Infernal Medicine: Another Solium Infernum Diary (part 1)

Readers unfamiliar with Solium Infernum may wish to read my original post about the game. And you should probably read my first, massive Solium Infernum diary, Hell Or High Water, before continuing. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Apparently, one absurdly long and detailed Solium Infernum diary was not enough. No, we felt the need to chronicle the game that followed, this time including the perspectives of several of the archfiends vying for control of Hell, not just my own. So I’m not going to go into the full level of detail that characterized Hell Or High Water. This account will stick to only the most important events, but by detailing the unfolding secret schemes of four archfiends in parallel, it should be a great demonstration of why Solium Infernum is so compelling. It should also, if you’ll excuse the pun, be entertaining as hell. Thanks to my erstwhile opponents and contributors Baleygr, Anonymoeba, and Codename Duchess for making this possible!

The game starts the same way it always does: Lucifer is missing, the Infernal Throne sits empty, and several archfiends hope to claim it as their own. The Infernal Conclave sets the rules for the contest, challenging each Great House to accrue as much Prestige as possible, within strict diplomatic rules, before the 15 Conclave tokens are drawn. At that time, the archfiend with the highest Prestige will be appointed as the new ruler of Hell. Let’s meet our hopefuls, starting with my own:

The Magistrate:

After playing as Rufus and Big Beak, who hoped to win Prestige through single combat duels in the Arena, I realized that such a strategy would work better if I focused more on accruing wealth. But then I thought, why limit myself to single combat duels when I can just focus on being the richest bastard around? Meet The Magistrate.

The Magistrate has not one, but two perks that boost his ability to accumulate resources. Infernal Cardinal is a simple boost to the quality of his tribute, and Devoted Minions means he gets an extra tribute card to choose from each time he issues a demand for tribute. To offset the expense of picking these two perks, I’ve made The Magistrate Slothful as well, which reduces his legions’ movement points by one (meaning most will only have a single movement point). Since I plan to win through money rather than warfare, this shouldn’t be a problem. The Magistrate’s Charisma attribute determines how much tribute he gets, so I’ve boosted it to 3, which is the highest I can reasonably go during avatar creation. I’ve also given him the high rank of Duke, so he can push other archfiends around with diplomacy as a means of gaining Prestige. With my last few avatar creation points I boost his Wickedness to 1 so he can fire off some Destruction magic if anyone tries to mess with him. That can also be a way to get Prestige; if he aims blasts at unclaimed Places of Power he doesn’t even need a vendetta, and can essentially turn money into Prestige. His other three attributes remain at zero, so his starting legion will be weak, but he’s not interested in combat so that’s not a huge problem either. For his public objective I’ve gone with Gluttony (consume 30 souls by the end of the game) because it gives me more avatar creation points to work with, and I could achieve it just by being rich, without needing a military.

Baleygr:

I’ve gone with the Master Archer and Master of the Sword perks. These boost the ranged and melee stats of every legion under my control by an amount equal to my Wrath (determined by my Martial Prowess attribute). I’ve added Obscure, which lowers my tribute quality, to give me some more points to spend elsewhere. Namely on a starting Charisma of 3, a starting Martial Prowess of 1, and a rank of Marquis.

My plan is to single out a weak opponent and bully him to death while building my legion strength by leveling up after combat and increasing my Martial Prowess attribute. One by one, I will crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their legions.

Codename Duchess:

This game (Infernal Medicine) marks the second with the same group. I have previously played with two other groups that stayed fairly steady for 4-6 games. In any cerebral strategy game a player’s personality and tendencies are going to show. So I think a good deal of consideration has to go towards not falling into patterns. In the previous game (chronicled in Hell Or High Water) I used some purposeful tactical errors to suggest I was playing a normal game and having a bad go of it. In reality I was planning on completing manuscripts and usurping Pandemonium, the capital city, from the start. My assumption for Infernal Medicine is that people would be hyper paranoid and aggressive towards any potential usurpers-in-waiting.

Blood Feuds are a really interesting part of the game. Hell, being one great bureaucracy, requires demands, slights and insults before ritualized confrontation can be declared. However, even in such structured societies, occasionally two people just hate each other enough to throw it out the window. Blood Feuds are Solium Infernum’s mechanic for this situation. After winning three vendettas (that you declare; those claimed against you don’t count) against an opponent, you can declare a Blood Feud. Peace with this foe becomes impossible and the conflict only ends when one stronghold or the other is destroyed and the archfiend in command is cast into the Abyss.

In the 15 or so online games I’ve played, I’ve only seen a Blood Feud once. It was against me in my second game. All it served to show me was how woefully unprepared I was for Solium Infernum. Ignoring incompetence, the number of vendettas you have to win is simply too high to see Blood Feuds with any regularity. However, one perk makes it easier. Playing for Keeps reduces the necessary vendetta wins by one, so an archfiend only needs to win two vendettas before such a declaration can be made. Enemy strongholds, once conquered, give a whopping 3 Prestige a turn (the most any Place of Power provides). When the defeated archfiend’s lands and Places of Power are added to yours Blood Feuds can lead to a real wealth of Prestige.

Single combat duels do not contribute to the Blood Feud vendetta requirement. I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, by destroying legions, capturing Places of Power and seizing territory. To do this it is important that my starting legion is able enough to start fighting fast and with minimal outside help. Therefore I need to put a fair amount of points into my Avatar’s starting attributes. I also need a decent rank if I want to be able to make demands regularly. In particular, if my target is timid about fighting, I need to be able to demand almost constantly to force them into fights. So I’ve gone with 3 Charisma, 2 Martial Prowess, and 1 of every other attribute, a rank of Duke, and the Obscure perk to offset the cost of the Playing for Keeps perk. Obscure reduces the quality of my tribute, but I decide this is a small price to pay for the bonuses I’ll have elsewhere.

