Well I had a chance to demo the new Monpoc recently, so let’s talk about version 2.0 vs 1.0.
I need to get something off my chest. Beware: Nerd triggers ahead.
I’ve been playing Monsterpocalypse on vassal a lot recently and happened to have lost a game to Zach, so allow me a moment to pontificate on the game.
When considering what rank to grade a monster, I examine several factors:
- What do they need to work effectively?
- How likely will 1 occur in a game?
- What options does my opponent have to prevent 1?
- What happens if my monster misses.
The phrase that Monpoc is “just a dice game” is partially true. Since all 3 dice in the game have at least one blank side there is always a chance you can miss. Even if you’re aiming for a 1, it is possible for you to miss.
Also, there are 2 terms I need to clarify: Build plan and Game plan.
Build plan is how you build your city & army. Some counters you can only use during your build plan. Example: The only true counter to a heavy blast monster is the ability cloak. If you don’t put cloak in your army, you won’t be able to use it during the game.
Game plan is (obviously) how you play in game, regardless of map, army, etc. Example: A monster dependent on power attacks anyone can screen against.
A monster that relies heavily on you having a good build plan gets a high rank for 2. Likewise, a monster for whom your opponent has the best options during the build plan but not game plan also gets a high rank under 3. On the opposite side, monsters which require top notch playing or have easy access prevention, get lower ranks.
A rank – These are the monsters which, once the army is assembled and the city laid, have a good chance for victory. Their effectiveness is highly likely to occur and the only (or best) option your opponent has to fight it is having built an army designed to. For them, #4 is like a ‘pause’: they won’t lose much ground in the race to victory. Example: Mega Zor-Maxim. With weapon master and beat back, he has a high chance of doing 3 damage with each attack. Two attacks will kill most monster forms. Add in the fact that this damage comes from ranged attacks, and even a miss only delays MZM’s end goal by one turn.
B rank – These monsters are most effective at hindering your opponent with a 50/50 chance of achieving their max effectiveness. #3 is somewhat dependent on your enemy’s build plan but they still have options from their game plan. A miss for them is like one step back. Victory can be achieved, but each subsequent miss compounds the challenge. Almost any monster with resilience falls under this category. Resilience protects against super damage, which means if you face an opponent relying upon it to win the health race, you have an advantage. However, if you face an opponent that doesn’t rely on it, one of your key victory components is useless.
C rank – It’s not that C monsters are bad, but they can never ever miss, it’s like losing two steps in the race. Almost every army fielded will open up game plan options for #3. As well as when considering #2, they’re effectiveness will either be difficult to pull off or easily disrupted by the opponent. Examples would include many monsters that lean heavily on power attacks. Such can be screened against, leaving only ‘swat’ as an option to them (and it is usually much less effective than the other power attacks).
F rank – Off the top of my head, I don’t think the game currently has an F rank monster, but these are the monsters which depend on luck for victory. If getting the wrong map, or seeing a specific building hit the field ends the game before it begins, you’re dealing with an F rank.
The best part about the game is that the ranks are very fluid. When Monsterpocalypse first came out, Sky Sentinel was undoubtedly a C rank monster. However, the release of G-1 strike fighters bumped him up to an A rank. So even if your current favorite monster is a low ranking one, don’t despair. By next set he/she could be looking at a whole new rank!
(feel free to post monsters below and discuss what you think their rank should be)
So Privateer Press has released the rules documents for set 4, Monsterpocalypse Now. Thus, I am in a gaming mood tonight. Random thoughts:
- They don’t list the old abilities on there, so no correction for Satellite Support yet. =(
- You can tell this rulebook is a 2nd edition with things more neatly laid out and a better flow over all. The grouping of power attacks (by what they target) is very nice and should help clear up a lot of rules questions before they start.
- Much more graphics and pictures in this. So they don’t just talk about what a monster starting zone is, they show you a dotted box outline.
- Some building only abilities (like discount and spire) are listed with specific factions. So while we won’t get any morphers, looks like there will be installations in this new block.
- On page 5 of the rulebook there is a picture of the Newspaper Office building. It’s the media hub model painted green with a giant globe on top labeled “the End Times”. Yes, the Daily Planet of Superman fame has now come to monsterpocalypse. Is it any wonder I love this game?
- The Ubercorp monsters (one of the factions I was thinking about picking up) have a solid orange color for their ultra form. So I guess I won’t. (I hate the color orange. I guess that makes me racist against Oompa-Loompas.)
