Edit, naming the players makes it a little more coherent, if no less wordy:
Chaosguy - Ole Scratch
MatchstickMan - Misery
MarbleMouth - MarbleMouth
Kaira - GoatyMcGoat
Moth Bones - Mad Jeremy
SupaDupa - Supa
I start the game having received my own build back from Sord. I knew I shouldn't have trusted him... :-p
Still, I expect it really will be the hardest build of the game to play, so since I'm championing the idea, its appropo in a way.
1 in Wickedness and 1 in Diabolism, with the perks Arena Gambler, Ichor of Rej. & Iron Tower of the Mind, with Greed as objective.
Arena Gambler can pay off well, if one gets their hands on a good praetor that is... the other two are fiend-point sinks-- used to eat up the available points, though who knows-- either may have some minor positive effect. It gives me the weakest of all the starting legions with a mere 8 total stat points there. Still, by giving the build a Marquis, and a goal of "Greed" it isn't totally unplayable.
I start the game to find I'm the most out-of-position of all the fiends. Everyone can reach a PoP before me, and once they move I'll likely be contained in a small area with no where to expand and take advantage of the census. Furthermore, and not surprisngly, I see 2 builds were given 'Prince' status as a point-sink. This is the classic mistake, and one I had hoped to benefit from myself. As I've said before-- in the land of the blind the one-eyed are king. This game is bound to involve heavy diplomacy, but more importantly, with everyone likely to be gimped in the tribute area, the extra tribute the higher ranks start with will make a huge impact in the game.
This will require some creative thinking indeed-- and probably some luck.
My nearest competitor is Kaira, between us lies the +1 Pillar of Skulls, but he moves before me in the turn rotation. In fact everyone moves before me in the turn rotation-- I start last in that regard. But wait-- the next nearest PoP is the Vault of Avarice at +2-- AND a +1 order slot bonus! Although Kaira can totally cut it off if he moves on it first... but the PoS is no doubt a tempting target.
I have no choice and move towards the VoA, while leaving myself the opportunity to double back on the PoS, which I'm expecting will be the case.
The 1st turn cycles and lo & behold, greed got the better of Kaira-- he took the PoS but now, I'm in a position to cut HIM off! Muwahaha! But wait... what's this?! Marble Mouth has bypassed his nearer PoP to take a run at the VoA! Having played against him twice, I figured he'd be one of my tougher opponents and I have him at the top my threat-list in game, but this was unexpected-- like me he bet that Kaira wouldn't realize his golden opportunity had a time limit. Doing the turn order math I see I wont be able to deny him a border on the opposite side of the VoA. We proceed to cut off Kaira, who then sullenly marchs across the river toward the +2 PoP nearest MM's stronghold. Supa moves to contest that and neither can make a move. A poor trade for him it would seem.
At this point I've got two hexes on the VoA to MM's one, but at 8 legion points versus the 12 of the PoP, I'm in no position to take it yet. As MM had the 2nd weakest legion at 10 points, I'm not troubled yet, but I know it will be a race. Two turns pass, and the praetor Raum, that I'd had my eye on gets picked up. I'd been inserting manuscript bids in between my tribite demands in anticipation of making something out of my Arena Gambler trait, which slows down my income slightly.
So I picked up Zuul on the following turn-- but sure enough it was MM who grabbed Raum, and he uses him, on his legion, perhaps in conjunction with a ritual or combat card to take the VoA before I can even load Zuul onto my legion. Curses!
Since MM's smart enough to avoid a war with no benefit, I know this is now going to take a while- if I'm even able to get the VoA at all. My ray of hope comes in the form of the Angelic Incursion event. MM's gambit has put him in 2nd, if I could get him into a battle, I'd have a pretty good chance of having the Tyrant do half my work for me... still he should be able to make good use of that extra order slot in the meantime. As for me, I'm now cut off from expansion with no PoP in my possession.
To add insult to injury someone plays the Paladin event, which hits, you guessed it, me. I lose 9 of my 10 starting prestige points, which prevents me from conducting diplomacy until the turn of the census. Meanwhile all the competition has lept far ahead of me not only with their PoPs but also with the prestige gained from winning those battles. At this point, I have to admit, I'm needing luck to enter the equation. Aside from working my way into Blood vassal status, my only hope is the leaders do some serious damage to each other allowing me to come from behind.