Anonymoeba:

Kneel before Baron Anonymoeba the All-Seeing, Thrice Blessed with a Pair of Eyes. I picked the Seer perk (+4 to Prophecy ritual rolls) because I felt that a lack of intel caused the demise of my last avatar, Nameless ex-autocrat (from Hell Or High Water). Of course the value of the Seer perk is questionable since it will practically only apply to the Dark Augury ritual, which tries to reveal information about other archfiends’ builds. Although I’ve noticed other Prophecy rituals can occasionally fail as well. Anyway, what the hell, let’s give it a try [Hell pun, classic. –Ed].

I didn’t have any over-reaching strategy figured out, so I otherwise went with a quite safe and non-polarizing set of attributes: 3 Charisma, other attribute points sprinkled around for a decent starting legion, and Lust as a public objective.

But the four of us aren’t the only archfiends vying for the throne. There are two others, whose strategies and schemes will remain secret. The Magistrate’s musings on these mytserious malcontents are as follows:

Kivah:

Little is known about the enigmatic Kivah, except that he is a Duke, and the moderate strength of his starting legion suggests he only put one point into on a non-Charisma attribute during avatar creation. He likely has perks, and could be planning anything. His legion has Mountain Walk, allowing it to cross mountains to ambush people.

Beowulf:

Beowulf is a Marquis, and his starting legion suggests he boosted two of his non-Charisma attributes to 1. He likely has a perk.

Now, without further ado, let’s get this underway.
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Turn 1:

Anonymoeba:

I start in a very defensible position with a swamp to the east, two mountains around my northern border and a river to the south. The Gates of Hell is the only Place of Power within my initial reach, but I can’t grab it with my starting legion without considerable risk or investment so I’ll make it a low priority.

Conveniently my two neighbouring archfiends, Kivah to the west and Codename Duchess to north, are the same two over which I have an initiative advantage in the turn order, so I’m going to keep my eyes on them for openings. My starting legion is a decently balanced 4 ranged / 4 melee / 5 infernal with the Mountain Walk perk, which could be really useful against Codename Duchess to the north since I can exploit those mountain regions that cover most of our hypothetical border. I’m expecting him to grab both of the Places of Power next to the mountains and both are potentially high value targets: one offers a destruction roll bonus, and the other confers 30 Prestige to its owner at the end of the game if they have the Lust public objective.

But initially my priority will be to grab the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum from the Bazaar. I don’t see any urgent objectives on the strategic map and a chance to get an extra order slot early on is too good to pass. Also I could acquire the Lemegeton Seal quite easily to buff my Prophecy for one more order slot. I need to pile up some resources.

The Magistrate:

My starting position isn’t too bad. I’m not that close to any Places of Power, so there’s little reason for any archfiends to come snooping around my borders, and there’s plenty of room between my meager holdings and everyone else’s. I do note that two of my opponents are also Dukes, however, so I’m glad I spent those points on boosting The Magistrate’s rank.

I’m not that interested in the map, anyway. I’m much more interested in what’s on offer in the Infernal Bazaar. There are some good praetors and artifacts, but two main things catch my eye: first, the Sons of Typhon, one of the most powerful legions, are available. Their main drawback is that they only have one movement point, but The Magistrate’s slothful legions have reduced movement anyway, so it’s not actually a problem for me. I’ll consider buying them later, but I don’t care about military strength right now. More interesting is the second thing that caught my eye: the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, an Unholy Relic that grants an extra order slot. Being able to issue an extra order per turn will be extremely useful, and the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum is more cost-effective than boosting The Magistrate’s attributes to high levels, which is the standard way to get more order slots. Looking at my initial tribute haul, I already have 7 souls and 9 darkness, well on my way to the 8 souls and 12 darkness minimum bid. So, I decide to save up for that, and use both of my order slots for tribute calls.

Codename Duchess:

I couldn’t ask for much better in a starting legion. 8 ranged means the Slaves of Codename Duchess are going to start any combat strong, 4 melee and 3 infernal are good enough to keep them from bleeding excessively in between Ranged rounds. My Slaves are also level 5, meaning I am more likely to win level rolls and gain additional bonuses. Annoyingly my legion’s special ability is Rage. This means that my legion deals bonus melee damage on the second round of combat if it took damage in the first round. It’s not the most useful special ability, and the bonus damage is also contingent on my melee stat being higher than that of my opponent.

Looking around the map I see some good and some bad. I have the strongest starting legion. Beowulf’s and Anonymoeba’s aren’t bad but they’re worse than mine. Baleygr’s is OK, but Kivah’s and The Magistrate’s are downright terrible. Unfortunately Kivah and The Magistrate are also the two farthest from me. Anonymoeba is closest. Anonymoeba’s legion has Mountain Walk which means that despite its mediocre stats it can take huge advantage of the dual mountain ranges flanking the only path between my stronghold and his. I’ll have to decide soon which of these three nearby archfiends is the easiest pickings.

This is the first turn and I need to take stock. My plan is to pick off someone weak using the Playing for Keeps perk. However I also want to get a base of Prestige going and try to level my starting legion by conquering weaker Places of Power. Luckily a basic Place of Power that grants 1 Prestige per turn is already within striking distance and I can take it easily. Additionally it provides a bonus to my Destruction rituals which could come in handy. I order my Slaves to attack.

