Planet Apocalypse 2 Design Corner: New Lords

Planet Apocalypse 2 Design Corner: New Lords

We’ve added seven new Lords for this campaign, so let’s discuss them!

Belphegor as the demon of laziness and idle hands has the power of Sloth. When you fight him, he hands out Sloth tokens over time. These have several effects. The scariest is that when a hero with a Sloth tokens wants to retreat from Hell Time, he must roll 1d4 – if the roll is equal to or less than his Sloth, he can’t retreat. So this is a real risk. If you have 4 Sloth tokens, you can never retreat!

Fortunately, Belphegor only has six Sloth tokens so by the time they’ve all been handed out, with luck no one will have accumulated 4. Unfortunately, once Belphegor runs out of Sloth tokens, when it’s time for him to give another, he instead gains 1d4 health! This lets him regenerate over time so if you delay battling Belphegor too long, it makes him harder and harder to take down. ThIs Lord is much easier to deal with if you front-load your attacks, but of course that is not always easy either.

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.

Planet Apocalypse 2 Design Corner: New Lords

Planet Apocalypse 2 Design Corner: New Hero – Eva Noel

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.

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard is an Israeli-trained sniper:

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!)

Hannah Hazard

Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter is an MD who has been living on the road since the apocalypse. When he saw the horrors advancing towards his hospital, he went to the pharmacy, grabbed all the drugs and medical gear he could cram onto a gurney, and headed for the hills. Since then he has been helping people the best he can, but the sights he has seen have tragically led him to seek solace in his own drugs.

Now he has decided to step out of the pure support role, and start taking on the demons directly.

Doc Hunter’s Abilities  

His start attack is 1d6, toughness is 2, health 5, all average. He is the only hero who starts with 0 Luck which makes sense as an addict.

His start ability is useful, but perhaps not a surprise – he is a healer, so his First Aid restores 1 extra health to the target. There are several healing-oriented gifts in the gift deck, and in my opinion (though not everyone’s), it is wiser NOT to give these to Doc Hunter. For example, one such card is Medikit, which also gives +1 health per First Aid. If you give this to Doc Hunter, then of course he will heal 3 points each time. BUT if you give it to someone else instead, then they can heal 2 points as well as Doc Hunter, which is a total of 4 health! Of course, if you expect to be paying courage when you use First Aid (because of an enemy’s presence), then the good doctor is a bargain. Still, I think it’s usually better to spread the wealth. At least inasmuch as healing goes. Again, not everyone agrees, and I’ve seen the rival theory (i.e., give it all to the Doc) put into action.

One of the doctor’s earned abilities is Stimpacks, which lets him spend 1 Luck to instantly heal 1 damage on another hero, or add +1 to that hero’s move. This is obviously an expensive price for the healing, so why is it so great? Well, because he can use it at practically any time. This includes while fighting the Lord, so he is just about the only way you can heal up a point or two while facing Baphomet. That’s not trivial. The +1 Move is less common, but sometimes it is really critical, when a hero absolutely has to get to the exit area, or to a particular demon, or to launch a Lord attack.

His other ability is Autopsy – it lets him give up his First Aid during the team phase to kill a Limbo minion (automatically) instead. Remember that if a Limbo minion is in his area, it would cost him 1 courage to First Aid. This way, he can GAIN a courage instead, which is nice.

The Doctor’s flaw is the aforementioned Addiction. Basically, if he has 2 or more courage at the start of his hero turn, he has to discard one. This means he has trouble saving up for a big purchase, and tends to look for ways to spend it all before his turn (during the team phase, or when helping other players). It’s also an incentive for him to use first aid even when it costs courage. Example – imagine he has 2 courage in the team phase. He can use First Aid, spending 1 courage (we’re assuming demons are in his area, which is often the case), and drop his courage to 1. Now he won’t lose it, plus someone (possibly himself) got healed 2 points.

How Doc Hunter works  

Obviously he can keep the other player’s health up, but there are more subtleties to his nature.

First, every single gift on his tech tree gives him 1 Luck, except one. That one gives him 3 Luck. So though he starts with none, it builds up rapidly over time (in my head when I designed him, this represented him overcoming his addiction). He generally doesn’t want to buy Luck-using gifts though, because Stimpacks is his main way to apply that Luck.

He gains 1d6 attack on the tech tree, plus 1 die boost, so his final total (not counting possible gifts that boost his combat) is 1d8+1d6, which is quite respectable. He can also gain 1 toughness – with such a good attack and toughness (and his Autopsy power), this means you want him right in the front lines. Of course he can heal you there too, but you want and need his battle oomph! So he is not a boring healer sitting in the rear like my former World of Warcraft healer – he is a real combat asset. The healing is a nice perk, though.

He is a good example of my design theory that there is no reason support characters have to be dull. I want to put them right into the firing line!

Hannah Hazard

Dice

All About Dice

Why are the dice so plain?

