The Rise and Fall of the Alabaster Carnifex
Mine is a story of betrayal.
I was the betrayer. I don’t think I knew I could stoop so low, in fact.
And it got me close to victory, but just a little too soon. And there’s even a small chance that if I hadn’t manipulated so hard I would’ve been in a better position. But what ifs are not what we are about. Let’s explain in a bit more detail (or as much as I can remember).
When we first lay eyes on the fields of hell, three things stood out. Firstly, most of us had chosen the Lust objective, and had eyes for one particular place of power…it was right next to Granite Grog-Swiller (played by the wonderful @ian2400). Secondly, Granite had the strongest starting legion. Thirdly, Granite was head and shoulders above everyone else in rank.
It became obvious very quickly that Granite’s strategy would be to throw their weight around, and bully everyone else into submission.
My working theory, initially was that he had low charisma (to have such a strong legion and a high rank, he shouldn’t have been able to take many points), and so he was going to rely on demands for income. I believe this was wrong, but it was the basis for my early actions. The theory was borne out by an aggressive few early moves. Demands started coming from him, while everyone else just quietly negotiated and pushed for their neighbouring PoPs.
I thought he hadn’t demanded from me, and I told him to send it elsewhere, as I wasn’t going to give in. Unfortunately, he already had, and so I just had to stick to my guns.
We went to war early as a result, and I ended up with both of my legions in a stand off with his. Both sides were relying on combat cards. Granite repeatedly told me that he was guaranteed to win. I was pretty sure it was a coin toss for either side.
And I entered the most intense negotiations I’ve had in any game. We spent an afternoon going back and forth. A mix of bluster and honesty, schemes and lies. My position came down to this. Right now, he had a 50/50 chance of taking me down, if he got lucky, I would be in a very bad position, probably out of the game from an early point. I calmly explained (and meant it) that either we could make a truce now, or I’d be left with no option but to make it my mission to annihilate him. I wouldn’t be able to win, but I could take revenge.
What I didn’t explain, was that I was probably going to put all my weight behind stopping him winning whatever.
He didn’t need that detail. But it was pragmatic. He really did look like the biggest threat.
We made a pact. We would leave each other be. Flatten the rest of the opposition, and then once everyone was in their place, we would fight each other.
Looking back? That may have been my best path to victory…but it sure didn’t feel like it at the time.
The truce was uneasy. Every turn while the ‘war’ lasted, was filled with negotiations about where it was acceptable for our troops to be. Slow withdrawal, painful risk. At any point either of us could renege and stab the other.
The vendetta lasted about six turns, and each one was agonising.
Granite told me that his main reasoning was that he’d lose x prestige by losing against me, but it would allow him to drive south and poach a PoP from Argos the Terrible (played by @twodaemon) that was worth x+y.
My betrayal was immediate. As our trust built up, I told Argos Granite’s plans. Every one. Every plan and move I got told, I shared. I helped formulate counter strategies. We tried to piece together Granite’s abilities from the things he said to me.
When Granite finally went to war with Argos, I had an event card that would neuter Granite’s main strength, his combat cards.
I played it.
Granite fumed at Argos, and was caught in deadlock.
The game went like this for a long time. Granite and Argos became locked in a steady and ongoing duel. Constantly restarting vendettas. Argos always ending up with just a little bit of an edge, for some reason. Granite could never quite break through, and ended up in a weak position.
As soon as he got weakened, I attacked.
He was pretty offended, but still didn’t realise the extent of my betrayal. This just looked like opportunism, not full betrayal. Sure, he stopped talking to me, but I don’t think he actually got pissed until I confessed everything towards the end of the game.
But then he was really pissed.
I couldn’t press the advantage though, he got luck in his first Praetor fight, and slammed me. It’s a shame, because I probably could’ve carried on subverting him in the background if I hadn’t betrayed, I managed to win my first ground battle against him, I think, but it wasn’t huge. Just a lump of prestige. I can’t remember the detail.
To be honest, beyond the massive lie, I can’t remember the detail.
Me and Retch (played by @Kemuel ) started skirmishing. I started getting some great praetor and artefact combos. My main legion became brutal, due to a strong praetor on a throne that tripled their strength. I got some prestige and got to the top, of the heap, but it was only two thirds through the game, and it was far too soon.
My fall from grace was hard. Very hard.
On one turn I had five different raids on my vaults. I still don’t know who did it, at the time, I assumed Retch. I think I was wrong.
I lost a Praetor not long before, stolen from under me. This led to me being very paranoid with my strongest pieces, having to spend whole turns moving them from place to place…only being able to attack when I knew I had turn order advantage to be able to take them.
Anyway, the raids on the vaults took away my flexibility. I lost another single combat a few turns before. Then when my vaults were empty, everyone demanded me at the same time.
I couldn’t give in to everyone, and everyone could see my ground troop strength was pretty solid. Everyone except Argos went for a single combat. My troops were in the wrong place to defend against Argos.
I lost a lot of prestige in a very short space of turns. I lost one of PoPs.
(I may be confusing the order of everything here. A lot of things happened in a short space of time, and I despaired. I knew I couldn’t win, and had that feeling of ‘everyone is still beating up on me, even though I’m no longer the one to worry about’).
Some slightly different timing at the end could possibly have saved me. But I didn’t have enough time.
I was miles behind, but someone started sniping the top players. Two deceit rituals aimed at Pandaemonium. Two leaders framed successfully. The two obvious leaders, excommunicated. It was brutal.
I suddenly became second place, and I was able to play a card that could stop people demanding from me (if I’d had this three turns earlier, I would be winning by now…but I’d also probably have been one of the people kicked into war).
I made a last ground push against Retch. Who now had one of the strongest legions in the game. I had a plan to take it out, and it would’ve worked with one more turn.
There’s a tiny, tiny chance it would’ve given me enough prestige to poach victory.
But the conclave gathered.
I was in second place.
It was not good enough.
It turned out that the people quietly looking weak in the corner were just biding their time. Chris and Aim (I’m not sure of their forum handles, embarrassingly) both shot from near or dead last into top positions in the last five to ten turns. Aim was behind the excommunication of the leaders, whilst using a brutally overpowered praetor (apparently stolen from Chris) to challenge the champion of Pandaemonium repeatedly and earn a tonne of prestige. Chris was just burning through souls, buying prestige every turn. Obviously sitting on more tribute than any of us could dream of.