Readers unfamiliar with Solium Infernum may wish to read my original post about the game, as well as my first, massive Solium Infernum diary, Hell Or High Water, before continuing. And you should definitely read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 of Infernal Medicine to get up to speed. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Last time, Hell was rocked by scandal. First, Kivah made an audacious and unexpected move: a suicide run at Pandemonium, using the Orb of Oblivion to level the capital city. The Infernal Conclave survived, but now no one can try to take the throne by force. Kivah was excommunicated for his crimes, and Anonymoeba and Baleygr moved in to conquer his holdings. Baleygr lost his legion to ill luck in combat, and Anonymoeba took it all, banishing Kivah to the Abyss. Later, Codename Duchess managed to win a second vendetta against Anonymoeba, one that they had mutually agreed to via a behind-the-scenes deal. On turn 39, Codename Duchess revealed his Playing For Keeps perk (conspicuously not reported by Anonymoeba’s spies) by declaring Blood Feud on Anonymoba with only two (instead of the usual three) vendetta victories under his belt. He held initiative advantage, so there was nothing Anonymoeba could do, and on turn 40 Codename Duchess captured Anonymoeba’s stronghold, banishing him to the Abyss.
Only four archfiends remain.
Codename Duchess is poised to take Anonymoeba’s former territory and Places of Power, which include those that used to belong to Kivah. But Baleygr, who had all but given up on the game, saw another chance to capture some of Kivah’s old Places of Power. And the Magistrate’s plan to win through wealth is finally paying off; he’s taken the lead in Prestige. But he’s been hit with curses and thievery from Beowulf, including the theft of his star duelist praetor, Morax. Now The Magistrate faces a duel against his former champion, but he’s sending in Vassago, a praetor he stole from Anonymoeba (before his banishment) and trained with powerful combat moves.
Here is what happened.
Anonymoeba is gone. It’s down to just four of us now, and the biggest threat by far is Codename Duchess, who stands ready to claim huge swathes of territory that used to belong to Anonymoeba and Kivah. I may be leading in Prestige right now — barely — but I was hoping that my opponents would continue to fight amongst each other while I used my fortune to gain Prestige. Now, it will be a race between my riches and Codename Duchess’ military expansion. And that won’t start well, since I’m still losing Prestige from the Curse of Deceit that Beowulf cast on my Pseudomonarchia Daemonum.
There is some good news this turn, however. My new praetor Vassago, freshly trained with a suite of powerful combat moves, entered the ring against Morax, who used to work for me but now works for Beowulf. Morax has an impressive set of moves himself, but I know what they are, and I had the element of surprise. Vassago emerges victorious after only a single phase of combat: Morax opened with his powerful Rain of Brimstone, only to find it reflected back at him for triple damage by Vassago’s Oath of Retribution. Morax is annihilated.
Yes! I cannot resist gloating over this, after all the trouble Beowulf has given me. I email the other archfiends, telling them that Morax forgot to whom he owed his power. The penalty for abandoning my house is death.
I’ve also successfully stolen that blasted Grotesque Mask from Beowulf, so hopefully he’ll stop hitting me with those Curses of Deceit that drain my precious Prestige (and hamstring my praetors or relics). And I’ve won my bid for the Key of Solomon, which means I’m now holding six Unholy Relics, satisfying one of my secret objectives. That will net me more Prestige at the end of the game. Excellent!
A Conclave token was drawn this turn, bringing us to 13 out of 15. A new ruler of Hell will be chosen soon, so I must gain as much Prestige as possible as quickly as possible. I could try to satisfy my public objective of Gluttony by consuming 35 souls, netting 30 Prestige at the end of the game, but I’m not sure that’s as efficient as simply casting more Burnt Offerings rituals for 10 Prestige each. I should also think of ways to earn Prestige while draining it from Codename Duchess. Since I have Ritual Masking, I can cast Destruction rituals at him whenever I please. His Gates of Hell was permanently damaged early in the game when he used the Rod of Haruspex during his assault, leaving it with just a single point of health. I could throw Infernal Affliction rituals at it, repeatedly destroying its flimsy garrison and transferring Prestige from Codename Duchess to me in the process. Lastly, now that Vassago has won a duel, he’s eligible to challenge the Champions of Pandemonium. These are tough fights, but each will net me some Prestige.
