Mark Goes to Hell - Solium Infernum Game Report, Part III
By MARK WILSON
The Swarm (Host)
Don Quixote V
I have a weird plan. I bought a relic called The Cartographer’s Table, and it lets me change terrain on the map. For example, making plains into a river.
I’m hoping to make the terrain around Pandemonium unpassable.
I’m not 100% sure I can do this, or what it will cost me. Also, no terrain is technically “impassable” in the game, but many terrain types require flight to bypass them, or a particular movement skill for a legion. These are rare, so it’s going to be much harder for them to take Pandemonium.
At least I hope.
I have a commanding prestige lead, so I think getting eliminated or someone else taking Pandemonium should be my concern. I’m not trying to win more prestige than what I’m already generating each turn. Everything is about hindering others.
I’m going to have to fortify my stronghold better eventually as well, so I’ll probably invest in some legions.
Turn 33 – The War with Black Coffee
I had a chance to take out Black Coffee, who seemed nonchalant about allowing me to open two vendettas against him.
Or rather, I had a chance to take all of his remaining Cantons, which would have allowed us to go for his stronghold.
I knew he had a lot higher Martial skill, allowing him to make really powerful combat cards. I thought myself clever in playing an event that blocked the use of combat cards for 3-6 rounds, and immediately attacked his legions after doing so. I had him beat on stats minus the cards, so I couldn’t lose…right?
Of course not. He took the turn in which I played the event to cast a ritual on one of his legions that turned it into a fearsome “juggernaut.” My legions crashed against its banks like so many weak-willed waves, dying instantly.
I actually managed to win that vendetta by taking out some legions with Destruction rituals, but it was a hollow victory.
But now we know he has Martial 6, and access to the Juggernaut ritual. He is still laying in wait, but it’s pretty clear that he has us lapped in power. We’re going to have to get creative to prevent him from taking over.
Spent licking my wounds after the battles with Black Coffee. I’m trying to build up resources again to be able to “Hell Sculpt” (per my earlier idea) and reinforce my stronghold.
There was also a call to a crusade against Heaven, and I lacked the means to send a legion. So, presuming all goes well (it doesn’t always), in 6-7 Turns everyone’s going to get a significantly upgraded legion…except me.
My still-formidable prestige lead is looking less useful now. I don’t think I was far from having a much stronger position at this point, but because of those few bad beats, I don’t have nearly the infrastructure I’ll need to defend myself. The game’s rigid structure (and the fact that the others still see Black Coffee as the main threat) means I still have a window in which to work, but I can see my long-term chances dwindling with each Turn.
The Swarm took out Don Quixote! Like, entirely. I caught onto their war late, since I was so focused on Black Coffee.
The Swarm is closing the distance between us on prestige. I can’t stop the focus on Black Coffee, but will need to deal with the Swarm if we survive.
I open these turns in another vendetta with Black Coffee. The plan is to nuke his flying legions with Destruction rituals while surrounding Pandemonium with mountains (per my earlier terraforming strategy), which will limit his options.
He may still decide to excommunicate and kill us individually, but that will be the harder route.
But first, I need to kill his flyers.
Change of Plans at Desperate Last Steps
Black Coffee hit us with a Machine that killed my ability to cast Rituals at the pace I needed to enact my plans. So his flyers remain alive and I haven’t surrounded Pandemonium with mountains.
All is lost…right?!
Well, probably. But I see a small window of opportunity. See, I’ve been trying to win via prestige. That likely isn’t going to materialize. And while Black Coffee is more powerful than me, his stronghold is technically still vulnerable if I muster a strong enough legion against it.
So I’m moving my toughest legion (the newly purchased Creeping Doom), sticking some combat cards on them to boost their stats, and hoping to slip through to his capital (which still has an open path to it).
I’m going to send a Destruction Ritual at Pandemonium, excommunicating myself. I have no hope of taking Pandemonium, but I might manage some quick strikes against every other fiend, giving me the win.
There’s about 100 ways this could go wrong, most of them involving Black Coffee seeing this coming or just moving one of his legions into my path so that I have to get through multiple fights to take him out.
My other possible route is to hope we can delay Black Coffee enough to win via prestige, but that seems like it has – by far – the longer odds.
Not that this final plan has much chance either. I’d give it about a 3% chance of working. But that’s better than 0%.