The dice are simple solid colors. Nothing fancy, like Q-Workshop’s tribal dice, or SJG’s cthulhu dice. Why? Because we are going for functionality here.

This is not just theory either. You see, when I playtested this game for the last 18 months, we obviously didn’t have the official PA dice, so I just used dice from my collection. Naturally, they came in all the colors of the rainbow. Some were even multi-colored.

Now, if you recall, almost every time someone rolls dice in PA, there are adjustments. Someone helps you, so your d6 grows into a d8. Every time you roll for a demon attack it’s a different number and often type of dice. So you can’t just grab your hero’s dice and plop them in front of yourself and use them. You need to swap them out. This meant in our playtests every time dice were rolled, someone had to poke through the dice pile looking for one last d10, and the less experienced players had trouble telling the difference between d8s, d10s, and d12s (d4s & d6s were easy though).

By making the dice flat easy-to-read colors it’s super-simple to grab the dice you need. If you need a d8 and a d10 for your attack, it’s super-easy just to grab a green & a blue die from the pile that Gilberto selfishly amassed in front of his seat.

We also didn’t pick the colors arbitrarily. They are assembled in such a way that colors that COULD be confused are on physically distinct dice. For example, if you have green-red colorblindness, blue and purple are sometimes difficult to distinguish. Well the blue & purple dice are the d10 and d6 which are really easy to tell apart via shape. And of course the d12 is almost black, making it really easy to tell apart from the d10, which is a sort-of-similar shape. The d10 & d8 are similar in shape to the untrained eye, but their colors, green & blue, are easily distinguished by almost all color-blind types.

Now you know. Also, for those who are unaware, the dice included in the core game are identical in color and number to those in the blue dice pack. Which is why it’s the default.

How Many Dice Do I Need?

Let’s break this down. You have I am sure noticed that there are 6 dice of each type in the dice pack. No doubt part of your brain is thinking, “Those lazy bastards. Why didn’t they carefully parse how many we’ll need instead of just dumping 6 per type.”

Well, let’s look at the individual cases.

THE FOUR-SIDED DIE – only humans (and Chthon) roll the d4s. Sometimes a human might roll 2d4 (Chthon frequently rolls 4). Every human needs a d4 by his seat all the time for Recruiting anyway, so we give you 6. This way, a human who rolls 2d4 for his attack can have the extra die available, even in a 5 player game.

THE SIX-SIDED DIE – the Larvae roll these. While in theory 10 Larvae could be in one area all rolling dice, this never happens in practice. They are divided among several areas, and by the time they get to attack, 1-2 have always been killed off. So really 6 is the upper-level of what you’d ever need. I’m trying really hard to think of a time we needed more than 6d6 for a Larvae attack, and cannot remember it happening in all 18 months of prototyping and playtest.

THE EIGHT-SIDED DIE – these are rolled by humans (who never need more than a few), some 4th circle demons, and some demon lords. The demon lords roll six, so we give you 6d8 to handle this situation.

THE TEN-SIDED DIE – most of the lesser demons roll these. However, more than 6 doesn’t really happen. You might have 2 cacodemons in an area, who would roll 6d10. Rarely (or with the Gehenna legion) you might find 3 fiends, who again roll 6d10. The theoretical maximum of Grylluses in an area is 6, so they won’t bust the limit. And of course a number of demon lords roll 6d10. Really, the only way to need more than six d10s is if you somehow get all four fiends in the same area. In that case you have bigger problems. Or if you have a really big Argus attack with a ton of minions.

THE TWELVE-SIDED DIE – Plenty of demon lords roll d12s and of course they “only” ever need 6. It’s theoretically possible to need more with Chthon, but I doubt it.

What Do I Do With The Red Dice Pack?

As I see it, the red dice pack has two prime functions.

1) as game owner, you can bogart the red (or blue) dice pack and tell your gaming buddies, “Okay, you parasites. THESE dice are mine. You guys get the other color.” Then you always have all the dice you need and they are easily distinguished.

2) you can set aside the red dice and say “We use these for the demons. The blue dice are for us.” There are enough blue dice that everyone will have enough most of the time. After all, humans don’t roll as many dice as the demons. You still may have to swap dice (or borrow a demon die) from time to time.

Why can’t I buy more Despair Dice?

Because the number of Despair Dice (12) is a hard game limit. It’s integral to the late-game that 12 is the cap. “But Sandy!” I hear you plaintively, “What if I lose a die?” Well, heaven forbid, but if you do, just use a normal d6 in its place, reading a 1-3 as the First Circle icon, 4-5 as the Second Circle icon, and 6 as the Third Circle icon. It works fine. How do I know? We did just that for many months on end.

Another solution, if you own the Cthulhu Wars custom dice, is to grab a custom Cthulhu battle die and use it as a replacement. You don’t REALLY need 20 of them in Cthulhu Wars, after all, and it has the same numbers of faces as the Despair Dice (3, 2, 1). I guess I’m in a rut design-wise. Either that or I’ve struck gold and am still mining it. You be the judge.