I spend the next few turns trying to do the same as no doubt most of my opponents-- raise my diabolism from 1 to 2. Unfortunately, the darkness tribute eludes my minions. By turn 15 I've managed to collect a grand total of 1... I can't even play the event at this rate. Still I find myself buried in hellfire, and use it to both pick up the Orb of Oblivion and raise my wickedness to level 2. The Orb could play well in that if I can't have a PoP, neither will one of my neighbors potentially.
On turn 15 with no luck in getting further darkness from requests and even a pair of successful 3 card diplomatic demands (Kaira and MM have played me before and are cagey enough to dodge my attempts to draw either into a vendetta despite my face-value weakness). I decide to pick up the cheapest merc legion available-- spending my 1 darkness on The 300. Someone's going to have to carry the Orb after all, and they know how to sacrifice for a cause. I follow up with another demand on Kaira, this time for 4 cards. If he refuses I'll have my choice between ground combat with the Orb or arena combat with a pretty good chance to win in either now, although to my dismay someone has picked up Gusion & Zepar.
Kaira refuses to be baited again, and still makes no move to pick up the additional +2 PoP he's marched for. Supa seems willing to lurk nearby waiting for an opportunity, but with the Sloth objective he can't initiate any conflict. Kaira is either being extremely cagey in not taking the lead by grabbing it, or wasting precious turns waiting for a resource to up a stat of his own. Still these successful diplomatic entreaties of mine have finally paid off. On turn 17 I cajole enough darkness to up my diabolism to 2, but with someone else getting into the manuscript game I have to put off that key move a turn to make another bid, this time for the infernal power manuscript. Also, a vendetta has broken out btw MM & Mad Jeremy/MothBones. Unable to demand on MM again at this point, I decide to take advantage with an insult. Hopefully Mothbones can keep him busy for a turn. Either way, I intend to bring pressure onto the loser of that conflict asap.
Turn 18 & Mad Jeremy proves the better in the fight-- whatever combat card he attached to his legion, which otherwise only had a +2 advantage, seemed to have made the difference. It seems the VoA and its +1 order slot is about to change hands. Marble's position looks bad now & we'll see if he used those extra orders wisely. Meanwhile Kaira has finally taken the Wood of the Suicides, catapulting himself into the lead. Even with limited diplomatic options, I'm surprised Supa didn't take a shot at it before then. Still, with all the diplomatic demands flying around I didn't notice at first that Misery has declared a single combat vendetta against Supa. I expect we'll be seeing the holder of either Gusion or Zepar soon. Its a tribute turn for me as I wait to see what if anything MM can do about my insult, in the meantime with a major delay from Kaira in processing his turn, I send some intel to Supa via e-mail stating both that I dont have Gusion & that I DID get the infernal power manuscript.
How often he checks his e-mail I don't know... but giving that data doesnt likely change anything & it may possibly induce him to reciprocate at some point.
The insult gets accepted & MM loses the Vaults. Looks like he spent too much time trying to up stats and not enough trying to increase his strength. The key to these type matches I've supposed all along, is understanding you're likely only going to make it halfway to a standard build. If you spend all your order slots requesting tribute to get a stat to level 4, then unless you received a much better build than most, you'll waste precious time. & By the time you do get that 3rd slot, the game will be all but over. Its far better to take a broad approach, and seize what meager opportunities come your way. Thus me having the Orb of Oblivion in my pocket as Kaira turns and marches his legion back this way across the river. Kaira should've purchased a 2nd legion in my opinion, and Marble should've taken advantage of that extra order slot he had to boost his defenses against Mad Jeremey before it even came to blows. With his starting legion crushed and down to two order slots he'll be out of the running for a while now. I need to decide which way to throw my weight now. To continue to pressure Kaira now that he can fully turn his attention to me, or to begin the harrassment of MJ for my own assault upon the vaults. I decide on the former, due in part to the turn order (Kaira will move after me on every turn but the next) and in part to MJ having 'Prince' status which means my intitial demands can easily be shrugged off, especially if he now uses that extra order slot to boost his tribute intake.
