Eva has a lot of neat little abilities. She starts without any Luck, but the game starts out with 4 bonus Courage in the Pool, which is incredibly useful and jumpstarts the early game. Her flaw, Self-Pity means she can’t buy a Gift unless someone else does, too, which means she can only buy Gifts when there is a lot of Courage available. In effect, this means that the team usually has to wait an extra turn before buying any Gifts, meaning their gift purchases come in slightly suboptimally.
She’s worth it, though, because not only did you get the extra Courage at game start, her two follow-up abilities are useful. One lets her boost the effects of ambushes in her area by letting that ambush fire as though it had one more trooper – this makes an ambush with just 2 troopers more useful, and one with 1 trooper even less so. She also has the Christmas Miracle ability, which is the opposite of Bernice Kuchler’s Death With Honor. Eva gets to avoid death, once, springing back to life with full health. If you time this death for the right moment, it can really turn the tide. Unfortunately, she can’t use it in Hell Time, which renders it even more strategic – do you let Eva die just before you go into the final battle? Or not?
Fun Fact: my stand-in image for my Eva Noel hero sheet was Barbara Steele, because I love her.
Each week leading up to our Kickstarter campaign this Fall, we will release a Design Corner from Sandy focusing on the new Planet Apocalypse 2 characters as well as sneak peek with art from these new projects.
DESIGN CORNER: The Faery Folk, New 4th Circle Demons — Fachan, Scurrilet, Cobold
First is the Fachan, a Petersen family favorite — the Fachan is a horrendous entity with one eye, one arm, and one leg. Famous for its mighty strength, naturally our version rolls 4d12 for its attack. Its special power is quite alarming — because the Fachan is all about unity and singularity, while he’s in play, heroes can only roll one of the dice in their attack box. They can still get bonus dice from various sources, but their core dice are limited to one. This is of course an excellent reason to try to kill the Fachan ASAP — he makes it almost impossible to kill Cacodemons and many Lords.
Fun Fact: Petersen Games is releasing a game next year about a non-demonic Fachan. It’s called Marry the Monster, and is a strategy game in which you try to build up your towns and cities while tricking the poor Fachan into pillaging your opponent’s towns. Watch for it in January 2021.
The second “Faery” foe is the Scurrilet. This obnoxious hobgoblin hides enemies from you by transforming all minions (except 4th circle demons) back into invasion tokens when they are in areas lacking heroes or troopers. Not only does this conceal their make-up, it effectively resurrects killed demons inside the token. If you have a good ambush set-up, the Scurrilet is comparatively impotent, but without it, he can be a game-killer.
The final 4th circle for today is the Cobold. Before the Dungeons & Dragons game re-interpreted the German Kobold as a tiny goblinoid, this creature was a feared horror. The metal “Cobalt” is named after it – the idea being that the poisonous aftereffects found in some mines were a curse from underground demons. To further distinguish it from the roleplaying enemy, I’ve used an alternate spelling of the name, and in honor of its toxic heritage, its ability is to prevent First Aid. Not just in its area — NO hero can perform First Aid while the Cobold is in play. Sometimes this isn’t so bad, but usually it means the Cobold is a major target for destruction.
We had some hiccups in preparing the various credit giveaways for this project (related to backers who also backed the CATaclysm KS so they don’t pay extra on shipping, as well as other ones). Due to this, we will be launching the PM late next week.
NOTE: After the PM launches, it will only be open for a few short weeks (we are looking to close it towards the end of July). This is a major change from how we have normally run pledge managers in the past which normally stay open for several months. This one will be much shorter so we can get the reprint numbers to China faster and get the games to you sooner.
Let’s talk about how the Daemon Sultan Azathoth was designed (my version). Not the rules, but the actual concept and visuals.
First off, many people have noted that I used an odd approach to naming the avatars. Rather than stages or forms they are actually the three parts of the Fichtean dyad, and this is essential to the concept. You see, the philosophical way these work as as follows:
THESIS – represents some assertion. Example, “The universe is under a supreme entity’s direction.”
ANTITHESIS – represents the opposite of the assertion. “The universe is random and chaotic.”
SYNTHESIS – this reconciles the two previous concepts into a new, correct, whole. “The universe is controlled by a blind idiot.”
This is critical, because you cannot have a Synthesis without both the Thesis and the Antithesis existing. If we instead imagined Azathoth as three stages like a larva/pupa/adult, you could imagine the adult appearing by skipping over a previous stage. But a Thesis/Antithesis/Synthesis only works in relationship to each other. Each of the three parts is necessary to the whole (well, technically you could have just the Thesis or the Antithesis by itself, but the Synthesis requires all).
