Planet Apocalypse is so good that @tomchick refused and/or wasn’t even able to counter recommend it during last month’s Patreon…uh, what do you call those? Counter recommendation sessions? This one. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Tom never saw my recommendation because I accidentally hit reply on the Patreon email instead of messaging Tom directly. We’ll never know.
Planet Apocalypse is a tower defense game that’s massive in size but actually quite streamlined in terms of mechanics*. Waves of demons come pouring out of a hell gate (much like the one you have in your own home) and you throw dice at them until they stop or you get overwhelmed. Each of the 6-14 playable characters (depending on how many expansions you have) has unique skills and one weakness and a super cool leveling system where each time you level up you get one immediate bonus and one ongoing perk.
*Ok, like, yes, there are a bunch of unique abilities and skill cards and sometimes you’re going to come across confusing interactions between them but so far I haven’t had any issues where a combination seemed broken or where the official answer didn’t make sense.
My favorite character so far is Hanna Hazard. She’s a kind of roboty person sniper lady who can shoot at stuff a zone away and if she doesn’t move for the turn she gets to increase all of her dice by a level. But I also dig Professor Maxwell, who’s really good at rallying support troops and spreading them all over the map so you get extra help each turn to help chip away at waves.
As you level up and get stronger, waves of enemies get larger. So before you know it you’re staring down a mess like this:
This is the best part! It’s when you get to do cool stuff like trade in resource tokens to add extra dice to your roll, and all of your buddies chip in to bump your dice up a level (say from d4 to d6, etc). Add in a luck token and now that big guy on the right only takes one hit to kill instead of the usual 2. The interaction between the characters and the 4 levels of basic enemies is what takes up most of your time and it’s fantastic. And if anything is left after we’ve given all we’ve got we back up one area and let our cosmonaut buddies take a shot at them. Did I mention we were on the moon? Yeah, those are space demons.
Oh, and those dice on the left? Those are the despair dice. You roll a bunch of them (starting with 4 but growing to 12 by endgame) and for every two with matching symbols you summon a demon and a baby demon. I still don’t know why, but it’s so much better than just drawing random enemies out of a hat. Normally I can’t stand the part in these games where you have to summon enemies, but this system is just cool. Maybe it’s because when you find two dice that match you have to smash them together and make like giant smashing sound effects. Can’t remember if that last rule is in the rulebook or not but…probably?
Also this game looks pretty great. The artwork was done by a guy named Keith Thompson, who only has one board game credit on BGG. I asked where they found this guy because he should definitely be doing more work. Turns out he’s a TV and movie artist who worked on Pacific Rim and some horror stuff.
Anyway, this game is cool, maybe check it out if you like a lot of dice and minis and you don’t mind if sometimes you’re gonna roll a whole bunch of 1’s and want to flip the table or something.
I had a similar experience with the two times I tried that one, but I am looking forward to going back to that game. My favorite thing about 7th Continent is that there’s no “enemy phase” where you draw random bad guys and then take their turn, etc. It’s just turns and more turns and when bad stuff happens it’s a consequence of your actions. That’s so cool, and even though the open ended nature of that game means you can kind of get lost and run out of steam before you even know why you’re there…I kinda like it?
Haven’t tried the other curses yet but I’ve heard that Voracious Goddess is kind of difficult. Have you considered trying another one instead? I’ve thought about just spoiling myself on Voracious Goddess and reading a walkthough or something just to see if it would change my approach and make me more likely to play later scenarios better. But I’m saving that as a last resort.