly because that is the sort of thing I LOVE to do in TBS games.

    (I enjoy making people angry at me with bizarre and cheap tactics. It looks like I might actually have to pick this up, at some point.)

  19. freepower says:

    The thing is that although the game is poorly explained at the minute and that certain things are unbalanced – with the kind of aftercare Vic gives his games you can be sure that we’ll see less of those RAGE moments and more of those wonderful AHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA moments.

    Solium Infernum allows the kind of cleverness that other games I’ve played simply don’t support – plans and tricks within tricks.

  20. Vyggo says:

    The demo doesn’t really seem to do the game any favors. By the time the demo ended (turn 25) nothing really had happened. All my insults and demands were met by the AI and I was clearly on top, but it was really boring with nothing really changing past turn 5 or so.

    I’d think the best way to market this game is to give someone that buys this game the opportunity to invite a couple of friends for a multiplayer match so that they can try it for free. I think Laser Squad Nemesis did this back in the day. Still, I found it really hard to convince friends and collegues to play a play by mail game…

    Off Topic: RPS please improve the commenting system. If you do something wrong (like forgetting the captcha) you go to a new page and you lost everything you wrote.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Making an account and using it side-steps the Captcha.

      KG

    • Vyggo says:

      @Kieron True, but it happens when you forget the e-mail as well. It’s just not very user friendly, I’ve lost quite a few comments that way, not bothered typing it again. Not really important, but a niggle none the less.

      Love this feature by the way, especially this one was very enteraining.

    • CMaster says:

      @ Vyggo
      Lazarus is your friend when it comes to avoiding losing posts. Of course, you have to use Firefox, but then the usefulness of a selection of FF extensions is what keeps me using it. (well, one of the things – the other that all the others have bigger problems for me).

      I am also loving these writeups. The demo experience however made it clear that no, I wasn’t really interested in the game itself – at least not while it was so throoughly unpleasant to look at, with a very confusing and unclear interface and refused to run in windowed mode so it overwhelms with it’s off-whiteness.

  21. LionsPhil says:

    I’m thinking that PBEM games really need to grow a “journal” feature that is treated as part of the game data, so that you can make notes on your plans at the time you’re making them.

    Bonus points will be awarded to developers who combine this with a feature to take the game state archive and churn out a bunch of full-map screenshots per-turn. (The kind of thing Civ has always given you at the end of the game.)

    I also demand per-unit and global attached notes, for those pauses in play where my memory fails. (In fact, this would make “smart player” stuff like tracking guesses at people’s vault contents much more feasible.)

    • Dolphan says:

      There are mods for Civ that do that (for Game of the Month things where everyone starts from the same save and then compare notes competitively afterwards) – it’s definitely handy.

  22. Dante says:

    Has anyone else yet mentioned how un-Kieronlike the song being referenced here is?

    • AndrewC says:

      I just assumed it couldn’t be Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell and then assumed it was a reference to a Swedish Speccy game or something. I mean, it couldn’t be. Could it?

    • El Stevo says:

      @Dante:

      I’m not sure there’s such a thing as un-Kieronlike music.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      El Stevo: ‘xactly.

      I’m a white kid from from the smalltown Midlands. My genetics dictate that, at some point, I would have to have been heavily into metal.

      KG

  23. Scoteh says:

    Well, there you go. I gave in and bought it. Damn you all to hell (pun fully intended) etc

    Anyone for a game? :-)

  24. Warduke says:

    Really enjoying these guys. Keep ‘em coming!

  25. DMJ says:

    I tried the demo and found it curiously underwhelming… until I forgot I was playing against a collection of algorithms and found myself loudly questioning an opponent’s parentage in front of the lady in my life. I tried to explain, but then realised I was recounting a tale of betrayal and deception and brutal backstabbing that simply blew everything else I’ve played recently out of the water. It’s on my “must purchase when it won’t threaten my mortgate” list now.

  26. Torgen says:

    I think the dev should give RPS five, no TEN games to give away, and I think I should be first in line since

    a) I came up with the idea;
    b) I have a friend that wants to get a multiplayer game going;
    and
    c) My car battery gave up the ghost and had to be replaced to the tune of $100, and I’m hoping the food and toilet paper lasts for another week and a half until we get paid again.

    • Riesenmaulhai says:

      I think I spider. “My car battery gave up the ghost” is not even remotely english, is it?

    • JB says:

      It is, I’m afraid. Colloquially at the very least. Means it died.

