Planet Apocalypse Review
Designer: Sandy Petersen
Artist: Kieth Thompson
Publisher: Petersen Games
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 1–5
Playing Time: 60–90 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Cooperative, Dice, Characters
Find more info on BoardGameGeek (link).
When the gates of Hell are pushed open, you are the ones standing in the way.
Planet Apocalypse by Sandy Petersen is the latest release from Petersen Games. It is an epic-level cooperative strategy tabletop game. A demon lord has made its way to Earth. They immediately started bringing the minions of Hell to take control. A team of heroes working together must use their talents, gain gifts, recruit, and lead others into a battle to drive the minions back to Hell so they can reach the Demon Lord and defeat it.
Gameplay and mechanics:
The first time playing Planet Apocalypse it’s recommended to use the Invasion map with no additional items. We did that, and we figured we could play the invasion board many times and still find the game enjoyable. Planet Apocalypse is designed to be tough, but fair. If you don’t work as a team, taking advantage of what characters can do, there is little chance of turning back the invasion.
The game starts with the invasion already in progress. The Demon Lord is on Earth and spreading their shadow of influence.
Each player selects one of the characters. Every one of the characters has unique abilities and a flaw. As the game progresses, characters advance by gaining Gifts. Along with the benefit of the Gift, the character also gains additional abilities or resources. Gaining Gifts becomes harder the more you have, this leads to the need to use team resources besides personal ones. This led to some fun negotiations and persuasive arguments taking place around our game.
Characters can recruit Troops. These additional combatants range in ability and are drawn from the common elements of society like trained militia. The characters, with their Troops, venture forth to discover what demons have arrived. There are markers showing where minions inhabit a space, but until a character advances to that location, or the minion advances, the type of demon is unknown.
The combat is a strategic slugfest. There are not a lot of different options of what actions to take. It is a strategic approach to decide how to combine abilities and Gifts with team play to make the attack as effective as possible. The characters can attack using their Troops or placing the Troops to set ambushes. Battles are resolved by scoring hits by rolling different sided dice. A minimum roll per die is required to make a hit. You have ways of improving your attacks up to using twelve-sided dice.
Time is limited as the Doom Track and Lord Track advance. The Demon Lord advances and there are also changes in what hellish affect is leaking out across the field of battle. There is a balance of needing to fight minions the Demon Lord keeps bringing into the game (which increases as the game lengthens) and taking the battle directly to the Lord. You have to decide when your character(s) is strong enough to chance the battle.
If a character doesn’t survive a battle, the player brings in a new character and continues playing. This allows everyone to continue playing.
Keith Thompson is the artist for Planet Apocalypse. His art is not only in the rulebook, but also on the table. The figures from Petersen Games are an aspect many players look forward to. Planet Apocalypse is no exception to the quality work that has come before. There is some horrifically good work with details that could give the squeamish nightmare material.
We had to pass around all of the pieces before we started playing so everyone could get a good look at them.
The Core Game has variations so you can increase the difficulty level. As you begin to master the strategy to defeat the Demon Lord you can add in a variant to make the game Hard, Nightmare, or Hellish. You can also use different combinations of the variant rules to change the game up.
There are two maps in the Core Game. Instead of playing the Invasion board, you can take on the Doomgate. Combining the two different maps and the variant rules provides a large number of options in addition to the variability that is part of the game.
Packs and Add-Ons:
There are additional materials available to add to Planet Apocalypse. These provide more characters, cards, demons of all levels, and maps. Many of the materials in the packs can be combined to further increase the options available when setting up the game. For example, the Core Game comes with the Demon Lord Baphomet. If you have the Pack of the Pit (Washington D.C. and St. Peter’s), you can now change up and use one of three Lords because it has Orobas and Humbaba.
The Add-Ons include more Lords. And, of course, there is The Great Lord Cthulhu.
One nice aspect of the Core Game is the information provided on these items. You can see what has been created and plan ahead for what you want. It is a nice way of creating a birthday or Christmas list you can show to others.
Planet Apocalypse is another great release from Sandy Petersen and Petersen Games. If you’ve played their other high strategy board games like Cthulhu Wars or Glorantha: The Gods War, you need to be adding Planet Apocalypse to your library.
We enjoyed playing and look forward to playing again, with and without the variations. We are also looking at which Packs and Add-Ons we want to include with the Core Game.
Another nice feature is the quality of components. Planet Apocalypse is constructed to be played, and it should be.
About the Author:
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.blogspot.com.