Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 3)

If you are unfamiliar with Solium Infernum, you may wish to read my earlier post about the game. And you should definitely read part 1 and part 2 first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time, my archfiend pair, Rufus and Big Beak, had just acquired the services of Morax, a praetor who will win fame and fortune for them through single combat in the Arena. But to arrange some duels, they need to earn some Prestige to wager with. So I decided they should hurl an insult at Inquis, who seems to be in no position to retaliate. Here is what happened.

Turn 5:

My turn log starts predictably enough. Baleyolfynn has captured the Pillars of Malebolge, a Place of Power to my north, as he continues to rampage across the map with his powerful legion. The Infernal Conclave has acknowledged my insult hurled at Inquis. Beowulf has used his Gorgons to capture the Wood of the Suicides. But there’s also a courier message from Inquis. He’s suggesting we team up against Baleyolfynn by sending him demands at the same time. Hmm. Apparently he was serious about setting up an alliance. He’s probably not going to be too happy when he sees my insult.

Ganging up on Baleyolfynn isn’t a bad idea. He’s busy with his single-minded crusade to capture as many Places of Power as possible, and is unlikely to want to start a war with either of us. But I actually don’t even have enough Prestige to demand him; I spent 5 Prestige on the insult, so I have 5 left, and it costs 7 to make a demand. I decide to reply as Big Beak, blaming the insult on Rufus and saying I’m open to an alliance once the insult blows over.

I check the rest of the turn log. Someone has purchased the Adamantine Golem, an unholy artifact. These are powerful attachments for legions, which boost their combat prowess. This particular one boosts a legion’s melee strength and, if they win a melee challenge in combat, doubles the damage and stuns the enemy legion for the rest of the round. Looks like someone is gearing up for a tough fight somewhere.

I also get notice that I’m Regent this turn. Turn order in Solium Infernum moves clockwise around the circle shown on the Diplomacy screen, with each archfiend’s first order processed in sequence, then each archfiend’s second order, and so on, always beginning with whoever is Regent. The Regency is then passed clockwise to the next archfiend, who will act first on the following turn. This means that, based on the order of archfiends in the circle, I’m at a slight disadvantage against archfiends who are counterclockwise from me, and a slight advantage against those who are clockwise from me. This is one way in which Solium Infernum encourages players to pick on one or two opponents instead of employing equal opportunity antagonism.

Being Regent means I’ll act first this turn, but more importantly it means I’ve drawn an Event card. These are powerful cards with special effects that I can play to shake things up. I’ve drawn Master of the Bazaar, which would prevent me from bidding on anything for a few turns but would give me a cut of whatever anyone else spent. I consider playing it, but I’m worried about being banned from purchases. It might be prudent to hire a backup praetor. I decide to hold off.

Now, what to do? Inquis will be getting my insult this turn, and will be forced to either accept it and grant me some prestige, or claim vendetta. He’s too far away for military action, and if he declares single combat I can send Morax to meet his champion. The only problem is if Inquis happens to be skilled in Destruction, which would let him cast rituals directly at my legion and kill it that way. I decide it’s a good idea to get Rufus and Big Beak some Destructive power of their own, so I pay raise their Wickedness attribute to 1, and demand more tribute with my other order slot.

While waiting for everyone else’s turns, Inquis sends an email to everyone, outside of the game, although he stays in character as his archfiend. He is furious. He proclaims to everyone that Rufus and Big Beak shunned his offer of friendship, and he shall seek vengeance. Oops. Looks like I won’t be getting that Prestige I wanted. I hastily reply to the email as Big Beak, reiterating that it was all Rufus the hothead’s fault, and I’m trying to talk some sense into him. But I doubt Inquis is going to buy it.

Turn 6:

I’m greeted with the turn log. It informs me that I’ve successfully increased Rufus and Big Beak’s Wickedness to 1, allowing them to cast Infernal Affliction rituals to directly damage enemy legions or Places of Power. I’m also told that Inquis has declared vendetta on me. This is when I’m reminded of a rule I’d forgotten. A rather disturbing rule.

I am not told the terms of the vendetta.