      Also, I hope I can hold out on buying this for a bit longer, for much the same reasons I keep seeing above. (Paying my mortgage instead, wishing SI was in a sale etc)

  27. DrazharLn says:

    They already persuaded me, I’m playing the hell out of it. If it were just a little cheaper I’d probably be able to persuade some of my other friends to buy it.

    As it stands, £23 is too high an asking price for them, especially after Christmas.

  28. UW says:

    Haha, man, this is really getting intense. It must be over soon, surely, I have to know the result!

    I’m currently embarking on a mission to rally a bunch of my friends into buying this game… but I’m not sure how well it’ll go.

    Does anyone know what the player limit is on it? Six?

    • Quinns says:

      It’s six players maximum, yeah.

      Incidentally for all the people umming and ahhing over whether to buy this, I’m positive you could have a decent game if it was just you and one other (competent) human, then a collection of AIs.

    • Riesenmaulhai says:

      As I already gave it a try with very few player I’d say four is the lower limit for a dynamic experience of hate, anger and mischief. Everything below that is really one sided and lacks what I actually like most about the game.
      Except you enjoy poker with two players. Or chess.

  29. Andrew Barrett says:

    I’m buying this as soon as I convince a few of my mates to as well.

  30. Jon says:

    I love this game, and I love the write ups you’ve been doing. But I still will not be buying this game due to the price.

  31. Bonedwarf says:

    As I said in the prior thread, my experience of the demo was script errors immediately. That combined with an asking price almost twice what I just paid for Saints Row 2 on my Xbox, and finally a crippling lack of friends, means this is a no go.

    But damn these are entertaining to read. Really would like the game, but not at the price and with the errors. I mean am I alone here? Or was I just “lucky” in getting all those errors?

  32. Vinraith says:

    People that won’t pay $30 for a game are liable to create a world in which no game is worth $30.

    That said, enjoyable as these reads are I can’t justify picking up the game either. Price has nothing to do with it, though, it’s just sparklingly clear that this one’s only fun with people. I don’t buy MP-only games, no matter how cheap they are.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Oh that’s balls Vinraith. People are saying they won’t pay $30 for THIS GAME.

      I paid $90 for Forza Motorsport. I paid $70 for Madden. I paid $60 for Halo ODST. I’ve paid god knows how much for all the Race expansions on the PC. I paid $110 for War in the Pacific.

      I begrudge paying $30 for something written in Adobe Director that for me did nothing but throw up errors. (And it would be MORE than $30 for me thanks to the exchange rate.)

      Addendum: If you like single player only, and don’t own Galactic Civilizations II, go buy the complete pack immediately. Best single player game ever made IMO with some amazing AI.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Bonedwarf

      “People are saying they won’t pay $30 for THIS GAME.”

      If I agreed with you, I wouldn’t have posted that. In quite a few threads lately, I’ve seen people saying they won’t pay $30 for a game anymore, period, as a result of the recent spate of good deals. I think that’s a good way to put a lot of good game developers out of business, and that’s what motivated my comment.

      I’ve got no problem with anyone making individual decisions about what price they’ll buy a game at, I do that all the time myself. What I’ve got a problem with is people hard capping ALL games below a certain value (especially because of something like Steam sales), which seems like a good way to ensure a lot of great games never get made.

      In short, based on what you just said, I very much wasn’t talking to you. :)

      And yes, Gal Civ 2 complete is amazing, as incidentally is Sword of the Stars Complete.

    • Jon says:

      I wont be paying $30 due to the multiplayer only nature of the game and the constant script errors I am getting. And for those reasons I do not think this game is worth $30.

      Should I see an improved AI and a new demo without the script errors then the price I would be willing to pay goes up. Should the graphical interface be improved beyond, a cut scene or two wouldn’t go a miss for the diplomacy options and the events [think dungeon master cut scenes] and the price I would be willing to pay goes up.

    • jalf says:

      Vinraith, is the games industry better off if I spend $30 on one game, than if I spend $10 on each of 3 games? Or $5 on 6 games, for that matter?

      High prices aren’t necessarily the best for the games industry. (Which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t pay $30 for a game. I do so fairly often. $30 is cheap compared to what games cost locally. At $60 it starts getting a bit painful, and at $80 (roughly what brick and mortar stores charge for most games here) I’m just not interested.

