He’s a little late to the party, but Bill Harris has written up some amazing beginners’ guides for Vic Davis’ latest masterpiece, Solium Infernum. Harris did a great job with his Armageddon Empires guides, and he’s doing well here, too.
I’ll admit to having not played SI in a while. I had some MP games going with Tom and Bruce and a few other guys, but, like most multiplayer PBEM games with busy people, they’ve fallen aside. I think one of them had technical issues, too.
The thing I still like most about SI is how neatly all the pieces fit together in what is a truly intricate design. On the latest Gameshark podcast, their boardgame columnist, Michael Barnes, points to Vic’s games as one of the models of board games on the computer. They are clearly board games, after all, but would be impossible to play in any reasonable span of time without computer assistance. It would take days and require all kinds of refereeing. Barnes is right that SI is as well thought out as any board game design available and Harris’ writes about the systems in SI with every connection laid out.
Harris’ guides are good because they explain every step of the opening in terms of why this will matter as the game plays out. For example, in one of his entries he notes:
That’s the kind of effect that changing map size can have on the game, and like I said, it’s indicative of how differently the game can play depending on how it’s set up, and why it’s so engaging.
My goal in setting up a game of SI is to maximize potential chaos–this is, after all, Hell. So I always choose a small map and the highest number of opponents, because far more disruptive events events seem to happen when opponents are more concentrated.
This is the sort of stuff that strategy guides and designer notes should have in them. How does changing this variable change the experience? People should know this. Harris likes chaos, I like order. He wants to get things moving, I like the slow burn.
Keep an eye on Dubious Quality for more guides as he writes them. Someone should seriously pay him for this.