Gameboys from Hell: Solium Infernum Part 6

By Kieron Gillen on January 20th, 2010 at 12:52 pm.

Every dog has his day. Some days, you have to be a dog.

Or do you?

If you’re joining us so far, here’s all the previous parts…
Kieron/Quinns: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50]
Scrofula: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50]
Poisoned Sponge: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50]

If you’ve been following it primarily here, you’ll want to read Sponge and Scrofula’s 41-50, as they’re new.

Turn 51 – Quinns:
Last instalment I mentioned Sponge had gotten in touch with me with a master plan. It goes like this:

The orthodox way of winning a game of Solium Infernum is having the most Prestige points when the game rumbles to a close. The Infernal Conclave then automatically vote you the new Ruler of Hell, and you (presumably) get to eke out the rest of eternity eating the ballbags of your old enemies like the Romans ate grapes. But since prestige points are very slowly accumulated throughout the entire game, some players inevitably end up trailing behind with little to play for.

The response to this is the Blood Vassals feature. If you have half the prestige and half the territory of a player who borders you, you can appeal to become their Blood Vassal. At this point, here’s what I understand about Blood Vassals: Blood Vassals are locked out of all diplomacy, the Vassal and their Lord are free to move legions through one another’s territory, and at the end of the game both of your prestige totals are added together.

So! Sponge, with his average military strength and embarrassing prestige, wants to become my Vassal. It works for me- right now I’m jockeying for first place with Speedo Demon and Scrofula, but with the added prestige of a vassal I’ll be in a different class.

In short, the game and Hell will be mine. The only difference is I’ll have to share my victory with some miserable lieutenant.

But there’s a problem with this (obviously).

Sponge has more territory than me. Way more. As previously discussed, my holdings are small, yet valuable. They are TIGHT. Sponge has a whopping 15 cantons more than I do.

The solution to this is both dramatic and boring. The solution is WAR! Just not a real one. That’s what you can see in the picture. A couple of turns ago Sponge insulted me, and now in pseudo-retaliation I’m laboriously dragging three whole legions across his turf. It’s trickier than it looks. If we accidentally order our legions into the same canton, they’ll have at each other and potentially prevent me from completing the vendetta in time.

The funny part is that Scrofula began a vendetta against Sponge just as I started taking control of the terrain between them, thereby locking Scrofula out and making sure he keeps his violence to himself. HANDS OFF MY SLAVE, SCROFFS. This is awesome. In a few turns he’ll have failed his vendetta and he’ll have to hand over some prestige to Sponge, which means in the long run he’ll be handing it to me.

Turn 53 – Quinns:
Alright, that’s the last of Sponge’s cantons secured.

And what’s that exciting new border I have in the bottom left? Ohmigosh! It’s another border with Kieron! Now if he tries to start any more trouble on my Northern border I’m going to come at him, arms windmilling, right here.

You know, there was a possibility in all this that I was being played.

If Sponge was really, genuinely cunning and spiteful (he’s not) he’d have got in touch about becoming my blood vassal, then he’d have let me come to the conclusion that we needed a war as a means of passing cantons to one another, and then after I’d initiated the vendetta he’d have come at my unprepared legions with everything he had. After that, with me in a weakened position, he could have spent the rest of the game earning prestige by flinging insults at me.

Anyway! That didn’t happen. Although there’s a different and even more improbable way Sponge could be playing me.

When you create your archfiend there’s this very expensive perk you can take called The Power Behind The Throne. It means if you end the game as a Blood Vassal, you don’t just come second. You win the game, and your Blood Lord’s the one who comes second.

I don’t know whether Sponge took it or not, but I’m pretty sure taking it and then spending the last 50 turns simply pretending he sucks is beyond him. I’m going with my gut on this one.

Turn 55 – Kieron

I think most people were suspecting something like this. Sponge in diplomacy tries to sell it as a possible Power Behind the Throne play, but I disregard that. That particular perk takes about half of your points for building your archdemon, and he’d shown enough power to imply that he was starting with a fully-fledged guy. And from this point, Sponge’s turns noticeably start to lag. There’s a few life issues in the way, but they’re lagging anyway. Someone with a Power Behind The Throne plan wouldn’t be visibly losing interest in the shape of the game. That’s what someone who knows they’ve just become a lapdog. This is also where the Diplomacy exchanges become fun. Here’s a bunch…

Me: “Just remember, before you all bow down to Quinns, who actually took out that legion and gave everyone else a chance in open combat. ALSO REMEMBER WHO GOT DOWN ON HIS KNEES – LIKE A DOG – FIRST.”

