10 March 2017
Sandy Petersen, the veteran designer behind seminal RPG Call of Cthulhu and Kickstarter success Cthulhu Wars, is back with a new board game.
Planet Apocalypse is a co-op game where up to five players fight off the invading forces of hell across a connected campaign. The mechanics were compared to a combination of a battle game and tower defence.
There are six maps designed to be played in order, with each taking around 30 minutes per player to complete, based on the first environment.
The title includes plenty of miniatures, with humans and smaller foes sculpted at the 28mm scale and bigger baddies going up to 50mm.
According to Petersen, Planet Apocalypse will feature a ‘drop in’ feature that allows players to join a match mid-way through without any trouble. Apparently the opposite is not true, so someone will have to take over the abandoned hero if a player leaves early.
There will also be some light RPG elements, allowing characters to level up and gain new skills and abilities over the course of a campaign.
Demons spawn using an intriguing dice-rolling system, where custom ‘despair dice’ are rolled to randomly select what type of enemy will appear. Pairs result in demons appearing from one of the different circles of hell, from a first-circle gryllus through to second-circle fiends and third-circle cacodemons. (An enemy type it shares in common with Doom’s iconic floating eyeballs.)
Rolling a pair also spawns a limbo minion, while unmatched pairs are discarded. Over time, the number of dice being rolled builds up as the result of an ever-increasing despair track, while a separate desecration track eventually spawns a fourth-circle demon, which acts as a sort of unique mini-boss.
There are also demon lords, which don’t appear in person (or in demon, we guess) but apply universal effects that change the difficulty and rewards across each scenario.
The hellish theme, heavily-armoured heroes and nightmarish design of the demons is reminiscent of iconic first-person shooter video game Doom, which Petersen helped develop in the early 1990s. (He also went on to work on its sequel, revamped 1995 re-release and spin-off Final Doom.)
Of course, Doom received its own tabletop adaptation years ago, with a new version from Fantasy Flight accompanying last year’s reboot of the video game series – it also happened to be a co-op game with miniatures where you fight the invading forces of hell.
Petersen said that Planet Apocalypse will look for crowdfunding (read: Kickstarter) this autumn, with a release expected not long after the campaign ends. He added that the price of the game should be “way less” than Cthulhu Wars, the cheapest core set of which was $110 (£90).