Gameboys From Hell: Solium Infernum Part 7

By Kieron Gillen on January 21st, 2010 at 1:01 pm.

It won't be Sponge!

If you sup with the devil, bring a long spoon.

Or an vengeful archdemon.

If you’re joining us at this late stage, here’s all the previous parts…
Kieron/Quinns: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60]
Scrofula: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60]
Poisoned Sponge: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60]

If you’re mainly following here, Sponge and Scrofula’s 51-60 will be new. Go read, then return…

Turn 61 – Kieron:

This is the important mail. It was at Scrofula.

Just a word:

I haven’t looked at the manual for this, but something I believe is true.

If you’re excommunicated, you can attack anyone’s stronghold directly – so, if you destroy them, wiping them out the game.

(I pick this up from the tactic where someone has six orders and excommunicates themselves, then uses the other 5 orders to use something called the Puzzle Box to annihilate all the opponent’s strongholds)

In other words… we’ve probably lost. However, you’re in striking room of Quinns’ stronghold. Quinns isn’t defending himself. His stronghold is really quite weak. Attack Pandemonium with a Destruction-zap. Get yourself excommunicated. Next turn, march in and destroy Quinns’ citadel. He’s out the game. Then, with no-one else near Pandemonium, you’ve got more chance of taking it and holding it than you have in making up the Prestige.

(I doubly haven’t checked the manual, but if Quinns is out… then I think Sponge is too.)

KG

A few minutes late, I send a second mail.

(This game just involves sending the best e-mails)

If you’ll pardon the hellish-blasphemy, Amen to that.

In the first one, I’m not even lying on not having checked it out on the manual. It’s something that’s been thinking about for a while. Here’s a way for Scofula to fuck over Quinns. We start talking. At first, he’s a little reticent, but warms to the idea. I offer my deceit help as much as I can. He decides that he’s going to need a few turns to get into position, but it’s on. We’re no longer playing a Prestige game. We’re now playing an annihilate-our-enemies-how-do-you-like-the-taste-of-that-ball-bag game.

The main thing which moved him towards this perfidy? It’s not Quinns. He’s had little problem with Quinns and would have been happy coming runner-up to him. The problem was Quinns’ puppy-dog. That Sponge was his slave meant that Sponge would come ahead of him – and Scrofula was never going to accept that, after everything Sponge had done. It was an agreeable and admirable rage, and I was more than happy to give it a means of expression.

Meanwhile, while Scrofula was turning his powers towards revenge, I was planning to secure the throne of hell.

Turn 62 – Quinns:
Those infernal monsoons are still falling all across Hell, hampering my opposition as they continue to try and mobilise armies against my new slave and I. I’m siiiinging in the rain! Or, more accurately, getting burgled in the rain. I’m talking daylight and nightime robbery.

Deceit rituals are the one means everybody has of fucking with me without a vendetta. As such, my vaults are being looted to the point where I might as well leave them unlocked and all of my praetors have been bribed away with the exception of one very loyal elephant. At least, he looks like an elephant. His name’s Temeluchas(?). What matters is that he gives the legion he’s attached to a loyalty boost, so after attaching him to my high level, high loyalty Chosen of Quinns they become a mobile Fort Knox for any artifacts I choose to give them.

It’s a little unsettling how alone I am now compared to the forces I was maneuvering 10 turns ago. Between theft and Kieron’s spamming of lethal Wrath rituals, I’ve been decimated. The only legions I have left are the Chosen of Quinns and these cheery lads:

Meet the Legion of Maw. I bought them from the bazaar at great expense because of their relatively high level, which is what offers protection against Hellfire, theft and acts of God. Handy, as I’m currently locked in yet another war with Kieron where he’s clearly chosen the goal of destroying several of my legions. With my boys now all thoroughly fireproof, I’m not sure how he can win.

One more time: My mass of Prestige points puts me so far in the lead that what I need now is for the game to end as soon as possible. We’re on the 13th of the 15 conclave tokens, so there can’t be more than 5 turns left till the game ends.

It’s funny. Scrofula and Kieron are flinging all these valuable armies and dark, unknowable rituals at me, yet what I really fear is something they haven’t done yet. I’m living in fear of a co-ordinated insulting. If they begin flinging endless insults at me at the Infernal Conclave and persuade Speedo and Zah’hak to do the same they’d be backing me into a corner. With each insult I’d have to decide whether to accept it, losing a chunk of my prestige there and then, or defend my honour by initiating a war, something I can’t possibly do on 2 fronts, let alone 4. Besides, the end of the game’s so close now I’d probably never win any of those wars in time to recoup any prestige.

The other fear is, of course, that somebody becomes a blood vassal to Scrofula or Speedo demon, thereby handing them a huge wad of prestige and creating a Transformers style situation where one enormous combination of robots is defeated by another.

But I’m not scared of that second one. I’ve been watching my opponents play for a month now. They’re all far too headstrong to do anything that sensible.

Turn 63 – Quinns:
Are you kidding. Are you KIDDING?!

I was right, the objective of Kieron’s vendetta against me was to destroy my legions. And I was right, he planned to do it using his goddamn Internal Affliction rituals, and I was right again that my legions were too experienced to be affected by them.

And yet:

Kieron didn’t target my legions. He targeted Bad Slave Sponge’s legions. This is how I find out the hard way that your blood vassal’s more than just muscle, he’s a fully-fledged extension of you and your holdings. With Sponge, I thought I was getting a wife. Instead, I got a Siamese twin.

