Gameboys From Hell: Solium Infernum Finale

By Kieron Gillen on January 22nd, 2010 at 1:27 pm.


Who will rule hell? Good question.

The answer follows.

We’re in the endgame now. Things are… somewhat tense. If you’re new, I’d suggest you go and catch up with previous parts before going here. At the least, the last couple of turns makes the following more dramatic. There is tension here.

Kieron/Quinns: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60] [61-66]
Scrofula: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60] [61-66]
Poisoned Sponge: [1-10] [11-20] [21-30] [31-40] [41-50] [51-60] [61-66]

Sponge and Scrofula’s 61-66 reports will be new to you if you’re mainly following it here.

And cliffhangers… unhung:

Turn 68 – Quinns:
Oh my word I’m still here. Oh praise be. Oh, sweet merciful fuck.

My judo block praetor-swap worked. Scrofula flung the Burning Legion at my stronghold as fast as he could, and they shattered against my battlements when the melee round happened first. Barbatos, I’d kiss you if I only knew how to do it without cutting my face open.

What happened? Well, the Burning Legion might have been tooled up with an artifact and a praetor, but that didn’t help their limited combat experience; their low level. When the battle began and the game rolled for combat advantage it naturally went to my stronghold. Where luck came in was that it boosted my melee, of all things, from 11 to 13, enough to eradicate the Burning Legion before they got their apocalyptic ranged volley off.

And– oh, my God. It looks like I wasn’t Scrofula’s only target. He tried exactly the same play against Zah’Hak’s stronghold, except it worked! Zah’hak’s presence and all his legions have vanished overnight. Look at this stuff!

And then there were five. Looking at this picture is honestly very creepy. The insane part is, this turn also saw Zah’hak making his very first attack of the game as his legions rebounded off my Tree of Woe. He spends 70 turns cowering, then dies the moment he flings a weak legion against a weak Place of Power.

And that’s not all. Kieron made a genuine attempt to conquer Pandemonium! Fuck me. He’s excommunicated too. What on Earth is going on?

Wait, I know what’s going on. I no longer need conclave permission to touch either Kieron or Scrofula, both of whom have just suffered brutal military defeats. What’s going on is I’m going to make those salty jerks rue the day they tried anything as clever as this. I have two strong legions and two enemies. This will be neat and tidy.

Turn 68 – Kieron:
Quinns is being more than a little blase with that “naturally” above, of course. Combat Advantage is worked out with the level difference plus a random number from 1-6. He had +3, which works out roughly to a 3/4 chance of winning advantage. And then there was only a 1 in 3 chance of the combat advantage going to the stat which he actually needed it to – that is, Melee. So all in all – what? – a 1 in 4 chance of stopping Scrofula from having skinned Quinns and using him as a posing pouch. That was, to steal my comrade in arms’ line, tight.

I dwell on the odds, because dwelling on the odds is pretty much all I’ve been doing in these turns. I basically had a 1 in 6 chance to take Pandemonium, roughly. I needed my combat card to turn up on 6. It didn’t. Pandemonium is not mine. Sad emoticon.

Worse, when I sent the Gorgons forth, I thought that if they didn’t take it, they’d survive the combat… just. Remember that wine-glass I mentioned earlier? It conspired with my noggin, and I’d somehow forgot that ground battles have two rounds. Pandemonium gets a second Melee-round on the Gorgons, with inevitable results. My Girls are torn asunder and Descarbi goes back to the pit for the third time. It’s like he’s got a holiday home in eternal agony.

Thing is, while it’s sad to lose the Gorgons, even if I hadn’t fell prey to total amateur play, I’d have moved on Pandemonium. Around a 1-in-6 chance? It’s all I have. It’ll do.

There is a bright side though.

Since the Gorgons are dead, it means I don’t have to pay ‘em. That’s a couple of resources I can use for…

Well, not much. Scrofula and I regroup and talk about what to do next. I had no idea he was also going for Zah’hak, and I’m impressed he’s got at least one scalp for his belt. We talk about other ways to take out Quinns and Speedo Demon – Speedo is easy, but Quinns is going to take some thinking. I know Quinns is on my border, and now, with everything free, he’s inevitably going to sweep in and crush me. Still – a couple of turns to play with still. Scrofula is going to suffer similar things with Poisoned sponge, but his mastery of Combat cards is going to make that harder for him. So we plan and scheme and work out what best to do.

But I know, in my black heart, I’m no longer playing to win. I’m playing, at best, for second place.

Turn 69 – Kieron
In short, bollocks.