Inquis was able to set the rules for a little war, but I don’t know what they are. The only thing I know is that he didn’t opt for single combat, so Morax will have to wait a bit longer for his chance to shine. What Inquis’ objectives are, and how many turns he decided to set to accomplish them, are a mystery to me. Fortunately, I can make some educated guesses. I don’t own any Places of Power, so he can’t be trying to capture any from me. That means he’s either planning to take out my legion, or capture some of my territory. Given there’s a wide plain between my land and his, and his Slothful legions can barely move each turn, I think territory capture is unlikely. So he’s probably aiming for my legion, probably with Destruction rituals. Well, two can play at that game.

Except, I haven’t gotten any hellfire with my tribute. I just spent some to boost Rufus and Big Beak’s Wickedness so they’d even have the ability to cast Destruction rituals, and I need more to actually cast them. I only have three hellfire left, but it’s enough for one Infernal Affliction blast. I aim it at Inquis’ Order of the Flame legion, which he’s marching slowly in my direction. In fact, Inquis has sent another courier message boasting about it, but I think this must be a ruse. It would take three turns for it to even reach my legion, and if it got close I could just run away. With my second order I ask for more tribute, because I’ll need hellfire if I’m going to keep this up.

Before finishing my turn, I check on what everyone else is up to. Baleyolfynn is marching his gargantuan legion northwest towards the Garden of Infernal Delights, and he’s put the praetor Temeluchas in command. Temeluchas adds 5 to the legion’s melee rating, bringing it to an absurd 15. That’s devastating. But it looks like Beowulf has his sights on the Garden as well, as he’s turned his Gorgons south to head towards it. I check the turn order and realize Beowulf will be able to strike first. Sorry, Baleyolfynn, it doesn’t look like you’ll get your Place of Power this time. I am worried about what Nameless ex-autocrat is up to, though. He hasn’t moved since taking the Theater of Sloth near his stronghold. What’s he planning?

While we wait for everyone else’s turns, Inquis emails me. He suggests we just make a show of a fight, and use it as an excuse to solicit help from others, and then join forces against Baleyolfynn when the vendetta is over. Personally I doubt the others will be moved to help us, but I don’t really want to be stuck in a vendetta with Inquis anyway, so I agree. I still want Prestige so I can try to arrange some duels for Morax, so I keep my Infernal Affliction ritual in place. If it hits, it will earn me some Prestige, and I don’t think I can kill Inquis’ legion with just one blast, so hopefully he won’t get too angry. I send a courier message telling him the blast is just for show and that it can’t kill his legion. He’ll receive it at the same time as the news he’s been hit, so hopefully it will mollify him.

Turn 7:

There’s a lively email exchange before this turn starts. Inquis and I are publicly trading barbs and insults while privately reassuring each other that we’re not really going to fight. To make this more convincing, I decide to pretend I’m out of hellfire, and ask Beowulf for some more, promising to help him fight Baleyolfynn in return. Actually, I am out of hellfire, but even if I get more I’m not planning to use it. Beowulf is receptive to the idea of an alliance against Baleyolfynn but says he must wait a few turns to help me, as he has some other plans in motion. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

I load up the new turn to see that Beowulf has indeed taken the Garden of Infernal Delights. My Infernal Affliction ritual has hit Inquis’ Order of the Flame, doing 2 damage and earning me 3 Prestige. I’m up to 8, still less than I started with. That damage was pretty low, because Rufus and Big Beak only have a single point of Wickedness; it might be a good idea to boost their power some more. Two of the three pieces of the Rite of Blood manuscript — which boosts an archfiend’s Wickedness by two points — are available in the Bazaar, so I consider picking them up. If I can get all three pieces it would be a big boost in power with a much smaller resource cost. But the optimal way to use the Rite would be to wait until I’ve raised Wickedness to 2, and then use the Rte to boost it to 4, because level 4 grants an additional order slot, letting me take more actions per turn. So for now I decide to raise Wickedness to 2 and demand more tribute.

I also notice that Nameless ex-autocrat has finally moved. His legion has marched south, and is now next to a neutral Place of Power. It seems likely he’ll attack it, but his legion doesn’t look powerful enough. Maybe he has a trick up his sleeve.

At the end of the turn log I’m informed that a Conclave token has been drawn this turn. I’m surprised to discover it’s the second one; I totally missed the first. The Infernal Conclave occasionally draws one of these tokens, and once all fifteen have been drawn, the game will end and whichever archfiend has the highest prestige will win. I’m surprised we’ve already seen two tokens drawn this early, it usually takes longer. The more tokens are drawn, the higher the chance the next one will be, so this game may be on the short side.