This turn I transfer my new Grotesque Mask to my stronghold to give me more Prestige generation every turn (and to start generating Curses of Deceit for me to use), put the Key of Solomon in my ritual chamber to increase the quality of my tribute even further, and make a Demand of Supplication followed by two tribute calls. Once I have more resources in my vault I can start going on the offensive.
Victory! I’ve retaken Anonymoeba’s stronghold. While The Magistrate has 23 prestige on me, I’m currently earning 5 Prestige per turn while he is losing 4. I’m not sure what’s causing that penalty, but I won’t complain to anyone about it. My Slaves have also leveled up, and I’m given the option of increasing any of their combat stats by 2. Since ranged is the first round of combat, it gets the upgrade.
I move my Slaves towards the Wood of Suicides along the old Kivah / Anonymoeba border. I move the Grinning Legion towards the Garden of Infernal Delights. In addition to being a +2 Prestige per turn Place of Power, controlling it at the end of the game will satisfy my public objective of Lust, earning me an extra 30 Prestige.
I spent last turn collecting resources, but this turn I’m looking east. The Wood of Suicides, which I tried and failed to capture many turns ago due to terrible luck, is up for grabs again, now that Anonymoeba is gone. I still don’t have any chance of winning this game, but it will be nice to conquer some things for once. I order my legion, armed with the Hellfire Ballista, to start marching.
I see Baleygr has also moved towards the Wood of Suicides. Thankfully I have turn order advantage over him and can attack first. I will also have turn order advantage next turn. Therefore, depending on where my legion emerges after taking the Woods, I can also take Kivah’s old stronghold.
I move to capture the Woods with my Slaves and continue to move the Grinning Legion towards the Garden.
Someone has successfully cast a Dark Augury ritual against me. It seems likely it is Beowulf again. I need to cast Demonic Premonitions to help defend against further theft. I still have my Infernal Negotiations ritual running, but I decide to let it lapse, as it seems unlikely there will be many demands or vendettas at this point.
I’m regent this turn, drawing two new event cards due to my high Prophecy power: Death Takes a Holiday, which stops the flow of tribute (definitely not!) and Power of Evil, which triples Prestige from Destruction rituals for a few turns. I’m also already holding the Angelic Host Incursion card, which would send the Angelic Host on a rampage through Hell, attacking everyone’s legions. I really should have played that last turn; now, since I can only keep one of the three cards, I’m not sure it’s worth it with the game so close to the end. By the time the angels reach my enemies it might be all over. I decide to take Power of Evil, so my masked Infernal Affliction rituals against Codename Duchess will earn me more Prestige.
Speaking of Codename Duchess, he’s marching west to capture the Places of Power that used to belong to Anonymoeba. But Baleygr is also on the move. Unfortunately it looks like Codename Duchess will have the initiative advantage next turn so he will capture the Wood of Suicides before Baleygr can strike. That’s not good. But Baleygr’s legion has three movement points, so he could march north to strike at Kivah’s old stronghold instead. I email him to encourage him to do so.
I also get some nice tribute, including the final piece of the Rite of Aether Rupture. That will boost my Intellect by two points, but it’s actually already at the maximum of 6. Still, I may as well perform the Rite as it will net me some Prestige too. I also got the final piece of the Vile Oath of Consumption combat move. This move does one four-sided die worth of damage for every level of a praetor’s infernal power, and Vassago now has 10 infernal orbs after leveling up from his victory last turn. That will give Vassago a powerful offensive move and guarantee he can defeat all the champions of Pandemonoium.
This turn I’ll cast Demonic Premonitions, perform the Rite of Aether Rupture, train Vassago with Vile Oath of Consumption, challenge the first Champion of Pandemonium, and cast Burnt Offerings. But, apparently I can’t both train Vassago and challenge a Champion on the same turn; I guess the fight will have to wait until next turn. I could play my event card instead, but I want to follow that with a bunch of Infernal Affliction rituals, and I don’t have any ritual slots left this turn. Besides, next turn I’ll spend on gathering tribute, not Destruction rituals. I decide to march my Sons of Typhon instead. Maybe they’ll eventually get into range to fight Beowulf, or at least capture a canton or two.
My legion is at the edge of the Wood of Suicides. I order them to attack.
Then I get an email from The Magistrate. He tells me that Codename Duchess is becoming too powerful, and will be able to capture the Wood of Suicides before I can, suggesting I turn north and march on Kivah’s former stronghold instead. Oh, so now you want my help, The Magistrate? You spurned my offer to become your Blood Vassal, then you promptly followed up with an insult and not one, not two, but three Infernal Machines! Before that, I still had a chance, but now I’m crippled and useless. I may not be able to claim the throne anymore, but I’ll be sainted if I let you take it.