I lost track of the turn sequence of ordering. Despite going through the report a couple of times, I couldn’t find any record who was head of the the conclave. I presumed it was a glitch because of the fact two of us were excommunicated – and excomms can’t be head, so can never have first action. Except now, going through the turns, I can find it. I was presumably looking at the wrong tab. Last turn it was Speedo. Which means that this turn, Quinns goes first.

Quinns goes first with his best unit within marching distance of my capital. I have no actions. There’s nothing I can do inside the game to stop him.

Maybe there’s something I can do outside it. Despite the fact Quinns has been our main initial target, he’s not actually leading. Speedo Demon has 344 prestige. Quinns has 276. While there’s lots of bonuses at the end, that’s a big chunk of prestige to catch up. Why risk not being able to do that? There’s only one player in the game who can actually remove Speedo from the table. I hate Speedo more than anyone. I’m the one who’s gone out of my way to attack him most, the Praetor-only tactic offensive to me on some kind of primeval level. Remember: I went to war with someone else just so I could get to Speedo, so I could got to war with him.

So I write a mail to Quinns, explaining this. Don’t crush me. I’m the only one who can kill Speedo. You’re risking a win on revenge, man. Yeah, I almost engineered your destruction with a few well-chosen e-mails. Yes, I’m your mortal enemy. But I’m the only person who can help you win. I send it off and sigh. Scrofula and I sit discussing it. Will he accept? He’s got to. I mean, I would. When you actually have a good shot at winning throwing it away to get rid of the person at the bottom of the ladder is stupid, surely?

We, of course, also discuss how we’re going to fuck up Quinns given an extra turn. Abstractly, we could stab this turn. He has a unit within marching distance of Quinns capital. If I deceit-stun his defensive unit, Quinns won’t be able to move him in the way and… yeah, it’s a bit of a long shot. We decide to assume that Quinns is going to let me keep my scalp. I concentrate on getting the resources I need and setting it up to decapitate Speedo, who I’m pretty sure I can annihilate via a mixture of stealing his units, moving them away and whatever.

Notice something about that previous paragraph? Yes, I’m talking about deceit rituals again. Because the event which blocked rituals is over, ending as early as it possibly could.

So, yes, I had time to wait before attacking Pandemonium.

Hindsight is 20:20. Also, a right fucker.

Turn 69 – Quinns:
The Legion of the Maw just punted Scrofula back out of the Pillars of Malebolge. Today, I discover that justice is delicious. Justice is all you need. Meanwhile, a little to the West the Chosen of Quinns, that legion Kieron so brutally tore apart with the Orb of Oblivion about 30 turns back, are advancing on Kieron’s Stronghold and his pathetic cluster of legions.

Want to see what that looks like?

Ahh.

Not sure what Bad Slave Sponge is doing at this point, but he should be getting involved in this. It’s a very good time.

I decide to begin picking off Kieron’s legions one by one. The more fights my Chosen participate in, the more they’re going to level up and become even more powerful.

My turn complete, I send it off to Kieron. Fifteen minutes later comes an email from him:

“I’m not processing this turn until you’ve read the email I’ve just sent. THINK ABOUT IT MAN.”

I check my inbox for the email he’s talking about. I’m reproducing it here in full:

“You can clearly crush me this turn – annoyingly, the last turn didn’t show me who was head-of-conclave on my results, so I had no idea who went first this time. I’d have done things differently if I knew you were first, next*.

I strongly advise you don’t. At the moment, you’re losing. You only hope of winning is decapitating Speedo Demon in the next turn or so**. I’m the only person who has the faintest chance of doing so.

(In fact, I’m pretty sure I can. It helps that he’s about to get a unit stomped by the heavenly host)

In fact, I’d argue smartest thing to do may actually be to join in with me. We’re both level 5-6 decieters. Two Level 5-6 decieters can cause a whole fucking mess against someone in this position. If you use your first action to – for example – use the order which makes the units freeze and be unable to move, or march them elsewhere or similar, it sets it up for a decapitation next turn. Clearly, I’ll be cursing his city within an inch of its life.

KG

*Admitedly, it probably wouldn’t make a difference. And I should have moved it anyway. Serves me right for rushing this turn. And marching on Pandemonium.
**Or, alternatively, hoping your secret objectives are enough to make up the difference. Which is a gamble, as you don’t know what secret objectives he’s got.”

Huh. Let Kieron go running into the sunset after Speedo Demon? Seems reasonable. Besides, I had no intention to crush him. I was just thinking I’d use his Legions as target practice. I reply that I’ll send him a new turn after breakfast, a meal I’m henceforth referring to as The Murder Breakfast.

