Apocalypse Begrudge Tempestuous – Part 5


This is Part 5 of a 5-part diary of a Solium Infernum multiplayer game. For Part 4, go here. For full context, see the contents post here.

Turn 45

Hey, guess what?

I’ve miscalculated.


It’s another almost perfect turn for me. Pandaemonium is taken, I am excommunicated, and the 5-turn victory timer starts. Pilfer Artifact on the Orb of Oblivion succeeds. Daemonic Interference on Zael succeeds. I’m even benefited by Skippy’s legion “resisting” his Infernal Juggernaut ritual again, although I feel less good about this because that was Skippy’s trump card and it looks a hell of a lot to me like he’s not getting to play it because of a bug.

But I failed to read the small print around excommunication. Being excommunicated takes you out of the normal ebb and flow of the game. Everyone can attack you with no restrictions, you can’t engage in diplomacy any more, and you can’t use the Bazaar. This I knew. What I didn’t know — or had forgotten — is that being excommunicated also stops you from being Regent, so I get skipped for start player and it goes straight to Zael.

(And the really funny part is, I made exactly the same miscalculation 14 years ago in the RPS Solium Infernum game. Nice to know that I haven’t changed much since then.)


This is all actually pretty sensible as it makes sneaky decapitation strikes much more difficult, which I think is a good thing, but it also means all of that planning around suicide bombing Skippy’s stronghold was a waste of time. Now the Hounds of Hell are extremely exposed, and Skippy can kill them quite easily with his starting legion if he chooses to move them first. I’ll try and get them out of there to a safe spot with my first action, but I’m not hopeful.

I also potentially have a problem with Peter. Zael is locked down with Daemonic Interference for at least another turn and can’t steal my stuff, but Peter’s taken the Wood of the Suicides which gives him +2 Deceit Strength. I don’t think this is the same as +2 Deceit Power, it just means that any Deceit rituals he tries on me are more likely to succeed. But he’s now at least as strong as Zael in terms of Deceit, and possibly even stronger. And I think Deceit rituals are my number one threat. Skippy can cause a lot of problems with Infernal Juggernaut if he can eventually get it to stick, but he can’t take my Stronghold unless somebody manages to steal the Black Monolith from me with Pilfer Artifact.


I can take the Wood away from him, right now. The Sons are in range. But that would mean moving them away from Pandaemonium and hoping that there’s nothing else around powerful enough to take it back in the next couple of turns

Skippy’s crap legion is lurking around there still and he could put Infernal Juggernaut + a Ranged-boosting stratagem on it and potentially win a combat in the Ranged phase – Pandaemonium currently only has 3HP after my assault and will regenerate it very slowly, so it’ll only take a few points of advantage for it to fall. But he can only use Infernal Juggernaut on one legion at a time, and he doesn’t know I’m going to move the Sons away, and if they stay where they are he can’t take it because Pandaemonium gets combat support from any adjacent legions.

(Probably, anyway. That legion has a Ranged stat of 0, which he could boost to 12 with Infernal Juggernaut and then give +8 with a Stratagem. Pandaemonium has 11 Ranged, and will get +7 as Combat Support from the Sons. That’s 20 vs 18, for 2 damage, and then his legion dies in the Melee phase.)

This is all leaving aside the potential complications of Destruction rituals. Skippy has 5 Destruction and could start throwing fireballs and stat maladies around that could upset these calculations. But I have 11 Destruction resist thanks to Evil Ward, so I think I’ll have to take the chance.

So. Move the Hounds to try and save them. Move the Sons to try and take the Wood before Peter can get any Deceit rituals off. And then Collect Tribute twice (I badly need money) and attach Praetors to Pandemonium and the Adamantine Guard.

(Another thing that feels like it’s not intended: when I stole the Adamantine Guard from Skippy, I also got the artifact he’d attached to them that means they provide their full stats as combat support to adjacent legions and strongholds. So any stat boost I give to them also goes to the other defenders. Skippy and Peter can still unpick this defence in a couple of turns if they work together, which is why I’m putting most of my faith in the Black Monolith. But I’m not going to neglect it either.)