That’s yet more prestige lost, giving my ankle another firm downward yank as I climb this ladder to victory.

Turn 63 – Kieron:

If they won’t vote me king of hell, I’ll seize the throne myself. As referenced in the earlier mail as a “this is a way you can win” to Scrofula, you can also claim the game by militarily taking over Pandemonium – Hell’s Capital – and holding it for 5 turns. I suspect – correctly – that if someone is holding Pandemonium, the conclave stops drawing tokens (because it’s hard to debate who should lead hell when an upstart has taken over Government and is busy making them lick his boils). In other words, if someone takes Pandemonium, it doesn’t matter what prestige everyone has. The clock’s stopped.

Pandemonium is a brutal Kingdom. It has the best Champions – which you can challenge in open combat to gain Prestige, something which Speedo has done once (cutting down a brute called the Butcher) and is doing again against some spry naked sword-weilding lady called The Queen of the Damned – and it has the best defences. You need something pretty hefty to bash down its doors.

Meet my girls.

There’s not many actually decent combat units you can buy in the game, but these are one of them. 10/0/9 with 10 hit points – and their lack of melee ability is covered by a little by their 3 levels of melee resist (i.e. -3 Melee damage) and the fact that with them, melee comes last. So you have to live through the Gorgon’s hefty powers. And – somehow, though exactly how escapes me – I’ve brought Descarbia back from the pit for a second time. In other word, a boost to ranged and a second round of ranged combat. It’s still not enough to comfortably take Pandemonium, of course… but I’ll be propping that up with every combat card and deceit ritual I have available. The one advantage of fighting Pandemonium is that it can’t throw any spanners in the works – and I think everyone is going to be busy enough with what’s going on to worry about little ol’ me.

I put the bid in this turn. While I’m winning my little wars with Quinns, they’re secondary. I’ll hope the appearance of the brutish Gorgons will make the attacks pause – as the ladies can take out whatever is thrown at them. However, fear will also keep the troops at the front line… which means there’s less chance of anyone getting in the way of Hentzau’s attack when it comes. Meanwhile, I’ll be marching them southwards, into position…

There is one problem. As tough as they are, they cost. You don’t just buy them. You have to pay them upkeep. As such, I’m using a good chunk of my actions trying to gather as many resources as possible, just to funnel into my beautiful engine of destruction.

Turn 65 – Kieron:
My plan’s underway. Hentzau is being delayed a little due to the Angelic Horde stomping his unit – another thing which he’s bitter about. Everyone else gets some piece of Cannon-fodder smashed, and he gets his top boys. Still, it should be ready to go in a couple turn. Meanwhile, the Gorgons continue south and…

Forget it. Let’s take a break from the main event. Something happens which makes everyone cheer. Speedo’s champion has been slaughtered. The Minotaur who’s bullied us all has been cut to ribbons by the Queen of the Damned. Let’s show the fight…

This continues for another couple of rounds, that enormous health-point reservoir being taken away slice by painful slice. I’m applauding, while imagining a Bayonetta-esque slaughter of Speedo’s brute.

Conversation turns to hammering Speedo. Of course, that’s not what I’m really thinking about…

Turn 65 – Quinns:
Speedo’s champion is dead! That rock-hard Minotaur is dead! And you know what? I don’t care!

If I wasn’t so busy trying to keep a firm grip on my current prestige total I might give the Legion of Maw a siege weapon and send them up north to re-visit Speedo’s territory, just for the Hell of it, but the fact is that while I might loathe him and his (now dearly departed) monster, as total bastards go he’s always been fairly indiscriminate. His ceaseless demands were made at everybody, not just me, so I bear less of a grudge towards him than I do towards Kieron and Scrofula. Those two are being total pricks to me right here and right now, and so Speedo lives to see another day.

Oh, my God. I cannot believe the maths I’m doing every single turn just to minimise the damage done to my prestige each turn. I’m so TIRED.

Turn 66 – Quinns:
ZAH’HAK’s going to war with me? ZAH’HAK? Never-fought-a-battle-in-the-game Zah’hak!? Does he even know what a battle IS? Did he click on the wrong button? DOES HE KNOW WHO I AM? I HAVE A SLAVE.

At times like this your head hits the desk. Then, after a few seconds, your head comes back off the desk and you know that yours is a future where your enemies are dust.

Okay, give me strength. The man is clearly maneuvering legions towards the Tree of Woe. Well, I’ve got his number. The last 60 turns have tempered me in the ways of war. If I look at the numbers on the board I can see that one careful combat card should have any hasty assaults bouncing off the tree’s garrison.

Christ, though. I mean — Zah’hak?

Turn 67 – Quinns:
I begin the turn as usual, sifting through the mass of notifications in my demonic inbox. Speedo wants to face me in single combat of champions? Urgh. Seems he’s still up to his old tricks, minotaur or no minotaur. Kieron concedes to my demand and hands over tribute cards… Guess he can’t bundle on me quite as hard as he thought. Something about Scrofula doing a destructive ritual. Someone bought a legion called The Stygian Guard from the bazaar… oh, it was Sponge. Good work, Bad Slave Sponge.

Hang on. Back up.

That’s… weird. Scrofula threw a destructive ritual at Pandemonium, the city where the Infernal Conclave is based. He’s gotten his ass excommunicated as a result. That means we no longer need conclave-sponsored vendettas to go to attack him.

The only reason he’d perform a destructive ritual on Pandemonium is if he were softening it up to conquer it, which is the alternative way of winning the game. You claim’s Hell’s throne by force. But a glance at the map shows his legions are still right where they always were, protecting his borders from me and Zah’hak.

