St Louis Park
Planet of the Apes Review
Planet of the Apes is a cooperative game that will appeal to fans of the movie and anyone that enjoys a dice rolling/card management co-op. The goal is to advance through scenes of the movie while avoiding various ways to lose and end the game. Players choose 1 of 4 characters that are parts of Taylor’s(Charlton Heston) personality in the movie. It provides a good challenge and is ripe for some expansions.
In order to win players need to advance thru scenes of the movie by completing adventures/challenges before the statue of liberty marker reaches the end of a time track. Players are basically racing their Taylor marker against an ape marker in each phase/round and a loss that round will cause some negative effects. The statue of liberty standee advances throughout the whole game and will cause a defeat if it reaches the end of the time track. Players can also die by having all characters fully damaged or by failing on one of the late game scenes.
Like most cooperative games the game presents some objectives and if you fail or don’t meet them timely you’ll have negative consequences that push you closer to losing the game. There is some luck to the game but enough ways to mitigate it so that strategic decisions are rewarded. There are also ways to adjust the difficulty to your liking.
Minor and Major scenes. Minor scenes are basically just the game setting up the next part of the game for you. Major scenes are the “meat” of the game where you play out your actions. At the start of a major scene you will have the statue of liberty, an ape, and your Taylor marker on the time track. Your first goal in the scene to beat the statue (if not you lose), but also beating the ape is preferable (if not bad things happen) to the last spot. Completing adventure cards (encounters) will help you gain resources, move forward, move bad guys backwards and avoid some negative effects. There are some other ways that the three markers will move on the track. Card play and skill tokens are also available to help you accomplish your goals.
Each turn a player is going to have 3 actions, check if they’ve lost the game or ended a scene, discard to 7 cards, and advance the day track. Every three times the day track is moved a Sunrise will take place that will result in mostly harmful events. Like other co-ops you can’t just wait and pile up resources/cards, you have to get moving.
1. Draw 1 action card from two face up or the top of the deck.
2. Flush the face up pile of action cards.
3. Choose 1 of 3 adventures are try to complete (see below).
4. Give a card to another player.
5. Discard a set of 2 to heal 1 damage.
6. Discard a set of 4 to heal 3 damage.
7. Discard 4 of Nova or Zira cards to move Ape back 1 space.
8. Free action. Discard set of 3 to gain red die or skill token.
9. Free action. Discard set of 4 to gain special card.
Characters have a power that is always available and can discard a skill token to use their particular skill.
Components are good quality and have a nice look. I have the first edition which included miniatures but the standees are just fine. The cards have some great flavor text but also good iconography. I’ve seen complaints about the orientation of the board but it does not bother me. Box insert is okay and there is really not a ton of components. I paid $30 for the game and that was a fair price for what you get.
The game has a great theme but I suppose after 10 plays you may feel that you are just playing a cool advanced version of Yahtzee. I enjoy the flavor text and it will really shine the first few times played. I wished they would have used Taylor, Dodge, Landon, and unknown person that died instead of 4 personalities. The four parts of Taylor works fine but seems a little odd. Not the greatest theme implementation into the game but not the worst either.
The rules are very well done and include nice examples and even hints on how to play the game. I watched a play-through video and read the rules once and was ready to go. The iconography is pretty good so you won’t be referring to the rules much after the first couple plays.
There a couple things where I’ve seen people make mistakes.
1-On the adventure card it will show you the number of die rolls you get as a base (you can get more by spending cards/skills). This is the total number or rolls not the number or re-rolls.
2-Make sure you read the cards. Example, one card has “roll 3 white dice of 5 or greater” and has a picture of 3 white 5’s. It does not mean that you need a set of 5s or 6s just 3 dice of 5 or greater. May seem obvious but don’t just look at the picture.
There are few things that were clarified here on BGG by Richard Launius.
1-If a special card states “play anytime” that also means it can be played on other characters turns.
2-Once a character is defeated he cannot heal back to regular to get his power and skill back. Defeated characters cannot take damage tokens and must be taken by other characters.
3-The card that states “white dice lower than 15 and grey dice lower than six” has a printing error. The card should state “white dice greater than 15…”
This game is just plain fun with agonizing decisions each turn. I love the game but I’m also a fan of the movies and happen to like co-op and dice rolling games.
I’ve heard complaints that the game lacks re-playability but I expect some expansions or more stand-alone games to be added. I’m sure there could be some variants or extra fan made encounter cards to spice things up. Even if you know what to expect the dice rolling can create some excitement in the game. There is great tension in every roll of the die. I rate the game a 9 for about the first 10 plays. After that it would still be an 8. I really enjoy it at all player counts including solo.
A good review and mirrors more or less my sentiments about the game ...however, I think the use of four personality traits as characters is a brilliant idea ...but each to his own!