One last piece of odd diplomatic activity: Zael has offered to vassal himself to Tom, of all people. Unsure what the play here is, and I’m starting to get the horrible feeling I might really have been tricked – I’m fairly sure that vassalisation makes all forms of victory except Power Behind The Throne impossible (this is a different relic that Zael doesn’t have), so Zael is giving up his Kingmaker victory. But he made the vassalisation offer before I took Pandaemonium. If I hadn’t attacked it at all he’d be screwed, so perhaps I wasn’t his Puppet after all.


Turn 46

Okay, the Hounds did die, but it was Peter moving a legion into their move path that did for them. Which is deeply annoying because if I’d picked a different route they’d still be alive.

Tom rejects the offer of vassalage from Zael, which is a bit mystifying. Somebody plays a Traditional Bribe event on me, which requires me to give up 25% of my tribute or… lose some prestige. Since I no longer have use for prestige, it does nothing.

A Pilfer Artifact on the Black Monolith is attempted by Peter, and fails. I’ve taken the Wood of the Suicides so the threat there is a bit lessened; if it works the same way as old Solium Infernum it’s something like a 1% chance of success even with maxed Deceit.

And it transpires that Daemonic Interference doesn’t work the way I thought it did; I thought that it’d  make an opposed check against Zael’s Prophecy resistance every turn in order to stay in play, but the reality is I only needed to pass that check once, which I did last turn. Now it stays up for as long as I’m willing to pay for it with no further obstacles, which means Zael can no longer cast any rituals and has effectively been removed from the game as far as I’m concerned since we don’t share a border. That is, frankly, ridiculous, just one of several baffling design decisions in this remake. I feel bad about it because I didn’t know it’d be this overpowered – but also I can’t exactly walk it back because it’s a key part of my plan.


I do have a problem with Skippy’s Infernal Juggernaut legion, though. He’s finally got the ritual to work, and it’s now even more powerful than the Sons. He can’t take my Stronghold (yet), and he can’t kill the Army of the Fallen in one round because they’re receiving full support from the Adamantine Guard. But he can kill the Adamantine Guard by moving around my Stronghold; it’s four hexes away but that legion has four movement thanks to Infernal Juggernaut.

So, I’m going to try and repurpose the Orb of Oblivion along with abusing the turn order a little bit. Skippy is Regent this turn, which means next turn he’ll go after me (I might not be able to be start player any more, but I still have a place in the turn order). My own starting legion is lurking around nearby. If I strap the Orb to it and move it into position next to the Adamantine Guard with my last move of the turn, then if Skippy does go for them I’ll be able to nuke them with my first move next turn.

He can just cast Infernal Juggernaut on another legion after this, of course, but I’m hoping this at least buys me some time.

Not sure what to do with the Sons. I could try and kill Peter’s legion next to the Wood of the Suicides, but if I were him I’d run away with his first move of the turn. A funnier, higher-risk option would be to move it up towards Peter’s stronghold, which it can take in 3 turns. But that would leave Pandaemonium unguarded, and if Tom goes for it, or Skippy decides to switch Infernal Juggernaut to his Hellspawn legion, it could still fall.


No, the plan has taken me this far and I won’t abandon it now. As long as I control the Wood of the Suicides it’s incredibly unlikely Peter can succeed in stealing the Black Monolith. That means the only way the other players can stop me is to retake Pandaemonium – all of the manoeuvring around my Stronghold is a distraction, albeit a valuable one as Skippy can’t reach Pandaemonium with his good legions except by walking past my Stronghold. So I’ll keep the Sons down there, and trust in my Deceit + Destruction resistance to stop anything particularly bad from happening.

Turn 47

My god, it’s like I can see the future.


Skippy moves his Infernal Juggernaut legion around and kills the Adamantine Guard, just as I predicted. My suicide bomb legion is in position next to them, and they’ll go boom next turn.

Both Skippy and Peter try Pilfer Artifact on the Black Monolith. Both of them fail. I expect they’ll be doing this every turn until they succeed, or I win. I really hope my calculation of the odds is correct and that rituals work the way I think they do (each player rolls 2d6 and adds their modifiers, highest score wins, defender wins draws), as even with 6 Deceit they’d only have a 15 in 1236 chance of stealing it.

