The basic rule is of course that every map starts with 5 types of troopers. In the vast majority of regionsz their cost goes from 1-5, with one trooper at each price point. The number of troopers at each level is generally set at 8 for the 1-point troopers, 6 for the 2 & 3 point troopers, and 4 for the 4 & 5 point troopers, so you can run out of any trooper and be forced to recruit someone else, or not to recruit at all. They are a limited resource. Of course when one is killed, he goes back on the stack and you can recruit him again. This is my sideways method of reminding players that using troopers to absorb damage is actually a good thing.
The basic troopers are: Volunteer 1, Citizen Militia 2, Police 3, Army 4, and Special Forces 5. The volunteers represent civic-minded citizens who have grabbed a shotgun out of their closet and are trying to help stop the demon horde. The citizen militia can represent a variety of different elements. He could be a volunteer with somewhat better equipmen and training – perhaps a military veteran. Or he might be a crazy survivalist, excited that his predictions of disaster have come to pass. The police are of course the forces of civil authority, trying to keep law and order in a state of chaos.
The volunteer and citizen militia both only absorb 1 damage, but the citizen militia has a generally better attack, with one exception – they cannot hurt a Fiend, and a group of 3-4 volunteers has a shot at it. But for most purposes, you’re better off with the citizen militia for combat purposes. Howvever since they cost twice as much as volunteers, if you are only recruiting them as “meat shields” the latter are a better bet.
The Police have a weak attack – as weak as the volunteers. This represents the fact that they are probably only packing nightsticks, a pistol, and maybe a shotgun. But they are really good at the Protect and Defend thing, able to block 3 damage each. They are ideal for a boss fight where you plan to be walloped.
The Army is just like the citizen militia except for two things. He absorbs 2 damage, and his special ability is terrific – you can discard one in your area (either from your patrol or an ambush) to add 1d10 to your attack. That’s also useful in a Lord battle, because sometimes that extra 1d10 is extremely handy.
The Special Forces is the best, of course, and you can’t even recruit one without spending courage. His attack is by far the best, he absorbs 3 damage (as much as a cop), and he has a neat special ability – basically, when one absorbs damage (which normally kills any trooper), you can roll 1d6. On a 6, he survives! In our games, this comes up about once a game, but saving a 5-point trooper even once is a pretty terrific trick.
If America had to choose one single virtue, it would be freedom I believe. So the American region gives the players’ choices. For each of the 5 categories of troopers, you get a choice – either the normal “vanilla” trooper, or an alternative. So for example, you might have volunteer, citizen militia, evangelicals, US marines, and special forces. Or whatever. Anyway that’s the idea. I’ll discuss the alternatives here:
Gang – the 1-point alternative to volunteers. These of course represent urban thugs who see themselves as defenders of their neighborhood. Better-armed than the volunteers, but perhaps lacking in core values, the gang’s signature feature is that though they have a good attack (as good as the army), after each time they fire in an ambush, one of them runs away and is discarded. So they dwindle over time.
Next we have Evangelicals. These are religions people, who are probably somewhat more fanatical so now that their predictions of a apocalyptic future have come true. So they are here to battle hell. They are pretty much identical to a mere volunteer (they’re also not well-equipped or trained) ,but they have the special ability that if a 2nd circle or higher demon is present, they get to add 1d4 to their Ambush, which while it won’t help them kill that 2nd circle, might at least take out a limtbo minion. They are a popular choice.
The National guard are the alternative top police. They are like the army in stats, except their special ability is different – you can pay 1 courage to swap a guard ambush with a patrol, thus “picking up” the guard and replacing them with whatever you had with you. So they are flexible.
The US Marines are of course the alternative to the army, and they are like the latter except they can absorb 3 defense (and have no special ability). That 3 absorption is enough of an ability.
We have two alternative 5-point troopers to the basic special forces. One is Navy Seals, who generate 1 extra courage if they manage to kill at least 2 minions (you need at least 3 seals in an ambush to pull this off). The other are Texas Rangers. If you pick the latter, then by definition you are in Texas. They’re like the Navy Seals & Special Forces, except their final attack is only 3d8 instead of 3d10. Still good though. Their special ability is that when a ranger dies, you get to lower the despair track! (Minimum of 1.)