…no.

No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO. NO.

IT CAN’T END LIKE THIS.

As I realise what Scrofula’s about to achieve my heart begins tingling. My blood cools. Yeah, excommunication means none of us need permission to attack him. It also means he no longer needs permission to attack us and he doesn’t have to play by anyone’s rules.

Scrofula can now attack strongholds as you would any other Place of Power, with the slight difference that conquering a stronghold knocks that player out of the game. Instantly. You just disappear. And that legion he has sat on his border with me? The Burning Legion?

Not only are they a single turn’s march from my stronghold, they have a ranged stat of a preposterous 17. He’ll have demolished my stronghold’s garrison before we even reach the melee round. This time next turn, I will be dead.

I’ve been fighting, spitting and scheming my way through this game for a real-life month. Now I’m not just in the lead, I’ve won, and Scrofula’s about to take it all away from me with this… ah, fuck it. Yeah, I’ll hand it to my opponents. He’s about to take it all away from me with a play of shimmering genius.

We’re on the 14th conclave token now. The 14th of 15. The game could end literally any turn, and this happens.

Nervous to the point of nausea, I bring up the diplomacy screen. We are, of course, well past diplomacy at this point, but there’s something I need to check.

Okay. This turn Zah’hak is regent, so I’m before Scrofula in the turn order. Even if Scrofula attacks in order slot 1 whatever I put in my own order slot 1 will happen before the assault. So, it all comes down to this. Whatever I put in order slot 1 will either win me or lose me the game.

I bring up the map.

The reason Scrofula is set to win this battle is because he’s taken a Legion with a decent ranged attack stat, then equipped them with an ugly praetor (even by praetor standards) who boosts ranged and an artifact called the Throne of Skulls which doubles the bonuses of the attached praetor. Because ranged happens first in a battle and the ranged stat of my stronghold is only average, he’ll reduce it to negative hitpoints before the melee round even occurs.

I have a legion next to my stronghold which will provide support in the battle, but it’s the Legion of Maw. Unsurprisingly if you remember their picture, they’ll be adding to my stronghold’s melee but contributing nothing to its ranged. Worthlessly, they’re also led by a melee-specialist praetor.

So. My options.

I could create a combat card adding a small stat bonus to my stronghold, but it wouldn’t be enough to change the battle. I could try and steal Scrofula’ Throne of Skulls or, better, bribe his praetor away (thereby making use of the perk I took at character creation all those turns ago), but this VERY TURN I played an event card preventing all rituals from being performed. This, if you can believe it, was my tactic for defending myself. Ha ha. Ahh.

I could attach a praetor to lead my stronghold’s garrison, but all I have is my melee specialist Elephant, the melee specialist attached to the legion of maw and an all-rounder I stole from someone or other who’s been gathering dust in my vaults for about 20 turns.

Wait. I take a closer look at the Barbatos, the praetor I attached to the Legion of Maw.

Melee occurs first? Does that save me? To keep my Stronghold’s defenses from crumbling I’d have to completely wipe out Scrofula’s legion in the melee round before they got off a ranged attack.

Okay: maths.

The Burning Legion have 8hp and a melee stat of 4. That means I need a melee stat of 12 to wipe them out in the first round. My Stronghold has melee 5, but with the support of the nearby Legion of Maw (which is always half of the supporting unit’s stats, rounded down) they get another +5 to melee. Barbatos gives a final +2. That’s 12! Oh my God! This will work! And it’ll be the tactical equivalent of a badass judo block!

But- NO. Because I’ll be taking Barbatos away from the Legion of Maw, that drops their melee from 10 to 8. That means as a supporting unit they don’t provide +5, they provide +4, which gives my Stronghold a grand total of melee… 11.

I’m 1 point short. And with that, I’ve lost the game.

This being Solium Infernum there’s still a few variables that could go wrong for Scrofula, but there’s far more that could go extra-wrong for me. My biggest worry is that Scrofula won’t even send The Burning Legion straight for my stronghold, that he’ll march them on the supporting Legion of Maw instead. Without their support, that’d make my stronghold an even easier target next turn. But that’s an unlikely play. We’re on the 14th Conclave token, so for all we know the game could end next turn. Scrofula’s almost certainly going to hit me as fast as he can.

Sod it. Moving Barbatos to my stronghold is still the best play I can offer. It won’t save me, but when I no longer exist next turn Scrofula will look at The Burning Legion and notice they have a single hit point left. That’s how close I came to stopping him, and it will be my epitaph.

You know, this would be a perfect time for Bad Slave Sponge to show up and save the day. Unfortunately, he’s a bad slave.

Fuck ‘em. Fuck every last one of them.

Here we go.

Turn 67 – Kieron:
This last turn has been painful. Quinns was traveling, so there’s been a week delay while Scrofula and I wait patiently. The first time he gets to actually do his turn is when he’s visiting my house for food and drinks with our respective Delightful Girlfriends. He’s crouched on the living room floor with my laptop as he takes my turn, so I get to see what Quinns describes above firsthand. The five minutes where he doesn’t even notice what Scrofula has done. Then five minutes where he’s confused by it. And then the moment of glorious horror…

I have absolutely no poker face. When he notices what Scrofula has done, I claim ignorance – and note that Sponge was equally bewildered. Which he was – Sponge never worked out what he was up to, just cackling that he was able to invade Scrofula without Vendettas. When Quinns actually realised the stab, I end up admitting that I had a little hand in it. Which is stupid – never give away anything you shouldn’t – but oddly in character. We’re two lords of hell at a Dinner party. It’s totally the sort of thing they’d talk about.