After a delay, we get turn 19 processed. Supa's champion Zepar beats Misery's champion Gusion. A phyrric victory of sorts for Supa in that an amped Zepar means it'll be unlikely Supa sees much more in the way of diplomacy. Still he's guaranteed his public objective, & not doing badly on prestige (though he shoudld've picked up more cantons for the last two census without question) so he'll likely need to incorporate a secret object to boost his chances at this point. Alternately with an amped praetor he could forego his PO in favor of the diplomatic prestige he'd get from duels. On other fronts MJ buys a 2nd legion in the Bane of Righteousness. It becomes more apparent to me I need the angelic host incursion to happen soon, as in one version of my plans I was counting on them to remove MJ's personal guard from the board long enough for me to take a shot at the VoA. With him finally putting a 2nd legion on the board it drops the chances of that to 50%.
Turn 21 procs with Kaira once again dodging me. Damn his patience. Still, I can now start a vendetta in two turns and have the initiative on the following-- that would be prime for launching my attack. Someone also picks up Valac this turn, a potentially dangerous arena foe, but beatable. In the meantime I start the demand cycle on MJ. A lousy one card, so I'm not expecting action there, but worst comes to worst, I still have the Orb.
Turn 23 The 6th token has been out for a turn or two & like the majority of the opposition, since the bonus-to-tribute event has been played, I've spent the last two turns requesting tribute, and getting buried in Hellfire from it. Not un-useful, since the one stat I do have is Wickedness, but not overly helpful either as I don't have the corresponding souls to easily boost it further. I'm somewhat disappointed that while for me, my tribute requests are a replenishment from my expenditures (on my praetor, the Orb, the 300 and 3 manuscripts) my opponents still seem to be trying for the 'standard' approach of getting an attribute to level 4. While not an invalid approach, if their tribute luck has been anything like mine-- it'll take far too long compared to the lost opportunity cost. It could be token 10 before they'll start to be able to take advantage of that extra order slot. Who knows though, maybe their tribute luck is better than mine... in any case, having made three successful claims on Kaira I can now claim vendetta at will. I move first next turn, but will be after him on the following three turns. On the one hand I should wait until the pendelum swings back in my favor, on the other one of my day-dreaming adversaries could finally wake up and make some kind of a major move given three more turns. Better to have them react to a disaster, one I know is coming. It takes the majority of my meager Darkness supply, but I initiate the Angelic Incursion, and declare my vendetta on Kaira.
Turn 25, I make my move and Kaira gets the one/two punch of the vendetta and Angelic Host crushing his only legion. Surprisingly for me, capture 1 PoP wasn't an option. This is a crimp in my planned ambush, and the only other reasonable option is to try for 5 cantons, which will take me at least 3 turns to accomplish-- a long time to be vulnerable to potential counter attacks. Still, its come down to this so I max my prestige and lower the duration from 5 to 4 turns-- if it does go bad at least I can minimze my exposure, while still buying time for an adjustment as needed. I move forward to lay seige to the Pillar of Skulls, grabbing 2 in the process. Perhaps I can get a PoP out of this as well. Kaira in turn misses with a Destruction ritual but he's also dropped a defensive card in to the PoS, and this worries me. It could be a +1 stat bluff, but who knows what his Wrath level is at... if its more than a +2 bonus, or if he nails me with a ritual, odds are heavy I'd lose... Damn, so much for the PoP, but I should've realized this would be his response. I suppose I was hoping for shock or apathy, or more realisitically that he'd spend to pick up a replacement legion and I'd be the one hurling artillery. This is my one & only shot to catch up to the pack, I can't afford to fail! On the one hand it would help greatly to get prestige from a legion victory to catch up, on the other I must succeed in my vendetta, so its cantons 1st, Pop 2nd.
Kaira finally picks up another legion, the Fallen, and drops a 2nd card into the PoS. The Fallen are within range of the PoS, but its combat defense bonus wouldn't add if I rushed the attack... but I can't risk it-- not with the Angelic Host that I myself unleashed bearing down on us. I opt to take the easy way out-- no doubt it will catch him off guard as I shift away to his cantons. This should give me 4, with one to go. I also decide to spend an order slot and show off Zuul by attaching her to my personal guard- this may draw in those arena battles I had been wanting. Its surprised me that no one has taken advantage of this somewhat extended vendetta between Kaira and me-- in his case to knock down the leader while he's fully occupied, or against me as a seemingly weak opponent.
On other fronts, Misery dodges MJ's attempt at a duel-- MJ had bought & buffed the Praetor Furfur with the Crimson Skull award, which may complicate my own arena ambitions down the line.
