In a four-player game between House Elariel, House Lekal, House Venture, and the Steel Ministry, House Elariel and the Steel Ministry have formed a loose alliance. This has let these Houses build up a supply of resources while forcing the other two Houses to frequently work together out of necessity. During Step 4 of his turn, Lekal places the Inquisitor pawn on the Disobedience Problem, signaling the start of negotiation.
Lekal cannot solve this Problem on his own, as he is short 1 Prestige. As expected, the Steel Ministry player leans back and stays silent, having no interest in furthering Lekal’s objectives right now. Elariel is a shameless opportunist, however, and jumps in with an offer before Venture can say anything.
Elariel: “I can convert my 1 Money and 1 Warrior for the resource you need, Lekal, but it will cost you.”
Lekal is dubious but willing to humor Elariel, if only to get a sense of her ambition.
Lekal: “How much?”
Elariel: “3 Favor.”
Three Favor is almost half the reward for Disobedience, and a lot more than 1 resource is worth. Lekal snorts and looks to his regular ally in this game, House Venture
Venture: “Let’s make this simple. I’ll commit a Prestige for only 2 Favor.”
Lekal smiles. This deal seems fair to him and it will eliminate the immediate threat. Lekal reaches for the Inquisitor pawn to make the final call. Elariel intrudes again, playing an Agricultural Informant, which increases the Problem’s cost by 2 Food. This is more than Lekal and Venture can pay together.
Elariel: “Seems you’re a little short.”
Lekal: “Maybe, maybe not.”
Lekal plays a Smoker, redirecting the Agricultural Informant’s effect to the Cult of the Survivor Problem. The deal is back on. Out of cards and options, Elariel finally gives up, raising her hands in defeat. Lekal once again reaches for the Inquisitor pawn but the Steel Ministry unexpectedly speaks up.
Steel Ministry: “I have a counter-offer.”
Surprised by the Steel Ministry’s reengagement, the other players listen for details. Lekal is nervous. He has reason to be.
Steel Ministry: “I have a friend...”
The Steel Ministry player holds up a Hazekiller card where it can be seen by everyone. She is clearly showing the card and not playing it... yet.
Steel Ministry: “This friend could be convinced to eliminate your Smoker... unless I call him off.”
If the Hazekiller were to cancel the Smoker, the Agricultural Informant would increase the cost of the Disobedience Problem after all, and Lekal and Venture would once again be unable to solve the Problem — unless they had help. Lekal suspects the Steel Ministry is trying to muscle his way into the deal.
Lekal: “I suppose you want some of the Favor for your ‘friend’s’ cooperation?”
Steel Ministry: “Just 1 point, and a promise.”
Lekal: “Which is...?”
Steel Ministry: “Next turn I will require the Skaa you have remaining to help solve a Problem of my choosing. You will offer them, and you will accept only 1 Favor in return.”
Lekal is sure Steel Ministry is planning to solve the Cult of the Survivor Problem, unless something better is drawn next turn. Cult of the Survivor is worth a whopping 11 Favor, and with Lekal’s 1 Skaa the Steel Ministry could do it all on his own, yielding 10 Favor in one turn.
Fortunately, that’s not until next turn and there’s no reason Lekal has to comply.
Lekal: “You have a deal.”
Venture: “This could be a trap, Lekal.”
Lekal places his hand on the Inquisitor pawn, hoping the Steel Ministry player doesn’t have another trick up his sleeve.
Lekal: “...4...5. The deal is closed.”
Unfortunately, Venture’s warning is validated as the Steel Ministry plays his third card: an Obligator. He smiles.
Steel Ministry: “...and it is binding.”
Next turn the Steel Ministry will earn the Lord Ruler’s attention, but the House War is far from over.