- The ability Fortify was one of the worst abilities released in the game. Only 1 figure of the previous 3 sets had it. Now 2 factions are getting it as well as a building (apparently). Why? Why are they keeping this ability around?
- There are 2 new “hazards” out: Hellfont and Chemical. Chemical is like radiation for mechanical monsters, but only if they are at full health. Hellfont acts like an additional spawn point for fiend monsters. Man I wish those Towers of Corruption had it.
- There are now 7 energy types listed, one of them “elemental”. So looks like we mostly have a repeat of previous energy types except for 1 and a gain of 1. So now we’re down to what are the energy types for Tritons and Subterran Uprising.
Quickly scanning the rule book I see no major updates (mostly just a codification of existing rules like the one that no stat can drop below ‘1’). So let’s move on to new abilities. (note, this isn’t comprehensive on ALL the new abilities, just the ones that jump out at me)
- Command – The unit equivalent of Beacon, I’ve long said there needed to be an action like this with so many units out there granting great monster abilities. Big boost for brawlers.
- Ignite – The reverse of extinguish, this ability flips rubble onto its hazard side.
Which is really cool and all but man this could lead to rule nightmares. If a building is destroyed (say, apartment building) with no preset rubble, can you replace it with any tile? Giving you a potential extra chemical or radiation spot if you can flip it?
- Restoration – Gain a health if you’re on a power zone.
- – No new advantages this set. That kind of surprised me.
- Demolish – Brawl/Blast trigger that mimics a ram power attack. I gotta admit, I enjoy these “power attack simulators” we’ve been getting lately.
- Grind – Lightning Attack except you have to drop some dice first (2 of each A, P, B dice).
- Power Strike – Yay! Another ability running on superstrikes. And it drains P-dice. Man that would have been great for Martians.
- Riot – If you roll a p-dice, you get to make a rampage, stomp or ram power attack. So it’s a more limited Chain Attack really.
- Live Wire – When a building’s destroyed, monsters on or adjacent to it take 1 damage. So it’s a Spire with a potential explosion built in. I just love the potential suicidal chaos you could cause with this.
- Roller – A reaction that turns a building into a smash power attack. Which is just awesome for the visual.
- Amphibious – Ok, now even I will agree that the movement abilities are getting out of hand. We need a freakin’ chart for them!
- Champion – The reverse “leadership”. The fig gets +1 b-dice for each matching grunt next to it. Freakin’ awesome!
- Coordinate – Basically free movement for nearby units (up to 2 spaces) with the same name as this one. Another boost for brawl but one of the worst worded abilities I’ve seen. (not counting satellite support which was screwed up)
- Countermeasures – A hoser for actions. Nice, that helps bring some balance to the game.
- Drain Life – Keeps monsters from healing. I wonder how this will affect morphers.
- Fireproof – Now everyone can stop complaining about radiation figures as other figs can ignore hazards.
- Hasten – Literally reads “This unit gains +1 speed”. This has to be a monster ability that’s “shared out” (red or blue) like Sky Sentinal’s “Wing Leader”. You know, this ability on Rakadon as a “blue” would have helped improve him a lot.
- Holy Ground – Building ability that prevents healing. Why? I mean, why would holy ground prevent healing? I thought that’s where you went to heal.
- Lift – Temporary flight to adjacent allied units. Again, neat idea but seems like rule headaches a’ coming.
- Power Tap – The reverse of amplify, you drain +1 p-dice if you’re sitting on a negative zone. The only catch is that your opponent needs to have 5 or more p-dice. How does the timing work? If I control a building with media hub and several units with power tap, do you subtract all at once? Or 1 at a time until the PT abilities no longer trigger?
- Quick – Free movement if this fig matches your monster’s faction. The fact that they said fig makes me wonder if a monster might have it (does that mean they always move free?). Poor Carnidons. This ability would have made them almost playable. I hope we never see this ability on a blast unit as brawling armies desperately need it just to catch up.
- Smoke Screen – +1 def for units against blast attacks. Very much needed for brawlers, especially since it will stack with cover and fore field (giving you +3 against blast).
- Super Swat – I mostly just want to point out that this ability affects swat power attacks and the fling ability. Which kind of makes you sad that Super Strength doesn’t benefit toss or beat back.
- Tenacious – Immune to hazards. Wow. It joins resilience and armored on the defense side of things and as abilities we probably won’t see combined with super damage often.