      But apart from this, even *if* I were to refuse to pay $30 for a game, so what? If I intended to spend less on games *overall*, then yes, it’d become harder for games to be profitable. But if anything, spreading your money out a bit more just gives games that aren’t on the top 5 a chance to be profitable as well. I think that’s a good thing. Imagine how much more money smaller games could’ve made, if half the world hadn’t spent a week’s wages on the absurd price charged for MW2.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      Yeah, you have a point actually. I’d been thinking of it from the standpoint of “people are buying the same number of games, but refusing to pay as much as they used to,” but the reality probably is that they’re paying less and buying more. I know that, on average, I’m doing that. I do still go out of my way to buy games from developers I particularly want to support earlier, though, when they’re still at higher price points. I suppose it’s hard for me to entirely understand people that don’t have a set of developers they’re particularly invested in keeping around.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Vinraith:

      If I agreed with you, I wouldn’t have posted that. In quite a few threads lately, I’ve seen people saying they won’t pay $30 for a game anymore, period, as a result of the recent spate of good deals. I think that’s a good way to put a lot of good game developers out of business, and that’s what motivated my comment.

      I’ve got no problem with anyone making individual decisions about what price they’ll buy a game at, I do that all the time myself. What I’ve got a problem with is people hard capping ALL games below a certain value (especially because of something like Steam sales), which seems like a good way to ensure a lot of great games never get made.”

      If a game is good enough, people will pay for it. Sure, a handful of internet people (i.e. us) might not, be someone will. If a developer/publisher can’t put a game out at a price point that customers consider acceptable, the problem is probably not the customers. I realize it’s tempting to anticipate doom based on a small handful of internet postings, but the fact is the majority of game customers don’t post on RPS or similar sites, and those who do are disproportionately negative and critical in their approach. That doesn’t mean they’re necessary wrong (IMO they very frequently are, but not always, and anyway that’s just my opinion), but it does mean that assuming that games are doomed because customers want a good deal is probably a mistake. And even when customers do reject a game based on high price, we don’t know as much about that game’s profitability as the developers behind it. They know their job better than most of us, so doesn’t it stand to reason that maybe we should just chill out and let them worry about making a profit off of their games? Any indie developer who needs the RPS comment thread crew to tell them how to do business is already doomed.

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      Yup, as jalf was just saying and I was just acknowledging (simultaneous postings are a drag) there’s a clear flaw in my logic. And yes, it’s too easy to extrapolate a small, sample-biased set of internet comments into a worrying trend. At the end of the day, it’s just a mindset I find annoying, which is what really prompted the original comment. Pay me no mind. :)

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Vinraith: Fair enough, your last reply hadn’t posted up yet when I was posting anyway, I probably wouldn’t have posted that if it was. Carry on and have fun. :)

    • disperse says:

      I think $30 is fair but it makes convincing a couple friends of mine to buy the game as well difficult or impossible. If it were $10 or $15 I’d have a better chance or I’d be able to buy an additional copy or two for a friend.

  33. DJ Phantoon says:

    I just figured that it was to be taken literally; that there were six Nintendo Gameboys sitting around battling each other in hell.

    Sounds utterly insane now.

  34. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    MOAR

  35. Muzman says:

    I’m sorry to be the alien from another world bursting into a theatre in the middle of a play and yelling “What’s going on? Why is it so dark? These people are just pretending. Someone explain all this to me.” but I haven’t got a handle on this game and it’s fun to read about and intrigues me.

    A play by mail computer game? How does that work? Who ‘runs’ it? Are these mails just filled with move data sent to a master server or some such or does someone have to parse them? Are you guys role playing your challenges and insults and/or general crawling two facedness in chat rooms or are they picked from move options, or both?

    A cursory click around previews, tutes and the game’s site has failed to help me understand. It may be because I am thick, I dunno. Can someone point me to a relevant little primer or something? Cheers

    • jalf says:

      you just email the savegame to the next guy, who loads the game, plays his turn and emails the savegame. No magic.

    • Muzman says:

      Ah ok, cheers. I’m getting ahead of things again and dreaming of ways to remove the DM and have computer run games like Vampire: The Masquerade with all the talk and subterfuge. Never mind. Thanks.

      Wait, further Qs: How can one player filibuster another with demands? Is it something like x number of demands/diplomacy per turn between two players and -relevant stat- means one can take all of them or something?

    • AS says:

      @Muzman: Each player can bring up one diplomatic action per player per few turns, depending on your diplomatic ranking – if you’re a prince talking down to a marquis, you can demand more often for more, and vice versa. However, there’s an order in which turns are taken, so if you’re strong in one aspect, say legion combat, you can present your diplomatic before the other player can present one to you.

