So I recently played in a game of Solium Infernum with RPS chaps Kieron Gillen and Quintin Smith. They’re running a big old diary on the game on RPS itself, but the word cauldron was getting so overflowing with our desperate appraisal of the game that my ones spilled over to here. Which is fine by me. I’m going to be trying to mirror what’s going on on the main site with my own perspective. Because apparently it’s wonderful to read what the other people were thinking, or so I found out today. Man but did I get it wrong.
This is me. My name is Amplexeris Bestias, which means, I think, ‘I will beastilise you’ in Latin, which I was really hoping would scare my opponents into submission. Turns out their latin is a little rusty. They must’ve been studying war instead.
Oh, things do not look good for me. I’m in a bit of an odd position to play this game; I don’t like strategy games all that much, I’m really not that particularly fiendishly minded, and I have no idea how to play a long game. Oh, and I’m actually in an odd position in the game.
I’m nowhere near a place of power, and any one I’m even remotely close to grabbing is much too close to someone else. Added to that I have literally no useful combative skills starting out, to the degree that I’m a Marquis in a game of Princes. So I’ve got an ok starting legion, a crappy position and a bunch of bloodthirsty mentalists all ready to chew me up for meat and spit me out the dirty end.
So yeah, not a great position.
I do, however, have a few tricks up my sleeve. I’ve got absurdly high charisma starting out, which means that the tribute my guys bring me each turn is pretty great, not to mention I’ve picked up a perk that allows me to take an extra tribute card each time they’re presented to me. To put that in perspective, that’s 50% more tribute cards than anyone else can take. Naturally, I’ve got a greed focus, which means I should be hoarding, and hoarding, and hoarding. My beastman is not going to be happy until everything in his Stronghold is made out of tribute. Which is fine by me, as it means I can raid the bazaar.
The problem is I’m going into this without a plan. I don’t even have a slight concept of one, and an only slightly workable knowledge of the rules of the game. I know I’m going to be getting a lot of tribute, and then I was kind of hoping to begin an aggressive campaign with overpaid mercenaries, but the fact that I’m nowhere near a place of power, a Marquis among Princes, means that I’m in trouble. I can make demands of the other players, but at most I’ll be getting one or two tribute cards off them, and that’s a much easier pill to swallow than my legions banging down their door. Similarly, no one’s going to insult me without good reason.
God I’m an idiot. Everyone gobbled up the land far faster than I would’ve thought possible, I’ve got a middling unit from the Bazaar, and I’m basically stuck as to what to do. I’ve got Scrofula below me with a large sea of Cantons, which look like they need to be wittled down a little, and he’s also got a rather tempting place of power, the Gates of Hell. With a +3 prestige bonus it’s certainly a tempting prize, but it’s going to be beyond difficult to tempt him into a fight.
He’s picked up a Praetor from the bazaar, which means that I can no longer hurl insults at him left and right, without fear of recompense. Because now he can call a duel of champions, and right now I’ve not got one. Which is easily rectified, really, because the champion of champions just showed up for sale the turn before. He’s a big frog man called Orias, and he’s got the best starting stats of any Praetor in the game. Luckily, my pockets are easily deep enough to stomach the cost, and so now I’ve got myself a shiny new Praetor to scare all the neighbours with. And boy do I scare them.
There’s an interesting concept behind Solium Infernum. There’s two ways to rile up the other players; demands and insults. A demand can be refused, which gives the person making the demand the right to claim vendetta. This is the ideal situation, because it allows you to pick the battleground, and the spoils; do you want one of their places of power, or perhaps just a land grab? Or if you’re just after prestige, a contest of champions can easily settle things. However, if you insult them, they get to pick how it’s done, and that can be really, really bad for you. Well, only if you don’t have the dominant force in each respective area. Someone with a powerful praetor and a powerful army is truly a man to fear.
So you can tailor make your situation to meet the game; if you’re getting insulted left and right, you have to engineer it so that you have one area you can dominate in, and I was hoping I could do this with a powerful Praetor. At the very least it would mean that, should I insult Scrofula, he would be less then eager to engage in a contest of champions, which would mean I can move in on his place of power.
Except, of course, I’ve got a problem; I completely, stupidly, recklessly, sent my most powerful legion on a crusade to heaven. My stupid thinking in this was that everyone would rather send a unit than take the prestige hit, and so if I sent my best unit, I was more likely to have them survive and come back stronger than ever. The more legions that get sent away, the better the chance of success, and this early on in the game, the prestige hit can really cripple a player. Z’hak ended up with 0 prestige as a result, and that meant he couldn’t insult or make a demand of anyone until he got some back.
But with only two players sending crusades, myself and Quinns, that meant that the chances of ever seeing my legion in one piece again was low. While they were my personal bodyguard, and thus never truly die, once they fall in battle they come back crippled and weak. The flipside of all this is that I didn’t have a proper legion for more turns than I care to remember. And that meant expansionist ideas had to be kept on hold.
Oh god I love this game. It’s just brilliant, how serendipity can strike and make me rich. Someone played an event, and the hellmouth has closed. This means that no one, at all, can get tribute for a set amount of turns. However, I happened to get the Master of the Bazaar event the turn before, which I promptly played. What this means is that I get half of all tribute spent in the bazaar. What this means is that while everyone panic buys to stave off the desperate attacks and insults that come with a lack of tribute, I’m the one making a profit. I’ve now got so much tribute that I have to organise it in my vault. This is a Good Feeling.
It also means I can throw around demands and insults like it’s no one’s business, because I know what kind of situation I’m in. While I can’t buy anything new from the bazaar, I do now have enough tribute to start raising my stats, and wickedness is first on my agenda, so that I can start casting fire and brimstone down on my enemies. Let’s see how much more Scrofula doesn’t want to fight me when his units start getting snuffed out.
It’s already becoming pretty clear my tentative hold on the race for first place is starting to loosen. I really, really need to start making headway against Scrofula, or I’m never going to even be close to the running. So I throw him an insult, and it’s come back asking for a contest of champions. This is it, time for Orias to shine. He doesn’t know I’ve got him, I don’t think, so this should be interesting. If I win then that’s it, he’s going to be too scared to fight a champion again, and the land battle can begin. If I lose, then I’ve lost. I can’t go for him again, because he’s got a beefed up Praetor I can’t beat, and everyone else is quickly slipping into the realm of ‘too strong to touch’, not to mention the fact I hardly have enough prestige to make any demands of anyone.
So, this early on in the game, I’m already on the precipice of defeat. I can feel it there, snapping at my ankles as I cling onto the somewhat worrying amount of responsibility of placed on a frog man’s shoulders. God I hope he’s as good as he looks. I mean, he’s a giant toad. Can’t he just eat anyone he fights? That’s how toads fight. I think.