Turn 8:

Inquis seems to be keeping his promise not to attack me. But he’s purchased another legion, the Accursed Company. I really do not understand why he keeps buying legions when his Slothful perk makes them so slow. I would have expected he’d rely more heavily on rituals than pure military might. Also, I’ve increased Wickedness to 2, so now would be a great time to buy those manuscripts for the Rite of Blood. Unfortunately, I’m completely out of souls, and didn’t get any more with my tribute. So that will have to wait.

In other news, Beowulf has turned his Gorgons north again, to strike against the Vaults of Avarice. This is right next to Xaklyth’s territory. Hmm. I’d expected Xaklyth would go after all the neutral Places of Power near him, but he doesn’t seem to care. A few turns ago he marched his legion back to my border, and since then he hasn’t done anything. Maybe he’s not focused on military conquest after all?

Baleyolfynn, having failed to conquer the Garden of Infernal Delights before Beowulf’s Gorgons got there, has turned his titanic legion southwest, towards the Testament of Tyrants. But this is where Nameless ex-autocrat is lurking. I check the turn order, and Nameless ex-autocrat will be able to act first, but his legion doesn’t look powerful enough to conquer it. If he spends an order slot to boost its power (by ritual, or attaching a praetor or artifact) that will give Baleylofynn a chance to strike. Maybe Nameless ex-autocrat is planning to arrange a vendetta to take it from Baleyolfynn later? Baleyolfynn’s legion is still injured from earlier conquests, so it wouldn’t be that hard to eliminate it. Actually, that gives me an idea…

I still need more Prestige so I can start some single combat vendettas. I decide to hurl and insult at Baleyolfynn. He’s busy with his conquests, so he may just let it slide, and if he doesn’t, I can blast his legion from afar and hopefully destroy it, since it only has 4 health left. If he instead opts for single combat with Temeluchas, then Morax will get a chance to prove himself. Temeluchas is a decent duelist, with high attack and defense, but Morax’s infernal bursts can bypass that defense. As long as he’s able to block at least one of Temeluchas’ attacks, I think Morax can win.

I send an email to Inquis letting him know that I intend to insult Baleyolfynn. I suggest he hurl an insult of is own. If accepted, Inquis will get some Prestige (and Baleyolfynn will lose some), or if Baleyolfynn tries to start a war, Inquis can capture some of his territory with those legions he keeps buying. Inquis agrees. So my first order slot is for an insult against Baleyolfynn, and the second is, as usual, a demand for more tribute. I still need those souls.

Turn 9:

I’m greeted with the news that one of Hell’s great houses (I don’t know which) has just received a windfall of tribute. This is from someone’s Event card, and would have been a much more useful card than the Master of the Bazaar card that I’m holding. But this tidbit is soon forgotten, as I read the next piece of news. Nameless ex-autocrat has taken the Testament of Tyrants, out from under Baleyolfynn’s nose. Ha!

Looking at the map, I see that Baleyolfynn’s legion didn’t even march. From this, I think I can deduce what happened. Nameless ex-autocrat used a Deceit ritual to prevent Baleyolfynn’s movement. Then he spent an order to boost his legion’s power (or weaken that of the Testament of Tyrants), and another to attack. That means he has at least three order slots now, so at least one of his infernal attributes has been raised to a high level. I also notice that the Testament of Tyrants has already recovered 2 health, implying that Nameless ex-autocrat’s healing rate has increased. That likely means he has some points in his Martial stat, and he probably boosted his legion with a Combat Card, a single-use combat bonus that can be attached to a legion, governed by one’s Martial power. Others can see the card (before it’s used up), but the exact bonus it confers is hidden from other archfiends, and can actually be none at all! Here, since it was attached the same turn as the combat, I never got to see it at all.

However he pulled it off, I’m impressed. I send a congratulatory courier message, as I’m glad to see Baleyolfynn’s rampage blunted.

I’m also informed that Xaklyth has made another demand of me. This time it’s for four tribute cards. In Solium Infernum, if an archfiend keeps conceding to your demands, you can start asking for more and more, up to and including border cantons or an extremely valuable artifact or relic. And with enough concessions, you can claim a vendetta directly. So it’s not a good idea to let archfiends keep pushing you around.

