Heroes of the Pit

Amelia Azevedo

Amelia Azevedo is a firefighter and emergency medical technician. She is inspirational, if a bit too willing to think of others instead of herself.

She’s pretty good. Attack 1d8, starting Luck 4. Unfortunately, she only has a Toughness of 1 so that’s not so hot. Basically she can dish it out, but not really take it. At least her health of 7 lets her get hit a few times before she has to resort first aid.

Her starting ability is really great – it lets her bring another hero along with her when she moves. Because this question always comes up, no she cannot drop (or pick up) her “carried” hero as she moves. He has to stay with her from start to end. This is good not only for carrying heroes back out of the firing line so they can be safe, but can also be used to take one along to give you help in an attack.

Her other abilities are Emergency Care and Veteran. The first lets her remove Stun, Fire, and Pestilence markers in her area. The second lets her inflict extra damage on the dreaded 4th circle demons. Basically if she does any damage to one, she adds +1 more. This is handy, but she can’t get it for a while into the game.

Her weakness is that troopers absorb 1 less damage on her behalf. This means that the basic troopers such as Gang or Volunteers are absolutely valueless as damage blocks. And even good soldiers like the National Guard or Canadian Mounties only block half as much (1 instead of 2). Naturally, this can be discouraging.

She has another “ability” built into her tech tree. Namely, her starting gift slot costs 0. So she can kick off the game with an immediate gift. Of course if she picks a gift with a bonus cost (such as Angelic Wrath), she has to pay the bonus, but that’s usually only 2 courage (rarely 4). Cheap.

Choices in Play

Let’s talk about one of the fundamental tactical decisions in Planet Apocalypse. In the Hero phase, heroes have three actions they can take (occasionally more) – these are Attack, Move, and Set Ambush. Most of the time it’s just Attack and Move, even. But you can take these actions in any order. Thus, you could set an ambush, then attack, then move, or move then attack, and so forth.

A lot of heroes have abilities that play off of this choice. Naomi is a good example, with her power to move an area during the team phase. Amelia is another – for instance, if Amelia is in an area with demons, a badly wounded hero could move into the same area, and attack. Then, on Amelia’s turn, she can attack, then leave the area, dragging the injured person along with her special ability. Moose Kowalski, on the other hand, has an ability that requires him to move before he attacks. So if he wants that ability, he needs to figure out what to do the turn before so he can set it up.

It takes some planning to get the most out this turn structure, but that’s part of what makes Planet Apocalypse a strategy game, not a dice fest.

How Amelia works

Except for her starting 0 cost gift (which is “no effect”), all of her gifts heal every other player for 1 point. Of course sometimes players are full health so they don’t appreciate it, but it’s there. She also gets to add 1d6 to her attack, and also boost an attack die by 1 step, so by game end, if she gets no attack-enhancing gifts, she’ll have 2d8 or 1d10+1d6 for her attack. Her final gift is kind of weak – all it does is add +1 health to the other heroes, but it’s really just there in case she needs a little something extra near the game end. As I’ve explained elsewhere, it’s quite common for a PA hero to not earn all 6 gifts before the game ends.

In play, she is an eggshell with a hammer. She can’t use troopers to block damage – at least not effectively – and her meagre toughness means she is quite vulnerable when alone. At least she can haul someone along with her. Also, because of her abilities and tendency to hop from place to place to heal stun, fire, etc. she is frequently on the front lines, so you have to watch to see she doesn’t take too much damage.

She needs to rely heavily on first aid to keep her fit. It’s a good thing her attack is good, because she usually has a fair supply of courage to use for this purpose. Also, thanks to the fact that her gifts heal the other heroes, they are generally willing to let her use the courage pool to buy them, which is nice. So she is rarely gift-starved (unlike poor Penrod, for instance).

Penrod Wallenstein

Penrod Wallenstein is inspired by one of my heroes, Mr. T! Though I despised “The A Team” show I loved Mr. T, and still do. A few years back, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Lymphoma, which he managed to survive via chemotherapy and treatment. His comment when asked about it was, “For four years, fools went unpitied.” Now THAT’S a hero.

Anyway. Penrod is supposed to represent a fighter. Rugged, brave, and unyielding.

He is amazing at first, with 1d10 attack, toughness 3, and a health of 7. His luck is only 2, but you can’t have everything. Even his weakness isn’t so bad. He only earns courage equal to the circle of the highest-rank demon he kills in an attack. Of course if all he kills is a Larva, he gets 0 courage. If he kills a first circle demon, he gets 1 courage. But, if he kills 2 or more first circle demons, he still only gets 1 courage. On the other hand, if he manages to kill a second or third circle demon, he gets 2 or 3 courage, respectively, and with his 1d10 starting attack, it’s not that hard to pull off.

Penrod’s abilities are of course also quite solid. His starting ability is Inspirational, which lets him roll 1d6 when he recruits (instead of a mere 1d4), so he always has a good supply of troopers, and he can sometimes (1/3 of the time) roll high enough to recruit a Special Forces without spending courage. This last is nice because Penrod, thanks to his weakness, doesn’t really accumulate courage at a fast pace.

His other abilities are Just A Distraction, which lets him gain courage when stunned, on fire, or infected with Pestilence. Of course not every map has these problems, so this ability can be skipped in the tech tree. His other ability is Brawler, which lets him spend 1 health to get a second Attack each turn. Since his attack is so excellent, this is a fabulous ability. Too bad it’s extremely expensive to acquire

How Penrod works

He has just about the worst tech tree for gifts of any player – in fact, he is wholly front-loaded in terms of abilities. Three of his “gifts” are listed as No Effect, meaning all he gets from them is the gift card! One does add 1d6 to his attack, and the other two are for his abilities. So that’s pretty weak. This gives him a kind of double-whammy, because when players are looking over gifts to take, they often decide to let someone besides Penrod take the gift, because Penrod may not have that extra little bump up. So he gets less courage in the first place, has weaker gift rewards, and socially other players tend to skip him in gaining gifts. It all adds up. At least with a strong personality you can minimize the social issue, and Penrod’s strength is so great it may make up for his slow advancement.

Penrod isn’t really for new players, because he can give them a wrong idea of how the game works. They will feel like they’re not making progress. And they’re not, but this is all part of the way Penrod works. He is still a great warrior & boost to the party.

What’s that thing he’s holding in his figure?

It’s a pole chainsaw. A real item, used (of course) for working on trees). But what a fabulous spear it would make for slicing up demons!