I head upstairs to process the turn, and actually choose my orders. As I sip my wine, I play odds and work out how I can un-screw myself.

Because I’m as screwed as Quinns.

Let me show you what my actual plan was…

I wasn’t sure that Scrofula could beat Quinns. However, I was pretty sure the effort would hurt him. My plan was to pile straight through Pandemonium and finish him off if Scrofula didn’t – or, alternatively, be ready to fight Sponge and Scrofula. Scrofula had noticed the movement, but I explained that it really was primarily against Quinns. Clearly, I’m playing to win – but that inevitable war between us is in the future. Right now, this is about crushing Quinns and Sponge. When I take Pandemonium, I knew everyone would be on top of me. Ideally, that meant just Sponge, Scrofula and Speedo – as Scrofula would have decapitated both Zah’hak and Quinns, for the sin of having a name not beginning with “S”. I would have to fight Sponge and Scrofula , but I still had my legion poised on Speedo’s stronghold. When I’m excommunicated, I was confident of my ability to annihilate Speedo in one or two turns, max. Holding off Sponge and Scrofula for 5 turns? Tricky, but a damn sight better chance of winning than I have now.

The problem is the event that’s just been played. I can’t use any rituals for a few turns. The Flux means no-one can, for 3-6 turns. This has fucked Quinns – because it removes a whole load of ways which he can defend himself – but it means that I can’t do any of the things against Pandemonium which I have planned (Multiple anti-Ranged weapon deceit strikes, mainly. Anti-melee. That kind of thing). So to strike directly against Pandemonium… I haven’t got the pure temporal strength. I can add combat cards to reduce its range, but that’s reliant on luck to work out how much is subtracted. And there’s always the chance of a positive combat modifier. But, working it out, for all Pandemonium’s power, it can’t kill me in a combat round.

I consider the other options – like attacking the angels, which if I defeat (and I probably will) could possibly level me up, so making the task easier (Also, would give a suitably heroic end to my narrative if the game did end shortly. As in, I drove heaven from hell, etc).

But no. This is hell’s business. The angels are just annoying tourists.

I could wait for the event to end… but there’s 14 tokens drawn. The last one can appear any turn. It’ll be at least two more turns before I can strike with my full strength. What are the odds the game will end in that time? I’m taking a chance attacking. I’m taking a chance not attacking. But, I remind myself as I finish the wine, I’m playing to win.

I load the Gorgons up with combat cards and point Descarbia and his delightful girlfriends at Pandemonium.

Give them hell, girls. And give me hell too.

__________________

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150 Comments »

  1. Indigon says:

    Hah, I had a feeling you’d post it now! Been waiting all morning

  2. Quinns says:

    IT’S SO GOOD.

  3. Duck says:

    This is what a friend-looking-over-the-shoulder said while reading this:

    “I vote that Quinns soundly defeats Scrofula, because Scrofula forgot to do something or other that caused his guys to suck and he doesn’t know it, and Kieron gets noobishly beaten back by the guys in that panda place and then Quinns wins, and at the end it says ‘TOTAL VICTORY TO QUINNS’.”

    • Wulf says:

      I vote that Kieron wins on the merit of him being such a scheming, conniving bugger.

      All thought this has been fun to read, it’s eminently clear to me now that while I accept that this is a brilliant game of eloquently subtle strategy, it’s never one I could actually play. My overbearing sense of ethics, and having a guilty conscience the size of Orion, would have me weeping and babbling about my tactics at the merest accusing look.

      Nice guys finish last.

      This is doubly true in Solium Infernum, clearly.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I like Risk for the exact same amoral machiavellian scheming Kieron pulls off in this game. Kinda like how I loved running cons and scams in Eve.

      Manipulation in board game form, it’s just wonderful. Solium Infernum sounds like it does this better than Risk ever could, though. Private cloak and dagger exchanges off stage, imagine the possibilities!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Wulf: I’m actually pretty honourable when I’m ahead. It’s when I’m trailing when the teeth show, I fear.

      (Alternatively, there’s something about the theme which does something to me. It’s not a setting which screams “compromise”.)

      KG

    • Richeh says:

      Hah. Pandemonium; the place pandas go to complain.

    • Arathain says:

      @ Wulf:

      I’m a decent guy with a slightly overactive guilt reflex who works hard not to screw over his fellow man, even accidentally. Put me in front of a game board and I’m a bland faced, conniving backstabber who’ll lie to you one turn and take all your stuff the next (in intent, at least). And I’ll remember the game in which I succeeded fondly. I most enjoy playing with friends who have the same attitude I do, of course. Any bad feeling spilling over will make me feel bad.

      We all need a place to vent our dark sides. Where better than games like these?

    • Wulf says:

      @Arathain

      It was not my intention to pre-emptively refute any of that, and I’m not going to try with this reply either because that’s not the point I was making. The point I was making is that some are able to detach themselves like that, and it can be hilarious to watch. I, however, am not. I’m the sort of girlyman who would contend himself with wondering how his actions would make his opponents feel.

      If I’m going to do something that will potentially ruin a fellow gamer’s evening, then I can’t detach myself from that. I end up in a vicious cycle of worrying more and more about them. The only way in which i could actually set aside this is by gaming against a bunch of people whom had all ready proven themselves to be unethical douchebags anyway (and that’s my attitude with everything, which is why I’m more of a reactive person than an a proactive one).