I’m not sure why Xaklyth keeps demanding me. I don’t have any Places of Power, and barely any territory. Surely his time would be better spent going after the neutral Places of Power nearby? Regardless, I’m inclined to refuse. His legion can outmatch mine, but he won’t be able to reach it right away, and if he instead opts for capturing my territory, I can hopefully destroy it with Infernal Afflictions before it can get too far.

In other news, Beowulf has indeed captured the Vaults of Avarice, while Xaklyth sat by and asked for my money instead.

I’m also in the midst of a long email exchange with Inquis. He’s offering to use Deceit rituals to freeze Xaklyth’s legion, if I can send him enough resources to purchase the Scourge of God legion from the Bazaar. He wants them because they have increased movement that will partially counteract his Slothful perk. He also promises to throw an insult at Baleyolfynn this turn. Inquis’ vendetta against me expired this turn (earning me 2 more Prestige), so we’re free to take diplomatic actions again, such as sending an emissary with gifts. I consider sending him what he needs, but then realize that I need to keep my hellfire to cast Infernal Afflictions at Xaklyth. I tell him I’ll send help later, but he informs me he’s secured help from Nameless ex-autocrat, so he actually just needs me to send him darkness to power his Deceit rituals. I tell him I’ll do that as soon as I can.

Inquis also asks me, out of character, if I know why his Order of the Flame legion hasn’t healed from my Infernal Affliction ritual. This is because legions only heal when they are next to a friendly stronghold or Place of Power. It’s the same reason why Baleyolfynn’s legion is still wounded; he kept marching instead of stopping to recover. I knew that the Order of the Flame wouldn’t heal from my blast, but I decide not to provoke Inquis any further, now that he seems convinced I’m a friend. So I lie and tell him I’d forgotten about that rule until I looked it up just now.

So, after all that, I’ve decided to march my legion west, so it’s farther away from Xaklyth, and demand tribute. I’m still trying to get the souls I need so I can buy those manuscripts. I also decide to adjust my threat list. The threat list is another way in which Solium Infernum encourages players to focus on particular opponents. It lets me choose which of my rivals I consider most dangerous, who will reside near the top of the list. Taking actions against those lower down the list (for example, casting rituals at them) will cost extra resources, making aggressive action more difficult. To make matters worse, after the first ten turns have passed, it actually costs resources to adjust the threat list, as well as an order slot, making shifting priorities an unattractive prospect. For now, however, I can adjust my threat list for free, so I put Xaklyth and Baleyolfynn at the top, and Nameless and Inquis towards the bottom.

Turn 10:

My turn log informs me that Baleyolfynn has demanded Nameless ex-autocrat. He must be upset at finding the Testament of Tyrants snatched from his grasp. I also see that Inquis’ insult of Baleyolfynn has been presented to the Conclave. The Conclave has also recorded my refusal of Xaklyth’s demand, earning me the 7 Prestige points Xaklyth spent making it. And Baleyolfynn has accepted my insult, earning me another 8 Prestige (but only a net gain of 4, since I spent 4 making the insult in the first place). On top of that, the Infernal Census has taken place. This is an optional rule that, every 10 turns, grants each archfiend 1 Prestige for every canton they own. So I’ve gained yet another 7 Prestige, for my modest holdings in Hell.

All of sudden, I have 28 Prestige, which is enough to arrange a single combat vendetta. With Rufus and Big Beak’s Arena Gambler perk, Prestige rewards from single combat victories are doubled. So even just one duel will be enough to get me back in the game. Excellent.

There is some bad news, however. Someone else has purchased the Rite of Blood Vol. 1 manuscript. I had my eye on that, but got beaten to the punch. Vol. 3 is still in the Bazaar, so I decide to bid on it, if only to prevent others from getting all three pieces.

Meanwhile, Baleyolfynn has hired another legion, the Shades of Tartarus. I guess our insults made him realize he should defend his southern border. Also, Beowulf seems to be satisfied with his conquests for now, and has stopped paying upkeep for the Gorgons. They’re now back in the Bazaar, available for hire by anyone with enough resources.

I’m relieved to actually have some Prestige. I can finally start sending some demands of my own and get Morax into the ring. I just need to deal with Xaklyth first, and then it will be time for Rufus and Big Beak to start going on the offensive. I put in my bid for the Rite of Blood Vol. 3 manuscript, and order my minions to bring me more tribute. Let’s do this.

In part 4, things do not go to plan.

Solium Infernum is available directly from developers Cryptic Comet.

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