During The Murder Breakfast a thought occurred to me. It came spiralling out of my subconscious like a worm. It started as I remembered that Kieron had been manipulating all of the other archfiends for the last 30 turns, and ever since Sponge had become my blood vassal he’d been rallying them against me. How short was my memory? Not two days ago he’d told me, to my horror-stricken face, that it was him who’d put Scrofula up to assassinating me.

From there, my mind folded in on itself. He not only tries to knock me out of the game, but then when his dirty machinations fail he tries to weasel his way out of the consequences? He does this without offering so much as an APOLOGY? How dare he?! If he had his way I’d be DEAD, if he had a chance this very second he’d STILL kill me, and he expects MERCY?

Worse than ALL OF THIS, he’s used his position as the one out of us which processes the turns to his advantage! He refused to process the turn until I’d listened to his lies.

Oh, I’ll send you your turn again, Kieron.

I go back upstairs to find he’s sent me another email. It’s a short one. It reads:

“I like that this is a game where you can convicingly beg for your life.”

Oh, you can, Kieron. BUT IT WON’T DO YOU ANY FUCKING GOOD.

Turn 70 – Quinns:
THERE SHE IS! SHE’S MINE! SHE’S ALL MINE!

(Incidentally, I really like that you have this epic picture accompanied by crashing orchestral music and then you click on the “OK” in the bottom right.

“YOU ARE THE SUPREME RULER OF HELL! ALL OTHERS ARE NAUGHT BUT SHADES OF YOUR LIGHT!” “ok.”)

The game’s over! With Kieron’s legions clawing at the gates of Pandemonium the Infernal Conclave have finally made their horrible minds up and cast the 15th token! Presented here in descending order is the prestige breakdown for each one of us:

You may notice that Kieron’s absent from the ceremony. I think I’ll let him explain that one.

Turn 70 – Kieron
There isn’t much to explain. I open the turn and have a series of gasps.

Firstly, I gasp that the game’s over. Fucking hell. Scrofula and I shouldn’t have waited a turn. We knew we were risking it. Why did we do it. Too late now, eh? Speedo has won.

Secondly, wait… Speedo hasn’t won. Quinns has won, with 423 Prestige. Where did they come from? Oh – I note that Sponge has zero. At the end of the game, the blood-slave’s prestige gets added to its master. I didn’t know that. Scrofula didn’t know that. We thought the bonus you got when you take on the Blood slave was all you got from it. Wait… that means that Quinns was never in any real danger from Speedo. That means he never needed me to take him out. That means…

Thirdly, oh… I’m dead, ground beneath Quinns’ heel as his unit marches all over my capital. While I’d done the actions which would have made me safe next turn for a stab, it’s somewhat too late when I’m getting used to my new existence as part of Quinns’ fetching bone-crown. Or bowel-cleaner. Or both.

I facepalm, followed by a grin and rising my cup of tea in salute at the screen.

It’s a worryingly appropriate end for the game. I spend my whole time manipulating people with e-mails, and the one time I send one with relatively pure intentions, I get killed for it. I’m every single trickster who always – irony of ironies – ends up being caught by his own web of deceit. I wish we’d knew, of course, as we’d have played the end differently – we’d have stabbed this turn, knowing that Quinns would have probably have killed me. I certainly wouldn’t have sent the mail… or maybe I would. If I could enrage Quinns into attacking my castle, it would have made him less able to defend himself, and so possibly lead to us both going out in the same turn. That’d have been worryingly perfect. In fact, in the afterglow of the game, I find myself playing with a particularly apocalyptic scenario, which could have happened with only a few changed orders delaying final moves. Quinns destroys me. Scrofula destroys Quinns. I destroy Speedo. Sponge destroys Scrofula. Which leaves the only person standing at the end of the game, Sponge. The dog having his day…

Yeah, I’m glad that didn’t happen. Quinns deserves his kingship. Sponge deserves his footstooldom.

And looking back over the last seventy turns, I certainly deserve my annihilation. If I’m being Loki in our particular narrative, I do really need to end up in a deep dark pit with a snake dripping venom in my eyes.

Quinns:

Couple of funny things. First of all, as they got dumped to a random canton after the battle with Kieron’s stronghold, my Chosen finally used their mountainwalk.

Second, there’s a combat card in Kieron’s stronghold. There wasn’t last turn. Combat cards get used the moment the unit they’re attached to is exposed to combat, which means it must have been built… after I attacked. So Kieron must have created it in an order slot after the order slot in which I attacked and erased him from existence. He’s defending himself from beyond the grave.

