Planet Apocalypse Difficulty
It’s my firm opinion that a co-operative game needs to be fairly tight in difficulty, or why even play it, right? Planet Apocalypse follows this philosophy. The first time most people play the Invasion map against a basic boss like Baphomet, they lose. Some veteran or lucky players are able to win right away, which is fine, because they still had to use their brains, fight, plan ambushes, etc. Some players (I’m looking at YOU, Earthslug) have found cool combinations of gifts and abilities that seem really strong. That’s intentional – it’s part of the game’s fun. Of course you cannot always rely on getting one particular recipe (you might not have enough courage to buy it when it comes up, or the gift track may not show it, or whatever), so you have to piece together interesting combos from what you have available. That’s fun too.
Also, a particular combination might be thwarted by a certain legion, or fourth circle demon. Imagine getting Rapid fire for two players, and gloating over how you’re going to mow down those Limbo minions, then getting the double-whammy of the Hades Legion (Limbo minions how have toughness 2) and the Philtre spawning (all enemies have +1 toughness). I’ve seen it happen.
Eventually (some sooner than others) you’ll reach the point you can beat the Invasion map vs. a basic boss reliably on the easiest difficulty level. That’s keen. But Planet Apocalypse can keep bumping up the difficulty:
MAPS– after the invasion map, we have 9 more maps, each a little (or a lot) tougher than the one before). So when you play the game vs. the same boss, with the same heroes on the Moonbase map, you’ll face more of a challenge than the Invasion map. This keeps getting harder till you reach the Final Battle, the most difficult of all maps. Nothing prevents you creating your own map though there are not specific rules to do so.
BOSSES – the bosses are loosely grouped into three categories, marked by crowns. Before you panic, these crowns were inadvertently left off some of the published boss sheets. Have no fear, they’ll be in the published versions. Baphomet has 1 crown. Geryon has 2, indicating that Geryon is generally considered a tougher boss.
ADJUSTMENTS – the game rules include no less than five means of increasing difficultly, some of which have multiple levels of adjustment. These include the Secret Identity, Enraged Lord, Increased Despair, Moving On Up, and The Miniboss. You can combine these. A brief description if you don’t want to look them up in the rules:
- Secret Identity – you don’t get to know who the boss is till the first Hell Time. This means you won’t know which gifts are best to aim for early on.
- Enraged Lord – just increases the Lord’s health. A simple, but effective, way to make him harder to kill. Usually each level of Enraged Lord means you’ll need one additional incursion into Hell Time to kill him. (Our team generally takes 2 assaults to kill Baphomet. When he’s enraged it usually takes 3.)
- Increased Despair – another simple but effective technique is to start with more than 4 dice in the Despair pool There are more, and worse demons from the beginning, and it just accelerates.
- Moving On Up – start the Lore closer to the exit. This only has meaning on maps where the Lord moves, of course, but it restricts where you are, gives you less time to stop 4th circles, etc. etc.
- The Miniboss – possibly the toughest of all the difficulty changes. Starting with a 4th circle when you have no upgrades is a poser.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Planet Apocalypse will never be “too easy”. If your team are super-adept players, you can keep scaling up up and up the challenge. Playing the game on an advanced map, with an enraged Lord, and Increased Despair Pool is a LOT tougher contest than the basic game. That said, even the basic game usually beats new players. If you defeated it first time, kudos to you. It’s time to ramp it up.