One reason I’ve locked down Zael with Daemonic Interference is because his stronghold gives him +1 Deceit strength, making it a 35 in 1236 chance. Which sounds silly, now that I think about it. If Peter had 6 Deceit and the +2 bonus from the Wood of the Suicides, he’d have a 70 in 1236 chance. This was really all very unlikely – but if one of them levels Prophecy to 6 and hits me with a successful Daemonic Interference, I lose the +4 resist bonus from Expose Treason and Zael is suddenly freed to try it at a mere -2 disadvantage, giving him a… 330 in 1236 chance. That’s over 25%! Better hope they aren’t rushing Prophecy.


Peter attacks my other legion next to the stronghold, the Army of the Fallen. They don’t die immediately but they won’t survive a second attack, and I won’t be able to reinforce them in time.  My defences have collapsed faster than I anticipated and it’s clear to me that without the Black Monolith I’d already be dead; I don’t see how anyone really pulls off a successful Pandaemonium play without it.

He also attacks the Wood of the Suicides, which is currently receiving combat support from the Sons of Typhon. His attacking legion dies, messily. That frees the Sons to move back to support Pandaemonium.

The Bazaar is open again now, so they’re all potentially free to buy new things that’ll mess my plans up. But as long as I have the Black Monolith the stronghold is invincible, and I don’t think they can get anything strong to Pandaemonium in time to take it.

Just three more turns.


Turn 48

Oh fuck.

My blood runs cold when I see somebody has played this Aetheric Clot event. All Rituals cancelled! No more can be performed for 3 turns! That means my Deceit + Destruction resist rituals are cancelled, and Zael is free from my Daemonic Interference. Disaster!

But then I reassert myself. No rituals for 3 turns? From anyone? That means they can’t Pilfer Artifact any more. How do they plan to win?


It must be something from the reopened Bazaar. Sure enough, Peter has bought this artifact, the Broken Oath Sword. It has the Dismissal ability, which returns opposing attachments to their owner’s vault if any Melee damage is inflicted. This means that all he has to do is attach this thing to one of his legions with a higher melee stat than my stronghold and run it in, which will detach the Black Monolith in the melee phase, and then the stronghold will die in the infernal phase. The Aetheric Clot was so that I can’t use rituals to fuck with his legions while he does this.

I’m dead.


Well, unless he’s stupid enough to run his good legion in first, in which case a little prep work I did last turn will mess him up: this stratagem card gives my stronghold a big ranged boost, and his legion is weak to ranged. If he does run it in first, it’ll die.


But unfortunately he also has a second nearby legion, the amusingly-named 10,000 Screaming Bastards, which is a joke unit with equally funny stats. We laughed about this at the time, and I expressed doubt that it was useful in any way unless the 3 movement stat could be leveraged somehow. Well, they’re exactly 3 hexes away from my stronghold. If he suicides them into it he’ll burn the stratagem card in that combat, and then his good legion will be free to kill it.

There is literally nothing I can do about this. I don’t have access to rituals. I don’t have access to the Bazaar. I can’t attach anything else to the stronghold. The Army of the Fallen was killed last turn, and I suicided my starting legion into Skippy’s. My only remaining legion is the Sons of Typhon, and they’re down by Pandaemonium.

Hindsight is a fine thing. I shouldn’t have just sat on my ass and assumed the stronghold was invincible short of a successful Pilfer Artifact. I should have kept them distracted. I should have moved the Sons up towards Peter’s stronghold two turns ago. If I’d done that I’d be able to kill him this turn before he killed me.

I can’t believe I’m about to be killed by irony.


Turn 49

But not for another turn. I can only assume Peter is just as paranoid as I am, because he’s spent a turn reshuffling his forces instead of attacking. Maybe he’s worried about what happens after I’m dead.

He’s 26 points ahead of Skippy, and I don’t know how elections work in this version of the game – the encyclopedia says it takes between 5 and 13 turns, so the game will go until turn 55 at least, giving Skippy time to catch him. But if it ever looks like Peter is going to win, Skippy can just do what I did and take Pandaemonium with an Infernal Juggernaut legion. Or excommunicate himself and blow up Peter’s stronghold. All of Peter’s legions are in range of my stronghold now, but they’re also coincidentally blocking any advance from Skippy (not that they’d be much more than a speedbump). I can’t think of another reason to delay this by another turn.