The reason this is doubly amazing is it means Kieron didn’t trust me, even after I sent him an email saying I’d let him live, even after I sent him my turn again, he didn’t trust me, and was filling his order slots with Not Trusting Me instead of using them to go after Speedo like he’d promised.

Haha. That fucker. You’ve got to laugh.

You know, when I first found out I’d won I thought I’d really earned it. I saw myself dodging and weaving my way to first place before knocking the upstart Scrofula back with a smiling uppercut.

If I’ve learned one thing from revisiting our game in two dozen different places for the purposes of this diary, it’s that I was ludicrously lucky. Lucky with my starting position, lucky with my event cards and lucky when Scrofula’s dagger bounced off my throat in the final turns.

That said, Solium Infernum isn’t really a game about luck. If a bad player gets lucky, there are innumerable ways for the other players to chew him back down to size. What I do feel proud about is that I turned my lucky start into a lead which I kept, and even when Scrofula made his move on my Stronghold I saw his move and twisted the numbers to within an inch of saving myself, and I sent my turn off full of hope.

And I guess what I’m really grateful for is that despite my good fortune, my opponents never gave up or started whinging. It’s one of the greatest aspects of Solium from a design perspective- with his mighty brain, Vic Davis has created a game where every single turn is important for every single one of you. I’m just so glad Kieron and Scrofula figured that out.

Vic’s meant to be working on a multiplayer-friendly sales package right now where he sells a bunch of keys for a reduced price. You there, the guy sitting on the fence! Yeah you, with the shoes and the funny nose. If he releases that package or cuts the price at all, I implore you, buy this game. There wasn’t another release in all of 2009 with as many clever design ideas as this, and that makes it the kind of project we need to be supporting.

IN CLOSING:

The game and the demo are available here. There’s a busy forum at Cryptic Comet for arranging games or an RPS Steam Group – Rock Paper Satan – if you fancy playing RPS’ community. Oh – and an associated thread on our forum.

It was quite the game. It couldn’t be the game without the players. Thanks to the ever mysterious Speedo, whose silence only added mystery to the thing. To Sponge, who cannily manouvered into the second position from a weak hand – and for his account of the final turns, head here. To Zah’hak, who was an irritant par excellence, managing to gain the enmity of everyone in the whole game. And to Scrofula, who proved himself a Punisher-style revenge machine with a taste for the jugular – and for a pitbull’s eye view of his final turns, go here.

And, to end on a song, while at times it really was Pantera…

More often, it was more Sleater Kinney.

Some things you lose, some things you give away, etc.

And as in, Indie Rock. And Solium Infernum? This Indie rocks.

Thanks for reading.

, .

209 Comments »

  1. Heliocentric says:

    I need 2 copies of this so a bundle deal sounds lovely. $60 is a little to rich for me.

    • Demon Beaver says:

      two copies? you intend to be two players in one game? now that is right down devious!

  2. Heliosicle says:

    Oh that was brilliant.

    Bravo all of you.

  3. Premium User Badge Arathain says:

    I think your attitudes to these final turns is fascinating. One of the things that made the previous reports so compelling was the level of vitriol and built up resentments, leaking into bursts of furied revenge plotting, present constantly.

    But at the end, you’re all terribly magnanimous. There’s a sense of rightness, where everyone feels they kind of deserved (earned!) what they got. I like KGs branding himself as Loki in particular. Would you ascribe this to weariness, or admiration of the excellent narractive arcs you all lived through?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Arathain: Late to answer you, but… yeah, I think it’s people just being relatively good losers, and recognising that even if it didn’t work out, the actual story of the thing was brilliant. I certainly smile at the main irony of my downfall.

      KG

  4. Reverend Speed says:

    PLEASE, RPS.

    Convert this playthrough into a book. Or a comic. Somehow. The machinations… so delicious

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Pretty sure the Penny Arcade boys could do wonder with that.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Oh god, YES!

    • Radiant says:

      A comic would be about 11 panels long.
      Panel 1: Player 1 has an IDEA
      Panel 2: Player 1 Facepalms
      Panel 3: Player 2 has an IDEA
      Panel 4: Player 2 Facepalms
      etc. until
      Panel 11: Quinns realises he’s WON!