But I must grudgingly admit that he has a point. I won’t be able to capture the Wood of Suicides before Codename Duchess. I redirect my legion north, to assault Kivah’s old fortress.
What infernal luck! Not only have I succeeded in capturing the Wood of Suicides, but the random tile my legion appeared in was already occupied by Baleygr’s legion. I have won two battles, taken a Place of Power, prevented Baleygr’s vendetta, won two upgrades for my Slaves and positioned myself to claim Kivah’s Stronghold. In particular the legion upgrades are quite substantial. I take 6 extra hit points and gain the ability Black Lightning, which adds extra ranged damage every time my Slaves win the ranged round of combat. Things are looking up.
The Magistrate has increased his Intellect by two. This means he very likely has the maximum value of 6 in the attribute. Luckily there isn’t anything to important he could learn about my abilities anymore, and he has no Places of Power so he can’t double their Prestige per turn with the Forbidden Lore ritual. But he could potentially have a secret objective requiring him to have a 6 Intelligence, which would not be an insignificant Prestige boon.
Anyway, with the route clear, I will march on Kivah’s stronghold.
Oh boy. My email to Baleygr has made him hopping mad. He started ranting about how I spurned his offer of help earlier. Spurned!? He promised to send me demands that I could refuse, in order to transfer Prestige to me so he could eventually become my Blood Vassal, but he was just trying to talk his way out of our vendetta. I waited ten turns, and got nothing from him. Now he’s complaining about my insult, which incidentally had the exact same effect as him sending me a demand to refuse. Really, he’s just upset about those Infernal Machines I built. Honestly, what did he expect me to do? Not build them?
Regardless, he did not capture Kivah’s old stronghold as I’d hoped. It seems that out of the five possible cantons into which Codename Duchess’ legion could have emerged after conquering the Wood of Suicides, it appeared in the only one that blocked Baleygr’s march north towards Kivah’s fortress. To make matters worse, apparently Baleygr was actually in a vendetta with Codename Duchess, so when their two legions crossed paths, it started a fight and Baleygr’s legion was defeated. Or maybe Baleygr didn’t turn north at all, and instead tried to take the Wood of Suicides from Codename Duchess, but lost since Codename Duchess’ legion was providing combat support? He may even have intentionally sacrificed his legion to help Codename Duchess win instead of me. However it happened, Codename Duchess earned Prestige for taking the Wood of Suicides, for destroying Baleygr’s legion, and for stopping Baleygr from winning his vendetta. He’s now back in the lead, and there’s nothing to stop him from marching on Kivah’s stronghold and the Garden of Infernal Delights too.
And there’s even worse news. My Demonic Premonitions ritual, which I cast to protect myself from Beowulf’s thievery, failed. It simply didn’t work. I have 6 Intellect — the maximum amount — and therefore 6 Prophecy power, but the Demonic Premonitions ritual, a measly level 2 Prophecy ritual, failed? Even more preposterous is the news that my Burnt Offerings ritual failed. I have the maximum of 6 Charisma and the Key of Solomon, for a whopping 7 Diabolism. How can that ritual fail!? That would have been 10 Prestige in the bank that I don’t have now.
The only good news this turn is that Beowulf’s Curse of Deceit has finally ended. That means I’m no longer draining Prestige, and my Pseudomonarchia Daemonum is working again, bringing me back up to 6 order slots. Also, Vassago is trained up with the Vile Oath of Consumption combat move and is ready to challenge the Champions of Pandemonium. The first of these is The Butcher, who seems like a pleasant fellow.
The Butcher relies on a couple of special moves based on physical attacks, so I have Vassago open with his Oath of Retribution, which will reflect The Butcher’s attack back in his face for triple damage. Then Vassago will put up his Impenetrable Stance to block incoming damage, and unleash his Vile Oath of Consumption which will inflict between 10 and 40 damage. There’s no way The Butcher will survive that, but I finish up with Crippling Strike and two guarded attacks anyway.
There’s not much else I can do this turn, so I cast a Demand of Supplication and make four tribute calls. With my coffers full next turn, I can play my event card and unleash Destruction rituals on Codename Duchess.