With my second action I want to make a purchase. That would definitely set my Slaves up as an early powerhouse. After finagling with my tribute offerings, I realize I have basically one option: the praetor Abraxas. It could be worse; he grants a bonus to melee which would mean two of my Slaves’ three combat stats can’t be ignored. This will also make their Rage trait slightly more useful. Additionally, Abraxas grants a level roll bonus which, given my Slaves’ already high level, means they should have little trouble resisting rituals and Events.

Baleygr:

The map is divided by a large chasm, but I have easy access to both sides since the map wraps around on itself. I’m considering bisecting the map to disrupt others’ expansion. My legion is 6 ranged / 2 melee / 2 infernal with 6 health, which is a bit disappointing; I need to power it up as soon as possible.

My nearest neighbor is Beowulf. He has a stronger starting legion than I do, and will win in a straight fight, so I’ll have to level up my legion before challenging him. Beowulf could also easily block me off from both Pandemonium and the nearest bridge. I will hire a new legion this turn to cut him off instead and gain control of the map.

The nearest Place of Power, the Testament of Tyrants, is too strong to attack now. Instead, I will cut off the other archfiends’ access to it and head south to the Black Altar of Despair. I’ll be able to attack next turn; my legion will take damage but should defeat the garrison. Hopefully my legion will also level up after the battle, making it stronger in combat.

I’ve placed a bid on the Legion of Blood. They are weak, but cheap. I expect to lose them to Deceit rituals in 5-10 turns if they are not killed first, but it won’t be a big loss, and they will allow me to capture territory and control the map. I can use them to block off the Testament of Tyrants to the north and expand across the bridge. With the Legion of Blood heading north and my personal legion heading south, I can divide the map in half. I should also consider buying the Hellfire Ballista artifact, as its bonus to a legion’s ranged stat will be extremely useful, and its high level will make it difficult for others to steal.

Among all my opponents, the best target for bullying is The Magistrate. He’s got a weak legion and is poorly positioned. I can surround and destroy him, turning his stronghold into a high value Place of Power for my empire.

Turn 2:

The Magistrate:

Codename Duchess has captured the Summit of Mount Erebus, which is no big surprise. But it means he now gets a bonus to his Destruction rolls, making Destruction rituals more effective. I’ll have to watch out for that. Some others have marched around a little, but nothing that concerns me. Baleygr, one of the most distant archfiends from me, has purchased The Legion of Blood, and someone bought the praetor Abraxas.

I’m regent this turn, so I’ve drawn an Event card: Neutralize Schemers, which reveals any other archfiend who has the Power Behind the Throne perk, and removes that perk. This perk means that if a player becomes another archfiend’s Blood Slave, and their Blood Lord wins the game, they win instead. A sneaky tactic, but risky, especially because this Event card can ruin it. But, it costs 15 Prestige to play the card, so it doesn’t make sense unless I strongly suspect someone. I’m also informed that the first Conclave Token was drawn this turn, which is on the early side. This game may end up being shorter than anticipated.

The most important development, however, is that I now have enough resources to bid on the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. But they’re spread out over too many cards. So I use one order to consolidate some souls into a higher-value card, and my second order to demand more tribute.

Codename Duchess:

Success. I took an easy Place of Power, but unfortunately my legion didn’t get a level up from the victory. No one else captured a Place of Power, so I have an early lead in Prestige. I won the auction for Abraxas as well, so at least my initial plans are in motion.

The only other notification is that Baleygr purchased The Legion of Blood. They’re pretty reasonable with 9 health and 7 melee. At least as good as many other players’ personal legions. The fact that Baleygr bought a legion so early suggests he is going to be as aggressive as I am. Perhaps I should steer clear of him in my hunt for a Blood Feud.

Three out of my five opponents didn’t make a move towards a Place of Power on turn 1. This could mean they have something better to do for a turn or it could mean that there is going to be a lot of underhandedness in this game. I need to spread out and get within striking distance of as many opponents as possible. The fact that the Garden of Infernal Delights is so close makes it an obvious next target. With Abraxas in command my Slaves should be able to take it.

Baleygr:

I got the Legion of Blood. But it appeared on the south side of my stronghold, not the north where I had hoped. This complicates my divide and conquer maneuver by costing me an extra turn of movement. Also, I’m not accumulating resources. After I take the Black Altar of Despair this turn, I’ll cut down to the top of the chasm and then east to the second nearby bridge to secure access for myself. After that I’ll sweep back around and take the Testament of Tyrants and begin consolidating resources to purchase legions.

I suspect that keeping up in prestige will require the purchase of Prestige-generating Relics. Given that I have no resistance to Deceit, I’ll need to get more ritual slots to hide them in, which means investing in my Intellect attribute [Actually, Prestige-generating Relics only generate Prestige if they’re attached to a stronghold or Place of Power, not a ritual slot. –Ed].

Anonymoeba:

Everybody’s marching their legions around to conquer or block nearby Places of Power except for Beowulf and The Magistrate, the latter of whom I suspect to be competing against in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum auction. On the basis of his starting legion he has both high Charisma and/or some powerful perks. I’ve enough souls, but need lots of darkness to meet the minimum bid. I suspect I’ll need at least 2 turns.

Turn 3:

Baleygr:

I successfully took the Black Altar of Despair and managed to complete my securing of bridges and the chasm. My starting legion failed to level up (I have never to date leveled up in a multiplayer game and I find it irritating! It happens all the time in single player.) I am securing a few more cantons to clinch the northern end of the chasm and let my starting legion heal. The Legion of Blood will grab the bridge and next turn take the bottom edge of the chasm on the other side. Meanwhile, my starting legion will spend one more round lingering at the Black Altar to heal back up to 5 HP before moving to assault the Testament of Tyrants. I will begin requesting resources in two turns to improve my Martial Prowess by one point to ensure victory.

