I’ve made one tiny miscalculation.
The wait between turns is excruciating when you’re trying to pull off the most audacious play in the entire game. Since it’s going to be another day or two before I find out if it succeeded or failed, I try to get a better idea of my chances by reading the rules on Excommunication in the manual. This is what it says:
So the precision timing to ensure I wound up Regent on the turn I was excommunicated was a waste. I can’t be Regent. I can never be Regent again. This is something that makes sense from both a gameplay and a flavour perspective; on the gameplay side, it prevents people from doing exactly what I am trying to do – the ability to remove a player from the game entirely without them being able to lift a finger to stop it is incredibly harsh – and on the flavour side of things it’s the Infernal Conclave who decides who should be Regent. If I’ve just tried to incinerate them, they’re probably not going to be too happy with me. I can definitely see the logic in this rule. I just wish I’d known about it five turns ago.
In the face of this I consider sending another turn file in which I don’t attack Pandemonium. If I’m not Regent it means Quinns gets his order slot. . He can do any one of a number of things to fuck up my attack. But that’s only if he realises the danger. I’ve just spent five turns and a lot of resources setting this attack up, and we went to fourteen of fifteen tokens drawn last turn. The game is going to finish before turn 70. If I don’t do this, there won’t be time to do anything else.
Fuck it. The attack’s still on. I fully expect it to fail utterly, but dammit, at least I ‘ll have tried. That’s more than anyone else around here can say.
Pandemonium is attacked. I am excommunicated. Sponge is gleeful in the email exchanges; he thinks this gives him a free hand to do whatever he wants to me. He obviously doesn’t spot the danger. Let him come. If I manage to take out the person holding his leash he’s very definitely going to be next.
One thing that does worry me is that KG has started moving his Gorgons down towards Pandemonium and has put them right next to my stronghold en route. They can do to me what I’m trying to do to Quinns. For one ghastly moment I think that KG has manipulated me into moving my legions away from my stronghold and making myself vulnerable. It would have been a masterful piece of work, if so. Fortunately we’re nearing the end of the game and so everyone’s channeling their resources into a mass settling of scores; while taking me out would certainly be amusing I haven’t actually done anything to KG all game. It’s probably just a coincidence. Probably.
My chances against Quinns receive a little bit of a boost when somebody plays a card that totally bars any rituals from being cast for several turns; this was the major way Quinns could have futzed with the Burning Legion – by either reducing its HP with Destruction rituals or outright stealing one of the attachments.
There is, however, one thing that he can still do that will ensure he’ll win. It’s what I’d do in his place. His Stronghold has nine hitpoints and four ranged points. The Burning Legion has a ranged stat of seventeen. On the face of it, they’ll blow the Stronghold away in the first round of combat with four points to spare.
Or will they? Quinns has a combat card stuck to his Stronghold. It’s been there for a very long time; I think he created it close to the start of the game and it defaulted there when the legion it was to be attached to got destroyed before it could happen. It’s probably not very good, probably won’t affect the outcome at all. But that doesn’t matter. All he has to do is create another combat card for the stronghold; one that’ll give him a ranged bonus and an HP boost. This will allow him to survive one round of ranged combat, and the Stronghold’s stats are good enough that the Burning Legion would be murdered during the melee and infernal rounds.
Quinns therefore has a guaranteed way he can stop my attack. But it relies on several things; him realising what excommunication means, him noticing the Burning Legion’s new attachments, him figuring the same way out of it that I have, and him having the resources to pull it off. Quinns is a pretty smart guy, of course, so I don’t have a lot of faith in the attack succeeding once he sees the threat. Quinns will apparently be taking this turn while staying at KG’s. I ask KG to accidentally spill something on him if it looks like he might twig what’s going on. Hey, I can hope, right?
Sadly, the very purpose of hope is for it to be dashed cruelly upon the rocks of despair.
Quinns spotted and foiled the plan. But he didn’t do it the way I thought he would.
He defeated me by sticking Barbatos here to his Stronghold. Barbatos switches up the combat phases so that the Melee round happens first, and so he was able to one-shot me rather than the other way around. I didn’t give this much thought at the time since I was expecting to lose and didn’t really care about the method so much, but it’s only upon reading KG’s look at the odds that I realise how drastically unfair this is. The Legion had a 75% chance of wiping Quinns out entirely and they failed. If I’d known at the time I probably would have been spitting bile and fury rather than taking it with a kind of zen detachment.