Oh, come on! Of all the places Codename Duchess’ legion could have appeared after conquering the Wood of Suicides, it appeared in my path. My legion ran into it and was destroyed. Again. And I’ve lost my Hellfire Ballista too. I swear Hell itself is conspiring against me.
That’s it, it’s over for me now. There’s nothing else I can do except ask my minions for tribute.
I have no legions, no tribute, and no ability to generate tribute. There’s no way I can come close to winning. But I can try to keep The Magistrate off the throne. I contact Codename Duchess to tell him I’ll help him win, by intentionally losing vendettas and harassing The Magistrate whenever I have the chance.
But I don’t have the chance right now, so all I can do is ask for more pathetic tribute.
Someone has stolen Vassago! Curses! It must be Beowulf, what with his constant spying on my vault and getting his grubby fingers on my stuff. That means that Vassago’s duel against The Butcher was canceled, so I don’t get any Prestige from that, and I no longer have a star praetor to send after the Champions of Pandemonium. The worst part is that I cast a Demonic Premonitions ritual last turn specifically to defend against this, but it failed. If it wasn’t for my terrible luck, I might still have Vassago, who would have killed The Butcher, earned me Prestige, and moved on to the next Champion. I’ve said this before about Beowulf, and I will say it again: What. A. Jerk.
Beowulf is surely going to start harassing me diplomatically now, with his powerful Adamantine Guard for military vendettas and Vassago for single combat vendettas. I consider trying to steal Vassago back, but I’d have to spy on Beowulf’s vault first, and with my high Prophecy I actually have a very low chance of seeing that instead of some other information that I don’t care about. I learned that the hard way when I tried stealing Morax back from him earlier. No, instead I think I should steal his Adamantium Guard. That will rob him of his military strength, so he won’t be able to hurl insults at me without fear of reprisal. He’d have to use demands instead, and I can easily just concede to those without losing any Prestige.
I also need to take action against Codename Duchess. I notice that he’s now earning a massive 11 Prestige per turn from all of his Places of Power and attached Relics. Even if I could muster a Burnt Offerings ritual every turn, I could barely keep pace with that, and he’s already leading me by 26 Prestige. Even with my secret objectives I may not be able to win. Those blasted failed rituals last turn may have cost me the throne. Oh, and Codename Duchess will also get Prestige for each canton he owns at the end of the game. He currently has 44, and will only get more. I have 8. This is not looking good.
Perhaps I should wait on stealing Beowulf’s Adamantine Guard. He can’t demand me again until turn 47, and if he tries an insult, I can refuse it and steal the Guard at the same time. Instead, I’m going to try stealing the Crown of Fire from Codename Duchess. It’s attached to his Gates of Hell, and is giving him +1 Prestige per turn. If I steal it, I could put it on my stronghold to give me that bonus instead, but I’ll have to move my Pseudomonarchia Daemonum to my ritual chamber to make room. I’m also going to cast a lot of Destruction rituals at Codename Duchess, which will make him lose Prestige while I gain it. In fact, if I play my Evil Amplified event card, I’ll get an extra bonus to Prestige from those rituals too. So my orders are to steal the Crown of Fire, play my event, hit the Gates of Hell with an Infernal Affliction ritual, march my Sons of Typhon northwest to claim an open canton, move my Pseudomonarchia Daemonum to my ritual chamber, and cast Burnt Offerings for more Prestige.
As expected, I have conquered Kivah’s stronghold. I have largely captured the open territory caused by Anonymoeba’s demise. No other news graces my message board.
Looking at the Prestige standings, I am winning but with only a lead of 26 points. I have an 11 to 2 Prestige per turn lead on The Magistrate. I cannot, however, discount hidden objectives and his ability to perform the Burnt Offerings ritual, which earns 10 Prestige each time it’s cast. On turn 50 I will receive the boon of another Infernal Census and gain 44 prestige to the Magistrate’s 8. However 13/15 tokens have been drawn and it is by no means guaranteed that we will get to turn 50. I feel OK with my current prospects, but I do not know what hidden objectives The Magistrate has and what he has managed to complete. His final Prestige is very much up in the air.
I decide to take a Blood Vassal. If another player consents to become my Blood Vassal they lose half their current Prestige but at the end of the game their final Prestige total is added to mine. In order to take someone as your Blood Vassal you must have twice their territory. This eliminates Baleygr, as his territory is quite substantial. I reach out to Beowulf and offer him the deal. He accepts.