So that is the philosophy of it. How about the appearance?
First let’s discuss the Larvae.
The Larvae are displayed as smaller, weaker, undeveloped forms of their respective adults. But Azathoth doesn’t “breed”. It’s not a species that needs to reproduce. It is a lone singularity, a terror at the center of the cosmos. So what is going on? Quite simply, the larvae are projections of Azathoth to all corners of the universe. A sorcerer can use one of these projections to “suck in” the greater reality that is Azathoth, and bring a real avatar of the Daemon Sultan to his presence. So they are actually more like trigger points, or if you will let me make an analogy from Youtube these are “thumbnails” of Azathoth – if you click on one, then Azathoth’s reality “loads up” and becomes awful reality.
The Thesis is “classic Azathoth” as it is often portrayed. Tendrils, mouths, and raw terror. This is the positif of Azathoth – the aggressive awful form. It grows cancerously until it fills all around it. It can devour, and converts what it eats into itself, growing logarithmically in speed and size until that unfortunate section of the universe is doomed.
The Thesis, on the other hand, is Azathoth as the Big Bang – the cosmic explosion and destruction. This is Azathoth negatif – the cancellation of reality, the End of Everything. Instead of a growing, replicating mass of life (Thesis), you get a devouring hungry maw with no interior – just oblivion. This is the opposite of the burgeoning Thesis. Instead growing fat on the rest of existence, and leaving a giant monster in its place, this swallows the universe and leaves behind nothing – not even a black hole.
This is one of the realities behind the growing tentacle-beast of Thesis and the destructive whirlpool of Antithesis – this is the entity whose other aspects are simply facets of the awful whole that is the Daemon Sultan. It has tentacles, yet the bulging spheres on the front in fact are the opposite of eyes – they project destruction, annihilating all that they rest upon, rather than taking in light or images. Thus the feral chaos that is Azathoth rules the cosmos.
But what about the OTHER Azathoth?
Of course we have another Azathoth figure, and it’s not obsolete. What the heck is Sandy thinking?
This is the projection of Azathoth that I regard this as the common form – when a mad sorcerer tries to contact the Daemon Sultan, conceiving of it as a sort of super-monster, this is what he gets – a sort of “shadow” of the Outer God. It has a form, and in fact you can see within the orbs and open “maws” the universe itself roiling, as though it surrounds and engulfs everything, instead of being at the center as it is usually imagined.
This form may take its shape in response to the mind and spells of the sorcerer, but it is a sort of sub-type of the reality that is Azathoth, bringing through a horror and a power that is much more difficult to dismiss than it is to summon.
The Cthulhu Wars factions are, obviously, extremely asymmetrical. But they have some features in common. All of them have some way of earning extra Elder Signs, and all of them have some kind of interesting Power bonus. Let’s talk about the latter.
Let’s take Black Goat for example – she has two Power bonuses – one obvious and one less-so. The first is the combination of her Red Sign spellbook with Dark Young. In effect, this gives her 3 extra super-cultists, who also can’t be captured (except by Tsathoggua, that cheater). Her other Power bonus is that she can get her monsters on the cheap with Thousand Young. She can combine this with her sometimes-maligned Fertility Cult ability to react extremely quickly to an enemy move.
Her Elder Sign bonus is Blood Sacrifice which she needs to get and use as early as possible. Unlike some factions’ Elder Signs, she is limited to just 1 special bonus one per turn, which means if Shub Niggurath is out on the second turn, she’ll probably get just 4 more. Not terrible, but not amazing.
Now let’s talk about your power bonuses as Daemon Sultan Power. You have three. First, your Psychosis ability, which places cultists for free (some conditions apply). Second, your spellbook requirement which lets all your rivals choose between 1 Power or 1 Doom – but you get the same. In a 4 player game, if all your rivals picked getting 1 Power, you’d end up with +3 Power. This one is kind of unreliable though, because those jerks will make their choice partly based on whatever they feel you need least at that moment. Your final Power bonuses are your Undirected Energy & Fiendish Growth spellbooks. The former straight up gives you Power, while the latter just gives you free units, which is sort of a shortcut.
Both Undirected Energy and Fiendish Growth require an Avatar (Thesis & Antithesis respectively). If the Avatar’s not in an area with an enemy, then these spellbooks are a wash. They cost 1 Power, and you earn 1 Power (or get a unit that costs 1 Power). Big whoop. You only start making a profit if you are in an area with a foe. If you can find an area with two foes, it’s even better though. Still, these are not going to make you rich – they’re maybe 1-3 extra Power per turn.