I’m neck and neck for Prestige with Codename Duchess, everyone else is racing for the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum as anticipated. If I can level up my starting legion with the next battle, and especially if I can secure the bridge to the east while I begin to build resources, it will have been worth it. I’m going to invest in my Martial Prowess and Intellect attributes as fast as possible to get order slots, ritual slots, healing, and ranged/melee capability. I also need resistance for Deceit and Destruction as well as improved tribute rolls. I plan to purchase Relics for all that.

Codename Duchess:

Baleygr has started moving and claimed a Place of Power worth 1 Prestige per turn for himself. The Magistrate and Anonymoeba are still stationary. But Baleygr’s legion has emerged closer to the Garden of Infernal Delights than my own legion is. Because I act before him this turn, I can at least guarantee that I control 2 of the 3 cantons surrounding it. My single legion is more powerful than either of his and I also have a praetor up my sleeve, so I am confident for the moment should any conflict arise. But this is ignoring the possibility that he has access to useful combat cards or combat rituals.

I need to start gathering resources to continue to beef up my military. There are some good artifacts for sale, or maybe I should buy a second legion to gather territory for the Infernal Census. I march my Slaves towards the Garden of Infernal Delights and use my second order to demand tribute.

Anonymoeba:

I got a lucky tribute roll and gained 11 darkness, so I’m placing my bid for the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum this turn. This makes me quite optimistic on winning the auction and I start making plans for some land-grabbing. I can use my soon-to-be-available third order slot to move my legion around while still keeping the economy rolling, so I’ll start by moving towards Kivah but plan to hook southwards towards the bridge and eventually secure the Gates of Hell. Kivah will go first the next turn so trying to secure access to the Wood of Suicides is useless, but by moving towards him I’ll put on some pressure and probe his reaction, both useful since I’m going to have to move against him eventually.

The Magistrate:

Baleygr has conquered the Black Altar of Despair. And another Conclave token was drawn! Two out of fifteen already. I was hoping to have more time to get established.

With my consolidated tribute, I’m ready to bid on the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, so I use one order for that. I decide not to overbid; I doubt anyone else has enough money for it yet, and The Magistrate is a Duke so he’ll break ties with lower-ranked archfiends. My other order is another tribute call. Keep the cash flowing!

Turn 4:

Anonymoeba:

I lost the auction for the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum to The Magistrate. I consider making this public knowledge in order to attract any would-be thieves to the prize. But it’s very unlikely that there’s anyone capable of stealing it this early on, so maybe later.

On to plan B: putting a bid on the Lemegeton Seal (for its boost to my Prophecy power) and gathering some more tribute to boost my Intellect (and therefore Prophecy) to 3.

The Magistrate:

I’ve won the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum! Yes! I use one of my orders to attach it to my stronghold. This will let others see that I have it, but they’d need a Deceit level of 5 to try to steal it, and no one is likely to have that until much later. And with it attached to my stronghold, it won’t block one of my ritual slots, in case I need some magic. My other order is, naturally, a tribute call.

What to buy next? I was pleasantly surprised to find a Manual of Infernal Power among my tribute this turn, which I could use to make a praetor more powerful in single combat duels. I should probably get a praetor eventually. In fact, someone hired the praetor Barbatos this turn, and he was replaced by Morax, who is a powerful duelist specializing in Infernal attacks. It would be a good idea to pick him up and train him at some point. But it might be more important to boost The Magistrate’s Charisma attribute. If he’s going to be the richest archfiend in Hell, he needs to focus.

I also notice that Baleygr has been expanding, and his new Legion of Blood is approaching from the south. He’ll soon cut me off from Pandemonium, the capital city, but that’s not a huge concern. The Magistrate shouldn’t need to resort to a violent usurpation to claim the throne. He’ll just buy it.

Baleygr:

I’m cursing my luck for starting with a weak legion. In solo games, I started with better legions due to the randomized stats; I rolled poorly this time. Codename Duchess has a huge military advantage (a big strong legion) and is marching around taking places of power and laughing off the damage, meanwhile I spent the first three turns of the game just securing some basic territory and working hard to capture two Places of Power. At least both The Magistrate and Beowulf look ripe for bullying so I will focus on them while appeasing the others as much as possible. It never occurred to me until now, but I’m considering trying to knock the game host out of the game… that might not go so well for finishing the game… damn it [Baleygr is referring to the fact that I, in addition to playing The Magistrate, was hosting the game and crunching the turns; if I were eliminated, I might be less inclined to continue doing so, stalling the game. He needn’t have worried, as I’ve happily continued on as host even after being eliminated in other games! — Ed.].

I’ve now completed my plan to divide the map and protected one side of Pandemonium from ground assault. Next I’ll take the Testament of Tyrants (on the turn after next). Once I’ve done so I’ll need to focus on resources for several turns to get my attributes up. If I can get to 5 Martial Prowess or 3 Martial Prowess and 4 Intellect, that will make all the difference. 5 Martial Prowess will be my focus if I can just get the ichor; we’ll see, it’s not easy. I will also consider purchasing some manuscripts. There is a piece of the Rite of Infernal Awe for sale right now and a couple of legion training manuscripts as well. Completing any of those could go a long way…

Codename Duchess:

Two praetors, Barbatos and Eligos, were purchased. Eligos is one of my favorites, granting a +5 ranged bonus to a legion of Place of Power if he’s put in command. I’ll have to be wary of him appearing to oppose my future aggression. Also, the Pseudomanarchia Daemonum was purchased. This is concerning because a third order slot this early will have quite the ripple effect for a player going for an economy build. This could be Kivah, The Magistrate or Anonymoeba.