  5. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Hugely enjoyable. Thanks, you lads.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I called it over on Sponge’s site. People got to within one turn of achieving their goals, and the game finishes. Well done, Quinns. You deserved winning, you got your lead early and kept it. Like I said on the other site, I played the demo tonight and quite enjoyed it. Dunno if I’ll buy the game, but it was fun at least.

  7. JK says:

    Excellent session reports from all participants! Those reports really got me and a friend of mine hooked into the concept of the game and we were about to buy one copy of SI to test it out if it’s as fun as you made it sound like. The demo was a bit shortish and ends just when the action begins so these reports enlightened me about what the game actually might be like with a group of f(r)iends.

    And then you hint that there might be a multipackage coming out! It might be a lot more easier to entice a few more friends in with such a pack. Do you have any more info about that? When it might come out? In a week? In a month? In this year? Or how many keys might be in the pack? It just might be worth the wait to get our own SI group going. But there’s an itch in the back of my brain. I want to rule the hell and the sooner the better! Oh why do you torment me so?!

  8. Arsewisely says:

    Brilliant piece. Thanks.

  9. The Sombrero Kid says:

    am i the only one who thinks this is in the wrong price range, the few times I’ve thought of buying this or Armageddon Empires I’ve stopped when i realised it is $29 i was thinking it’d be a $15 game, or am i a cheap skate.

    • kalidanthepalidan says:

      Don’t be a cheap skate! Buy AE (or SI)! AE is certainly worth the $30. It has kept me entertained for many, many hours. It’s well worth it.

    • WFL says:

      I was feeling the same thing. Not to diminish the obviously high attention to detail in the game’s conception, I don’t know that I want to drop $30 for it, especially when I’ve also got to convince friends to do the same (right now my mother is the only one who seems to think it is cool – which.. well, yeah. I’m not fighting my mother for control of hell, thanks).

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I actually get while people who don’t want to play multiplayer – or even would only want to play with their real-life friends – would feel iffy about throwing down thirty dollars each for Solium Infernum.

      But Armageddon Empires is totally worth 30 dollars. If you’d pay that much for – say – Civ, it’s equal value. It’s a shorter form game, of course, but it’s just a great single player strategy game.

      KG

  10. SheffieldSteel says:

    Okay, this is a kind of weird question.
    I’m not really interested in play-by-mail or multiplayer. Is it worth playing this against the AI? It does sound fascinating and not a little bit fun.

    • Shon says:

      I have been playing it solo against the AI and it has been pretty fun. I was pleasantly surprised as I crushed the AI in the demo every time. In the four games I have played this week, I won one comfortably and lost the other three.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Thanks, Shon. I’m sold.

      And thanks to the RPS guys for such a gripping narrative!

  11. The Great Wayne says:

    All hail the Quinn, we’ve been fools to doubt ya in the last turn.

    On a more serious note, great reports. Afterwards, I think I would buy the game if a more functional multiplayer mode existed, pretty sure I could find a handful of crazy basterds in my vicinity to play that kind of game.

  12. LionsPhil says:

    Does anyone know if, should Scrofula have destroyed Quinns, Sponge would have gone with him?

    The whole “two heads, one body” thing would imply to me that it would, yet people seem to assume that a Quinns-less Sponge would just revert to his pre-bitch state.

    Oh, and GG. Although it’s somewhat of a shame that the vote came in, rather than, you know, mass murder.

    • neothoron says:

      Look at things in reverse – if Sponge had been destroyed, would Quinns be eliminated?

      In my understanding, it’s only towards “The Conclave” and “diplomatic relationships” that a Blood Vassal and his Lord are one – they cannot control each other’s resources/armies/artifacts/etc. – they can only gain support from each other (and two unrelated but unexcommunicated Archfiends support each other against an excommunicated player)

      I think that the “One body – two heads” metaphor is the right one – and destroying a fortress is equivalent to beheading.

      But Sponge would not “revert to his pre-bitch state” – he has already lost a consequent amount of prestige when he bitched to Quinns – which means that at that time he had less than a quarter prestige of the lead player; and he was relegated from the middling grade of Marquis to the pitiful grade of Lord – he would be completely impotent diplomatically.

  13. SleepyMatt says:

    Ahhhh I can’t believe Quinns survived the decapitation attempt.. a brilliant twist! I’ve loved reading the four accounts of this game.. what am I going to do now in the wee small hours when I ought to be asleep?

  14. cjlr says:

    I must say, if Sponge had ended up winning because everybody else eliminated each other in a perfectly coordinated orgy of destruction, that would have been one of the most beautiful things I’d ever have seen. Or, even better, if Sponge was eliminated along with Quinns. Everybody dies!