      But if I were playing this with friends? My empathy would get in the way by lighting up huge, neon signs of concern in my brain. I’m almost envious of those who aren’t burdened by that.

    • Wulf says:

      On another note, this is why I generally don’t play competitive games. In Team Fortress 2 I’m horrible because I can even throw free kills to the losing team, whereas I don’t really feel bad about being killed at all. It’s… an odd double standard. But yes, it doesn’t make me a good competitive gamer, therefore as much as I would like to play this game, I would end up probably screwing myself over by trying to help everyone at the expense of myself.

      …though that would be pretty funny. Imagine the paranoia: “Is he really like this, or is he softening me up for a secret assassination later on?”

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I’m with you Wulf. While I do play TF2 and love it, when it comes to a game like Solium, as fun as it sounds, I’m just too nice to play it. I’m honorable and just don’t play games in a way that would make me any good at this.

      Shame as it does look like tons of fun. Perhaps if it ever gets a great AI and the price drops I’ll give it a whirl. I can backstab the AI all day long. Just can’t do it to real people without feeling bad.

  4. Haggai Elkayam says:

    You’re cheating! This is only turn 67! You owe us 61-70!

    WHAT HAPPENS ON TURN 68?!

    (Yes, this is pretty awesome.)

  5. sonofsanta says:

    This has become like all the best novels – I’m desperate to know what happens (stopping before turn 70 on part 7 is cheating, fuckers) but equally I don’t want it to end because what will I read then? It really has been an absolute delight, revelling in all your misery and torment, and this part has been the most delicious of all. Absolutely marvellous.

    Someone make a site to keep track of many SI games like this, so I can never do any work ever again.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I think the reason this is so good as we’ve not only got this side of the story, but also the other two going as well.

      I’ve tried reading other SI AAR’s, but they’re just from one perspective and while interesting, can’t come close to matching the epic tale here.

      Going to be sad to see this end as it’s become the first thing I check when I get up, see if the new update is up.

      You guys need to do MORE MORE MORE stuff like this. Hell, if it’s a game I have, CAN I PLAY?! As I’d love to get a part of this and write it up. I’ve done an AAR on my website before for the old game Floor 13. Would love to do it with something newer.

  6. Rinox says:

    Question:

    If both legions in a battle have a different “melee/ranged/inferal first/last” modifier, which one actually applies? That of the attacking legion?

    • plugmonkey says:

      That’s a good question.

      Also, can someone explain what the hell is going on in that Praetor battle? Why does Haagenti do basically no damage through the entire fight?

    • Metalfish says:

      @Plugmonkey,
      As far as I can see: atrocious, terrible bad luck.

    • Saul says:

      @Rinox: In Praetor battles, you can assign different amounts of swords, shields and skulls to each round, as well as doing a variety of special attacks. It’s not just a straight-out math-fest like legion combat.

    • Arathain says:

      It looks like Queenie has some really vicious special abilities that are doing horrible damage.

    • Litmus says:

      The Veil of Smoke special ability is pretty amazing. It is perfect to confound a melee heavy praetor like this bull. I believe it is useless against infernal magic strikes though.

    • Rinox says:

      Not that I don’t appreciate the other answers here (like re: the praetor battle), but no one has answered my question yet…and yes, I’m aware there’s a demo, but I’m lazy atm. :-)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Rinox: I don’t think anyone knows, basically.

      KG

    • Rinox says:

      Hazy conjecture is as good an answer as any. ;-) Thanks though!

  7. Lambchops says:

    Oh my, cliffhanger!

  8. Saul says:

    Waaa! I’m glad this came through before midnight my time, but now you’re telling me I have to wait a whole day for the conclusion?!

  9. StalinsGhost says:

    Crikey things got tense here.

    My reason for war with Quinns was simple – I knew I could take the Tree of Woe with relative ease. I had some combat-cards of my own planned, and hoped to irritate further by pressuring his shower bitch, and generally just making a mess of his eastern flank. Easy right?

    Nope.

    I realised I was up next for the chop by the God Squad (honestly, whoever released those guys can die in a hellfire.) I clustered my forces so as to share their stats bonuses, and hopefully wing the winged wankers. Nope. They managed to take down my best legion. Still. I can move on that tree with a little careful use of combat cards can’t I? I just won’t be able to go on a canton grab in Sponge’s territory and the PoP in it. I can reclaim SOME honour surely?

    I had however… completely ignored Scrofula’s legions near my borders. He’s dealing with Quinns isn’t he? Surely he’ll let the game lasting campaign of aggravation go to have a go at the man with the prestige won’t he? He wouldn’t throw away preventing someone from winning through a little tiff would he?

    Would he?!

  10. PixelCody says:

    The suspense. It burns!

    I’ve picked up Armageddon Empires again after reading this game diary. Didn’t have the patience to grok it first time around but I feel I owe the game another try before I plonk down some green on this game.

  11. Abulafia says:

    About that battle…
    Could Quinns have intercepted Scrofula with the Maws? If the battle happens next to the Stronghold, the Legion’s 10 + 2 support from HQ should have been enough.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Abulafia: Strongholds don’t give support. Only legions give support.

      KG

    • jewchristopher says:

      You know, now that you mention it, I’ve got a question:

      Could Quinns have moved the Maw forward to stand in the way of Scrofula’s unit?
      If Scofula did attack from the left (assuming that picture above is correct), then The Maw could have stood in his way, tying him up in a battle and preventing him from moving forward, right?

      I guess this is a rules question then: Does getting into a battle before you’ve moved all the way stop the rest of your movement?