Turn 27, I successfully grab two cantons near Kaira's stronghold. Seems he had picked up the Horn of Doom while no one was looking & the Fallen now carry it, I guessed right on his positioning and they now reinforce the Pillar of Skulls. Just the same, the turn proc initiative has switched back to me. The PoS wouldve made a great boost, but it served well enough as a decoy as he threw his last two turn's efforts into defending it. Now, I'm able to swing away towards his stronghold to grab a total of 6 cantons while he's helpless to prevent it. While not quite boosting my own prestige as much as I'd like, my efforts have put Supa solidly into 3rd place & he's finally begun to move to acquire cantons-- his stronghold also sports the Bowl of Abject Darkness. As for me I've also managed to get my own Wickedness stat up to level 3, and the Crown of Destruction looks tempting on the bazaar, but I've no Souls tribute to acquire it with. At least, with the Angels having smashed MJ's personal guard, I can swing now in the other direction and realisitcally apply pressure to the VoA-- until they come for me that is...
Turn 29, It seems flashing Zuul to the crowd has had its intended effect. Mad Jeremy does me a favor and makes a demand on me. 6 free tribute points, and it saves me the order slot of having to demand on him. With no visible legions, he's going to used his amped praetor, Furfur, no doubt. We'll see how well he fights against her once I've completed the training-- I move her to the vault to disguise this as I await his response. I also send the 300 north toward he Angelic Host as both Marblemouth and myself remain to be struck-- it'll be their Thermopylae, but it'll keep my personal guard alive.
Turn 31, Second turn of the 8th concalve token, and we're about 2/3 done by my guess. The 300 do their duty and and are killed to last man by the Angelic Host. I've now picked up the 'Writ of Rescindment' event. Suddenly I have more options, specifically in terms of surpise attack. The easiest target would be to strike at GoatyMcGoat's stronghold, picking that up then reinstating myself before the others can do unto me. The Pillar of Skulls would be an easy icing on the cake afterward. I'm not sure if thats enough to get me back into the driver seat of this game and the undefended Vaults of Avarice are an equally tempting target. Would it be possilbe to seize both in one turn...? With the 'poor tribute' event finally ending I've picked up enough resources to bid on a decent legion and I pick the best on the baazar in the likes of theOrder of the Flame. How to position them in combination with my personal guard, and (hopefully) Zuul will be key. Speaking of which, as expected, MJ has picked vendetta by single champion, so I use an order slot to buff her with my manuscripts. She'll have augmented infernal power, the veil of smoke and mindburn. Hopefully the first will give her 4 more orbs to use the latter. I had hoped to start with an easier target for arena combat to boost her stats naturally before taking on Furfur or Zepar, but it is what it is.
While a successful attack against Goaty, or MJ, or both, could put me into the running for 1st/2nd, I also decide to cover all the bases and send a note to Supa indicating my potential receptiveness to a Blood vassal arrangement (with me on the lower end). To sweeten the deal I let him know that Goaty will likely be losing control of one of his PoPs on my next regency. I don't reveal how that might happen, and if he has the Targetted Insurrection event it would certainly sound weird, but if he did he would've been smart to play it already. In any case, giving him this info doesn't hurt our relationship-- even if I fail he stands to profit, and better the enemy of my enemy than Goaty.
TUrn 33, Success! It was a near thing but Furfur goes down in a wreath of flames as Zuul's amped abilities cast him down. Just in time as well-- last turn I was looted by parties unknown, good thing I used those manuscripts and spent on the OotF when I did. I hope they like ichor since they took enough to drown in. People have finally targetted occupied parties and things have erupted on the diplomatic front. Three potential conflicts, including one with MJ getting ahead of himself with a duel vs Goaty. MJ also has potential trouble with Marble while Supa & Miserymay cross swords as well. In other key news, the Beast has been unleashed and has struck 1st at Mad Jeremy, relieving him of the Vaults. I immediately march the Order of the Flame towards the vaults. Things couldnt be more perfect, as Goaty will not now suspect me building up forces there near the border with his stronghold. Hopefully the diplomatic carnage keeps my opponents busy while I make my moves. Supa has responded to my missive and seems agreeable to a BV arrangement. Surprisingly however he reveals that he hadn't taken on a secret objective and only now after my inquiry along those lines was he considering undertaking one. Too late in the game imo, unless he's in a position to choose from 2 or more objectives. That info plus only now being looted makes me think my suspicions were correct-- my fellow archfiends spent their time increasing stats instead of seizing opportunities. That probably wasn't the best style of play for this game. Still, based on being looted someone now has at least an extra order slot from stats...