    Still, respect to Zah’hak (StalinsGhost, right?). I’m honestly not sure what he was going for, strategically, but he managed to be a complete and indiscriminate ass to everbody while remaining scrupulously in-character most of the time. That magnificent, indolent, capricious bastard of a demon lord.

  15. PsyW says:

    This has got to be one of my favourite RPS diary series’ in recent times. Possibly ever! I enjoyed it a lot. Well done, you people and congratulations to Quinns.

  16. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Bravo, you magnificent bastards :D

  17. President Weasel says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, and it made me buy the game.
    I’m hoping our PBEM games can be half as good as this one was.

    Actually more and more these days I find myself buying games because “there should be more games like this, I shall give the creator money” rather than a straight desire to own and play the game. The other main example I can think of would be Gratuitous Space Battles, the beta of which I bought due simply to the concept. I certainly got my money’s worth of enjoyment from it though.

  18. LionsPhil says:

    @neothoron: Right, cheers. That sounds quite plausible.

    Hentzau: post your finale blog post already! All threads…must…complete…

  19. Bonedancer says:

    Really enjoyed this series – it started quite slowly, and I only tuned in because I was interested in the game itself, but the last few installments have been nail-biting, chortling-out-loud things of wonder. Thanks, all of you!

  20. y2rich says:

    Best piece of writing about a game since Roburkys Homeless Sims.

    Just downloaded the demo, if I get into this I hate you all.

  21. Vinraith says:

    An absolutely brilliant journal series, thanks for this guys. Unfortunately, to me it further emphasizes that to really enjoy the game you need to be playing it with people you know. Screwing over your friends is so much more satisfying than screwing over strangers.

  22. The Archetype says:

    Seconded

  23. ecurtz says:

    Excellent series!, Well played, fiends.

    Does the game have any kind of replay feature? (I assume not, or it would be part of these logs.) Being able to watch the game play out turn by turn while seeing what everyone had and was up to would be fantastic.

  24. DXN says:

    This was super! Games writing at its best, I say. I looked forward to every installment.

    If I had any money at all right now, I’d be buying this game — I have a few friends I’d love to play it against. As it stands, it’ll have to wait a little while.

  25. Pod says:

    The guy would sell a million more units if it wasn’t £30.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s thirty-dollars. As in, twenty quid.

      (I’m doing an interview with Vic shortly, and I’ll ask him about it. I think I know the answer, but I’d like him to say it)

      KG

    • Bonedwarf says:

      There are more currencies in the world than just the US and UK Kieron. For me it’d be closer to $35. For my friend in Australia, $40 or more probably.

      I think if he halved the price, he’d MORE than make up the loss in increased sales.

      $30 and no guarantee of finding a multiplayer game, and having the demo throw errors at me the entire time: Not worth it.

      $15 and the same? I’d buy it anyway.

    • brog says:

      Bonedwarf: You’re guaranteed to find a multiplayer game if you join the RPS Steam group (at least right now, when everyone’s excited after reading these diaries), and you’ll find a lot fewer errors once you’ve patched the game up to the latest version. He really needs to update the demo like that.

  26. Stark says:

    What a great series.

  27. Vinraith says:

    A combination of this excellent journal series, the fact that I’ve been meaning to buy it for ages, and all the infuriatingly pathetic whining about the price point finally convinced me to buy Armageddon Empires. $30 for a highly replayable turn based strategy game is bargain basement pricing to my thinking, these things are good for hundreds if not thousands of hours of entertainment.

    • Vinraith says:

      And not an hour after I buy AE, Vic shows up personally and offers a discount code. D’oh!

  28. Earl_of_Josh says:

    I echo all salutations and proclamations of greatness, this has truly been an epic journey, and has caused untold hours of work not to get done. Bravo, gentlemen!

  29. origo says:

    its been awhile since i’ve read something so entertaining. makes me want to draw a few demons:p
    i tried the demo before this diary started, deleted it after 5 minutes.
    after reading half of this, i downloaded the.. hmm.. ‘free’ full version of the game. after couple hours i got a hang of basics, its not bad.
    And then i decided that enjoyment i’ve already received both from game and this writing piece, that game inspired, is worth the price. bought the game.

    btw, there’s a bit of real time emotions that this game produced in scrofula’s player:
    http://www.thetales.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=4033&st=250

    this IS a scary game, dont know if i want to try multiplayer;/

  30. Jimmy says:

    @Neothoron: The argument was that Sponge would have a chance of coming out on top in the king-of-the-hill elimination that would inevitably follow Quinn’s fall

  31. Nimic says:

    What I’m “afraid” of his that this hardly seems the sort of game where the fellow players will help the poor newbie along. Rather, it seems like the sort of game where everyone will be viciously trying to exploit him for their own gain. With the single player being by all accounts pointless, how is a poor, interested fellow supposed to learn the game properly?