There is always the risk that someone has the Power Behind the Throne perk which means that if you are a Blood Vassal and your Blood Lord wins, you win instead. However, due to Beowulf’s starting legion and overall aggressiveness early in the game, I don’t think he spent the substantial number of build points on this perk.
It is also around this time that Baleygr contacts me to let me know he sees no path to victory. I don’t blame him. He states that he is quite infuriated with The Magistrate’s ritual and Machine interference and plans to assist me by throwing vendettas and hassling The Magistrate in any way he can.
With my first order I assign the praetor Abraxas to The Grinning Legion and with my second order use my buffed Wickedness to burn the Garden of Infernal Delights. Both orders are in anticipation of taking it next turn.
Another turn of asking my minions for whatever pathetic scraps of tribute they can muster. At least The Magistrate is no longer in the lead.
My attempt to steal the Crown of Fire from Codename Duchess failed, but I got a Curse of Deceit manuscript for my trouble, thanks to my Grotesque Mask. It’s time for Codename Duchess to get cursed! The curse should hit one of his artifacts, relics or praetors and start draining his Prestige every turn. I’ve also successfully cast my Burnt Offerings ritual (thank Satan), and earned 6 Prestige from my Infernal Affliction ritual against the Gates of Hell. I was hoping for more, actually, especially with my event now providing triple Prestige awards for Destruction rituals. I thought that bringing the Gates of Hell down to zero health would earn me more than 2 Prestige (tripled to 6), but it seems it’s just double the damage done. Since the Gates of Hell only have one health point after they met the wrong end of Codename Duchess’ Rod of Haruspex earlier in the game, I only did one damage. Sigh. Still, I’ve gained on Codename Duchess, who is now only leading by 20 Prestige.
Unfortunately, a capricious act of wrath (caused by an event card) has destroyed my Sons of Typhon. That means they were unable to march and claim a canton, but at least I was refunded the upkeep payment I made for them. At this point the Sons of Typhon weren’t very important to me; they served their purpose earlier by letting me push other archfiends around with insults. Now, with Vassago gone, I won’t be doing much of that anyway. Although I do still have to insult Beowulf to satisfy my secret objective to insult every archfiend. Since he could easily win a vendetta against me, I will wait until there’s only one Conclave token remaining before hurling my insult. That way he likely won’t have time to pursue a vendetta.
In other news, Codename Duchess has placed the praetor Abraxas in command of his Grinning Legion, probably in anticipation of attacking the Garden of Infernal Delights. If he captures that, it will fulfill his public Lust objective, granting him 30 extra Prestige at the end of the game. I must stop this! Hmm… perhaps I could steal Abraxas? Then his legion would lose the battle, not only blocking him from achieving his Lust objective but also causing him to lose some Prestige in the process. Excellent! My orders are to steal Abraxas, cast my Curse of Deceit on Codename Duchess, cast an Infernal Affliction ritual against Codename Duchess’ Dark Stalkers, march my personal legion northwest to claim an empty canton, move Codename Duchess to the top of my threat list so the rituals I cast at him will be cheaper, and cast Burnt Offerings for more Prestige. Next turn I’ll need to do a demand of supplication to refill my coffers.
My Destruction ritual was successful but did pitiful damage. Regardless I should be able to take the Garden. Beowulf offers his Vassalage, which I accept.
Prestige for Destruction rituals has miraculously increased. At the same time the magistrate targets one of my Places of Power and does some minimal damage. Someone (undoubtedly the Magistrate) has also attempted, and thankfully failed, to steal my Crown of Fire. In return someone has used the Capricious Wrath event card to destroy his Sons of Typhon legion.
With my first order I shoot another ritual at the Garden and with my second order march on it with The Grinning Legion.
The news in my turn log starts bad and keeps getting worse. An event card has lowered the quality of all tribute for 6 turns, which is bad news when I’m relying on riches to win me the throne. I’ve failed to steal Abraxas, which means Codename Duchess has conquered the Garden of Infernal Delights and should fulfill his Lust objective. My curse of Deceit has afflicted Codename Duchess’ Great Horn of Doom artifact, instead of his Crown of Fire, which means his Crown of Fire is still earning him an extra Prestige point every turn. Still, his cursed Horn will drain 4 Prestige from him for six turns, and my Infernal Affliction has hit Codename Duchess’ Dark Stalkers for 8 damage, granting me 6 Prestige. I really don’t understand how the Prestige rewards for Destruction rituals work, since I got the same amount for doing 1 damage to the Gates of Hell. I was hoping to get more from these. And…
… oh no. Beowulf has joined forces with Codename Duchess, becoming his Blood Vassal. That means they’ll add their Prestige together at the end of the game, and if they win Codename Duchess takes the throne with Beowulf as his lieutenant. There’s no way I’ll be able to beat them now.