As for Supa, thanks to my arena perk, the duel victory puts me into 4th place, with too much prestige to take on a BV role. So I set my sights on the VoA & Goaty to take my own place amongst the leaders. I suspect the deceit fiend is Marble since he's not bothered to replace his lost legion, so I send him a coy note which points in the direction that I may be open to taking him on in a BV role. Not sure how solid I am on that idea at the moment, and we can't enact it before I get more prestige, but it may make him think twice before looting me again if I've guessed correctly. Having started with no points in intellect, and not having buffed it, I'm particularly susceptible to being looted.
Turn 34, The vaults and their extra order slot come into my talons. I'm going to need it. Marble has declined my offer, indicating in his note he plans to win on prestige himself-- he backs it up with a demand on me with the demand he made on Mad Jeremy still pending. He has absolutely nothing showing, yet if it were a bluff he'd likely have seized my offer. The certaintude that he's our deceit fiend increases. He'll likely use the "stop hitting yourself" strategy-- stealing what he needs from his opponents and beating them with their own weapons.
This is worrisome as Zuul only has a loyalty of 2. I knew that was this praetor's main weakness going in, but I didn't think anyone would have gotten this far into a build in this game. The +1 order PoP has definitely skewed things a bit. Also troublesome is that the challenge against the conclave's champion isn't showing as an option for me. A bug perhaps.
My dilemma is that its now time for me to make my move against Kaira. If I don't do it now I'd have to wait another 6 turns. The 9th Conclave token has just been drawn. I figure that tokens 9 & 10 will go three turns each, 11 & 12 two each and 13-15 for 5 altogether. Thats 15 turns of game remaining give or take. I could do the smart thing and pass, conceding to his demand and pulling Zuul back into my vault. But the metagame overrides me. To be fair, we've all caused some delay in processing the turns, but Kaira has been the repeat offender. I'd like to wind things down, and removing him from the turn order will get the game moving promptly again. Besides, as the Beast has also just removed the Wood of the Sucides from Goaty's possession, he may even move forces away from his stronghold to react to that- so the time to strike is now.
Since I'm now planning on temporarily going rogue, there's no point in conceding the demand, though I'm not sure if I'll get to keep the prestige. I need two order slots to rearrange my forces-- one to get into range of Goaty's stronghold with the OotF, another to swing my personal legion down to counter any attempt by Mad
Jereny's legion to secure a border with the VoA. The remaining slot goes to firing a destruction ritual at Pandemonium. If all goes as planned GoatyMcGoat will be history, and I'll be able to pull Zuul back into my vault before I get reacted to. The plan after that will be to use her versus the conclave's champion for prestige. It seems the Iron Tower perk may benefit me after all (you can't steal what you can't see). Nonetheless, it solidifies to me that I'm not likely going to be trying to achieve my public objective. I still hold that Greed was doable, but with me being the third player getting the extra order slot from a PoP I'd wager it definitely skewed things to allow someone to get to level 4 deceit, or at least to do so before token 11. I still feel pretty confident at this point that I can reinstate myself and take the Pillar of Skulls. The prestige from that, the VoA and Goaty's stronghold should put me into the lead in short order. & If I manage to hold onto Zuul then a win versus the conclave's champ with my Arena Gambler perk should solidify it.
Turn 35, After waiting all weeknd on Kaira & Supa to make moves, the turn prcoesses. My ritual tags Pandemonium & I've sent enough missives to confuse the group as to whether or not it was intentional. Either way, order slot one is march on Goaty's stronghold, order slot two is to reinstate myself & order slot three is to hide Zuul safely away in my vault. Hopefully it works... On other fronts Mad Jeremy has a bad day at the races-- losing vendettas to both Goaty and Marble. This is mitigated no doubt by him completing the ritual that increases his Charisma by 2. Faust's contract has also gone off the market, the turn previous. If he has that as well, I wonder if we're looking at him doing the "burnt offerings" ritual?
