Demons of the Void pack & running out of demons
Named after the Roman gladiator type, the Secutor is a warrior pure and simple. His armor & weaponry are reminiscent of the gladiator, and the chain around his neck, held by his stomach-face, is emblematic of the servitude in which actual gladiators were held.
When the Secutor spawns, one ambush trooper in every area is killed. So if you have not built up much of an ambush structure (as in the early game), or if your ambush structure is degraded (as in the late game), he is not as dangerous. But in the mid-game this is obviously bad for you. Perhaps not as bad as some other demons, but it must be combined with the Secutor’s combat prowess.
Fighting the Secutor
The Secutor is another one of those demons with a doubled toughness of 2+2, which means he has to be beaten down over time. His attack is a lethal 4d12, and his battle rage means that you cannot absorb ANY of this damage with troopers. It’s this last that really makes him deadly.
Basically, his doubled toughness means when you go to attack him, you won’t be able to kill him in a single round (sometimes you can pull this off with the Hellhound, for instance), and then he’s going to thwack you with 4d12 that you can’t stop. This is enough to kill a weaker hero, such as John Dark or Hannah (unless they luck out with their toughness), and will debilitate even a strong hero.
Worse, since fourth circle demons don’t spawn in a vacuum, this means that the other demons in the area may be able to hurt you, so the Secutor is just finishing you off.
A lethal foe, as his appearance and name would suggest.
The Mandrake is of course named after the fabled plant. But I take the stance that the Mandrake, when brought unnaturally to its final “stage” becomes a human duplicate, which then spawns more. The Mandrake’s sculpture shows it spawning faux humans from beneath its cowl, bringing forth unnatural, false, life.
A really important part of Planet Apocalypse is laying your ambushes and profiting from their attacks. Players who never lay down ambushes are certain to lose. Admittedly, this is also true of players who over-rely on those same ambushes – balance is, as always, wise. Nonetheless, ambushes are critical to success, which may be why several fourth circle demons mess with your ambush structure.
The mandrake is a case in point. When it spawns, it actually INCREASES your ambushes – every ambush with less than 4 troopers (the maximum possible) gets a new trooper. Even empty areas get 1 trooper. This may sound good … at first.
But while the mandrake is in play, its spawn mimics the heroes, and fools the troopers. The result is that all ambushes target heroes instead of demons. If you’ve built up a powerful ambush sequence, this can be lethal. Of course, as always, you can use troopers (even ambush troopers) to absorb damage. When the Mandrake is around, this often leads to you getting shot by an ambush, then having someone from that same ambush sacrifice himself to intercept the damage. It seems crazy and paradoxical, but that is the nature of hell.
Picture some cops, not sure whether it is you or a doppleganger demon walking towards them. They shout “stop stop”, but you don’t understand or don’t hear. They shoot, but at the last minute one of them leaps in front to shield you, realizing the horrible mistake they’re making. A tragic moment.
Fighting the Mandrake
The Mandrake has a doubled toughness of 2+2, so he is fairly easy to kill, but unlike the similarly-tough Catoblepas, you can’t depend on even the strongest ambush to hurt him. You have to kill him yourself. He also has a pretty decent attack of 4d10.
Quite often by the end of the Mandrake’s reign of terror, you have used up many of your ambush troopers absorbing damage, and of course you dare not lay down any new ambushes. This latter makes it quite important to stop the Mandrake, if you can.
Obviously, I took the name of this demon from Mary Magdalene. Not that I think she was diabolic – quite the reverse. Our Magdalene is a perverse fertility entity of sorts, and I’ve already received complaints that she looks “loathsome”. So I guess, the art succeeds!
The Magdalene has two effects. First, when she spawns, 6 Larvae (Limbo minions) are immediately placed in her area. Second, she cannot be damaged so long as any Larvae remain with her. Remember also that fourth circle demons spawn in the same area as an invasion token, which will always spawn even more Larvae, so she is well-armored at first. It’s fortunate that Larvae are comparatively easy to kill. Still, this killing takes time.
Fighting the Magdalene
The Magdalene has a toughness of 4, which is not too amazing, and her attack is a weak-ish 4d8. Her real threat is that you cannot ignore her tile, thanks to the horde of Larvae which if they exit the map, will probably cost you the game. Of course this threat can be reduced somewhat by means of ambushes (which are excellent at killing larvae).
The real issue is if you can kill off the larvae fast enough to be able to then kill the Magdalene – typically it takes 3-6 attacks, or more, to kill a fourth circle demon, and you won’t be able to attack her at all until the Larvae are wiped out. With all those larvae, it will take quite some time to mop them up.
Running out of Demons
One of the features of Planet Apocalypse is that the number of demons is quite tightly balanced. If you run out of a particular circle of demons, you don’t need to place more of that category, but you do lose 1 Doom. Thus, the game features only 2 Cacodemons. If you ignore them, and a third cacodemon tries to spawn, instead you simply accrue 1 Doom. This is worse, in a sense, than a third cacodemon would be, because all a cacodemon can do (if ignored) is inflict 1 Doom when it exits the map. But this ostensible third demon immediately inflicts its Doom, and then can do so again next turn if you ¬try to spawn yet another cacodemon via the despair dice.
Well, there are just 10 Limbo minions included in the game. This means that the Magdalene’s addition if 6 Larvae is quite likely to “break the bank’ and cost you a Doom right then and there. If it doesn’t’, you’ll need to carefully plan how you resolve the invasion token accompanying her, or you might lose that Doom point anyway. Plus of course, the Magdalene herself, if not killed, will boost Doom by 4 (as would any Fourth Circle demon – it’s just that she has a particularly good shot at doing this), so while she may not be a combat threat like the Secutor or Hellhound, she is an existential threat to your chances of victory. Smite her without mercy, but with cunning and preparation.