Scrofula: “Less like a dog, more like an annoying fly that’s been buzzing around my head all game. What’s that? Another request for tribute? Ho ho ho, Sponge, when will you learn that sooner or later flies get swatted.”

Quinns: “Don’t worry Kieron. After the game’s finished we’ll all hang up plaques up in our bedrooms with your ever-so-mighty achievements on. After all, that’s the point of the game, isn’t it? Who cares if you come 5th out of 6th. What matters is making sure to give everybody else a chance in open combat. I imagine it was an accident that Vic left that bit out of the manual”

Me: “I am going to have Vic rewrite the manual to make it the rules!”

Quinns: “You do that. Actually, now I think about it, coming 5th out of 6 is really seriously bad”

And then we go onto jokes about sexual intercourse with mothers while I send a mail to everyone else.

“More seriously, gentlemen. We should talk. Quinns was actually much weaker than he looked. He’s not a fighter. He hasn’t got enough actions to manouvere his armies. I’m surprised no-one had tried invading him, especially those of you who I know have more than a few points in wrath. Problem being, with Sponge as a lapdog, he gets a lot of what he’s missing – as in, someone who can throw wrath and armies around. I’m still going to win my Vendetta against him, of course. It’ll be less clean than I’d have liked it and it’s possible I’ll lose that shrine, but that’s something like 36 prestige points torn out of his hide. What next?”

At the time, I believed most of what I say true, though I’ve screwed the maths on the VP. With hindsight, it definitely was. I knew it was time for some kind of co-operation. Quinns had just gained half the prestige points of his mongrel, which put him well ahead.

Speedo doesn’t respond. Zah’hak drops a few jokes. Scrofula and I chew over a few plans.

This pretty much sets the end-game tone. Only Scrof and I seem to grasp what time it is – or if Speedo does, he’s playing his own cards very tight to his chest. Bitter and angry, Scrofula and I appear to be something like a team. Not exactly like one, as we’ll see, but something like one…

Was I tempted by vassalage? Well, I was doubly screwed. I wasn’t doing as badly as Sponge and I had even more terrain. It’d have been a lot of work to get it down to size.

And beside “Better to rule in hell than serve in Heaven” was what lead the boss demon to the pit. Serving in hell? What kind of tosser would want that?

I was going to play to win and fuck anyone who’d settle for second place. I’d rather be dead than bow.

Turn 55 – Quinns:
Sweet Merciful Chr– uh, Satan. About 20 turns back I described how our game’s pace had picked up and it had become like kayaking down rapids. Well, now it’s even worse. Every turn that passes the game becomes less quietly Machiavellian and more resembles violence soup.

Kieron’s flinging ceaseless Wrath rituals at my poor legions. Paladins have come from Heaven to destroy our artifacts. Somebody just completed a machine of immense power that reduces the Wrath stat of everyone but him by an agonising 2 points. What good is my new Blood Vassal when you’re dealing with crap like this?

The ace up my sleeve at this point is an event card called Infernal Monsoons. The monsoons reduce the movement of everyone’s legions to 1 canton per turn, prevent any flying legions from taking to the air and last 3-6 turns. They’re just what I need for making sure no-one can manuevere against my slave and I.

Sponge is telling me not to use the card. He says he needs his legions to be as fast as possible to win all his wars. Think, man! If you were any good at winning wars you wouldn’t have ended up flinging yourself at my feet, now, would you?

Turn 56 – Kieron:
I suspect Quinns is starting to realise what my Vendetta tactic is. It’s basically, this…

The destruction zap. A blow, from the heavens. I target whatever unit’s weakest is, and annihilate it with multiple ones. Since Quinns is my top-target, it only takes a couple of fire a blast. It’s the wrath of god, except without being god. Yay! I’ve clawed back my shrine which Quinns briefly captured, and set to work winning my vendetta with this orbital hurtage. Sponge lobs some back my way, but I don’t really mind.