I did notice a few more typos in these listed but here’s hoping it all gets straightened out before sent to print. Still, I love the fact that apparently PP will expand on their existing pool of features without introducing too many new mechanics. This is a great time to get into the game. If you’re not playing, what are you waiting for??? Let’s go smash downtown!
If there’s anything I’m going to hold against Privateer Press, it’s that they didn’t release the strategy guide with this set (in fact, I’ve long said they should release the guides a week or two before the figures). The rules insert is pretty good, but there are some phrasings that are a little off. I got 1 monster boost and 1 unit boost. The unit boost was crap, giving me all 3 guard units, 1 planet eater and the SSS building.
6 factions. I focus on playing 3 of them. I get 3 faction specific pieces in my booster. None of them the 3 I play.
Sometimes you feel like the universe itself is laughing at you.
At least my monster booster was fruitful, netting me the martian fig.
Anyway, for this review, I’m just going to focus on a few key points (and since I’m suffering from insomnia right now, expect lots of typos and grammatical errors).
1) Morpher rules – What do you need to know? They treat movement like units, otherwise treat them like monsters. They can secure buildings (too nice) and collision with them is size based (if they collide with a big monster, the morph takes 1 damage, big one doesn’t but if 2 morphs collide with each other, both take 1).
2) A glance at my 3 favorite factions in order of what I enjoy playing the least to the most. (thanks to trackerjay for posting a complete spoilers list)
Lords of C’thul
If you read my previous predictions… yeah I was right. Though reach turned out even better than I thought, giving figures with it the ability to brawl targets 2 spaces away. Which is awesome! The units are not bad. Cthulabite is the toughest flying unit around (def 4) with an interesting mix of abilities. Tanglix is slow without any special movement abilities but if you manage to get 1 or 2 deep behind enemy lines, you could have fun.
Their structure is sick. 3 abilities: summon, manufacture, transmutation (the blast edition of manufacture) with blast and brawl attacks. Not limited. One thing I love about these structures is that, until now, you always wanted to go 2nd in a game. Now Lords of C’thul have a reason to want to go first, so they can summon units deep on the opponents side to gum up their works (yep, this does make Tanglix fun to drop in a spawn point). Even better, when he starts spawning units, you can use the 1 you summoned to combine attack with the building to generate even more units. This is going to really alter games.
Not having gotten any of the walkers in packs, I’ve been a fan of running the 2 flying MM monsters. The basic 4 are not bad though Satelite support on G-Alpha has got to be a misprint (the way it’s worded now, this ability on it is USELESS). What you may also notice is that while nearly every morpher syncs well with surrounding it with it’s brothers, the martian basic 4 do well leading squads of units. Putting G-alpha, beta & gamma all around 1 hunter gives that guy Radar, cloak and power drain (blast). His plus version isn’t too bad, with both a brawl and blast powers (in the tradition of Deimos). However, his mega version has also been spoiled and it’s just so much better. I don’t know how much solo work I’ll do with this guy, but he looks like a good supporter for combo monster games.
The units are average. Despoilers don’t have the boost die I hoped they would and nullifyer pods focus on “screw with enemy” stats. But they have to be in the middle of the enemy to do so. They have cargo and hover but only a movement of 2. Both fairly disappointing. The biggest points about the building is that it’s impassible to enemy units and it’s another radiation hazard maker. Which means you can now stock 10/12 of your buildings with hazards that can’t hurt you and blockade sections of the board. Granting ground control to adjacent units are nice if you can get any of these near objectives, otherwise I see them being spread out more to mess with your opponent’s board than securing for yourself.
1 thing is going to jump out at you when you examine the Terra’s basic 4: all the trucks have jump. Jump! How do trucks jump? Are Mexicans driving these things? (to quote Larry the Cable Guy: “Lord I apologize for that joke…”) Still, they are decent enough, but when the beast hatches from his egg… Not only is Tyrannex one of the coolest Terra monsters (in fact, all of the design on this set was stellar) but his abilities are all designed around city destruction and power dice generation. Maybe not the most powerful strategy, but flattening the entire board is just fun.
