During the first ten turns or so we had no real idea how to play the game. Entering the double digit turns we began to grasp how the game was played, some more than others (Ha, ha, I read the manual fools!). Though my increased knowledge did little to help me gain prestige or slow Simon’s meteoric rise to the top. However, after ten turns of scraping and scrimping I was finally ready to make use of my praetor and thanks to reading the manual I had a solid idea of how to go about doing so.
Turn 11 began with me chuckling fiendishly to myself about how I was going to attach that sweet life stealing scythe to my praetor and use her to fuck every other player. I was slightly nonplussed when I couldnt figure out how to attach it to her. My nonplussment gave way to tragic disappointment as a quick look at the manual revealed that artifacts attach to legions and places not to praetors. Devastation. So that means the only thing I could attach the scythe to was my shitty respawned legion, who had been greatly weakened by their earlier death (the pussies).
I wasnt yet ready to but my praetor plan into action so in Turn 11 I concentrated on buffing her up a bit by training her with a manuscript I’d picked up earlier in the game. Hopefully these additional techniques would enable her to claw her way to victory in the inevitable single combat’s to come. This turn also saw the first bit of diplomatic maneuvering in the game as Sean (I refuse to type Rainbow Dash again) levies his extortionate demands against Shax (at this point both Sean and I had fallen for Simon’s sweet lies about how Shax was the biggest threat, both of us failing to realise the significane of Simon conquering Place of Power after Place of Power).
I was going to end Turn 12 with yet another tedious round of tribute raising (why oh why did I start with Charisma 1) when I happened to spy this little beauty in the bazaar. An extra order slot is powerful for anyone but for a veritable attribute cripple like me it was near essential. Unfortunately I didnt have quite enough tribute to be able to bid on it, so I ended Turn 12 with two demands of tribute and the fervent hope that none of the other players or AI would notice it. None of them did and in Turn 13 I put in my bid.
Ha, ha the fools! It was mine, all mine! Hey…wait a second…wheres my extra fucking order slot you bastards? What? I have to get the artifact into play by attaching it to a building or a ritual slot? Well fuck you very much.
Still, it was only a slight delay between me and three order slot glory. I was ready to try out my cunning plan to climb the prestige ranks. The basic idea was this. Using the diplomatic system you can demand of another player for resources, this costs you prestige. The other player can acquiesce to your demand, which gives you back your prestige and the demanded resources. The player can also refuse, which means your prestige is wasted. But, you gain the opportunity to declare Vendetta. The benefit of being the one to declare a vendetta is that you get to pick the terms. In this game you can only directly affect another player in three situations, if you have Vendetta or Blood Feud against them or if they’re Excommunicated.You can set various terms for the Vendetta, but the only one I was interested in was the “Vendetta by Single Combat”, here your opponent pick praetors to fight one another as your champions. My plan of course being to use my relatively beefy praetor to steamroll over people.
When you declare your Vendetta you use prestige to set a wager, if you win you gain double this wager. Though, as it was pointed out to me, you are only gaining back X prestige where X is equal to the wager. And as you have to pay the price of the demand it just occurred to me that this is a pretty shitty way to earn prestige. Of course I do have a saucy little perk called “Arena Gambler” that is supposed to give me back double the prestige from winning single combat. But it appears to be bugged as I have yet to gain the benefit. Actually no-one showed up to either duel maybe that’s why it didn’t kick in.
Anyhow, to summarise, the plan was to made massive demands of Shax, have him refuse, declare Vendetta by single-combat and use Naphula to fuck him up.
Well my vendetta is off to be ratified by the conclave. I’ll find out how Shax responds to it next turn. Oh someone’s bought some fancy artifact, wonder who that was (it later turns out to be Simon – Prince of Evil). Didn’t do anything exciting in Turn 15, moved my troops, demanded some tribute. Exciting stuff.
Oh Shaxy, Shaxy, Shaxy. You gave that fucker Sean his cards but you dared to refuse my gracious demands? Good on you. Now vengeance will be mine!
After you decide to initiate a vendetta you get to choose the parameters of the vendetta i.e. the wager. As I mentioned above my goal was to get Shax into single combat and so that’s what I went for. I wagered the maximum amount of prestige I could in an attempt to make myself relevant in ye olde prestige stakes.
Turn 17, another turn, another place of power seized by that fucker Simon. I get the feeling trying to pry these back later in the game will be a bit of a bastard. Last turn I thought I should try and explore other prestige generating avenues and decided to draw a secret objective. I will never complete that objective. More promisingly I now have the option to select the praetor I want to meet Shax’s champion in single combat. Shockingly I decided to go with Naphula.
The system for single combat is significantly more involved than normal combat, consisting of setting up a series of six commands which revolve in a vaguely rock, paper, scissors style. You have four basic moves, melee attack (to which you assign skulls), melee block (to which you assign shields and which absorbs skulls), guarded attack (a mixture of attack and defence) and infernal burst (powered by orbs and blocked by nothing). You can also train you praetor with special moves learned from manuscripts. This was probably the turn I spent the longest thinking about, I set and reset these quite options far too many times. This doesn’t consume an order so for my actual orders I just scrounged up more tribute and moved my mighty (a lie) legion some more.
Everyone’s gone hog wild on the old diplomatic actions. It’s here that you miss not having six human players as the potential for alliance and betrayal are fairly limited with just three people. Though it is not of course absent, as can be seen by the fact that some fucker has just stopped us all receiving tribute i.e. the lifeblood of the game for three fucking turns (later on a kitchen based revelation showed that it was Sean who had wreaked this havoc upon us). As I was still waiting for my critical single combat to occur I just dicked around with the bazaar and moving troops, oh and telling that bitch Moloch to give me some tribute, or else!
Lot’s of conclave action on the go. But much more importantly, Shax wasn’t even demon enough to send one of his boys out to fight. No sweeter kind of win than by default. Huh, that’s weird, I thought I should have got more prestige? As I mentioned above I was counting on my “Arena Gambler” (Double prestige from single combat) perk to kick in and help me rake in the dosh as single combat isn’t a great prestige engine. Sadly that didn’t seem to happen to for all the hassle involved I only earned a handful of prestige. Still, it felt good. Which is important…I suppose.
I went a bit demand crazy at the end of Turn 19, the results of which can be seen here. I finally decided to kick off the pure human vs human conflict by making a demand on Simon (Haruspicus), as well as against the AI Shax. Simon and Sean were also flinging demands around willy nilly. That sucker Moloch refused my demand so it was time to declare another single combat vendetta. Maybe someone would actually show up to face Naphula’s terrible wrath. Luckily the Hellmouth was open again so sweet sweet tribute was flowing in. I ended Turn 20 with resource demands a little bit of shopping in the demonic bazaar. Blissfully unaware of the chaos the mid twenties would bring.
Well, thanks to Sean’s event bastardry the diplomatic elements of the game really kicked off. I’m unclear of how useful the Insult option is, I cant really see how Demand isn’t always superior (as if refused it allows you to set the Vendetta which is the dominant position). At this point I think the big mistake myself and Sean made (apart from foolishly getting our legions butchered) was not to race to get places of power. Simon controls the most places of power and his prestige position seems pretty dominant with no real way for anyone to drain his prestige or radically alter their own. Well, that’s actually not true, there are some rather nasty “solutions” available. But will they be employed? We’ll see.