So, some of you may have read Tycho's post in which he mentions the new game by Cryptic Comet, Solium Infernum. You may also remember Cryptic as the folks behind the hyper-awesome Armageddon Empires, an old-school hex based post-apolocalytic strategy game where you can salvage an abandoned nuclear submarine and use the warhead to destroy Cthulhu. And that's not the coolest part. And the new game looks even better.
Solium Infernum casts you in the role of an Archfiend of Hell. You can design your Avatar with a wide mix of abilities to match your style. You can go for a warlord stomping everyone under boots of graven copper, a sorcorer type who like to hang out at home and blast enemies with columns of hellfire, a despot who uses his horrifying charisma to manipulate those around you. You gain tribute from your underlings, but instead of wood and gems you earn Hellfire and Darkness. Yes, Darkness is a critical resource in this game.
You send legions out to do bad thing, hire Praetors (i.e. heroes) to lead your legions or fight on your behalf in gladiatorial combat, cast Rituals, purchase artifacts and manuscripts of forbidden lore, and so forth.
The game is ultimately about Prestige which you earn through various evilness (winning combats, capturing Places of Power, making successful demands against enemies, etc.) and which is ultimately what you need to win. Oh, but you never know when the game will end, because it's semi-randomly determined.
The political aspect of the game is probably the most compelling. See, if you remember old-school D&D, Hell is Lawful Evil. There are rules. You can't just go romping into an enemy's land without good reason. You need an excuse to set up a Vendetta. So, you can go before the Infernal Conclave and insult your opponent. Oh, by the way, the Infernal Conclave is sort of like the UN, but less evil MIRITE?
Anyway, if your opponent acts like a little bitch and just accepts your insult, you take a nice piece of Prestige from him. If he mans up and refuses to accept it, he's required to declare Vendetta against you. That means you're now allowed to attack. Needless to say, make sure you can fight him.
There are other diplomatic options as well, such as demanding tribute from an enemy. The best part is, the more often you've successfully done so, the more you can demand. In other words, the game rewards you for being a bully.
Cryptic Comet is an awesome company, very responsive to customer questions, and they deserve your money. $30 bucks to seek the throne of Hell? Single player, hotseat, and Play-by-Email? Yes, please.