Baleygr marched his legion away from the Garden of Infernal delights, so I don’t have to worry about fighting him for it. But he’s spreading out with his early second legion. His Prestige gains from the Infernal Census may become problematic even if he doesn’t have great access to Places of Power. I also notice that Anonymoeba has started moving towards Kivah. It’s unlikely that he’s going all out on his economy then. The Wood of the Suicides looks to be a contentious point for them.

This turn is straightforward for me: I attach my praetor Abraxas to my legion and march on the Garden of Infernal Delights. That will satisfy my Lust objective for the time being.

Turn 5:

The Magistrate:

Codename Duchess continues to expand, capturing the Garden of Infernal Delights. I notice he has the praetor Abraxas commanding his legion. Beowulf has taken the Pillars of Malebolge just to the north of me, and has the praetor Eligos in command. And someone has purchased the Lemegeton Seal, an Unholy Relic that boosts Prophecy power. And, as predicted, Baleygr blocked off any path I might have had to Pandemonium.

But, I have learned from my adventures last game as Rufus and Big Beak. I shall not become distracted by my opponents’ military expansion. I shall focus on getting as rich as possible, which means boosting Charisma. That’s expensive, but I now have three order slots, thanks to the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. I use all three of them for tribute calls. Let’s do this.

Codename Duchess:

I’ve captured the Garden of Infernal Delights, as expected, and my legion has leveled up. Huzzah. I can pick from a few upgrades, nothing is particularly high so I’ll just be taking +1 ranged, which is fine.

Kivah has purchased a legion, the Lethean Phalanx. Looks like continued build up between Anonymoeba and Kivah is the order of the day. Also, someone has bought the Lemegeton Seal, a Relic which gives a bonus to Prophecy. That’s concerning, considering my secret hyper aggressive perk. I’m regent this turn and drew an Event card that can force loyalty checks for purchased legions. Useful, considering two other players have purchased legions and I have not.

Beowulf has revealed that he has Eligos, commanding his personal legion. It now has 12 ranged. Yikes. The Magistrate has the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. His location vis-a-vis Pandamonium is concerning with his current actions (or lack thereof). But Baleygr has actually blocked off the non-Kivah side of Pandamonium. That will be a situation to keep tabs on. Although I’m sure everyone will be more wary of it considering my victory last game by conquering Pandemonium.

With Baleygr’s two legions separated and Eligos in Beowulf’s service, Baleygr is looking like easy pickings. Just to the northwest is a weak +1 Prestige Place of Power he controls, and his weak personal legion. I use my first order to issue a demand of him. Since I’m still looking for the resources for a Relic or second legion, I use my second order to demand tribute from my minions.

Baleygr:

The Pillars of Malebolge have been taken by Beowulf. I want those for myself, so they may be my first bully target, given proximity. I must first take the Testament of Tyrants (next turn) and after that I will need to begin stocking resources. I am hopeful I can get enough in a single round to increase my Martial Prowess to 2. That will give a boost to my legions and also provide a substantial combat support boost when they work together. After that I will focus on resources through demands of both my own minions and my opponents. Depending on relative strength, Beowulf will probably be my first target. If I can take the Pillars away from him, I will be very pleased. Once taken, I can increase my Martial Prowess again and make them difficult for him to retake. If that goes well I will continue to bully him out of the game, otherwise I will turn to others.

I have continued to fall behind in the Prestige game. Next turn, the Abyss willing, I will be in a position to retake second place, but I will not be able to catch Codename Duchess, not yet. I have put that fiend at the top of my threat list, followed by Beowulf and The Magistrate, followed by the others in no particular order. I anticipate many attacks from Codename Duchess and I need it to be reasonably cheap to bully the other two. All this being said, it’s meaningless unless someone knocks out Eligos, Beowulf’s preator, or if I can increase my legions’ ranged stat by many points. Only then could my legions challenge his. The Hellfire Ballista would do the trick and is appealing due to the high artifact level (5) which makes it difficult to steal. Perhaps I will pursue this while I wait to build ichor reserves.

Anonymoeba:

I won the Lemegeton Seal and transfer it to one of the slots in my ritual chamber, of which I’ve plenty to spare. As expected, Kivah blocked the Wood of Suicides with his main legion and bought a second legion from the bazaar. I presume he’s going to use it to grab the Wood since his main legion is rather weak.

Also, the Magistrate put the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum on public display in his stronghold, so that saves me the trouble of revealing him as its owner. I doubt I’m going to have Deceit 5 any time soon, but maybe somebody will.

Turn 6:

Codename Duchess:

Beowulf has purchased the legion known as The Chains of Torment. This plus Eligos means he’ll be a formidable opponent. But I’ve finally acquired some ichor, so a second legion of my own may be in my future.

There’s no need to move my Slaves until I see if Baleygr gives in to my demand. His slaves have moved away from me so he may not be in the mood for a fight. Anonymoeba and Kivah seem content to stare at each other across their Maginot Line. If Anonymoeba didn’t have the legion with Mountain Walk I might be able to get something done there. But he could easily frustrate me by hiding.

My options for buying a legion with only 4 ichor are limited but The Iron Maidens are reasonably good. They’re level 4 which should be handy against all these sitters and schemers. 5 ranged and 4 melee isn’t bad either considering Abraxas buffs these stats as well. I put in a bid, and a demand for tribute.

Baleygr:

So… as luck would have it, I lost this game at avatar creation. It is not that my strategy couldn’t work in the right group, but everyone chose to go with high starting legion stats this time around and as a result I simply can’t compete, given that I rolled very unluckily on mine and would have had a mediocre starting legion even with lucky rolls. Codename Duchess has demanded tribute from me and was able to ask for 3 cards straight away because, in addition to having a good starting legion, he is a Duke. I have chosen to appease him which means he will inevitably push to ever greater heights. He has apparently chosen to use the same strategy I am, with me as the target. He does not have the same ability to boost legions that I do but given my poor resource situation, it is unlikely I will ever be able to take advantage of that capability anyway.

