Saturday, October 22, 2011

Late Heavy Bombardment: Turns 1 - 10
As I said in the above linked post, my highest priority at the very beginning was a relic, Faust's Contract. I focused heavily on acquiring it in the early turns, to the extent of spending all three of my order slots in turn 1 demanding tribute. Turn 2, I demanded twice and consolidated towards paying for it. Everyone knows that when you take Obscure, you'll get less resources per demand, so you'll have to spend less or demand more. A consequence that I didn't appreciate at first, is having to consolidate more often because with lower average resources per card, you can't fit as much tribute into those 8 tribute slots.

Some players moved their legions around early. Some didn't. Those who don't, I assume they're also gathering a lot of tribute. I had enough resources by turn 3 to bid on Faust's Contract, and I overbid on it intentionally because I believed Madame Pele also had significant resources and was likely also interested.

Both of the praetor single combat manuscripts that I noted got bought from the bazaar almost immediately, so someone (or ones) are pursuing praetor combat and therefore prestige. The more strongly they commit to it, the less incentive I have to compete with them for a prestige win. It's too early to be sure, but it seems like the majority of my rivals will focus on prestige to the detriment of their stats. If that's the game, I'd rather take my chances on the usurper niche.

So on turn 4, I'm assigning Faust's Contract to my Ritual Chamber, and someone else has just bought the Finger of Betrayal. Someone else is interested in succeeding on Deception rolls. I wasn't too interested since I already had Prince of Lies. There are definitely times when I'd appreciate as many bonuses to my Deception roll as possible, but right now I don't know that I'd need it. I would like to know who else is playing Deception and what their Cunning stat is at. At the same time, I get a message from Madame Pele: "Stop that." So it seems like someone else has used Deception on Pele, who wrongly assumes it was me. It's also possible that Pele is just talking nonsense to mix it up or throw me off.

When those two relics got purchased simultaneously, they got replaced. The Bowl of Abject Darkness appears. Nice, but not spectacular. Also, the Puzzle Cube. That's a game changer. The ability to Gate around the map makes every PoP and stronghold reachable. Whoever has it is a great danger to the rest of us. This could easily lead to one of those situations where it's up to the rest of the game to unite against this one player, or that player will run away with the game. I want it. I've just spent my darkness. The cube sells immediately, before I can save up for it. It has a secondary effect, +2 Healing Rate. If I notice anyone healing particularly fast, I'll be appropriately suspicious.

Goblet of the Traitor appears on the Bazaar at this point. This looks to be a game with lots of praetor combat action, and unless I secure some significant foothold within it now, the prestige game is steadily slipping out of my reach. I have a +2 prestige and a +3 prestige PoP immediately to my north, but that means they're strong. I can't get my bodyguard up there, around the mountains, and I can't afford another strong legion. I decide right now to divert my attention and resources away from prestige. I demand a lot, in pursuit of increasing my stats, particularly charisma.

Dorobou meanders around the mountains in between our territories. That's curious. He can't claim them, and I don't see why he would want to cross them, except to fight me. By turn 7, Purcarp has established his borders with Pandemonium inside them. Gotta keep an eye on that one. Dorobou winds up mountainwalking to my south to take the Vaults of Avarice, which Primate of Carceri had so kindly softened up for him, in his own failed assault on it.

The first Event Card I draw is Neutralize Schemers, which can reveal and remove the Power Behind the Throne perk from a player. That's completely irrelevant unless someone takes a Blood Vassal, and pretty pointless unless I'm the Blood Lord. I want Power Behind the Throne to be viable, but I'm not seeing it. I certainly don't anticipate having a Blood Vassal in this game. I draw Evil Revanchism Target to replace it. That, I'll hold onto until someone borders me. It reassigns control of random border hexes from a player of my choosing to a player of my choosing.

So by turn 10, I have Charisma 4 with Faust's Contract, for a total of 5 Diabolism. I have Cunning 4, for a third order slot. My economy is healthy, and I'm planning what to do next. I believe that Intellect is the most convenient stat to increase in-game for an additional order slot, so I want to pursue that. I have 13 souls, 6 hellfire, and 11 darkness right now. That's enough to increase my Intellect from zero to one and from one to two on this turn and the next. If I keep up demanding while I do that, I may be able to increase it once per turn until it gets to 4, where I unlock another order slot. To do that, I'd need to acquire 13 souls, 8 hellfire, and 3 darkness in 6 "demand resources" actions. It's certainly possible.

The last thing I have to do in these first ten turns is to set my threat order list. Pele and Primate of Carceri are on top already, and they have the most unaccounted points in their avatars. I can't be sure, but I think that makes them most likely to have the most charisma, so I'll leave them at the top of my list. The rest of the list is unfortunately largely irrelevant. The 3rd slot is somewhat easier to attack than the 5th slot, but I don't really want to attack anyone below 2nd with my rituals. I'd rather rearrange the list first if I want to fight any of them.

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