I’m regent, but the two event cards I’ve drawn are both useless. I do notice that Beowulf lost a lot of Prestige when he became Blood Vassal; he’s only reading 50 Prestige now. So it’s not as big of a boost to Codename Duchess as I thought, but I still don’t think I can catch up.
I cast another Infernal Affliction at Codename Duchess’ Dark Stalkers, to see if destroying them earns me a bigger Prestige reward than I got for merely damaging them. Then I cast Demand of Supplication and make four tribute calls. I need more darkness for Deceit rituals, which will hopefully also generate more Curses of Deceit. Next turn I’ll go all out on rituals.
My personal legion has reformed. But it is so pathetically weak that it’s useless, even for a suicide run. And Beowulf has demanded me. I have nothing to fight him with, so I just pay him. My tribute cards are awful anyway. Plus someone played an event card that lowers the quality of everyone’s tribute for 6 turns, making mine even worse. But I have nothing else to do but order my minions to rummage for more scraps of tribute.
I do get the news that Beowulf has become Codename Duchess’ Blood Vassal. I hope they can defeat The Magistrate.
My Destruction ritual failed, but I thankfully captured the Garden of Infernal Delights anyway. Someone (certainly The Magistrate) attempted and failed to steal Abraxas. I must be getting very lucky on my resist rolls as I have zero bonus and I assume The Magistrate has a near-maxed Cunning attribute. My Dark Stalkers have also taken 8 points of damage from a Destruction ritual. Finally my Horn of Doom has been cursed and is draining 4 prestige a turn. The heat is really on now!
I assume The Magistrate will try to destroy the Dark Stalkers next turn with further Destruction. That gives me an idea. I attach my cursed Horn of Doom to the Dark Stalkers, so if they are destroyed, the Horn will be lost and I’ll stop draining Prestige. I also make a demand against Baleygr with plans to take his Place of Power that I’ve been eyeing all game. He assures me he will roll over.
Codename Duchess’ demand has arrived. He contacted me about this, asking me to let him capture my Black Altar of Despair to ensure that he wins instead of The Magistrate. Sounds good to me. I refuse the demand and prepare to be invaded.
The Magistrate has tried to finish off my Dark Stalkers with another destruction ritual. But it was resisted. That means my Horn continues to drain my Prestige.
The 14th token has been drawn. Since it looks like we may get another Infernal Census I move to take some empty territory with my legions. There isn’t much more I can do with my limited order slots and attributes.
My Infernal Affliction ritual missed Codename Duchess’ Dark Stalkers. At first I’m disappointed, but I soon realize I’m actually lucky: Codename Duchess has attached his cursed Great Horn of Doom to the Dark Stalkers, hoping they’d be destroyed by my Destruction rituals and he’d be rid of the Horn instead of continuing to lose Prestige. Of course, this means I can’t continue to cast my Destruction rituals at the Dark Stalkers, but I still want the triple Prestige rewards for Destruction rituals while my event is active… I guess I’ll aim them at the Gates of Hell for the time being.
I also notice that Beowulf has put Vassago in command of his legion known as the Bane of the Righteous. What was he thinking? With Vassago out in the open, I can directly target him with my Deceit rituals to steal him back! I do that with my first order slot, and cast an Infernal Affliction at Codename Duchess’ Gates of Hell with my second. With my last available ritual slot I cast Burnt Offerings for more Prestige. That leaves three order slots but no ritual slots, and I can’t ask for more tribute since I used Demand of Supplication last turn. I guess I can buy something? The Fountain of Ichor is for sale, and it would double any Prestige generated by Relics attached to the same Place of Power; I could put it on my stronghold for the boost. It also provides a small chance to generate a Curse of Diabolism any time anyone asks for tribute. It’s expensive, but I think I can afford it. I also decide to march my personal legion to capture one more canton, and to consume some souls for my public Gluttony objective. If I can consume 35 souls before the end of the game, I’ll net 30 Prestige, which will cancel the effect of Codename Duchess’ own Lust objective. I can only manage 20 souls this turn, but after another round of tribute gathering I should be able to scrape together the remaining 15 easily enough.