I am faced with three possibilities: getting quickly annihilated and removed from the game, trying to be inconspicuous for a long while and let others damage each other to the point where I have opportunities to get back in the game, or choose a victor and offer Blood Vassalship to improve their chances. My preference this game for the last option would be The Magistrate. We’ll see, perhaps I’ll get lucky with a level up or, better yet, the Black Ring event card, which makes a single legion much more powerful. Also, maybe someone will decide to take Codename Duchess down a peg. If I can’t get a foothold by my third regency, I will go with the Blood Vassal plan.

With respect to the Testament of Tyrants, I am counting on getting enough ichor to boost my Martial Prowess. This will make it possible for me to take it with my primary legion in a single attack. Otherwise, it will take multiple rounds and damage both of my legions. I have requested double resources this round.

Anonymoeba:

Finally, I’ve gathered enough tribute to boost my Intellect and should be at 3 orders next turn. Also, I’m putting a bid on the Iron Maidens legion — it’s relatively cheap and I need to gain territory faster and support my main legion in its attack on the Gates of Hell. The area to my east is completely unclaimed and the closest archfiend there is the Magistrate. He hasn’t moved at all – apparently he’s indeed building a “tall” empire making him a high threat, especially considering his early order slot advantage. Also, he has the immediate turn initiative advantage over me.

The Magistrate:

It seems my opponents have finally started to butt heads. Codename Duchess has issued a demand against Baleygr. Fortunately, Baleygr retreated after claiming territory to the south, so he probably isn’t interested in messing with me.

I look over all my money. Boosting The Magistrate’s Charisma to 4 costs 9 of every resource, but I got unlucky this turn and still don’t have enough darkness. But I have more than enough of everything else. I also happened to get a piece of the Rite of Aether Rupture manuscript, and now have two of the three pieces. If I can find the third, I can perform the Rite to boost The Magistrate’s Intellect attribute by two points. If I time this so it boosts it to 4, it will also grant another order slot.

The best way to get more manuscripts is to have high Charisma. I only need 3 more darkness to boost it, but my other resources are spread out over too many cards. So I decide to use one order to consolidate a lot of resources into a single card, and two orders for tribute calls. With any luck, I’ll be able to boost Charisma next turn.

Turn 7:

Baleygr:

No change. My new regency offered me a pathetic Event card (make someone else look like they have lots of Prestige) and I chose to keep the one I was already holding (prevent use of combat cards for 3-6 turns). My tribute came in and I was able to pay to boost my Martial Prowess by 1 point as hoped; that will happen just before I take the Testament of Tyrants. I had to overpay by one soul. After I conquer it, assuming all goes well, I really need to level up my legion, badly. I also intend to save up for the Hellfire Balista as Codename Duchess is massing forces on my border. It would be great if I could get to the bridge to the east and secure 1-2 more Places of Power but that will take lots of moves which will restrict resource collection. This will be a careful calculation. Thankfully I am about to get a Prestige boost from the Infernal Census on turn 10, but Codename Duchess will get a bigger boost since he has more territory.

The Magistrate:

Someone has played an Event card that increases the minimum bids on all purhcases from the Bazaar for 7 turns. This is annoying, as I’m planning on having lots of money to buy things with soon. In other news, Baleygr has conceded to Codename Duchess’ demand, so I guess there won’t be a war between them this time. Codename Duchess even bought a new legion, the Iron Maidens, for the occasion. He’s going to be disappointed.

I got the tribute I need. There are also some more manuscripts in my offerings this turn: one half of the Infernal Training manuscript (which trains legions, not praetors; not to be confused with my Manual of Infernal Power that trains praetors) and one half of the Manual of Devotion, which boosts a legion’s loyalty. I don’t bother with the latter, since I care little for legion combat, but the former might come in handy.

OK, time to boost The Magistrate’s Charisma to 4. I follow this with two tribute calls, which should take advantage of the increased quality of tribute. Delicious, delicious tribute…

Codename Duchess:

Baleygr has conceded to my demand. No early vendetta here. The Iron Maidens have been purchased by yours truly, and a tax on the bazaar has begun. Thank goodness [evilness, surely? –Ed] I just got my legion!

The board is quiet this turn. With Baleygr’s quick acquiescence, maybe its time to look for another target. I need vendetta wins, not fat emissaries. Beowulf’s legions are separated and his secondary legion is much weaker than mine. I have order advantage so in one turn I can have my new Iron Maidens adjacent to his Chains of Torment, leaving them with nowhere to go. Additionally I’ve built up a reasonable amount of hellfire and have the Place of Power that grants +2 to Destruction ritual rolls. So perhaps I can blast his 12 ranged personal legion off the map without having to engage. Finally, the turn order is such that on the first turn of a potential vendetta I would act first (the only time I have such an advantage against Beowulf). I register my demand of Beowulf with the Conclave.

Anonymoeba:

I lost the bid for the Iron Maidens to Codename Duchess, making it my second wasted order. This means that in theory I’ve completely wasted 1 out of 6 played turns. Oh well, the third order slot I gained from my new Prophecy level of 4 mitigates this a bit, making my empire management practically 50% more effective.

Someone has played an Event which increases Bazaar minimum bids so I decide to forget about buying a legion for now. I decide to boost my Cunning attribute instead and start moving my main legion to claim the bridge to the south, since otherwise Codename Duchess’ newly acquired legion could move in to claim it.

