Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 4)

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, part 2 and part 3 first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time, my archfiend pair Rufus and Big Beak had finally amassed enough Prestige to arrange a duel for their praetor, Morax. But first it looks like they’ll have to deal with Xaklyth, to the south, who demanded some resources that they didn’t feel like paying. Here is what happened.

Turn 11:

The first thing I see when I load up my turn log is that Xaklyth has performed the Rite of Blood, gaining 2 in his Wickedness attribute. Oh, crap.

Xaklyth must have been the one to buy the Rite of Blood manuscript last turn. But he only bought one piece, which means he got the other two pieces himself, among the tribute offered by his minions. That implies he’s rich. Worse, it means my attempt to prevent my opponents from performing the ritual by buying the other piece on offer in the Bazaar myself has failed. Now Xaklyth — who has also declared vendetta on me this turn, as I see later in my turn log — has a significant boost to rituals that directly harm Rufus and Big Beak, and their holdings. That doesn’t bode well for this little war. And once again, I’m not told what Xaklyth’s victory conditions or turn limits are.

To add insult to injury, someone has played an Event card that destroys half of everyone’s tribute cards that contain souls. I’m actually fairly lucky, as I only had two of these: a 2 souls card, and a 4 souls card. I lose the 2 souls card, which actually isn’t a bad outcome at all.

Before deciding what to do about Xaklyth, I check the rest of the log to keep track of what everyone else is up to. Nameless ex-autocrat has conceded to Baleyolfynn’s demand, so Baleyolfynn will have to wait to take revenge for missing his chance to capture the Testament of Tyrants. Baleyolfynn accepts Inquis’ insult, which is good; I’d suggested Inquis hurl the insult in the first place, so the fact that it paid off should help keep the two of us in good relations. Nameless ex-autocrat has responded to my congratulatory missive with a half-polite, half-mocking note. I reply in kind. There were two purchases from the Bazaar: the praetor Barbatos, and the Finger of Betrayal, a Relic which grants a bonus to Deceit rituals. It’s been replaced by the Grotesque Mask, one of the Relics added in the Rectification mini-expansion for Solium Infernum. The mask can be attached to a Place of Power or one’s stronghold to grant 1 Prestige per turn, as well as a 15% chance to grant a Curse of Deceit manuscript. Curses, new with the expansion, have a chance to appear any time anyone casts that type of ritual, and can then be placed on opponents’ holdings to drain their Prestige. This would be a useful Relic to get my hands on at some point, but I’m too busy right now.

I’ve won the Rite of Blood Vol. 3 manuscript, which does me very little good since Xaklyth was still able to perform the Rite. I’m also Regent again, drawing the Infernal Census Event card. This would force another Infernal Census, granting everyone 1 Prestige per canton they own. Since everyone else owns more territory than I do, this wouldn’t help me, so I hang on to my Master of the Bazaar card instead.

Now, what to do about Xaklyth? Inquis has been in touch, expressing concern that Xaklyth might strike at my undefended stronghold and suggesting I buy more legions. Fortunately, a direct attack on my stronghold is not allowed with a simple vendetta; for that, Xaklyth would need a Blood Feud, which I do not intend to allow. Instead, I suspect Xaklyth is planning to blast my legion with Destruction rituals, boosted by the Rite of Blood that he’s just performed. He’ll also probably use his own legion to start capturing the territory around my stronghold. If I buy more legions it would just give him more targets. The only way I can really strike back is by blasting his legion with my own Destruction rituals, and hopefully destroy it before it captures too much of my land. If I’m lucky I’ll have time to recapture a few cantons before the vendetta times out, or my legion is destroyed. Too bad my tribute offer is all ichor. I ask Inquis if he can send hellfire, but he says he doesn’t have any to spare. I’ll have to use my previous reserves of hellfire for the attack. I queue up two Infernal Affliction rituals with my two order slots and submit my turn.

Turn 12:

My turn log reads out a play by play of the magical assaults. My first blast misses. Xaklyth hurls a blast of his own, which also misses. My second blast hits his legion, but only does 2 damage. I’m pretty sure that’s the minimum amount. Sigh. At least I’m granted 2 Prestige for the hit. There’s no report that I’ve lost any territory, so I check the map and see that Xaklyth hasn’t marched his legion! I’m not sure why. Maybe he needed order slots for tribute calls?