Baleygr has, as expected, refused my demand. I will aim to take his Place of Power. The Magistrate continues to lob Destruction at me which I manage to resist. He performs another Burnt Offerings ritual as well. I am still only 25 prestige ahead of The Magistrate. This does not take into account my Blood Vassal’s 61 prestige though.
I use my order slots to claim more unoccupied territory.
I’ve failed to steal Vassago back from Beowulf. My Infernal Affliction ritual has missed Codename Duchess’ Gates of Hell. And someone (probably that dastardly Beowulf) has cast a Looting the Vaults ritual against me, stealing four of my tribute cards. It looks like I lost some high-value multiple-resource cards, but my manuscripts appear to be intact. I also notice that Codename Duchess is marching his Dark Stalkers — who are carrying the cursed Great Horn of Doom — towards the still-neutral Pit of Tartarus, presumably as a suicide run to rid himself of the Horn. There’s nothing I can do about it now, as I’ve depleted my resources with all my spending last turn, but at least it will take him two more turns to get there. The only other good news is that my Burnt Offerings ritual was successful, netting me another 10 Prestige, and I’ve won my bid for the Fountain of Ichor.
A Conclave token was drawn this turn, bring us to 14 out of 15. With just one token left, the game could end at any time. That means I need to hurl my insult at Beowulf, to complete my secret objective to insult every opponent. He won’t have time to respond before the end. I do that, attach the Fountain of Ichor to my stronghold, and cast a Demand of Supplication followed by three tribute calls. With all the new cash, I’ll unleash another round of rituals next turn to try to scrape together as much Prestige as I can.
But there’s a problem. Now that Beowulf is Blood Vassal to Codename Duchess, it seems I’m not allowed to insult him. I check the rules and confirm this: “The Blood Vassal can no longer instigate or be targeted by diplomatic actions.” But my secret objective is still listed as incomplete, saying I have to insult Beowulf. I’m trying to do that! Some googling reveals that this is a bug, leaving my objective impossible to complete. This is really bad, because failing a secret objective means losing the Prestige instead of gaining it. So, basically, this will cost me 40 Prestige at the end of the game. I can reduce that to a cost of 20 Prestige by casting the Unholy Revelation ritual, which lets me discard a secret objective, but I don’t have enough money for it right now. I’ll have to do that next turn, wasting money, an order slot and a ritual slot on something that should never have been a problem in the first place. Curse my luck. I replace my insult order with another tribute call. Next turn, both Codename Duchess and Beowulf will feel my wrath.
Hmm, what? Is there still no new ruler of Hell yet? Bah. I send my worthless minions out again to bring whatever pathetic offerings they can.
The Conclave have made their decision. Codename Duchess is the new ruler of Hell, with that jerk Beowulf as his lieutenant. In the end, it wasn’t even close: Codename Duchess added both his and Beowulf’s Prestige together for a total of 442, whereas I trailed behind with only 287. Even if the game had let me complete my secret objective and earn another 40 Prestige, I’d still be far behind. Even if I’d had one more turn to eat more souls and get 30 Prestige for my public Gluttony objective, and cast Burnt Offerings for 10 more, I still wouldn’t have won. In fact, Codename Duchess probably could have won without taking Beowulf as a Blood Vassal, but I guess he was afraid I had a lot of secret objectives.
The game ends! It seems the Magistrate lost as much Prestige from secret objectives as he gained. My Blood Vassal, the final end-of-game Census (which I’d forgotten about!), and being lucky enough to start near the Garden of Infernal Delights to fulfill my Lust objective really put me over the edge.
Well, it’s finally over. Codename Duchess and his Blood Vassal Beowulf won, leaving me and The Magistrate in the dust. But at least The Magistrate didn’t take the throne. I’ll get him next time…
I strongly recommend against the archfiend build I used for this game. With both Master Archer and Master Swordsman to boost my legions’ combat stats, I was too reliant on getting good stats on my starting legion, especially since I took Obscure (lowering my tribute quality) to balance the cost of those perks. I was pretty sure early on that I’d lose the game, and while I was right, I am amazed I hung in so long at such a high Prestige; it was that insane territory grab early cutting the map in two. Still, I was left under-powered due to low tribute, and once The Magistrate’s Machines were unleashed, I was toast. I’ve tested some other avatar designs more thoroughly, and I’m excited for another game!