Turn 8:

The Magistrate:

My Charisma is up to 4! This means all the tribute I get is better, and I get an extra tribute card offering in each call. I can still only pick 3 cards from each call, but if I can raise Charisma again to 5, I’ll get yet another card in each call and I’ll get to keep 4 of them (in addition to another increase in quality). Getting Charisma to 5 will require 12 of every resource; my minions have brought me mostly souls and darkness this turn.

Unfortunately, the tax on the Bazaar is still active, so everything is more expensive. But I’m regent this turn, so I get to draw my own Event card. I get Unequaled in Wrath, which doubles Prestige rewards for Legion combat for a few turns. Not particularly useful for a pacifist like The Magistrate, but still better than the Neutralize Schemers card I’m holding; I highly doubt any of my opponents have the Power Behind the Throne perk. So I take Unequaled in Wrath instead.

Elsewhere, Codename Duchess and Beowulf each have a legion at their border, staring each other down, and Codename Duchess has issued a demand. A battle may be imminent.

I’m hoping to get the last piece of the Rite of Aether Rupture and use it to increase The Magistrate’s Intellect to 4 for another order slot. So I put in one tribute call, I bid on the Manual of Attack manuscript from the Bazaar because it’s cheap and will get replaced with something else, and I pay to boost The Magistrate’s Intellect to 1.

Baleygr:

I did not win against the Testament of Tyrants. It was a stalemate with 1 hp lost on my side, 2 left for the Testament of Tyrants; it must have won the combat luck roll. I will get it next turn. Meanwhile I have demanded resources and hope for souls and ichor. Another martial point would go a long way. The Hellfire Ballista is still out of reach, requiring an additional 3 hellfire and 6 souls. None of the Relics that could yield Prestige are even remote possibilities with my 1 darkness. Curse my rolls this game.

Kivah continues (three turns running) to try to take the Wood of Suicides. He will succeed next turn. Anonymoeba moves to cut me off at the eastern bridge, an unfortunate circumstance that I cannot prevent. He will rapidly become a problem I think. Still no boons or footholds for me, this is looking bleak. Codename Duchess made demands of another this turn, perhaps the other infernal lords will look to him as a target. My own next target will be the Pit of Tartarus, at least to cut others off from it. It is the most impregnable Place of Power on the map and I cannot yet prevail against it, even with my legions supporting each other. The Hellfire Ballista would change that math. Alternatively, a praetor providing a substantial boost to infernal power could allow my Legion of Blood to succeed and would be valuable if it brought with it a level or loyalty boost to resist Deceit.

I would very much like to pursue a vendetta with either Beowulf or The Magistrate or Kivah. Enemies against which I could prevail with a little planning.

I need an extra order slot. Badly.

Anonymoeba:

Not much is going on here, I keep moving my legion to the east while gathering some tribute.

Generally, I’m not too happy with how my game seems to be building up. Prestige-wise my position is and will be very weak and Pandemonium is too far away to consider a military buildup, unless I decide to go really aggressive against Kivah, trying to push through his territory for easier access to the Pandemonium. For possible allies with no apparent strategic conflicts, I see Baleygr and especially Beowulf, who’s within striking distance of both Codename Duchess and The Magistrate, but it’s too early to make any reliable plans for that. I start considering secret objectives, something I’ve never really tried, as a back-up plan. My already high Prophecy power should give me more wiggle room by allowing me to pick the better ones out of the large pool of fairly random and often inconvenient objectives.

Codename Duchess:

It seems everyone is waiting for others to make the first move. I’ll oblige them. Although I am concerned about the bridge to the north of my Iron Maidens. Anonymoeba is moving towards it but I’d like to control it. I have time to cut him off and return to my position before any potential vendetta with Beowulf starts. I also realize that Beowulf could come for my Place of Power closest to him in a vendetta, so I’ll need to reposition my Slaves. Two marching orders this turn.

Turn 9:

The Magistrate:

Baleygr has conquered the Testament of Tyrants. It looks like Kivah has been trying to capture the Wood of Suicides. And Beowulf has refused Codename Duchess’ demand… although it looks like Codename Duchess has moved his legion northwest, away from Beowulf’s border, to stop Anonymoeba’s expansion. Things are heating up out there. It might be time to set my threat list, while it’s still possible to do so without using an order slot. Beowulf is closest to me, to the north, so I put him on top, followed by Codename Duchess, Anonymoeba, Baleygr, and Kivah.

My plan for acquiring manuscripts hasn’t worked out. I won the bid for the Manual of Attack (which might come in handy for training a praetor later), but it was replaced by Infernal Training Vol. 1, which I already have. Boo. Oh well, I can try the same plan again. I’ll put in one tribute call, bid on another cheap manuscript (Melee Training Vol. 1), and pay to boost The Magistrate’s Intellect to 2.

Anonymoeba:

So, I decide to pick my first secret objective this turn to see whether the choices I get will allow me to build a sustainable strategy. I’ll get to pick out of 3 options, which is quite decent.

Also, the northern bridge is successfully secured from Codename Duchess. My eastern border should be safe for now but I’ll keep moving my legion anyway. There’s a high value Place of Power there, granting +3 Prestige per turn, that might be worth securing, but it’s too heavily defended to be within my immediate grasp. My bet is that Baleygr will end up grabbing it but I decide to depart from my initial route and move towards it anyway in order to eventually grab an adjacent canton, just in case.

Codename Duchess:

A manual of attack manuscript has been purchased. It seems someone is looking towards praetor combat. Is it possible The Magistrate is going that way for a second game in a row?