If you don’t count free units & monsters as “Power”, then during the course of the whole game you’re likely to end up with only 6-8 total bonus Power. Say 2 from your spellbook requirement, and another 4-6 for effective use of Undirected Energy during Turns 2-5. That’s not much, compared to the other factions. Nyarlathotep can pull in 3.5 a turn with Thousand Forms, and even more if he uses Harbinger for Power rather than Elder Signs. Yellow Sign can get 6-8 extra Power PER TURN once he’s on a roll.
SO you don’t get much Power, yet you have to spend a lot to win – you need 19 Power to awaken your Avatars, plus you will want at least one Ritual – maybe more – to take advantage of having three Great Old Ones in play. How do you do it? (Why 19 Power – 8 for Thesis & Antithesis, 8 for Synthesis, and 3 for the 3 required Larvae.) It’s a good thing your cultists are free, and your gates difficult to steal. It’s also good that Antithesis eats a cultist from each enemy when awakened, because this helps slow down their response.
How about getting extra Elder Signs? Well, one I’ve already referenced – the fact that you have up to three Great Old Ones. A single Ritual gets you 3 Elder Signs, and that’s pretty great. But you may only be able to afford this once, on the last turn. However, you have another tool – your Traitors spellbook. This gives you an Elder Sign at the cost of a Chaos Gate and a Cultist. The Cultist is nothing – you’ll get him back free. The Chaos Gate is only a slight problem, since it costs just 1 Power to reclaim. So in effect you are spending 1 Power for an Elder Sign, which is amazing. Unfortunately, unless you’ve carefully set your plans, you can probably only do this once per turn. And if you HAVE gotten set up, you can still just do it twice. But you should try to do it every turn – that’s 3-4 more Elder Signs over the course of the game.
You need to be efficient and careful in spending Power, obviously. But you have another secret weapon – that you spread chaos and dissension among the other players. Let’s look at how you do this.
ANIMATE MATTER & TRAITORS COMBO – move your Chaos Gate into somewhere obnoxious, like another faction’s home area. Then Traitors away your cultist, replacing it with a cultist from a third faction. His cultist is now in a dangerous situation, and he must choose whether to protect or abandon that gate. Meanwhile the first faction must muster to attack. In either case, they’re focusing on each other. Not you.
AWAKEN AVATAR THESIS or AVATAR SYNTHESIS – you divide up Power among the enemies. Nothing says you have to be fair about this. Boost players who are less likely to harm you, or who are enemies of a mutual foe. Did Cthulhu just drive Sleeper’s out of his home area? Why not give all the Power to Sleeper so he can wreak vengeance? Did Crawling Chaos just roll “6” on his hated Thousand Forms die? Perhaps the other factions would appreciate an ability to strike back at him? Or, if Crawling Chaos only rolled a “1”, and is sad, you could cheer him up by pointing out how much you’d like NOT being targeted with Harbinger. Then give him some Power to hit the others.
As Daemon Sultan, you need to react to what’s going on. Because of this nature of your faction, you can’t just make a plan from the start and stick with it. You have to be able to respond to the situation. This is really obvious right from the start, while you are placing your first, free, cultists using Psychosis. Where do you put them?
And when do you get your spellbooks? This is core to any faction. So let’s examine your spellbook requirements, and when you can take them.
One of each type of larva. There are three types, all of which cost 1 Power each. Since you need a gate to summon them, you can’t get this in the first turn.
An abandoned gate is on the map during Gather Power. In theory you could do this in the first Gather Power – if you are the last player, you can just abandon your gate. I wouldn’t recommend it though because you’ll be starting turn 2 with a bad power differential. And then someone will steal your gate first thing next turn. Instead, wait till you have Chaos Gates, and abandon one of them.
During the Doom phase, each other player gets either 1 Power or 1 Doom, and you get what they get. Again, you can’t get it the first turn, but you could kick off your second turn with this boost.
Awaken your Great Old One – you have three to awaken. Sadly, you can’t awaken any the first turn. Do the math. Building a Gate costs 3 Power. Summoning a Larva Thesis costs 1 Power. Now you’re out, and can’t take any more actions. Exception: if you can talk Sleeper into giving you a Power boost in the first turn, you can awaken Avatar Thesis. Lots of luck.