In other news, Beowulf has purchased the Scourge of God, the legion that Inquis had his eye on. Another Conclave token has been drawn, so we’re now at 3 out of 15. It looks like Inquis has been marching his Order of the Flame west towards his stronghold. Maybe just so they will heal? Baleyolfynn is also on the move, withdrawing his massive legion from Nameless ex-autocrat’s border. He may head northeast towards Xaklyth’s borders, where there’s still an unclaimed Place of Power.

I didn’t make a tribute call last turn, so I’ve only got enough hellfire for one more Infernal Affliction ritual to throw at Xaklyth. I do so, and ask for more tribute with my second order.

Turn 13:

I’m greeted with another summary of my war of rituals with Xaklyth. He’s hurled an Infernal Affliction at my legion and hits for 4 damage. My own Infernal Affliction hits his legion for 4 damage, so it only has a single point of health left. But Xaklyth had enough hellfire to hurl a second blast, which destroys my legion, and wins him the vendetta. So close! I’ve lost 7 Prestige for failing to stop the vendetta, but gained 4 Prestige for hitting his legion twice, so it’s not too bad. And my legion was pretty useless so I won’t miss it. It will reform in a few turns anyway, although it will be even weaker than before.

In other news, Baleyolfynn didn’t head towards the neutral Place of Power, he stopped next to one of his own, presumably to heal up his legion. Inquis has brought a demand against Beowulf, and someone has hired the praetor Furfur from the Bazaar. He’s a decent duelist, actually, but not amazing. I’m more interested in the Grotesque Mask, but I don’t have nearly enough resources to purchase it right now. Also, losing that vendetta to Xaklyth emphasized how important it is that I get some more order slots. That means boosting Rufus and Big Beak’s infernal statistics. I request some tribute with my first order and pay to boost their Intellect to 2 with my second.

Turn 14:

There’s more news this turn. Xaklyth has sent a demand to Beowulf, probably hoping he’ll be too busy with Inquis’ demand to refuse. Beowulf is, incidentally, the Prestige leader now, so it makes sense that others are gunning for him. Beowulf has refused Inquis’ demand, so it’s likely we’ll see a vendetta next turn. I also notice that Beowulf has the praetor Barbatos attached to his Scourge of God legion. Both his legions are hanging out near Nameless ex-autocrat’s border; Nameless ex-autocrat hasn’t moved since conquering the Testament of Tyrants.

I don’t have enough resources to raise either Intellect or Wickedness any higher this turn. I’m wondering if I should try demanding Beowulf. If he gets into a vendetta with Inquis he may not want to fight me too, and if he does refuse, I can claim single combat and send Morax into the ring. The only problem is that Barbatos would have a chance to kill Morax, who has low defense. I’d need to correctly guess when to block Barbatos’ attacks in order to win. But with Rufus and Big Beak’s Arena Gambler perk, a victory would give me a large chunk of Prestige, which I need badly. I mull it over as I check the rest of the news.

There are a bunch of purchases. Someone hires the praetor Xaphan, who is replaced by Zuul. Zuul wouldn’t be a bad backup duelist, but I don’t have enough souls to bid on her now. The Drums of Woe have also been purchased. These can be attached to a legion to make an opposing legion lose its special abilities if they fail a challenge roll.

Baleyolfynn is also still marching. He’s heading southwest now, conveniently stopping next to another one of his Places of Power so his legion can heal again. But what is his destination? Maybe he’s planning to pick a fight with Inquis?

Inquis certainly thinks so. He emails me asking for darkness, claiming he needs it to hold off Baleyolfynn, presumably with Deceit rituals. He also mentions that he has an Event card that will destroy any legion that fails a loyalty check, which could clear out a good portion of the map. But he needs resources to play it. Lastly, he tells me he plans to try a single combat vendetta against Beowulf. I’m guessing Inquis has Furfur, but he might have Xaphan.