Turn 36, Once again success, but at a cost. The Order of the Flame, lead by Zuul, seize GoatyMcGoat's stronghold. This despite a constant shelling by MarbleMouth with destruction rituals. He came pretty close to screwing himself with that (when two of your enemies are fighting, you wait until AFTER theyre done before shooting the winner), fortunately for both of us, one of the rituals was resisted. Unfortunately for my personal legion, a third strike by him hit home and destroyed them. Its possible my suspicions of Marble being the deceit fiend were incorrect. In this game, its highly unlikely he got 2 stats to +4 despite him holding the Vaults and their +1 order slot for eight turns, & especially not likely considering his starting legion numbers. So... did I just destroy the deceit fiend in Kaira? Its a critical question, in that I'd have to begin stockpiling cards now to achieve my public objective of Greed. The Heart of Darkness is on the bazaar, as Marble's potential to win through prestige from Destruction rituals becomes apparent-- it seems I'll be needing that versus my fellow Destruction fiend, but I'm a Darkness tribute short.
Annoyingly someone (likely Marble since he lost his only one in the Vaults) has used the event which prevents prestige from PoPs. If it is him, he is playing his hand well. Also troubling is that Goaty's defensive cards remain on the Pillar of Skulls despite his banishment. I'll need to knock them off. I decide to chance things-- its possible MJ is the deceit fiend, as his victory vs Marble earlier at the Vaults was never fully explained (he could have reduced enemy stats), but rather than hide my limited supply of tribute, I demand more. I follow up with the ritual to strip the Pillar of Skulls of its defenses and then move the Order to surround it. I should still be able to get prestige from a legion victory there. Meanwhile, off in the distance the Beast strikes Misery and takes out the Tree of Woe. Its still anybody's game.
Turn 39, My ritual failed to strip the PoS, although I've picked up half of Goaty's former territory with the OtfF. I now find myself in a 3 way vendetta situation. I demand on Marble who demands on Mad Jeremy, who demands on me, who in turn gets demanded on by Marble. All parties refuse. Turns out it was Marble who bought Faust's contract as well, as he completes his first Burnt Offerings ritual. Worrying is that the Talisman of Greed was also just picked off the bazaar. To make matters worse-- the looter is still at large, nabbing 2 more cards from me last turn and I'm locked in a struggle with the two likely candidates. I'm in a bind here as I have the initiative versus Marble. Should I go for a standard vendetta and sweep his level 1 legion off the field? Or should I use my Praetor for the Arena Gambler bonus? The max flat value for success would be 27 points for the former and 28 for the latter. Adding the prestige I'd get from destroying the legion however wouldn't equal what I'd get from the arena bonus. Still, the former would give me a chance to cast Corruption on Marble, weakening his ability to repeat the Burnt Offerings. Its the 2nd turn of conclave token 10 now, and I'm figuring 12 more turns, max. If he can cast B.O. for just half of those thats another 60 points and potentially the lead for Marble. My problem is that even though I've picked of the Heart of Darkness for defense agaisnt him, I only have one ritual slot, so I can't both attack and defend with it. The Arena Gambler bonus stands to give me the best leg up though- approximately 40 prestige if I win. That would offset half his Burnt Offerings, assuming with his level 6 Diabolism he sticks to my imagined schedule. Whereas the Corruption would likely only delay one of those rituals.
The die is cast for Arena combat and Zuul will have to step up to the plate again. I'm wondering if my Iron Tower perk is keeping my vault safe? I also wonder what MJ has up his sleeve...? I reposition my legion to ward against him as I call for more tribute. Damn the looter-- with three order slots I could average 6 cards per turn, easily making my Public Objective, but I have no defense against Deceit, so I'll have to make a run at the title without my public objective.