    • AS says:

      @Nimic: Hang out in the RPSatan chat room on Steam. We’re more than happy to help, as long as you aren’t in our games – need you to distract the others from thinking about the games they’re in with us.

      (They may seem like they don’t talk, but say hello and you’ll get a response – ask questions, especially with that Spartacus guy around and he’ll answer. He talks too much.)

    • Nimic says:

      Cheers, I’ll do that. I haven’t actually bought the game yet, but I’ve tinkered around with the demo a bit, and read some of the manual, and it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll cave in to my strategy-geekiness.

    • Dolphan says:

      I think a full game against the AI and a glance at the build discussions on the CC forums (i.e don’t take less than charisma 2/3 unless you know exactly what you’re doing) would be enough to have a decent stab. I think the AI is improving quite quickly in the latest patches too.

  32. Quinns says:

    It’s worth pointing out, then, that only 3 of the 6 of us knew each other prior to the game.

    I’d say instead that what’s important isn’t knowing your fellow players, but playing with people who’ll get into the game and be willing to communicate outside of it. And if they’ve paid $30 for the game, they will.

    • Quinns says:

      Should be a reply to Vinraith.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Quinns

      Undoubtedly true, but I did get the sense that messing with, say, Kieron was more entertaining for you than messing with the players you didn’t know. I know it would be that way for me.

  33. Rikard Peterson says:

    Thanks for this series. Great reading! (I don’t think I’ll ever going to play a game like this one, but reading about it was fun.)

  34. Stapelesas says:

    Can a few people gather ’round one computer and play – hotseat-style?

  35. LionsPhil says:

    $30 for a highly replayable turn based strategy game is bargain basement pricing to my thinking, these things are good for hundreds if not thousands of hours of entertainment.

    Thing is, it’s not a point of long-term value—it’s a point of upfront hurdles getting your friends to buy it. I’d never manage to convince enough people that I’d want to play with to put down $30 on a relative unknown like this, and I don’t think the demo’s quite up to the job, to be honest.

    I think this’d actually work better as a boardgame. It wouldn’t have a UI hideously appropriate to its subject (seriously, what the hell is up with that scrolling?), and I wouldn’t have problems with the Mac and Linux-heads either.

  36. Alex says:

    You people have no balls. I doubt you you’ll be any good at this game if you’re the type of person who’s worried about being crushed as a noob.

  37. Vic Davis says:

    Hi Guys,
    I don’t want to steal KG’s interview thunder so I’ll go into more detail there about the chicken bones that I use for pricing.

    The group pricing is something sadly that I don’t think is going to work…the price scheme change is not the problem but distributing the files to a single email purchase address is going to be a problem as is the providing of support to people who got they key from their mate and now need me to help them and I can’t find them in the data base..that type of thing.

    I do love RPS though and I was able to figure out how to create a discount code for $5 US off the price so it will be $24.99 US. Which is like 2 pounds now I think :) Anyway here is the RPS 5 Bucks Off code

    BNEO000B9

    You can also use it for Armageddon Empires. But not the Bundle of SI & AE. It’s only valid for a week so that I can push the fence sitters off their perches. :)

    Also, send me an email if you have a problem with the code. I don’t think you will but I haven’t done this before. It gets entered on the second page of the checkout. And feel free to send it to your friends but let them know that you got it at RPS.

    And a big Thanks to KG, Quinns, the other Hellboys and RPS.

    • jalf says:

      Just make it so we have to submit emails for every recipient up front when buying a group pack? That way you can add everyone to your database.

      And not to sound cheap, but 25 is still well above what I’d be willing to pay. For me, the game’s appeal relies on getting my friends to play it too. And 25 bucks is a lot for a game that, frankly, doesn’t look very inviting.

      I think you’re seriously underestimating the number of sales you could get by dropping the price to the $10-15 range.

      I don’t mind paying 25 or 30 for a game, but then I want to be sure that I’m getting my money’s worth, which in this case means I need to make sure that a handful of my friends get the game too, that it runs with no errors on any of our systems, that we can all live with the not-very-accessible interface, and so on.

    • Nimic says:

      Consider me firmly pushed off!