      I mean, if I’m right then Scrofula could have predicted the block and just attacked where the Maw had previously stood, but it would at least be a fifty-fifty chance the block would work.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      jewchristopher: I’m not sure Quinns knew at the time, but you can march right through a unit and fight multiple battles in a turn. There’s debate elsewhere in the comments about the maths of that – as in, would it be better or worse odds.

      KG

  12. Ian says:

    Who the hell needs real-time and graphics?

    This is some of the most epic multiplayering ever.

  13. Tim Ward says:

    this is the greatest thing

  14. Richeh says:

    Did you concoct this entire series to use that signoff, Kieron?

  15. Jeremy says:

    Man, I was gonna say that Speedo’s just an AI player who managed to hold out while you all dragged each other down, but KG’s got him listed as an actual human. Whatever happens, the game probably finishes before 70, and I can’t wait to find out who wins. For someone who never plays PBEM, this is awesome.

  16. Lck says:

    I’m loving this series. Can’t wait for next (final?) post…

  17. Fashigady says:

    This is brilliant, was going to go to bed but had to read this first

  18. Quine says:

    This seems to be shaping up for a truly epic finish- is this normal?

    Loving the series- when’s the book out?

  19. Ivan Joukov says:

    Haaaaaaa, can’t wait for the end, that’s so marvelous, epic!

  20. Taillefer says:

    I was going to explain that Praetor combat, but I’m not sure about one round.

    Infernal Burst vs Mind Burn
    Why didn’t both Praetors take damage here?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Taillefer: Fromwhat I understand “Veil of Smoke” does…

      “Veil of Smoke (Combat Move): Block 1d6 + 1 per Praetor level of damage from opponent during the remaining combat phases in this round. (This includes the same phase that Veil of Smoke is used.)”

      In other words, she had a damage cushion. Presumably that stopped it.

      KG

    • Taillefer says:

      Heh, that made her almost invincible then. But actually I’m confused again: why does she take 2 damage in the round with Oath of Retribution?

    • neothoron says:

      She didn’t lose these points in the Oath of Retribution, but in the following turn; she probably did not roll very high on her veil of smoke on that phase. Knowing that the Veil protected her for 7-12 damage each turn… It goes to show how brutal Haagenti was.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Taillefer: Dunno. Honestly, one reason why I avoided Praetor combat was because I didn’t understand it.

      KG

    • Taillefer says:

      Neothoron, woah woah woah.
      That means nobody took any damage at all during the Infernal Burst vs Mind Burn phase? I can’t explain any of this anymore.

    • neothoron says:

      Well…

      Haagenti’s Infernal Burst was countered by Veil of Smoke – and I don’t know what Mind Blast does. Do you?

      Solium Infernum needs a Civilopedia equivalent – it’s quite complicated even when you know what everything does…

    • Taillefer says:

      Neothoron,

      Mind Burn (Combat Move): Do 1d6 damage to opponent. If your Praetor’s Infernal power is greater than your opponent’s Infernal Power, do an additional 1d6.

    • neothoron says:

      And now I think I brutally misinterpreted the Veil of Smoke – it’s not 7-12 each phase (as I thought I understood), but 7-12 for all remaining phases…

      Does not change the fact that it was still the thing that protected her against H’s infernal blast – just that the move goes in my mind from *crazily overpowered* to *extremely good*.

    • neothoron says:

      And what does Impenetrable Stance do? Maybe it prevents damage for three phases, or something?

    • neothoron says:

      Impenetrable Stance (Combat Move): Block two points of damage for every Shield that you assign. (This includes the
      same phase that Impenetrable Stance is used. It lasts for the rest of the round.)

      Haagenti assigned 6 shields = he blocks 12 points of damage.

      So that’s how Haagenti can pass through Mind Burn without damage.

    • Taillefer says:

      Impenetrable Stance (Combat Move): Block two points of damage for every Shield that you assign. (This includes the same phase that Impenetrable Stance is used. It lasts for the rest of the round.)

      Hmm, that’s massively unclear. Either 12 points are now being prevented every round for Haagenti? Or that every shield he uses from then on blocks two damage. Not to mention shields normally can’t block infernal for that mind burn. But could explain the no damage…

      So then The Oath round… That reverses then triples the damage you took… Oh, it doesn’t matter any more.

    • neothoron says:

      Both Veil of Shadows and Impenetrable Stance do not prevent damage *every phase*; they prevent their amount of damage, for the remainder of the round.

      The strength of these moves would be, I think, that it blocks even Infernal damage.

      In my next comment I will try to explain what happened.

    • neothoron says:

      Haagenti attacks – Queen veils => Queen prevents 7-12 damage, Haagenti should do about 5 damage, prevented by the veil. => 2-7 points left.
      Haagenti impenetrable stance – Queen blocks => Haagenti prevents 12 damage.
      Haagenti blocks – Queen attacks guarded => damage from the queen is blocked. Still 12 against 2-7 prevention points left.
      H Infernal bursts – Queen mind burns => both damages prevented by shields ; 0-10 for Haagenti, and 0-6 remaining for Queen.
      H attacks guarded – Queen retributes => H should do about 4, but Queen reflects triple damage, which is about 12 => H’s stance goes down and loses 7HP, Q’s veil still at 0-6.
      H attacks – Queen bursts => H should do about 5 and goes through Queen’s veil with 2 points over the limit – Queen rolls a 6 on damage for the Infernal Burst.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      Well, here’s what the manual says:
      “Mind Burn (Combat Move): Do 1d6 damage to opponent. If your Praetor’s Infernal power is greater than your opponent’s Infernal power, do an additional 1d6.”
      So since Haagenti’s infernal sucked so much, she could do 2d6 damage every turn, while absorbing all his damage with the Veil of Smoke. Would I like to get my hands on THAT praetor.