Two of the new units are a regular and elite version of a VW microbus with a lazer canon on top. What? You want to know the stats to play with it? The sole dino in this set is incredible (he hurts monsters if they collide with him) and will put Pteradax into top tier of tournaments. The installation is of neat design, but nothing exceptional as far as abilities go. It does leave behind fire when destroyed, giving Terrasaurs a way to deal out the damage (and if you keep bellowers on the map, you can remove the fire to avoid retailiation). Nothing that will revolutionize Rakadon like I [chmop] New York did with Sky Sentinal.
All in all… I’m pleased with the set and the sheer fun it’s added to the game. The strategy guide is supposed to come out week of the 13th so I’ll ramble more about the set then.
3 +1 brawl
2 +1 short-range blast
Burrow, Beat back, Hit & Run (adj), Reach
3 +1 brawl
2 +1 short-range blast
Burrow, Fling, Telekinesis (adj), Reach
3 +1 brawl
2 +1 short-range blast
Burrow, Siphon (adj), Summon, Reach
3 +1 brawl
2 +1 short-range blast
Burrow, Penetrator (adj), Vampirism, Reach
The first thing you’ll notice about the split edition of the monster is no power attacks (though at least 2 of them have power attack like abilities). Which means you’ll probably have to use those power dice on brawling and blasting. We also get our first look at two new abilities: Burrow & Reach. My predictions for them: Burrow will be a movement ability that funcitons like jump, except you won’t be able to attack flying targets. Reach will be the ability that lets you attack flying targets. Probably the biggest hint we get is the idea of combined attacking on monster activations. Since each tentacle has poor stats without any ready way to beef their boost dice (like G.U.A.R.D.’s sky sentinal forces) the pieces must work together. Players will also get the chance to make hard choices of who they want to lead the attack. (though it’ll probably always be the Dismay Tentacle for beat back, and it can get penetrator & siphon if it has 2 brothers next to it).
I’m also willing to bet that to balance out no power attack, the parts will be immune to some power attacks themselves (probably throw, smash & body slam obviously), though how they’ll work with stomp, rampage or fling could lead to some judging headaches. The other big concern is how health will work. At first I wondered if all split monsters would just have ‘4’ health and change into their ultra form once all the pieces are dead, but the listed health of 5 has sunk that theory. So doing damage to one will affect the health as a whole (because letting each one have it’s own 5 health would be broken, the monster’s base form would have a whopping 20 health!) the big question is how multiple strikes work. If I fling one tentacle into another does the whole take 1 damage or 2?
At any rate, the new metamorphs look like they are going to add a lot of fun to the game. I’m interested in seeing if they’ll break the current standard monsters but in any case, it looks like the board is going to be a whole lot more fun and ‘war-like’.
Let the games begin.
(no I haven’t forgotten Supernatural, I’ve gotten the latest magazine and the guidebook to monsters etc and will be reviewing them over the next couple of weeks on Thursdays)
(info found and gleamed from here)
The Despoiler [grunt edition]
 +2 long-range blast
The source website forgot to put in how much the blast stat is for but I’m willing to bet that it’s a 1. That +2 boost makes this unit comparble to Hunters (any more and they become much better than hunters). As “I chomp NY” gave us the Reaper – a mini version of Deimos-9 – “all your base” will apparently give us the mini version of Phobos-7. In the first set, “Rise” Martians had only 2 units that could hold objectives and they both had a defense of 2. Now they’re going to have at least 4 (probably 5 as a “negative pod” has been hinted at) and two of those will have the highest defenses of the whole faction. These guys will probably replace reapers as they can fire on anyone approaching your power base. The larger question is: will they replace Hunters? Though they lack flight and 1 point of speed, Despoilers probably will, especially on maps where they can “building hop” around impassible/rough terrain. After being on the low scale of units, looks like martians are going to have their due.
Ultra Ancient Osheroth
7 +4 brawl
6 +1 unknown blast
8 +3 power attack
3 hyper cost
Telekinesis [global], Radial Attack, Annihilate, Sacrifice
The ‘combo’ monster for C’thul (I’ll review his individual parts tomorrow) is a fearsome beast indeed. In fact, he looks to make Ulgoth obsolete. True he isn’t immune to throw or volatile but who cares? He can eat any C’thul unit for health and gives everyone telekinesis across the board. The only thing that would have been better is if he had the tow ability so he could pull units in right before hitting with radial attack. His stats are higher than Ulgoth’s across the board (save for brawl & power but he gets more boost dice!) which makes this guy seem like pure escalation. (unless the rules on his alpha-split form gimp him just enough) Now I feel silly for having traded for Ulgoth the other day. All hail Osheroth!