Playing as The Magistrate was so much fun. It was my first time going all in on Charisma to get as rich as possible, and I hadn’t appreciated just how powerful that can be. I felt nervous early on as others outpaced me in Prestige while I scraped together money just to pay for more money, but once I got my Charisma up to 5 and was able to cast Demand of Supplication, everything changed. I love the dynamic that ritual brings to the game, starting a cycle where I would earn huge amounts of resources one turn, and then spend it all in an avalanche of extravagance the next. A powerful dueling praetor was basically free, since I brought in manuscripts along with all the money, and it was easy to boost all my attributes to high levels for a lot of order slots and powerful rituals. This let me do quite well even though I didn’t have any Places of Power.
Although, having no Places of Power meant I was short of attachment slots at the end of the game. And I never felt like I had enough ritual slots. I think taking both Devoted Minions and Infernal Cardinal may have been overkill; with just Infernal Cardinal, I could have avoided taking Slothful, so my legions could actually move and capture a Place of Power somewhere. That would have provided a nice Prestige safety net as well as a place to attach all my Relics without clogging my ritual chamber. Even if I was dead set on not taking any Places of Power, I could have done better by getting more secret objectives (imagine earning a bunch of extra Prestige for building those Machines!) and not trying to earn Prestige through Destruction rituals, which was unreliable and not very effective. Instead, I should have used Destruction pragmatically, destroying Codename Duchess’ legions as soon as he’d eliminated Anonymoeba to hamstring his expansion.
I learned a lot about how to use powerful rituals in this game, and I feel better equipped for my future aspirations in Hell!
Well that was an embarrassing way to go! Apparently, Playing for Keeps not displaying on Codename Duchess’ archfiend page was a bug (or a really uninuitive UI feature): as I later found out, the perk was actually shown on the mini information panel in the Make Diplomatic Effort menu since turn 18 when I cast my Dark Augury ritual:
Anyway, a bit ironically, I think just not paying enough attention ended up being the key factor in Anonymoeba the Seer’s demise. The Seer perk definitely turned out to be a bit of waste, and I’m not entirely sure how it could be effectively put to use to be worth the six point investment. In conjunction with a high Deceit ritual chamber burglar, or some kind of an information broker build, perhaps.
Hilariously enough this was actually the second game in a row where a deal with Codename Duchess (or Xaklyth from the last game) ended up horribly backfiring.
To make Playing for Keeps more viable I think you really need some other attribute to back up your vendettas. I was very lucky to recover after my first failed vendetta against Beowulf. Either Martial Prowess for combat cards or Wickedness for Destruction rituals probably makes the most sense.
Without Anonymoeba’s interest in teaming up against The Magistrate — and maybe even Kivah’s sacrifice play — I would not have had the Prestige opportunities from Strongholds to stay competitive. The game was also pretty fast at 49 turns, another 10 turns and it’s possible The Magistrate’s order slots and attribute advantage would have really kicked in.
While I won, I became extremely enamored with The Magistrate’s attempt to win by playing a min/max high-power build that also expressly was not interested in conquering Pandemonium (which is the common target when min/maxing). This directly affected the avatar I played in the next game.
Something I’m still not able to judge well is how generally viable it is to still be on 2 order slots at the end of the game. For the last 2-4 turns, even though I was in the lead, I felt pretty impotent to make any moves. I was at the mercy of the turn clock and my ritual defense rolls. Having the territory advantage for the Infernal Census after taking Amoeba and Kivah’s territory is, I suspect, the only reason I was OK with only 2 order slots. 50 points from the last census is pretty significant in any game (the most Prestige I’ve seen even in a blowout 15 token game is around 450. So 50 is more than a 10% bonus).
I wouldn’t want to play a Playing for Keeps avatar again — I felt too one-note — but I’d be very interested in how the perk could effect games among people who play regularly together if it becomes common enough. Caution could really paralyze people if there was an ever-present risk of being eliminated by an early Blood Feud.
That’s the end of Infernal Medicine! We did go on to play several more games — and indeed, we are still playing some of them — full of scheming, alliances and betrayals, second-guessing and bluffing, triumphant victories and crushing defeats. But those are stories for another time.
If you enjoyed Infernal Medicine, and fancy having a go at Solium Infernum, drop me a line. I’m always happy to host more games. Until then, enjoy your time in Hell.
Solium Infernum is available directly from developers Cryptic Comet.