The Void Pack also includes the Astronauts & Cosmonauts, but they are special and restricted to the Launch Pad & Moonbase maps.
This pack adds Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
Canada has Mounties replacing their police because hey, mounties. They also have a special start-up as a sort of homage/gentle teasing for their national health system. Basically they don’t have starting courage in their pool, but each hero starts with 1 extra health above their cap. Once this health is lost, it can’t be restored. To represent the mounties always getting their man, you can spend 1 courage to reroll a mountie’s ambush roll.
Mexico has Federales of course (and has gang members for their 1 point troopers). The Federales are really good. They can absorb 3, but have a high attack, so it’s the best of both worlds. Unfortunately they have a disadvantage to balance this, namely that you must spend 1 courage when a Federale absorbs damage for you. Still usually worth it though.
Great Britain adds their Constabulary (3 points), the British Army (4), and the SAS (5). The Constabulary is kind of like a police, but has the worst ambush attack in the game, in celebration of their famously unarmed troopers, at least in London (yes I know it’s not, strictly speaking, true – every cop has a weapon in the boot of their car). But I think it’s fair to say that they at least have slightly less use of their weapons than American police. They have an interesting special ability which is that you can pay 5, 7, or 9 to buy 2, 3 or 4 constables, thus getting a nice price savings over the normal cost of 3 each. Since they absorb 3 damage that’s sweet. Of course their attack is so weak that the only reason you’d set them up in ambush is so that they can absorb for other players.
The British Army has stats like the other Army counter, but with a different special ability. You can choose for a British Army ambush to roll 1d12s instead of 1d6s, then remove 1 British army from the ambush. So if you really need to hurt a 4th circle or kill a fiend, they are perfect. The SAS is a typical 5-point elite, with great attack, absorb 3, and in their case the special ability that their ambush automatically stuns a limbo or first circle minion in addition to anything else accomplished. I guess it’s flash-bang grenades.
Pack of the Pit
This adds France, Germany, and Russia.
The French have two different 4-point troopers instead of a 4 and a 5. This is to me an advantage, because the 5 point troopers are always a pain to get (I admit this is intentional). They have Paras and the Foreign Legion for their two high-end troopers, both of which function like the Army, but with special abilities – the Foreign Legion earns you 1 courage when one dies (so in effect, they really cost you only 3 courage over time), and you can discard a Para in an area to get an extra move. This last can be really handy, because you can move into an area, attack, then move back to the start to recruit again (perhaps re-recruiting the same para you just discarded). The French police are, of course Gendarmes. They are terrific, with a high attack, and absorb 3 – but only when set in an ambush. When on patrol, they only absorb 1. This is my tribute to French organization and centralization. When they are set in position they are at their best. When wandering aimlessly with a half-insane untrained hero, not so much.
Germany has Pollizei for their cops (of course. They are really good, but their ambush earns 1 less courage to counteract their high attack. Their army is the Bundeswehr, who in honor of their skilll and training have the highest attack of any 4 cost unit, and their elites are the KSK, who simply have a huge attack – even a single KSK rolls 2d6. Germany also introduces the Paramilitary unit (also used with Russia & Japan). Paramilitaries have a terrible attack, but at least absorb 2 damage. Their ability is nice which is that you can spend courage to upgrade them into a higher-value trooper. For example, if a Paramilitary is in an area, you can spend 3 courage to bump it up to KSK level.
Russia – Russia is weird because instead of having 1-5 point costs, it has 2-6. Also the very first recruit you perform at the game start you get to add +1 to your die roll. After that, you’re on your own. Their 5 & 6 point troopers are the Spetsnaz and the BMP. The Spetznaz have a fabulous attack based on 1d10s, but the courage they earn goes to the team captain instead of the pool, which is a slight limitation. The BMP is actually an armored vehicle. It counts as 4 troopers to recruit just one, so you can only place 1 in an ambush, or have 1 on patrol. It’s ambush value is 2d8, and it absorbs ALL the damage from one incoming attack, so it’s a terrific “ambush”, but that cost of 6 is tough to swallow.