    • Hattered says:

      @Vic Davis:

      Well, that’s me buying it now rather than waiting a few months. I’ll be advertising it to my friends as well, see if I can’t get the old group from undergrad back together for it. To my mind, these Solium Infernum write-ups have been worth at least the sixty or so trailers for ME2 in terms of promotion.

  38. NekroJakub says:

    I know you almost never repeat any series like this one, but I *implore* you, if you’re going to repeat any series, let it be this one! It was such an enjoyable read and I’m sure that a new game wouldn’t be more of the same, but another story altogether. Please consider it guys!

    Meanwhile, good job on this series, t’was a great read.

  39. wererogue says:

    That’s enough for me – I’ll be picking it up. Thanks very much, Vic!

    However, I do feel similar to jalf – I *know*, from reading this lengthy series and the manual, that I’m going to enjoy this game in multiplayer. I know that my friends will, too. I doubt that any of us will enjoy it as much in single player – it’s the board-game like social backstabbing aspect that appeals. I also doubt that many of my friends will have the patience to read 24 pages of game breakdown to decide whether they want to buy the game. However, if there was a way that, like a board game, I could buy the game and host it for my friends to play with me, they’d do it right away.

    I realise that the architecture doesn’t allow for it now, so I’ll try my luck getting people to pick it up themselves, but the way I’d design it would be to allow the demo to be a client. That way, only the host has to buy a copy, and everyone else picks up the demo. I think the barrier of getting your friends to buy the game would be gone, making more primary purchasers, and maybe, like a board game, lots of the players would later want to play with a different group, and pick up the game for themselves.

    Of course, this is all speculation. Regardless, I hope the game is a success financially as well as in concept!

  40. Nimic says:

    Okay, that’s that bought, then. I’ll do a couple of single player games and read the manual a few times, but I’ll be game for a multiplayer.. whenever. I have to start doing it at some point, might as well be right away.

    Steam name is niMic, and I’ve joined the RPS group.

    • AS says:

      @Nimic: Try to be on during the weekend, it’ll be especially busy then.

      @Everyone: Hopefully we’ll be able to find a game for everyone that wants to play a game, or I’ll go out and host a few more to get more people in.

  41. NecRus888 says:

    Vic! You must write this on your site or your blog!)))

  42. sinister agent says:

    Excellent stuff. Thanks very much, all of you. I looked forward to today’s instalment to a frankly sad degree.

  43. LionsPhil says:

    Hmm. Hilarious mistake playing the demo: units do not heal. There’s probably a way to make that happen, but, er, hrrm.

  44. Kez says:

    I loved this series from start to finish. Everyone’s write-up was superb. A sincere Thank You to everyone involved!

  45. Bweah says:

    @LionsPhil

    Legions heal a number of points equal to your Healing Rate when adjacent to a friendly Place of Power or your Stronghold.

    @Discounters

    The only discount I’ve seen for Vic’s games is the AE and SI bundle. Maybe when his third game (rumored rogue-like) comes out he’ll offer a triple bundle.

    He has no plans to distribute through Steam and the games are worth it, IMO, since they’re so awesome but mostly because they are such niche titles. A 4-pack or 6-pack deal sounds perfect for SI, however (since the single player AI is inadequate…kind of like Dominions 3).

  46. Funky Badger says:

    Excellent, excellent series. Thanks to everyone involved.

    So, so, tempted…

  47. Big X says:

    Amazing. This is the reason this is the best gaming site on the net.

    Can we have Quinns for keeps?

  48. JB says:

    A big thank you and well done to all 6 participants, possibly the best thing I’ve ever read on RPS (and as this is RPS we’re talking about, that’s saying something, right?).

    Also, a huge thanks to Vic for making the game in the first place. As soon as I sound out my main gaming buddy and save a few £££s, I’ll be buying!

  49. CloakRaider says:

    I feel this may be one of those games that sounds so brilliant, so fantastic when someone else describes their adventures, but when played by me, it feels horrible.

    Ala Galactic Civilizations.

    I WANT TO ENJOY THIS DAMMIT.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      My games of Gal Civ have all sucked. I adore the game. Best single player strategy game out there IMO.

      However all my games end up very very boring.

      Still love it though.

    • Fraser says:

      @CloakRaider: Me too! Are we playing GalCiv wrong somehow?

  50. manveruppd says:

    Well done all of you, this was the best games writing I’ve ever read, it got me downloading the demo and playing it for 5 hours straight after the very first installment and buying the full game the very next day!
    I was rooting for Quinns to win but there was some great, sneaky playing from a lot of the players, so great work on that score too! :)