Said state of zen detachment was aided by a little consolation prize.
Zah’hak appears to have left the door to his Stronghold unlocked and the Hounds of Hell have just waltzed right in. He’s been totally wiped off the map just as I swore he would be. This is what justice looks like, ladies and gentlemen. This instantly makes the last sixty-eight turns of pain and misery worth it. I’m just going to sit back and bask in the lovely warm glow of vengeance fulfilled for a moment here…
Ahhhhhhhh. That’s better. On with the game.
KG zergs his Gorgons right into Pandemonium. This makes no sense whatsoever; if he wanted himself excommunicated he really didn’t need to sacrifice one of the best units in the game to do it. He must have been drunk or something.
(It is fitting that, some weeks later when I read his writeup, I discover that he was, in fact, drunk or something.)
Anyway, he can now go after Quinns and co. himself. Except what exactly is he going to do to them? Bore them to death? He has no legions left on the map worth a damn and the ritual ban is still in effect.
Quinns retakes the Pillars of Malebolge next turn. Since I can’t gather prestige any more now that I’m a pariah dog I don’t really give a shit; all I really care about now is holding on to the Temple of Lust for the thirty point bonus and staying alive, which is why I spent most of my remaining order slots and resources that turn loading up both structures with as many combat cards as I could afford. Still, despite everything I continue trying to figure out a way to cause a spectacular reverse. I even manage to come up with something good.
In the turn since I lost the Burning Legion the phrase “Melee first” has been bouncing around my head. I’m still trying to figure out a way of eliminating Quinns. Do I have anything left in my vault that can subvert this insidious quality?
As a matter of fact, I do.
The Adamantine Golems, locked away in storage ever since I got them, may provide me with a way to carry out a last gasp attack on Quinns stronghold. If they do any damage at all in the Melee round they reduce the rest of the enemy’s stats to zero. This combines hilariously with Melee First in that if I can stick them to a unit and raise that unit’s Melee stat above that of Quinns’ stronghold, the Stronghold will be stunlocked for the entire combat.
Of course, that comes with a significant caveat; I have to rely on Quinns’ lust for revenge after my first failed assault to carry the Legion of the Maw away from his stronghold towards the Temple. As long as it’s supporting the stronghold, the Hounds – who are making their way up from Zah’hak’s old stronghold – won’t be able to do enough damage to kill it.
It’s still an attractive prospect, and I don’t really have anything else to do with my time now. But then KG gets in touch again, and convinces me to hold off for one turn so that he can support an attack with some rituals after the ban is lifted. This, sadly, turns out to be pushing our luck one turn too far; this game has already gone on for about twenty turns past where it should have ended, and the last conclave token is finally drawn.
What is surprising is that Quinns thoroughly eclipsed Speedo Demon’s score. I suspected Quinns was going to get a hefty bonus at the end of the game since he was making no effort whatsoever to inconvenience Speedo, but I had no idea that he’s get the rest of Sponge’s prestige as well. There’s one conspicious absence from the final rankings, though. We all knew Zah’hak wasn’t going to be finishing the game, but what’s happened to KG?
Turns out Quinns stamped on his stronghold in the very last turn of the game. I guess KG had become to him what Zah’hak was to me – such a monumental pain the in ass that he couldn’t be allowed to live one second longer. Oh, and the Legion of the Maw?
Quinns moved them to block any advance the Hounds might have made, so my attack would have failed anyway. Ho hum.
As one last screw-you to Sponge, I’m going to mention that he walked his Infernal Crusade vets right up to my Stronghold, but didn’t have enough time to actually take it. Not that he would have succeeded had he tried; the stronghold would have lost a straight fight but the combat cards stuck to it pretty much doubled every single one of its stats, so he would have had to get lucky with a Destruction ritual first.
Anyway. Game’s over. I’ve finished it in a bloody state, but I’m alive and unbowed and I at least managed to do some damage before the end. If you’re on RPS and you play SI, expect to see Scrofula again. Just, you know, not with such a shitty build.
So long, and thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.