The bigger problem this turn comes from elsewhere. Zah’hak has constructed the Machine of Agony, one of the aforementioned multi-part manuscripts. It means that everyone loses two points from their wickedness – which is the ability which powers the destruction spells. I had 4, and now am down to 2. This means that as well as being less able to hurt people, I’m also down to four turns an action. Zah’hak also sends a note saying we should avoid insulting one another from now on. Frankly, when you’ve just scuppered everyone’s build – except Quinns – Zah’hak may have mistimed his diplomatic advance.

I’m not sure whether it was deliberate. The fact that it’s so tricky to get all the parts of a manuscript makes me suspect if you find yourself with one, you just make it for the hell of it. I mean, when I made mine, I had no idea what it actually did – what a given manuscript does is one of the harder facts to disentangle from Solium Infernum’s AI.

Turn 58 – Quinns:
And those rains are gonna come!

Alright! A bit of luck comes my way as the turn log announces the monsoons will last for their maximum of 6 turns.

People are looting my vaults and stealing my praetors. They’re making ceaseless demands of me. Someone played an event card, calling down an Angelic Host which promptly obliterated one of my legions. Kieron just obliterated another with a barrage of Internal Affliction rituals. My thrall is failing to win his vendettas. None of it matters. I just need this game OVER.

Unbearably, the Infernal Conclave’s only cast 12 of the 15 tokens that determine when the game ends. The rate at which they vote increases with each token (so the first token might be cast in 6 turns, while the last might only take 2) but that still means I’ve got to weather this shitstorm for another 10 turns.

Still, at least I have a slave to suffer alongside me as I go sorting through all the insults and demands that might otherwise have gone to him. JOY.

Turn 59 – Quinns:
NO! Somewhere in the haze of vendettas I currently exist in Scrofula found himself in a position to take the Pillars of Malebolge from me. They were the first Place of Power I ever captured, and now they’re the first one I’ve ever lost.

If you’re wondering what that curious golden piece is, it’s the Angelic Host. After destroying that legion of mine it seems they decided to stick around.

The game’s been going on for a real-life month at this point. I’m so tired, and I’m losing my grip. But I have to keep fighting. I’ve spent too much time and thought on this game to let it all slip between my fingers now. I can taste victory. It tastes like Kieron’s ballbag. And it tastes good.

Turn 60 – Kieron:
Speedo continue to stick to our fruitless exchanges. He makes a demand. I submit, giving up the four tokens. I make a demand. He submits, giving up four tokens. He knows if he rejects it, I’ll claim vendetta – I just need to use the Infernal blasts to satisfy the vendettas. I know if I reject it, I have to deal with his unstoppable minotaur. So we sit, wasting an order every few turns, in a stalemate. I start to claw back my wickedness, both because I like having five orders and the blast-centric nature of my current strategy. And despite my hefty deceit, my looting the vault ritual is constantly coming up with a couple of cards stolen. Since it takes a couple of cards to make it work, it’s been more than a little disappointing and I end up abandoning it shortly. Just another turn, basically.

My most important action happens outside of the game itself.

I send an e-mail which changes everything.

, .

57 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Rinox says:

    Best part yet.

  2. neothoron says:

    Scrofula has posted his 41-50 (just read it): http://hentzau.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/turns-41-50/

  3. StalinsGhost says:

    I’ll be honest: I used the Machine of Agony knowing full well a few people were relying on those avatar points for extra order slots. I was looking to buy time while I desperately tried to gather the darkness I needed to boost my Cunning and maneuver my legions into place in order to facilitate a large scale invasion of Quinns the Shower Daddy and his bitch; which was all the more important as these *fucking* monsoons poured down on us.

    Also, simply for funsies. In fact, a good number of my actions were simply to see how irritated a reaction I could provoke. Scrofula/Hentzau seemed to bear the brunt of my shenanigans: the resource drain I enacted early on; the Praetor theft; the constant grinding vault looting. And then the Machine of Agony. I think quite how annoyed he was will become evident soon enough.

    Oh, and who unleashed the God Squad? I demand tribute for that.

    • Quinns says:

      Oh, so you weren’t playing to win, you were just, y’know, screwing around? Jog on.

    • StalinsGhost says:

      Oh! I was trying to win. But my grand strategy was focused on buying/stealing relics to boost my prestige – my shenanigans were largely subsidiary to the more important but very boring and fruitless attempt to gather darkness.