The bottom line is you’re at most going to have one spellbook as your second turn starts (the one where everyone gets Doom and Power). Early on, you can awaken Avatar Thesis, for 0-2 Power easily enough, for a second spellbook. Then build from here. But let’s check this out turn by turn. Let’s say it’s a 5 player game.
You have 4 Power and 0 Doom.
You recruit a cultist somewhere free, and keep doing this until you have at least 4-5 cultists in play. One or more might get captured. Obviously it’s good to avoid this if possible, but c’est la vie. It’s cheaper to recruit a new cultist than to defend one. You need to build 1 gate and summon 1 Larva Thesis this turn. That’s all four of your Power. Don’t do it till the end of the turn, when the other players are low on Power, so they don’t know where you’re going to be setting up.
You have 1 gate, and let’s say 5 cultists out. This gives you a start of 7 Power and 1 Doom. In the Doom phase you get your “everyone” spellbook. Let’s assume two of the other players took Doom and 2 took Power. This bumps you to 9 Power and 3 Doom. A logical spellbook to take is Animate Matter.
Animate Matter (Action: Cost 1) Flip this spellbook face-down. Move a controlled Chaos Gate from its Area to an adjacent Area, taking its cultist along. You cannot move to another player’s Start Area. If the new Area has an existing physical Gate, replace that Gate with the Chaos Gate.
As one of your first actions, you then create a Chaos Gate for 1 Power, following up with a Larva to guard it. You have 7 Power left, and now two guarded gates. You can now awaken Avatar Thesis to whichever gate seems more threatened. If you think you need more monsters & cultists, get a cost 0 Thesis. If you want a tougher Thesis, spend 1-3 Power on it. Say you get a 2 Power thesis. Now you have 5 Power.
Hannah’s start attack is 1d6, with a toughness of 2, starting Luck of 6 (!), and a mere 4 health. That health is bad, and keeps her out of the front lines, but her extra Luck means she is encouraged to take Luck-using Gifts, with the extra power and oomph they offer.
Hannah starts with the Sighted-In ability, which lets her attack demons in adjacent areas. This is even better than it sounds, because as always in Planet Apocalypse, a hero rolls their dice before assigning targets. This means that she rolls her attack, then chooses which area she’s going to kill demons in. If she is rolling 2 or more dice, she can kill demons in two different areas with a single attack!
Her earned abilities are Head Shot and Zeroed In. Head Shot lets her add two dice together into a single total – this basically makes her super-effective against demons who have high toughness, such as Fiends and certain lords and fourth circle demons. Zeroed In lets her increase ALL her attack dice by a step if she doesn’t move. So this is super-handy as well, but does tend to make her a sitting duck for enemies.
Her weakness is that she cannot have more than a single patrol trooper with her at a time. This means she can’t make up for her low Health by bulking up on troopers. She has to be careful about hand-to-hand combat. Like a sniper I suppose. So she is kind of an eggshell with a hammer. She can dish it out, but she can’t take it.
What’s Up With Her Weird Sighting Technique?
Some observant fans have noticed that Hannah appears to be sighting with the “wrong” eye in using her scope. The fact is, during the demon uprising, she lost one of her eyes, so she is forced to take this measure.
Some other fans may have noticed that Naomi Joslyn, another hero, is wearing an eyepatch. “What’s this obsession of Sandy with one-eyed girls?” you wonder. Well actually Naomi’s eye, under the eyepatch is operational. Too much so, actually. Read her corner to find out the truth!
How Hannah works
Hannah is one of the most popular heroes in the game (judging from my playtesters’ experience). She tends to station herself somewhere interesting, and then start gunning down the enemies until she is finally forced to shift her position due to an encroaching horde.
Her ability (with Head Shot) to KO Fiends almost at will, makes her incredibly useful in the late game. However, she needs protection, and her best positioning is in an area that has a large ambush, so if she is attacked, she can use the ambush troopers to absorb her hits. She can’t set up a good ambush on her own, not only because she has to recruit her troopers one at a time, but also because she tends to sit immobile in an area, instead of running around and trying to recruit. This means she has to rely on the rest of the team to set up a good “sniper perch” for her.
Hannah’s tech tree only adds 1d4 to her attack (every tech tree adds 1 die to the hero, but it’s different dice for different heroes), but it has two options that boost an attack die by a level. Of course, her Head Shot ability means she doesn’t necessarily need huge dice anyway, plus her high starting Luck means she is a good candidate for a great Luck-using Gift such as Frag Grenades or Wizard Eye. (In fact, Frag Grenades almost seems custom-made for Hannah. If it shows up, get it!)