That Event card would certainly benefit me; I currently have no legions at all, but many of my opponents have larger armies. But it’s the news about the single combat that interests me. I’d already decided to go ahead and demand Beowulf before I received Inquis’ email. Now, it’s looking like an even better idea, since if Inquis manages to defeat Beowulf’s Barbatos, he’ll have no one left to send into battle against Morax. So I tell Inquis that I’ll send darkness when I can, but this turn I have to send a demand of my own. I ask Beowulf for 3 tribute cards, and put in a tribute call with my second order.

Turn 15:

My demand of Beowulf has gone through, so he’ll respond this turn. Inquis claims a single combat vendetta on Beowulf, and it looks like he wagered a lot of Prestige because he’s down to only 6 now. The actual fight won’t happen for a turn or two, giving each archfiend time to procure a praetor if necessary, and assign their combat moves. Beowulf concedes to Xaklyth’s demand, and purchases the legion known as The Fallen, presumably guessing he was about to wage a standard war against Inquis instead of an Arena duel. Also, someone purchased the praetor Eligos; I doubt it’s Beowulf, since Eligos isn’t a great duelist, he’s much better as a commander of a legion.

Checking the map, it seems Baleyolfynn has stopped his advance for now, content to leave his legion next to his Place of Power so it can continue to heal. Inquis, however, is on the move, marching northwest. It looks like he’s heading for the bridge over the river, which leads to the region north of my stronghold. There’s not really anything over there, so maybe he’s just trying to block off the bridge?

I’ve told Inquis I’ll send him some of my extra darkness, which I may regret. It takes up one of my two order slots, which I could have used to demand tribute instead of giving it away. But I think it’s a good idea to stay on friendly terms, and if Inquis really can clear out some of those extra legions it will be a good thing for both of us. I order an emissary sent, and use my second order to increase Rufus and Big Beak’s Intellect to 3.

Turn 16:

The turn log informs me that Xaklyth has demanded Baleyolfynn, but this is overshadowed by the news that Barbatos, the champion of Beowulf, has been defeated by Furfur, the champion of Inquis, in single combat in the Grand Arena of Pandemonium. That’s a much needed blow against Beowulf, who is leading in Prestige by a large margin. But I’m not shown the details of the fight. Apparently Rufus and Big Beak are too lazy (or too high-class?) to attend the Arena events in person.

My emissary to Inquis has gone through, so he should get the darkness this turn. Someone has purchased the Amulet of Shadows, a Relic that helps defend against Deceit rituals. It’s been replaced by the Dreaming Head, which boosts an archfiend’s Prophecy power. Since Rufus and Big Beak’s Intellect, which governs Prophecy rituals, has just increased to 3, the Dreaming Head would put them to 4 and grant an extra order slot. But I’ll have to amass enough resources to buy it. It costs 7 souls and 10 darkness, and I’ve just given a bunch of darkness to Inquis. Sigh.

My legion has reformed, even worse than before. For combat stats, it now has 1 Ranged, 3 Melee, and 1 Infernal. A strong wind could blow it over. Fortunately I don’t intend to get into any fights.

Most importantly, Beowulf has refused my demand. So I lose the Prestige I spent to make the demand, but I can now claim vendetta. I claim a single combat vendetta; having just lost Barbatos, I’m hoping Beowulf won’t be too eager to send another praetor to die.

As for my orders, I have a few options. I could demand some tribute and also purchase a cheap manuscript, to see what comes in to replace it. Or I could draw a secret objective. These provide secret Prestige rewards at the end of the game if accomplished, but actually deduct Prestige if failed. Right now, Rufus and Big Beak’s Prophecy power means they can draw two of these and choose one to keep, but there’s still a chance they’ll be too hard to achieve. If they ask for military action, for example, it might do more harm than good. I decide to just make two tribute calls. I’ll wait on buying manuscripts until I can afford to buy whatever replaces them.

Turn 17:

The Infernal Conclave has accepted my claim of vendetta by single combat. I will have to give Morax some battle orders by the end of next turn. I decide to wait so I can see what Beowulf does; he might try to purchase another praetor, and it helps to see what I’m up against.