  4. BarkingDog says:

    Hentazu’s bit is up. Been finding this (and this sort of play by play thing in general) fascinating, if you did more I’d happily render my firstborn unto you.
    I’d dearly love to purchase the game except that I think I’d be absolutely godawful at it and more importantly none of my friends would want to play. But also because of the sucking.

  5. brog says:

    aaargh cliffhanger

  6. Jonas says:

    DAMN these cliff-hangers! :D

  7. Owen says:

    Seriously, aside from the revoltingly delightful ballbag comment, what I’m enjoying most from these write-ups is the angry comments from the other players after THEY read the write-up themselves!

    Genius.

    • Quinns says:

      There probably would have been at least two less references to ballbags in my copy if I’d known it was going up at lunchtime.

  8. Taillefer says:

    I don’t own a copy yet, but I actually managed to get a go on the full game all last night, but only against AI players. Everything I know basically came from these reports. And after messing with builds for a while until I was happy, the current game (at about turn 40, I think) has me at 256 prestige, with second place at 59.

    Which confirmed it for me that I can’t really get this for the single player. And as I tend not to play multiplayer, the most enjoyment I’ll get from this game is reading these. So, I eagerly await the remaining reports and dramatic climax! (are there climaxes in hell?)

    • Taillefer says:

      So, invading somebody’s house to finish up the game, which lead to:
      a massive victory.

      The AI really was bad. It couldn’t handle any of the tools available to it. I’m not even sure if there was a single vendetta between AI opponents. It’s really passive and easy to bully around. Frankly, the game would be better off if it just cheated.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Saul says:

    I needs to know the ending!

  10. LionsPhil says:

    “I can taste victory. It tastes like Kieron’s ballbag. And it tastes good.”

    I am disturbed that Quinns a) knows what Kieron’s ballbag tastes like b) files that in the category of “things which taste good”.

    Surely testicle-based antics should be Scrotumula’s bag?

  11. tita says:

    Awesome, been reading every single update from all the available perspectives.

    Waiting for these updates to appear and learning the resolution of the cliffhangers is a bit like playing the game itself I suppose, lol.

  12. Drexer says:

    Ok, after this someone needs to get all of the blog posts organized, color coded and wrapped together in a PDF file with an updated map every couple of pages. Perhaps me.

    Seriously, this is more intrigue and awesomeness than most books you find nowadays.

  13. Malagate says:

    @LionsPhil, that’s Scrofula, not “Scrotumula”. Quinns might need to be renamed Scrotumula if this keeps up, however.

    One thing that’s really burning me is that we’ve gotten no input from Speedo Demon. He’s caused all this grief and we have no idea if he’s meticulously planned it every step of the way or if he’s just a really lucky bumbling fool! If he makes it to the top of the pile at the end I am half expecting a report for all the turns from him that only reads:

    “Just as planned.”

  14. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Curses be! Now I’ll have to wait for Sponge and Hentzau to post their versions of turn 51-60.

  15. Earl_of_Josh says:

    These reports are truly awesome. Sadly I haven’t been able to get an actual game, so I’ve been destroying the AI and trying out different starting builds. The scheming… need… to … establish dominance…

    In a side note I was wondering if the angelic host would show up. In my first game against the AI they came down and reigned some serious terror over everything. Annihilated my wrecking-ball slaves they did, and half the other armies on the board (for a variety of players) before they “got tired” and sodded off.

  16. Jesse says:

    I’m curious to see whether any of you at the end were eager to start a new game, or if it was all too exhausting. It seems like one might want to take a vacation after each game – just rest up and let Hell take care of itself for a while. How often could the average player play Solium Infernum? A handful of intense, month-spanning games a year?

    To me at least, it’s so interesting that in multiplayer the game runs at something like real time. You send your minions forth to carry out your orders, then sit back and wait. The next day the battle report is placed in your hand. ‘Curses!’ you scream, and plunge into the next fit of manic scheming, scrawling your plans on whatever scraps of paper are close at hand…or, adorably, in MS Paint. What I mean is, forget about motion control, THIS is immersion.

    • Dinger says:

      I know that some of them already are in other games. It’s gripping, but it doesn’t take a lot of time.

