And I start getting Looted. Turn 11 opens with someone Looting my Vaults for 6 cards. Fortunately, I don't presently have any big consolidated cards for the thief to steal. I still haven't begun my own Looting. I've needed my darkness for Faust's Contract and increasing charisma. I guess I could have used it for Looting, but I have so far chosen to demand resources in the order slots where I would have Looted. Demanding is a guaranteed income, without cost. The big advantage to Looting is that not only does it help you, it hurts your target. At this stage, I'm not so worried about any one rival to prioritize hurting them over helping myself.
We get our first conclave token on turn 12, one turn after I mentioned the lack thereof in the chat log. My bad. I continue increasing my Intellect. I'm mostly after that order slot, but the ritual slots are nice, and I may want to maintain Demonic Premonitions at some point. I feel that it's unlikely to save me more resources from failed Lootings than it costs, but its effects are not that simple. It may be best utilized when its use and its strength are known to the Deception player, to encourage him to rearrange his threat list because you aren't worth targeting. In that case, it need not be maintained for long. If you're clever enough, you may not actually need to cast it at all.
I acquire three pieces of the four piece manuscript for Machine of Omens by turn 13. I hope those don't get Looted away from me. I'd love to use a Machine or two in the endgame *ominous foreshadowing music*.
All told, during this stretch of turns, I Loot 4 times for a total of 16 cards (including a "successful" Looting on Pele for 0) and get Looted 4 times for a total of 18 cards. I don't know who is Looting me, but the nature of the threat order list (which I rearranged questionably on turn 15) means that all of my Lootings are aimed at Pele or Dorobou.
Bowl of Abject Darkness, Tongue of the Liar, and Finger of Betrayal all got purchased, but none of them got assigned to strongholds or PoP's. Drat. I was hoping to steal some of those. It looks like someone will be immune to Machines, and at least one of my rivals is committing to Deception. The Puzzle Cube is clearly best hidden away in a ritual slot, but its use reveals its presence. So around this time, everyone knows that Pele has it. It's a higher priority than any of those other relics. Faust's Contract is great to get early and use continuously, but the Cube is fantastic to have late in the game and use a handful of times to devastating effect.
I declare in the chat log that I have plans for the PoP's to my immediate north and that I'll put up a fight if anyone else should try to claim them. I do actually think this is a perfectly reasonable sentiment. Their proximity to my stronghold put them within my purview from the very beginning. To deny me these sources of prestige would be to exclude me from the prestige game, leaving me no alternative but to attempt usurpation. Still, some of my rivals react incredulously, as though the PoP's present neutrality voids my claim upon them.
I buy the Lords of the Pit to attack these PoP's, and because their flying is unaffected by my slothful trait. Pele reaches and claims The City of Dis to my northwest thanks to that Puzzle Cube and Dorobou captures the Temple of the Damned to my northeast. That's ok. My real purpose has already been served. I wanted to give the impression that I still cared about prestige, when I've actually committed to improving my stats and eventually going rogue. Buying the Lords of the Pit was a valid component of that strategy, but using order slots to take a PoP would be kind of a waste. Hopefully, I'll successfully misrepresent my intentions when I do that. It's also a good excuse to Pilfer, Coerce and Bribe the Infernal Engine away from Primate of Carceri. I need the Engine to defeat the Temple's garrison, and I believe I'm less likely to incur that Primate's wrath if it appears that I took his artifact for need instead of greed.
I deny a demand from Pele, who declares vendetta. I lose my bodyguard legion to Infernal Affliction and lose one of my few cantons to Pele's invasion. I'm dangerously close to having nothing but my stronghold. If I reach that pitiful position, anyone could declare Blood Feud and kill me. Pele offers to be my Blood Lord around this point. I am glad to see so many players proactively seeking Blood Vassalage. Perhaps Power Behind the Throne is more viable than I thought. I don't think I need Pele's patronage to survive, so I deny the offer rather rudely. In retrospect, I don't think I had much to lose by accepting. Sending the petition would have cost me an order slot, but I could still go rogue as a Blood Vassal, and the entire diplomatic landscape would have shifted. I can't say how that would have played out.
This section concludes with Pele and me each demanding on Dorbou on turn 20 by sheer coincidence. I suppose that's what Dorobou gets for being the leader in visible prestige.