Saturday, October 22, 2011

Late Heavy Bombardment: The Initial Situation

So we have common Places of Power, but none of them generated with any special abilities. That's unusual. The PoP's are therefore just for prestige and strategic position in this game. I have two tempting PoP's immediately to my north, but I can't get there right now. I'm slothful. Normal players get to move through their own stronghold, because they can continue moving past it in a single turn. I can only move one canton at a time, so I need an unobstructed path to get anywhere. I don't have one. I will most likely not pursue a prestige victory anyway. In that sense, it's rather convenient that I can't invest order slots to reach those PoP's, because now it doesn't look suspicious when I don't. I could go southwards towards the Vaults of Avarice, or a couple other PoP's, but they are so far away and I'm so slow.

In the short term, I'll pursue a different set of opportunities altogether. The bazaar holds some really fun goodies. Faust's Contract is available. This item is a high priority for me. It improves tribute gathering, which is central to the whole game through generating resources. Having it would give me the potential for Diabolism 7 (keep 5) which is not reachable through charisma alone. It also improves diplomatic position by a point, but that's just icing on the tribute cake. It does get me thinking, though. If I don't get to buy it, I'll want to know who did so that I can use Looting the Vaults more on that target, maybe eventually Dark Augury to see it in the Ritual Chamber and steal it. I record my diplomatic options relative to everyone else. If I do miss out on Faust's Contract, I'm going to see if any of these options change shortly thereafter. That would indicate a rival messing with diplomatic rank.

Also worth buying if I get a good chance: Veil of Smoke and Bleeding Wound are each available. Each is a worthwhile praetor combat move, and each is a single volume manuscript. If a single player gets them both, then they can both get trained onto the same praetor with a single order slot. Unfortunately, praetor combat is really only relevant to prestige wins, and I'm already leaning away from that. Infernal Engine is available. It provides a moderate buff to each of the attached legion's combat stats, and it makes capturing PoP's (including Pandemonium) much easier by doubling the damage. Lords of the Pit have flying 3.

As is often the case, my highest priority at the start of the game is a relic, so I heavily favor souls and darkness in my tribute choices. I got a lot of ichor offered to me. In the screenshot, I have to choose between a 1-darkness and a 1-soul card. I choose darkness. Souls come up somewhat more often than darkness, so it makes sense to take this darkness now, while I have the chance.


  1. Of all the times I've played slothful I never really noticed the added disadvantage of not being able to move through ones own stronghold, but your right that is a real issue.

    Also, great call checking the demand values to determine who bought Faust's Contract. I wouldn't have thought of that until too late. I suppose its all good to load up an old save state and compare the demand values that way. Of course the buyer would have to assign the relic to a ritual slot first for any apparent effect, and that might take a few turns depending on how many order slots he has to spare. I am to assume that the +1 in rank does not show up on their avatar screen as an actual increase in rank (in other words the bonus is invisible).

    Veil of smoke is one of my favorite combat moves. I think the power of it is well worth the cost, and the fact that it is available in a single volume manuscript makes it a quick killer. It is useful for praetors who have three orbs to spare, but would not normally use orbs at all in combat. It has been my experience that this situation comes up often. It is certainly better then the default 3 orb combat move (infernal burst?). Crippling strike is not quite as useful, but again a single volume manuscript, and there is no downside to using it places where you were going to do a regular attack anyway. It allows you to save an order slot by buying them both and assigning them together. It looks like someone is going to have a nice praetor early in the game. I might consider in your case doing the praetor thing to discourage people from denying your diplomatic demands. You might find that you can generate modest income from those you outrank if you make it plainly clear that you dominate in single combat. Also, they might still think you are pursuing a prestige win, there could be marginal value in that as well. Does it justify burning an order slot that could be used for a demand? Perhaps if you are looking to get blood feuds on everybody.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts. It saves me the trouble of extracting them from your mind manually. I'm not sure what you mean about blood feud, though. Single combat vendettas don't count towards it.

    I feel that there is huge value in appearing to pursue prestige when you aren't, and some (but less) in appearing not to pursue prestige when you are. A little later in this game, I "waste" some significant resources in just such an attempt to mislead my rivals. I guess we'd have to ask each of them if it worked.

  3. Yeah, forgot about single combat vendettas.

    When there are six players it absolutely makes sense appear to be less of a threat. If it appears that you are struggling in the prestige game opponents will choose one of the four other targets to attack. Later there are diminishing returns to this. If for instance two players are knocked out then you probably can't avoid getting targeted. Also, players familiar with the game are going to know that your only option will be a Pandemonium win and should expect that from you.

    Its funny the contrast this game has with games like Civ. In Civ I would target the weaker players because they were softer targets. Successfully attacking players in Civ had the potential to make you stronger in the long run by stealing their resources. In SI, assuming you have no POPs your opponents don't gain anything extra from you then they would gain from an opponent who appears to be a bigger threat. It just makes more sense to attack an opponent with a seemingly better chance to win the game. Stomping on someone with no prestige income seems like a waste of time. Although allowing them to continue to gather strength does force them into the role as usurper, and it seems insane that the community hasn't grasped this yet.