    • Taillefer says:

      Luck adds to skulls and shields, so the numbers would be different. But I agree that’s basically how everything flowed, yes. And now some skills are clearer, thanks Neothoron.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      neothoron: I don’t think its only blocking 7-12 damage, its 1d6+1 per Praetor level of damage from opponent. She’s lvl six, so more like 12-42 damage right? because the least she could roll is a 1: (1+1)*6=12 and the most is 6: (6+1)*6=42

      Edit: ugh, html tags

    • neothoron says:

      I believe the “per level” only applies to the “+1″ bonus portion.
      Which means, here 1d6+6

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      Ah, I see what you mean. That would make more sense, since she would be rather ridiculously powerful (not that that skill already isn’t). Still, some clarity in the rules would help a whole heck of a lot.

  21. zipdrive says:

    This write up is most awesome.
    I wih I had friends to play SI with.
    Also: please, please make Vic iron out the bugs and explain all these unknown questions.

    After reading the recommendaions here, I tried Armageddon Empires’ demo last week. I was underwhelmed by how obfuscated it was. Is it really that hard to create a tutorial?

  22. neothoron says:

    There is something I don’t understand;

    1st case: Scrofula can not roll over the Maws and the Fortress in the same turn – as Quinns seems to assume – why not move the legion in Scrofula’s legion’s expected path? Quinns would be able to gain a turn’s time.

    2nd case: Scrofula can roll over the Maws and the Fortress in the same turn – as I thought it worked – why wouldn’t he deprive your fortress of support before attacking it?
    The only way that would be bad would be if the Burning legion would lose enough HPs, and then Quinns having done some other boost to the fortress making it able to repel that legion. God, uh Satan, how complicated…

    I would compare that game to Diplomacy rather than Risk, though.

  23. Drexer says:

    You do know that now I won’t be able to sleep until I read the ending tomorrow… This is truly the most deceptive narrative I’ve ever read.

  24. Ian says:

    Wulf: Right up until the point where you finished last I’m sure at least one of your opponents would be totally and completely convinced you had some astonishingly amazingly brutal ace up your sleeve. :D

    Neither thank or curse Nuffle. You’ll get punished either way.

  25. tita says:

    The amount of twists and turns are making me dizzy!

  26. Michael says:

    The image posted under Day 67 shows Quinns with 250, Sponge with 48 and Speedo with 305. (250+48)<305
    yet below it Quinns claims he has won at least with the current standings. Am I missing something significant?

    • neothoron says:

      There are the public/secret objectives, and, at seven points, a single insult would be enough. Bottom line: Quinns can’t be sure that he had won; but he could very much believe that he was going to.

    • Quinns says:

      A thing I haven’t mentioned in any of my diaries is that Sponge and I have both completed our public objectives. Remember when I mentioned I’d stolen enough to complete my envy objective, which will net me +30 prestige at the end of the game? Sponge completed his around the same time, meaning he gets +30 too. It was, in fact, one of my criteria for accepting him as a blood vassal.

      Speedo, meanwhile, hadn’t completed his public objective. Yeah, he might have had some secret objectives up his sleeve, but I still knew we were getting +60 to his +0.

    • Michael says:

      Oh, thanks for clearing that up. The fact that you were behind in pure numbers didn’t really explain why you were playing so defensively.

  27. Malibu Stacey says:

    Curse cliffhanger endings! Damn them to……….oh right.

    I’m rooting for Quinns tbh. Go Quinns! Show Kieron his machiavellian scheming is all for naught. Make him realise that his uppance has well and truly come!

  28. NikRichards says:

    Played the demo and hated it.

    …read another post.

    Played the demo and hated it.

    …read another post.

    Played the demo and bought the full game.

    Still not quite sure why.

  29. RagingLion says:

    This is great fun. The tension comes across admirably well – it’s a nice touch and coincidence how the moment the big plan you’d been plotting became partly realised by Quinns he just happened to be at your house so you could observe his reaction.

  30. RagingLion says:

    Ooh, just thought: I wonder if Speedo is going to end up winning and confound everyone.

  31. Narretz says:

    I vote for Quinns to win, just because I found him more likeable than Kieron. Anyway, I guess it all comes different, as so often in this game. Very excited to read the last part!

  32. Heliosicle says:

    COME ON

    JUST POST THE REST NOW

    I can’t….hold on…

  33. Anthony Damiani says:

    This is why I could never play this game. Too much patience. Just reading the AAR here has me on pins and needles.

  34. DJ Phantoon says:

    I can always get behind some mustache twirling, Machiavellian scheming.

    Obviously Kieron should win for having the biggest mustach- I mean plan. Best plan.

  35. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m with Scrofula, frankly.

    KG

    • Ergates says:

      I suspect it’ll turn out to have been the caretaker all along.

      And he would have gotten away with it too…

    • JonFitt says:

      @KG …and in the game!

  36. The Great Wayne says:

    Pretty fun reports so far, sadly I don’t think I could devote so much weeks to a single play, it’s typically the kind of game I would happily play around a table however .

    Also, too bad for Quinns I kinda liked his reports the most, but it seems that Pride is definitely the worst sin down there, and that hell favour the sly that just pops out at the end – litterally like, well, a devil-in-a-box.