Turn 40, After a lengthy delay involving the holiday, I'm forced to AI MatchstickMan. Its not in my best interest to do so as his best move would be to strike MJ from behind while he's tangled up in ground wars with both myself and Marble. The AI can't be relied on to seize such opportunities.... :-/ Still, its conclave token 11 already and the game has dragged on enough as it is (in real time). Marble is also now showing the ability to cast the Infernal Juggernaut ritual, boosting his shattered personal guard to an invicible force in legion combat. Marble's starting build must have been better than I thought for him to have so many advantages at this stage in the game. From his starting legion, one could tell he only started with 2 points in non-charisma stats, but its unknown how much he was given in charisma. I now suspect he started with at least 2 there, which in a game of this style practically becomes a full-on tribute build-- someone miscalculated and handed out a bit too fair of a build with that. Or, he did well with sitting back and collecting tribute, but if so I think he squandered his opprtunity. Tempis fugit. I open up with an IA ritual on MJ's legion nearer me. Its likely my own personal guard will be returning shortly so rather than have tribute sitting around to be stolen, I make a bid on Focalar in the the bazaar. He's got a loyalty of 3, making him slightly harder to steal than Zuul, and could boost whatever stats my legion is left with to avoid giving MJ an easy kill should they appear within range of his legion next turn. My main force remains the Order so I move them to reinforce the Vaults. MJ's position is deteriorating as he's stuck between myself and Marble.
Turn 42, Its already the 13th conclave token! This looks to be a short match after all. Marble once again casts Burnt Offerings, lending more to my speculations that he started with a far better tribute ability than the rest of us. He dodges my single combat vendetta, which still nets me the prestige of victory. His focus seems to be on Mad Jeremy as he looks to complete his public objective of Wrath. My own ground war vendetta versus MJ also continues. I pick up two cantons for him taking one of mine. Yet another IA ritual fails in the process-- I wonder if he has "Toughness" as a perk? In any case I'm thinking there's time for one last praetor duel. On the one hand going after Supa would be my best chance to take the lead, on the other I now know Marble is busy and does not have an arena caliber praetor in his stable. If I demand on Supa and failed versus Zepar, who's already won a diuel, I might lose my 2nd place position. I opt for the sure thing and demand on Marble for what I'm hoping will be free prestige. I also use the infernal census event to get what boost I can from my large holdings.
Turn 43, Conclave token 14 ! Things are going faster than anyone, save Supa, would hope. I think we're all hoping for 2 more turns at this point, though I'm now betting heavily that Mad Jeremy didn't complete Gluttony due to starting with a low charisma. To shake things up even more the event peeling an attribute points off all fiends was played. My Wickedness drops from 3 to 2, perhaps not as bad a shock as others have received. On the plus side I collect a handful of points as MothbBones/MJ fails in his vendetta versus me. My own diplomatic challenge is now out there, though Marble is practically guaranteed to refuse it, my hope now might actually be in the form of a ground war. I'll need two turns to capture his PoP (one for the refusal, and one to take it in). If MJ & MM keep each other busy that should be doable. If there's time...
Turn 44, I had considered putting Zuul onto the OotF to confuse my opponent as to which legion would move for his PoP, but that last refusal seemed to have unbugged Zuul, and the Conclave is now a viable target for me. Maybe I'll have time after all, just one more turn to secure 2nd. Its coming down to the wire at this point. So I choose the 'take one PoP' option for vendetta while also challenging the Conclave's champion. I move Focalor to the Order making my move obvious, but with the heart of Darkness tucked into a ritual slot, the Order will have a good chance to withstand any affliction rituals he tries. Assuming I win one or both of these challenges, and tokens hadn't been drawn so quickly, I'd be able to go on from that to take down Supa's champion with confidence. As is, with Supa having maintained his public objective, he'll have first without contest. Mad Jeremy now also shows the ability to Juggernaut his legion, and he and Marble are in blood feud status with both having Wrath as their public objectives. With the clock ticking down its very unlikely either will be able to finish that and their stalemate lends to my success.
Turn 45, The final token is drawn. Supa reigns supreme! --Not bad for a 2nd time player, especially considered he was up against at least 2 well-seasoned veterans. Although to be fair, he wins despite himself-- having taken two secret objects which he failed to complete. Still, all the more impressive as he did complete his public objective of Sloth, which severely limited the prestige he could gain from diplomacy. Getting Zepar and winning a duel with him was key for Supa. I come in second as Ole Scratch takes on the lieutenant role. Zuul won me another10 prestige in the Arena against the Conclave's champion, helping to solidify my worth in their eyes. Surpringly the game ended however as the two Wrath fiends, Marble Mouth and Mad Jeremy both hit the Conclave with Destruction rituals in an effort to stop the clock. Both succeeded but the token had already been drawn apparently. Misery's AI came in last, finally joining the fray with a belated challenge on Supa. It was a good game and well played by all!