Since Bruce broke out last game, we’re starting a new game. Me, Troy Goodfellow, and Bruce Geryk, thrown into Hell with three AI dudes. Since Bruce cheaped out with a rush build in our first game – take a Prince with a bad-ass starting unit and just grab Places of Power early on – it looks like that’s exactly what we’re all doing this time. We’re all three Princes, which also means no one has a diplomatic leg up on the others. Even one of the AI dudes in a Prince.
Fortunately, I started right next to the Mines of Gehenna, one of the few formidable Place of Power that gives you two prestige per turn instead of just one. Also, I managed to draw enough resources on my first turn to snag the Broken Wheel, an artifact that’s particularly useful for attacking Places of Power. So, as of turn 2, I get a bad-ass Place of Power.
Unfortunately, so do those jerks. How did you guys do that so quickly?
The map seems rich in Places of Power, so you of course want to grab a weak one as soon as you can with your starting legion - if you can. But there’s also the early game rush for fresh legions, and you have to buy these with tribute you collect. And Tom and Bruce each buy a second legion before I do.
Since you start with only two actions per turn, the game gets annoying by about turn 3. If you have two legions, moving both means you can’t demand tribute since that counts as an action. The early land grab is important, but you also want to get the first leg up on troops, Praetors (generals) or relics (power ups) which might mean letting one legion not grab land.
Ultimately, territory is the big thing. But you can’t wait too long on the other stuff.
I think if you don’t get a place of power early on, you can fall behind. However, since you can’t just willy nilly grab other dudes’ territory (there’s a thick layer of diplomacy before any open conflict), you can basically surround a place of power even if you can’t capture it yet. Sort of saving it for later.
BTW, Bruce, don’t think I don’t see you racing for the Pillar of Skulls. You can just break off now, because with the way the sceptre is passing, I’ll get there first. Ha ha.
See, the good thing about playing a game against Tom and Bruce is that you know they will eventually turn on each other like all arch-enemies do. And siblings. And lovers.
Anyway, we have other players - AI opponents. So one of the metagames here will be to see who can screw over the idiots in the room first.
I’m surrounded by gorges that cut off my quick movements, so it looks like I’m going to get hosed in the early rush for Places of Power. The AI is immediately to my right, so I have one flank that won’t be a huge problem for now.
This particular game we’ve just started has a new twist. The Infernal Bazaar sells a random assortment of armies and items. In this game, there are two (!) relics for sale that give you prestige. So even if you get shut out of the land grab, which seems pretty even distributed at this point, there are goodies for sale that are the equivalent of two places of power. They’re fairly expensive, though.
Ha ha, Bruce started right next to two Places of Power. He grabbed the crappy one – the Vats of Torment – and now it looks like an AI player, Moloch, is going to take the better one – The Woods of the Suicide.
And that looks like that’s that for the land rush phase. Within five turns, everything’s been divvied up. Now to either hunker down or carve up the spaces in between.
I have spent most of my “game journalistic” career trying to convince people that Tom Chick is the devil. I think this game constitutes objective, factual proof that the reality-based community can really get its collective head around. Troy, on the other hand, is Canadian, which probably constitutes the least infernally-compatible constituency possible. Do you think they have Hell in Thunder Bay? If not, they’d probably offer tax incentives to get it to move there, for the heat at least.
As Tom pointed out, I basically cheap-rushed the previous game by making a pretender/archfiend/union leader who could take advantage of early combat to build a big Prestige lead. So now he and Troy are going to do the same thing, because it seems that I have to think for all of us. That’s ok - thinking for Tom Chick has been my burden for years.
My initial board position gets me two Places of Power pretty close to me: Wood of Suicides and Vats of Torment. The Vats are father away but weaker, while the Woods are right next to me but a bit tougher. I am going to gamble that no one will take the Woods while I go get the Vats. I am a little more confident in this bet because the closest player to them is the AI.
I have more to say but I need to get these turns moving and not fall behind in postings. More in the next installment.
So the AI decided to go ahead and grab that Place of Power. here is a PR0T1P: the AI loves to let you make demands of it. Like, want three Tribute cards? Just demand that the AI give you some, and they will all fall into line like Chamberlain or Daladier. My plan was to make demands of our boy Moloch so I can Vendetta , but I guarantee you that if I do, he will just buckle, and sign away the Czechs like that. That will make grabbing the Woods a little more difficult.
Other than that, I have no strategy. I will say that if this were a game with six real live human players, I would be sending tons of emails out right now. Solium Infernum really does have a lot in common with Diplomacy, in that while the mechanics are relatively straightforward, the interaction of those mechanics is very involved. I’m really digging it.
Bruce’s comparison to Diplomacy is pretty much dead on. Because of the way prestige can be gained and lost, I can see a lot of duplicitous possibilities for a 6 player match. Just as in Diplomacy you can pretend to be someone’s enemy but actually have a secret alliance with a dancing exchange of territory or coincidental bumping of armies, the exchange of demands and insults can be worked in such a way to mask what is really happening.
The big difference is that Diplomacy is a war of all against all. SI requires a state of war (“vendetta”) before you can move into an enemy’s zones. And the map wraps around, making threats a little bit harder to judge (especially since the map view is never quite big enough to see everything.)
Anyway, one AI opponent snaked past the Bronze Pyramid and I see why. It has pretty good range weapons. My advancing legion does not, but I still think I can take it without getting wiped out.
My stupid Hell’s Angels guys were eliminated at the Bronze Tower, and I lost prestige. So I am now down a legion and humiliated in front of all the other Princes of Darkness. I see Dick Cheney chuckling in the background.