      Being able to present your demands before the other causes their diplomatic actions to be nullified, allowing you to filibuster while being weaker than them in some aspects. It can backfire and they’ll simply attack you afterwords, so you need some force to back up your words.

    • Muzman says:

      AS:
      Ah, a pecking order. I get it (in a round about sort of way). Cheers.

  36. JohnDoe says:

    Kieron’s “Plan B” really put a smile on my face.

  37. Psychopomp says:

    Do you people remember when you bought a game because it was fun?

    • invisiblejesus says:

      “Do you people remember when you bought a game because it was fun?”

      I remember when I did, yeah. It was the last time I bought a game. Some of the rest of the “Oh no doom games suck everything is horrible” crowd, I dunno. I’m beginning to think that the console crowd has remembered one thing, if nothing else, that a lot of PC gamers have lost sight of; the idea of games as something that makes the player happy, rather than as an expression of personal identity or a way to pursue some kind of moralistic cause. It’s about fun and happiness, guys, not about raging against the machine or whatever. We’re living in an amazing time for PC gaming, with the sheer number of awesome indie, foreign and mainstream games out there just waiting for us to check them out. It’s OK to just take it easy and enjoy. It’s good. It’s OK to accept that.

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      It IS an amazing time for PC games, I actually think that’s part of the problem. In the old days, “is it fun?” was sufficient to restrict one’s PC gaming to reasonable levels. These days, with massive digital distribution sales and unbelievable hordes of brilliantly entertaining games, the only way to keep from getting hopelessly swamped is to add some additional criteria by which to judge. This is well and good up to a point, but shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the conversation about games.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Vinraith

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Why good reason would anyone have to buy games other than that they think they’ll be fun? It seems to me that if you’re buying them for some other reason, the problem isn’t that you need to come up with other criteria to form your opinions around, the problem is you’re buying games for reasons other than that they seem like fun. Considering other factors (i.e. favoring indie developers, favoring developers with good track records, favoring retailers you consider more ethical, etc) is great, but if those criteria take precedence over the games being fun, that’s the customer’s mistake.

      I say this from experience, sad to say. Which is not to say I bought Zombilution on Gamersgate or anything… I’m just saying hypothetically, if someone with a username very similar to mine did, it would be their own fault. I admit nothing!

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      What I’m saying is that there are so many fun games, one needs to adopt additional (not alternative) criteria to pare them down a bit. So the question becomes “given that this giant pile of games is fun, how do I then choose which ones to spend money and time on?”

  38. JonFitt says:

    Brilliant! I am on the edge of my seat!

    I love game reports. Tom Francis’ Gal Civ 2 write up is also brill and always worth a mention. It’s one of the very few articles I’ve ever read twice.

    I may have mentioned it before, but things like this are why I read RPS.

  39. RyePunk says:

    Awfully tempted to buy this game.

    Although if someone made a version of it where you were vying to be the lead housewife on a street in suburbia that would make my day. I mean most of it would transfer right across. Husbands and children/pets replace legions, Shopping Channel/Mall replaces Bazaar.
    It could work!

  40. Masked Dave says:

    Am really enjoying these, but could definitely use an updated map with posts.

    Quinns talking about KG being to his North is really confusing me.

  41. Yargh says:

    I feel bad asking for more when this is already such a fun read but can we get updated score/prestige tables every once in a while?

    That could help us understand changes in tactics such as letting up on Scrofula once he was no longer top dog (if that is was happened of course).

  42. vanarbulax says:

    Okay, okay you’ve made me cave. I’ve finally cracked and bought Solium Infernum despite my reservations with it. How was I meant to resist with this awesomeness being beamed to me? You made me do it, YOU MONSTERS!

  43. Rinox says:

    I’m getting hungry…need moar reading awesomeness.

    Demand to Kieron: new installment of Gameboys from Hell
    Wager: 6 RPS prestige

  44. Nimic says:

    This game definitely appeals to me, but I’m far from sure I’d be able to gather enough like-minded people to play with it. I can’t see this game being fun for very long playing alone, or even with one or two others.

  45. Andy says:

    Never before have I so badly wanted to play a game that I totally didn’t understand.
    I’ve had the demo sitting on my PC for weeks since first seeing it on RPS and I’m so: unsure of a build for my avatar; likely sub-objectives (greed/lust etc); general tactics when staring at the barren and yet at the same time overwhelming board, that I can’t quite bring myself to buy the game.
    It’s the same as Jim’s tales of his travels in Eve online, they were so compelling as to make me want to get involved in the same way and yet I couldn’t quite get there in my own flailing attempts.