Subterfuge: It's Really Good!

Quinns here, and the dust has settled in our amazingly well-received Subterfuge Diaries! Don't thank us, though. Thank the Cool Ghosts patrons who made it possible.

But I need to add a quick epilogue. A lot of people commented that our video series didn't make the game seem fun. Let’s be honest, the way the lot of us were moping and whining, it was like eight different actors auditioning for a cross between Kylo Ren and a wet cloth.

The truth is, Subterfuge developers Ron Carmel and Noel Lopis have made a hell of a game. We were just playing it in the worst possible way.

Pitting eight games writers against one another was the best format for a video series because it was the worst for our mental health. Our group ranged from the competitive to the hideously competitive, so we quickly ended up pouring time and energy into a game that takes a full playthrough to even understand. Chalice of Christ, Matt avoided my assassination by accident. On top of this, all of us brought different (and often tender) relationships to the game. Bratt used to work under Matt. Pip doesn’t play strategy games. Leigh’s my fiancée! That's not something any player would have wanted in a game of cutthroat negotiation, least of all me.

Of course you got to watch us collapse into madness and misery. Not only did we care more than we should have, and not only did a lot go wrong, legally and strategically, but we couldn’t simply start a new game of Subterfuge. Plus, we had to document our failings.

So don’t let our playthrough put you off this excellent game. You should give it a shot yourself on the Android or iOS device you definitely own. Every time I check on Subterfuge it has more players scrabbling for position on its leaderboards, and perhaps you should be one of them.

Right off the bat, the latest Subterfuge update adds the option to make players anonymous, so you can still play with your friends and just find out who everyone was afterwards. But nevermind that! The more important part is that I played no less than four more games of Subterfuge on public servers after our hell-match and had an absolutely awesome time. These are long games, don't forget, each representing tens of hours of play, and together they easily justified the game’s £7.50 asking price. And you’d better believe I’m diving back in the instant they add a new content update.

If you've watched our Let's Play then you'll have seen how this is an engaging, almost hypnotising strategy game with gorgeous art and audio. What I want to add is how public players have surprised me, and taught me how to be a better contestant.

It started with a player who I decided was Russian. It wasn't just that the game had assigned him the colour red, or that he pinged me messages like "is ok. we destroy him." It was that in my exchanges with him he acted with a matter-of-fact sort of honour. You knew that he was as good as his word, and to this day he’s the only Subterfuge player I've encountered whose promises filled me with relief. These days, Subterfuge offers micro-transaction medals you can buy for other players. If these were around then I’d have bought him “Steadfast Ally” in a heartbeat. Let him wear it with pride!

Click to expand!

Then there was the Puppy. The Puppy was a player who, when I asked if we could de-escalate our borders with the intention of then launching a lightning-fast Helmsman at him out of the fog of war, he happily agreed and sent away everything. "Well, shit," I said aloud in my kitchen. I couldn't backstab him now, could I? This was the sweetest, most trusting creature I'd ever encountered. We ended up blood brothers until the end of the game. I finished second, he finished third.

The Puppy wasn't even the best sport I encountered. That honour belongs to the gentleman or lady who, when they realised I'd trapped their Queen, sent me a message delighting at my wit, wished me luck and gifted me every Specialist they had before they were eliminated. What a coup!

These players taught me that the most fun you can have playing Subterfuge is with a sort of light roleplay. The next time I play I'm going to be honest from the get-go. I want the name “Quinns” to be a beacon of hope on those savage servers.

And there definitely will be a "next time". The developers have shown a keen interested in updating their game. Just wait until they roll out a feature adding another more width to the strategy. I'll be back in a flash, and you'd better believe I'll be seeing if I can pull in a few punters from the Cool Ghost community.

Until then? Give it a try yourself!

Posted on January 12, 2016 and filed under Subterfuge Diaries, One Off.