I’ve stuck a bunch of strategem cards to Pandaemonium to poison it a bit in the hope that they’ll persist after I’m dead (as other PoP attachments have done after structures have reverted to neutral). And as one last kick in the shin, I’m also going to try to move the Sons to get Skippy’s legion near Pandaemonium. With no other legions or rituals available that’s all the agency I have left in this game. There’s nothing else to do.

Turn 50

Uh. Okay.


I am speechless when I see the turn notification pop up in Steam during a game of Mechabellum. Usually it says “New turn”, but this time it says “Game finished”. There is only one way that the game could have finished on turn 50: I have won.

But I have no idea how.

After reviewing the turn, and going over it in depth with the other players, I still have no idea how.


Skippy’s legion attacked my stronghold first to burn its stratagem card. They won the combat, reducing the stronghold’s HP to zero. Because it still has the Black Monolith attached to it, Skippy did not capture the stronghold, and its HP was reset to 1.


Peter then attacked with his Broken Oath Sword legion. He’s been boosting it with manuscripts so it has a frankly disgusting statline of 4-26-12 (it would have given the Sons a run for their money), against the stronghold’s 5-6-2.

What should happen here is that the stronghold wins the Ranged round, inflicting 1 damage to the legion; the legion then wins the Melee round, inflicting twenty melee damage to the stronghold and detaching the Black Monolith. Peter wins the combat, captures the stronghold, and I die.

What actually happens, though, is that the stronghold wins the Ranged round, inflicts 1 damage to Peter’s legion… and then the combat ends. There is no Melee round, the Broken Oath Sword doesn’t get a chance to detach the Black Monolith, and the stronghold remains in my hands.

And because turn 49 was the fifth of the five turns I needed to hold Pandaemonium for, I survive the turn and win the game at the start of turn 50.


I probably shouldn’t be complaining too much here, but this is a very unsatisfying way to win. There has been a lot of inadvertent discovery of counterintuitive mechanics and obscure edge cases during this multiplayer game, mostly by Skippy. For all of them, though, we eventually managed to find something buried in the encyclopaedia that explained it, or the actual interaction between two artifacts became somewhat apparent in hindsight.

Here, though, there’s nothing in the rules or the tooltips or anything that even gives a hint as to why the climactic battle finished without proceeding to the Melee round. Everything in the game up until this point, and everything in the encyclopaedia, says that Peter should have won and I should be dead. That I am not looks an awful lot like a bug rather than an intended game mechanic. (I even submitted a bug report about it in the hope that the developers can at least tell me what on earth happened.)

Now, there is another part of me that thinks that if Peter hadn’t delayed for the extra turn and had instead sent the 10,000 Screaming Bastards into my stronghold on turn 48, he would have at least had one last turn as a buffer in case anything did go wrong with this crucial play. Skippy and Peter left zero room for getting screwed by the game like this, and paid the price.

But then they shouldn’t have had to. The fun of a game like Solium Infernum is trying to predict what the other players will do, not trying to predict how basic game mechanics will work. The remake has gone to great lengths to remove a lot of the RNG from the game – most mechanics in the original relied on dice rolls to some degree, which have been almost completely excised from the game outside of rituals — and so it’s absurd that I can be in the position of winning a game without having a clue how I did it.


Ah, well. Everyone else might have spent the entire game stepping on landmines, but I had a wonderful time planning, plotting and scheming. I’m also vindicated by the discovery that my move on Pandaemonium was the correct play: Zael did pick me as his Kingmaker puppet, although he told the other players that he’d picked Tom. The final turn was a bit of an anticlimax and it doesn’t feel like a real victory, but I used literally everything I had to get where I was and while there were a few key misplays I don’t think I could have executed on my overall gameplan much better than I did. So if you delete the last turn from the record, I’m actually pretty happy with it.

I’ll type up some final thoughts about the remake as a whole as a quasi-review later; for now, this is where I’ll leave it: with Mammon somewhat undeservedly being crowned the Lord of Hell.

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