    • The Poisoned Sponge says:

      A lot of us have moved into a game of Neptune’s Pride, which, even after Solium Infernum, has managed to make us even bigger cocks to each other. Yay games!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Sponge: I can’t believe you gave Crispy weapons. You’re the CIA and he’s Al Queda.

      KG

  17. Arathain says:

    I’m sure another eleventy million people are going to post on this thread about how great this sounds, and if it were only not $30…

    Read these reports. The emotional highs and lows, the scheming, the obsessions, the tension. Going on for weeks. Do you think any of these players didn’t get their $30 worth, just for this game?

    • MrMud says:

      How does this matter if you cant convince any of your friends that its reasonable to pay 30$ each for a what is essentially a board game.

  18. Antsy says:

    This shit is GRIPPING!

    I bought this the night it came out on the strength of my love of AE and have yet to have a game :S

  19. Delboy says:

    Apogologolies if this has been asked before … but is there a place where lonely gamers can go to “hook up” for multi-player? I quite fancy this … but don’t fancy playing against the AI. That said – I don’t want to go up against some “master” player that’s had 20 online games already … seems like half the fun is knowing that everyone’s discovering useful strategies as they play.

    Delboy

    • brog says:

      Delboy: The RPS Steam group (http://steamcommunity.com/groups/RPSatan) is pretty lively. And last night someone I only know as “Spartacus” was running some teaching games for newbs.

    • Mr Pink says:

      @Delboy: The Rock Paper Satan steam group is the very thing you are after! We’ve started plenty of games recently.

    • Premium User Badge

      AS says:

      @Delboy: Considering the length it takes to finish a game and that most people on RPS has bought the game relatively soon, I don’t think you need to worry about the game being overshadowed by a master player. PM me or ask other people for my email if you want a game.

      @brog: I’m Spartacus! (Seriously.)

    • Riesenmaulhai says:

      @AS:
      You should consider using one or two nicknames less ;)

  20. MadMatty says:

    someone mail the dev´s or publisher and make them put on a pack with 4-6 copies at a massive discount (from the allready slightly high 30$) like say…. 60-80 bucks?
    I cant help but think of the few times we actually got people together for games of Warlords (THE 1ST) and Heroes of Might and Magic/CIv/alpha Centauri, although those games were less sneaky, there was still plenty of room for lying to each other which was great fun.

    • Premium User Badge

      AS says:

      @MadMatty: He’s already trying to put a group discount together, but best to email him more.

    • brog says:

      MadMatty: This was discussed on the CC forums, and the dev jumped in and said basically “hey, I didn’t think of that, I’ll see what I can do”. So keep your eyes out, it might happen.

      edit: ninja’d

    • Premium User Badge

      AS says:

      @brog: I was the one that brought it up!

  21. JonFitt says:

    FINISH HIM!

    Or finish it. ‘It’ being the story.

  22. Earl_of_Josh says:

    Kieron: Oh man, you guys are synchronizing the cliff-hangers. I was hoping Hentzau would let slip your e-mail plans, curses!

  23. Yargh says:

    reading the effect this game has had on Hentzau I’m fairly sure we’ll be hearing about broken keyboards soon.

  24. deanimate says:

    I’m expecting Stallone to pop into this thread any minute now.

  25. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    My 51-60. I’m wasn’t lacklustre, I was just angry. And IMPOTENT.

  26. LionsPhil says:

    Could have been worse. Could have been Settlers of Catan.

    Games where “losing” also means “literally can take no actions” are ungood.

  27. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    MOAR

  28. Premium User Badge

    AS says:

    @Riesenmaulhai: Yes, I should – but AS are the initials of the email address, and Spartacus is the name I took after one damn spy kept on stabbing me in TF2 – making me feel like a joke… Surprise on him when I see Spartacus running around. (It stuck when a joined a clan)

  29. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this all day!

  30. Lazer says:

    http://img695.imageshack.us/img695/9332/hahasi.jpg

    This is the only way to win a game of SI: Complete and utter domination. Holding Pandemonium is pretty trivial when you’ve eaten, digested, and converted all other enemies on the board to fecal matter.

  31. Blah says:

    real nice reading, everyday looking forward to this :)
    Such a shame that I need to go through a VPN from China to read other peop’s turns, which is inconvenient…

    And man! what a cliffhanger!