  37. CMaster says:

    It’s worth noting I guess that Quinns has probably used all his orders to save himself, or at least most of them.
    And Sponge may be able to use a Wrath/deceit/whatever ritual on Scrof’s legion.
    So Quinns still has a chance to win, especially if Scrof doesn’t attack in his first order slot.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Iirc, there’s an ongoing event preventing anyone to cast rituals, likely dooming Quinns (its former caster).

    • Heliosicle says:

      its likely since this is the crux of scrof’s plan, he’ll do just that though

    • CMaster says:

      @TheGreatWayne
      Erm yeah.
      Rather silly of me to forget that.

  38. Ergates says:

    If Quinns had bought a new unit in his first order slot, would it have dropped onto the map in time to back up the stronghold? Or do units wait until the beginning of the next round to appear?

    Obviouisly that woud depend on a) having the funds available and b) there being an appropriate unit available.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Ergates: Interesting thinking. I honestly don’t know. It’s a bit of a risk though – you don’t choose the square they land in. If they land in a square he was going through, they’d be annihilated by the Scrof.

      And the support bonus of a new unit is almost certainly less than the bonus he got from moving the Praetor over – something he had to do to stop Scrof’s overwhelming ranged attack. He had one sure action.

      KG

    • neothoron says:

      No; the bids in the Infernal Bazaar are one of the many things that are evaluated only after all 6 “order phases”
      It’s also important to know that Canton attribution occurs after biddings, but before vendetta resolution, that occurs before elimination.

      If quinns had tried that, his fortress would be razed, he would (possibly) win the bid and get a new legion, and only then, be removed from the game.

    • Ergates says:

      Thats useful to know: Sometimes when there is something I *must* have, I put the bid in the first order slot. But clearly this isn’t going to make a difference to the outcome, meaning I can use the first slot for something more time-dependant and bid in the last one.

  39. El Stevo says:

    The Legion of Maw look like swollen green penises (with arms and a mouth). That is unmistakeably a glans at the top of the body/shaft.

  40. Pijama says:

    THIS IS TOO GOOD

    (OR TOO EVIL, anyway)

  41. LionsPhil says:

    Intrigue!

    Now that something has not gone Just As Planned, I even more want to read Speed Demon’s account of the game.

    Unless…

    …you don’t think he lost that fight on purpose, did he?

  42. Max says:

    Maybe it’s just me and my dirty mind, but those Legions of Maw look like they’re a photoshop of a penis with a mouth and arms added on.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Look up a few posts.

      And, yes. It’s Hell’s pustulent answer to vagina dentata.

  43. LionsPhil says:

    Since people are guessing, and since Speedo is clearly actually Tzeentch: Kieron takes Pandemonium, Quinns is annihilated by Scrofula, a betrayed Scrofula is annihilated by Sponge before he can counter Kieron, Sponge/Zah’hak can’t do much of anything, Speedo unveils uber-loot-equipped flying legion which annihilates Kieron’s now-undefended stronghold, last token is cast now that Pandemonium is free, Speedo victorius by a huge margin over the survivors, Just As Planned.

    (Presumably losing your stronghold vapourises all your units, too—if Scrofula’s stronghold falls, that uber-legion taking down Quinns is nobody’s, not even an obstruction or rogue actor.)

    • AS says:

      @LionsPhil: Once you lose your stronghold, you lose the game – so if Quinns loses his stronghold, he no longer needs to email anymore. Possibly Sponge as well.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @AS: Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that your units evaporate; that merely strikes me as /likely/.

      I suppose a more important distinction would be “if Kieron’s stronghold were smashed, would his units in Pandemonium go away, or would they now be an unowned obstruction to anyone else”?

    • AS says:

      @LionsPhil: Units stick around until the end of the turn. This means, with a little careful play, one can attempt to recapture your own stronghold after it had been taken (alas it doesn’t work due to coding issues) or take down another with you. So to answer your question:

      His units would disappear at the end of the turn. If someone wanted to move through a space his unit holds after his stronghold had been smashed, it would engage in combat (allowing you to level it up, but that’s a different story.) On all following turns, all mentions of Kieron would be gone including units, other than the place that was once his Stronghold. The are no legions to bribe or block the way.

  44. Ken McKenzie says:

    When reading about a group of complete strangers playing a game is significantly more entertaining than 90% of the games you, personally, have actually played, then you know you need to get that game.

    Absolutely gripping, all the more so for Sponge and Hentzau’s hugely enjoyable takes on it, and SG’s cryptic hints.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that Speedo’s complete silence on the whole thing is because in a couple of days we’re going to get a big ‘….and this is how the whole thing really went down’ post from him.

  45. AS says:

    Seeing Hentzau show that Zah’hak is only a Lord (even if this is the first game), and no AAR makes me think something evil is underway… and perky.

  46. LionsPhil says:

    Scrofula’s version is up.

    I wonder how much prestige smashing someone out of the game is worth?

    (@AS: Interesting. So Kieron would still be in the way to someone else after Pandimonium in the same turn, in this increasingly implausible hypothetical situation. Ta.)

  47. Lack_26 says:

    I have to say, that despite me being dead on my feet (or arse, since I’m sitting down) from tiredness and hence barely able to understand what is written on the screen. This game has been a constant source of intrigue and realpolitiks, I reckon I’m going to have to buy this game. I’m rooting for Scrofula, I have to say (and KG as well, actually. Always best to hedge your bets).

  48. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    This series of write ups is the most entertaining and interesting thing I have read. Ever.