There are two ways I could attempt the surprise assault on Black Coffee. One involves two of my legions, and has a slightly better chance of working. The other involves only one legion, has almost no chance of working, but would also allow me to blindside The Swarm and take him out on Turn 45.
I worry that even if I take Black Coffee out, the two rounds it would take me to get back to The Swarm’s stronghold will be enough for him to defend against me. In other words, I’d probably be handing him the win.
I don’t have a ton of resources to begin with, so every Combat Card I make or Ritual I cast is a bit less to work with on subsequent turns. If I can’t take both BC and The Swarm out quickly, I’m doomed.
But I’m also doomed if I can’t take out BC in the first place.
I decide to commit two legions to Black Coffee. The Swarm is a problem for a day that may not come. I still only give myself about a 15% chance of taking out BC, but it feels marginally better than the 3% chance I gave myself a bit earlier.
Time to take the plunge.
Doom came to Arthemys in a somewhat-expected manner.
To be clear, I’m not eliminated. But functionally speaking, I’m out of the running.
My assault on Black Coffee took out exactly one legion of his. The rest required a combination of things to go just right. When one domino fell, the rest came tumbling down, leaving me with nothing left.
In retrospect, I had anticipated BC usurping Pandemonium by now. He’s been very, very cautious. So I could have waited and probably bolstered more, but then he would have been able to solidify his power more as well.
The better plan probably would have been to attack 5-10 turns ago, before he got the Juggernaut ritual. A surprise attack may have worked then, but he had too many options to counter me by now.
The other disappointment is that I haven’t been able to complete my wall around Pandemonium, and it cost me a TON of resources to terraform everything I’ve done so far. It’s been fun, but ultimately just a delaying tactic. Those resources could have gone to other ends. Hell, I may have been able to get to Martial 6 and compete with BC in physical might with some high-level rituals.
So I may be a minor nuisance from here on out, but probably can’t do much but wait for the end.
Black Coffee put me out of my misery soon after. I actually thought I could survive for a while with how much I had protected my stronghold with powerful combat cards, but he pushed just enough resources into a ritually-enhanced legion to give him the edge.
Just as well. I might have been a small thorn in his side, but ultimately lost the war, and am just as happy for the final nail to be driven into the coffin.
An to wrap up the game as a whole, Black Coffee steamrolled following my exit. He took over Pandemonium a couple turns later, while eliminating Spargelzeit. The Swarm stuck around longest, but ultimately couldn’t accomplish much against BC’s might.
We needed a more powerful foil to Black Coffee once it was clear he was amassing long-term power. Our competing strategies, which pitted us against one another just a bit too often, combined with the bad beats received (most notably, from the Legion from Heaven, which hit all of us) put us too far behind.
- My early and mid-game prestige lead, which I had to fight for. If we hadn’t all had our starting legions wiped out early, I think this could have been a game won by prestige. Instead, it left us all weak and having to react to Black Coffee’s growing power. However, I was the front-runner for the prestige win.
- I was active the whole game, trying to dictate the flow of things. It felt good. Learning the ebbs and flows of the game is likely a longer-term skill, but I was able to set and achieve numerous goals. In such a cutthroat game, that’s far from nothing.
- I had a really powerful praetor and was never able to unleash him in a duel. Not for lack of trying, mind you, so I don’t really blame myself here. But it was a prestige avenue that, frustratingly, I never got to pursue, and I probably should have put those resources to boosting my fiend.
- The Cartographer’s Table was interesting and allowed me some really oblique possibilities due to terraforming. I like it. But it was also expensive af to use repeatedly. I think I was close to an effective strategy with it, but the full fruits of my ideas never quite materialized. Which meant that I wasted a lot of resources. I still think it’s a worthwhile relic to own, but I would be much more discerning in its use in the future.
- My timing on trying to surprise Black Coffee was terrible. I don’t think the concept of trying to dive bomb him was bad, but it was poorly executed. I became worried that a perfect time for it would never come, so I instead settled for an arbitrary, bad time to do it.
There were a lot of good things I can take away from this game, despite the disappointment of falling short. I was the runaway prestige leader for much of it (until I excommunicated, not even The Swarm had pulled terribly close) and I was the “bully” through most of the game, even winning some vendettas against Black Coffee. Those are advantages that can be parlayed into success in the right environment.
Alas, not this time. So until the next one…”To Reign is Worth Ambition.”