Baleyolfynn refuses Xaklyth’s demand, which might make things interesting. They don’t share a border, although there’s some unclaimed territory they could cross to get at each other. But I’m guessing Xaklyth will use Destruction rituals again if he gets into a vendetta. Baleyolfynn seems to think he can hold his own. We’ll see.

Someone has purchased the Piercing Lunge manuscript, which teaches a special combat move for praetor duels. Somehow I doubt it’s Beowulf, since I don’t think he has any praetors left. My guess is it’s Inquis, building on his previous victory. It’s replaced by Tentacle Rupture Vol. 2. Tentacle Rupture is a much more powerful combat move, but one must find all three pieces of the manuscript in order to learn it. It will be especially useful for Morax, though, since it relies on Infernal power and his is really high. I decide to bid on it, hoping I can get the other pieces later. My other order slot is, as usual, a demand for tribute.

I’m also Regent again, and I’ve drawn the Wealth of Tribute Event card, which grants everyone a bonus to the quality of their tribute for 3-6 turns. I decide it’s better than the Master of the Bazaar card I’ve been holding, so I take it instead. I’ll wait a few turns to play it, so I can focus on demanding tribute while it’s active. A Conclave token is also drawn, so we’re at 4 out of 15 now.

Turn 18:

Xaklyth has claimed vendetta on Baleyolfynn, and I win Tentacle Rupture Vol. 2. But someone has purchased the praetor Zuul. I suspect it’s Beowulf, which means he’ll actually have a decent chance against Morax. I have to decide on Morax’s combat strategy this turn, so I have to assume he may be facing Zuul. Here’s Morax:

I have to fill at least some of those six slots with combat moves. Morax’s whopping 12 Infernal orbs mean he can dish out Infernal Bursts like no one’s business. These attacks do 1-6 damage and cannot be blocked, so with four of them he’s essentially guaranteed to kill his opponent. If he survives long enough. Morax is very weak on defense. He only has 8 health, and Zuul happens to have 8 skulls to assign to attacks (maximum 5 per attack), so if those hit, she’ll kill Morax. Zuul’s luck will likely also add a small bit of damage to some of her attacks, although Morax’s own luck may give him a tiny bit of defense too.

To defend, I have to assign Morax’s 7 shields to blocking moves, again limited to 5 shields per move. So I’ll use a 4 shield block and a 3 shield block, the question is which phase to put them in. If I guess wrong, Zuul will be able to take Morax out before he can kill her. I email Inquis to find out what strategy Beowulf used in his last fight. Inquis tells me Beowulf went all out on attacks in the first few phases, and left the later ones empty. That didn’t work out for him, so I suspect he’ll spread out his attacks more this time. After much deliberation, I decide to block in the second and third phases. I’m guessing at least one of Zuul’s attacks will be there, and if I can block one of them, I should be able to win.

Of course, there’s the possibility that Beowulf wasn’t the one to hire Zuul. What other praetors are there? Inquis has Furfur, Beowulf just lost Barbatos, and Baleyolfynn has Temeluchas. That leaves Eligos and Xaphan unaccounted for. Eligos is a poor duelist and could be easily defeated. Xaphan is a little more dangerous, but my current strategy would be just as sound against him as against Zuul. I decide to keep my plan of attack.

Oh right, I have to decide what to do with my order slots. I have tons of darkness that I’m not using for anything. Maybe I should start boosting Rufus and Big Beak’s Cunning, which would give them access to Deceit rituals? At this rate, I might get an extra order slot faster that way than with their other stats. Sure, why not. I put that in, plus a call for tribute.

I also do some quick math. I’ve wagered 14 Prestige on this duel, using nearly all my Prestige (I have 1 left). If I win, I get double the wager, or 28 Prestige. Rufus and Big Beak’s Arena Gambler perk will double that, so I’ll actually gain 56 Prestige, which would put me close to Nameless ex-autocrat and Baleyolfynn. Just a few more duels like that and I can actually catch up to the leaders. I hope Morax doesn’t let me down.

Next time, Morax gets his debut in the Arena.

Solium Infernum is available directly from developers Cryptic Comet.

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3 Responses to Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 4)

  1. This is as addicting as hell, no pun intended.

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