The last few hours have tested my resolve to avoid using a guide. It's not that I have any particular moral objections to the practice (though I always feel a little guilty doing it for any game that doesn't frustrate me to the point of rage), but I know that for Long Live the Queen, specifically, doing so would tear the whole thing apart. There is literally an easily definable series of steps I could follow to get exactly the outcome I want. A guide that told me those steps would completely eliminate the "game" portion of the game.
And yet . . .
Getting some of the stranger outcomes is extremely fiddly. You not only have to succeed at the right tasks at the right time, but in order to unlock certain paths, you have to also fail the right combination of events. You can't fight off a foreign invasion unless you so bungle your diplomacy that the foreign nation decides to invade.
The practical upshot of this is that exploration of the various alternate endings and gruesome deaths is a process of meticulous repetition. You have to find a critical path and then follow it as far as you can, and then when you inevitably start over, you remember the thing that cut you short and try to avoid it the next time. Each pass gets you farther and farther (with the occasional setback) until you get all the way through. Then you go back to one of your earlier failures and try a completely different path.
The only real problem is that developing your skills has a serious opportunity cost, so aiming towards succeeding at one particular check might cause you to miss an earlier check and thus put you on an entirely different path. It's a tricky balancing act and a guide would come in really handy . . .
Except that I still have 15 hours to go, and it would be ridiculous of me to burn through Long Live the Queen's alternate storylines so quickly. I'm resolved to do this the hard way, unless, you know, I get to hour 15 or something and still have a bunch of achievements left to get. Then I'm going to start cheating my ass off.