Beowulf has some gumption; he’s refused my demand. Unfortunately, when setting terms for a vendetta, I can’t choose to only kill one legion, so I will have to rely on some lucky Destruction rolls to finish his personal legion as well. I’ll need to move my Iron Maidens back into position. Also if Beowulf drops Eligos on his Chains of Torment they could present an issue for my Iron Maidens. Luckily I have reasonable Wrath power due to my Martial Prowess attribute, and can create a combat card to counteract this. These act as single use modifiers to combat. I attach a -3 enemy ranged combat card to the Iron Maidens and march them back to Beowulf’s border.

Baleygr:

I successfully took the Testament of Tyrants. My legion also leveled up. I selected +2 HP over +1 melee or +1 ranged as 6 HP was low enough to be scarily susceptible to total destruction by a ritual or two.

Someone is buying praetor combat move manuscripts… I don’t know who.

There are copies of Volume 1 of all three legion training manuals available in the Bazaar. I would like very much to buy them but it will cost me. I would also like to purchase the Hellfire Ballista. With it I can take the Pit of Tartarus, my next Place of Power target. If I can level up there I can really begin to snowball my legion strength. It will take both my legions and the Ballista to achieve. It will also take 5 turns to move both legions into place, using one movement order per turn paired with a resource demand each time.

For this and 4 more turns, the Bazaar is extra expensive so I will wait until there is no longer any increase in price to buy. During that time I will work up the resources I need to purchase the Hellfire Ballista while also working on getting another order slot through improved attributes. It would cost me 18 souls and 45 ichor to get my Martial Prowess to 5, but it would yield an additional +3 ranged and melee to all my legions and Places of Power; very appealing. It would cost 26 souls and 14 each of hellfire and darkness to achieve an additional order slot through Intellect. A lower overall cost by 9 resources (63 to 54), but less benefit along the way and spread over three types of resources. If I get a substantial lead in ichor, I will go the Martial Prowess route first.

The major questions I’m thinking about right now: Should I buy the manuscripts at 2-4 resources apiece and hope for the second volumes? Should I focus on the Pit of Tartarus or should I make a demand of The Magistrate? Should I buy a praetor for the Legion of Blood in order to get their bribery resistance up?

Turn 10:

Anonymoeba:

The secret objectives presented to me: either perform one out of two attribute-boosting Rites, or hold 20 resource cards at the end of the game. The latter is a no-brainer, even though it nets 5 less Prestige than the others (10 to 15). So far so good.

Also, Kivah brought a demand against me, apparently feeling adventurous when he noticed my legion moving away from his border. He doesn’t actually have anything apparently threatening – even the second legion he bought got mysteriously destroyed while assaulting the Wood of Suicides (which is still neutral). Still, I can’t afford the risk of vendetta yet, so I’ll just sheepishly pay the 2 tribute cards he demanded.

The Magistrate:

The Infernal Census has gone through this turn, granting The Magistrate 7 Prestige for his meager 7 cantons of territory. That means I now have enough to try some diplomacy. I’m wondering if it’s worth insulting Codename Duchess, since he’s just claimed vendetta on Beowulf this turn and will be distracted with that. It might be some easy Prestige. But, if he chooses a single combat vendetta against me I’ll be screwed, because I don’t have any praetors and they’re really expensive right now due to the tax on the Bazaar. Also, Baleygr has crossed the river to the south again and is heading my way. So maybe I should wait on that.

My manuscript strategy failed again; I won Melee Training Vol. 1, but it was replaced by Impenetrable Stance Vol. 1, which can teach praetors a defensive move for duels. Perhaps buying manuscripts just to refresh what’s on offer in the Bazaar is a bad idea. This time I’ll just do two tribute calls and pay to boost The Magistrate’s Wickedness attribute to 2.

I’ve only just noticed that a third Conclave token was drawn at some point. These really are going fast.

Baleygr:

I have been catapulted by my giant territory to the top of the Prestige heap, a dangerous place to be. I look forward to Codename Duchess overtaking me as I do not wish to become a target given my precarious military situation. I have chosen to continue my march toward the Pit of Tartarus, at least to secure the option of taking it, while demanding resources. If I can get my resources high enough, I’ll begin to get some traction with improved legions and an extra order slot.

Someone else bought the Melee Training manuscript. I was tempted to snap up the others but felt that my resources were better spent on upgrades to my Martial Prowess, so I have saved them for the time being. I will keep an eye on the manuscripts, however, and may well purchase the Rite of Infernal Awe; what a coup it would be to get a +2 enhancement to my Martial Prowess attribute!

Codename Duchess:

The Melee Training Vol. 1 manuscript was purchased. Someone is really looking at pumping up. With his +1 order slot Relic, only The Magistrate makes sense.

As anticipated, Beowulf has moved Eligos over to his Chains of Torment. Both they and my Iron Maidens have 8 HP. In the fight, they’ll match up their ranged, melee and infernal stats, in that order, and the legion with the higher stat will do damage equal to how much higher it is. If both legions are still alive after this, there’s a second round of combat. But these rounds are complicated by a combat advantage roll which will grant a random bonus to one stat of one combatant.

After my combat card, my stats will be 5/4/0 with a level 4 roll for random bonus. Beowulf’s stats will be 4/5/0 with a level 2 roll for random bonus. I’d like a better edge, and I have the resources, so I’ll create another -3 enemy ranged combat card. Then I order the Iron Maidens to attack.

Let the vendetta begin.

__________________________________________________

Next time: Who will win the war between Codename Duchess and Beowulf? Will Baleygr get that Martial Prowess boost he’s hoping for? Who will win the race for the Pit of Tartarus? And will The Magistrate manage to get all of the money? Stay tuned to find out!

EDIT: Read part 2 here.

Solium Infernum is available directly from developers Cryptic Comet.

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