1-4 players, Competitive, Quest-Based Adventure
Designer: Andrew Fischer, Nathan I. Hajek
Artwork: Andrew Fischer
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Overview of Gameplay
Ah Fallout. I’m going on the record here to say that I love the Fallout franchise in general. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic themes as well as the 1950’s era. So having a world built basically around that is pretty cool. I mean you don’t really see the 1950’s come through in the board game as much but still. But, how much do I like the board game? Is it just as awesome as I had hoped it would be? Read on my friends, read on.
The game starts players out on a single revealed hex shaped tile denoting the “camp”. The rest of the board is composed of other hex shaped tiles that are facedown so you have to venture out and discover what lies beneath. This is all fine and dandy to be honest, I love these kind of adventure style games like this. So as you explore you will flip a tile and place down enemy tokens if there are any particular enemy symbols on them. There will sometimes be other things like places to trade and shop or explore such as a vault. Now all this shopping and vaulting is done through a clever network of card play. There is a very large stack of numbered cards JUST for the questing aspect of the game which will usually tell you what new cards to bring out and so on as well as any new story events or rewards. The shop has another stack of mini cards that you can peruse from the flipped up “display” of those.
So beyond the questing and shopping and sometimes battling enemies that appear on your tile your ultimate goal here is to become “Influenced” with a certain faction. To win you need to acquire a certain number of influence points throughout the game (mostly by questing) based on how many players there are (10 for a two player game). You will get to draw from a deck of influence cards, face down of course, and each card you have is worth 1 influence point base, but the catch is you can only have a total of 4 influence cards in your inventory. So then it comes down to utilizing the text on the influence cards to try and maximize the amount of influence you get per card based on whatever it reads on a particular card. So for example some cards will give you two or more influence points if you meet certain requirements.
Ok now with that said I can explain the REST of how to win a bit…… As I mentioned above you need to collect influence, the reason why is because this shows support to one of the two other factions that are included in the particular scenario you picked to play. Here’s the catch, when you support the a faction, USUALLY they will gain influence as well when you complete quests for them and if they gain enough, they can win and you lose. SO it’s an interesting balance game that you need to play in order to make sure they stay on top BUT not too far on top. Basically just enough to help you win the game.
The minis are very detailed and look great. There are 5 character classes to choose from and each has a different starting card which makes them all play really differently. The cardboard tiles are also of a high quality, they look and feel great. There are these really neat little pegboard player boards that you use to manage your health/Rads damage and overall level of your character. MOST of the game however is played through the cards. There is a freaking buttload of story quest information and I’m not even exaggerating about that buttload. Also the dice are unique and have a good weight to them. Thankfully all the cards are of a very high quality and durable. Overall I am very impressed with the quality of all the components and would expect no less from a company like Fantasy Flight.
And then we come to the box. The box itself is fine and dandy, nice art on the front and it’s a pretty standard size so can easily fit on most shelves. But the lack of a good insert just bugs me to no end. I’m always a sucker for a glorious storage solution or insert for board games and Fantasy Flight always misses the mark in this regard. The game is prepared to ship and no regards are given to how the player will store it after everything is punched. As such you will need to supply your own baggies to bag up the plethora of tokens or items you receive.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I mean I love Fallout so the theme is the entire reason I bought the game. However I can see some people not liking it. The colors are mostly muted to go along with the wasteland theme and as such everything on the tiles is rundown looking and not very vibrant. A bright and cheery game this is not. That said if you don’t mind all that even if you are not familiar with the Fallout lore I can see you getting into this game. There are just so many different quests and things going on constantly that even if you have never played the videogames you will still be drawn into the happenings of the wasteland.
Pretty easy to learn and I love how the instruction manuals are set up. One to learn the basics and then another for all the rule references. Lots of pictures and examples to help explain as well. This learn to play and rules reference combo has been pretty standard for Fantasy Flight for some time now and for the most part I have enjoyed it.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
I really love this game however there are a few factors about it that I don’t much care for. The game starts out VERY exciting as the majority of each map (scenario) is hidden so you have to explore to start uncovering tiles and locations. However once you eventually get all the tiles explored and flipped, the mystery dies a little and with it, the fun….but just a little. By this point of the game (probably an hour or more in) you will hopefully already be super deep into a quest line and have some idea on what you need to do to get those last few remaining influence points to win. Unfortunately that’s not usually the case. The game runs LONG and ramps up drastically the more players you have primarily because of all the reading of quest cards. Luckily the game does try to keep players involved even on other players turns by having the person next to you read the text on an explore card that is drawn. Not only does it keep the game interesting but it prevents the current player from seeing the answers to all the choices they could make.
So for me the second half of the game isn’t as much fun as the first half when you are exploring. That’s not to say that the second half is bad, it’s just different. Which brings me to my next point, the enemies and fighting. As you travel around discovering tiles you will also unlock enemies of all kinds which you can fight to gain experience and loot, which is always a welcome thing. The thing is, the enemies never REALLY die. Once you kill one you replace the enemy tile with another facedown inactive enemy tile. So it lingers inactive till the enemy phase which activates it, which could be a few turns depending on if that enemy type is chosen from a card draw at the beginning of the round.
This isn’t a terrible thing….until the latter half of the game when you have all tiles exposed and around 15 enemies chasing you all over the board. At that point you can never linger too long in one spot as they can and will gang up on you. I can see why this mechanic is the way it is though, if you get to that point of the game and you still haven’t won, more than likely one of the two factions is about win. It’s like the game wants to end and ramps up the difficulty the longer you play. Of course this for me was about 3 or so hours in.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
I would say two player is best. That way the game won’t last three hours, you still have another person to read those exploration cards to you and you can both feel involved and have a little friendly competition. However solo is also a fun choice here to just compete with the AI factions and the random enemies on the tiles. However I don’t recommend a four player game, it just takes forever and by the time you get the map explored you are pretty much ready to throw in the towel only to find out you are nowhere close to getting the amount of influence you need to win. Three player is good only if you enjoy longer games (3 some hours).
There is a TON of variety for multiple playthroughs. Firstly there are 4 scenario cards, so 4 different all-encompassing scenarios (worlds) to choose from that set up different from one another. Beyond that you have a number of hidden tiles that you mix up and place down without seeing, so each game regardless of scenario will be varied as far as which tiles you discover where. On top of that when you draw quest or encounter cards, depending on what decision you make out of the usual 3 choices on each card will determine what other quests cards you place. And there are over 150 different quest and encounter cards to choose from. Lots of branches in this tree.
Positive Final Thoughts
My favorite thing about the game by FAR is the sheer amount of story and quest cards with so many different decisions. The flavor text on each card is amazing and when one gets drawn, the person to your right reads it and your options…..but not the consequences……….freaking awesome. So you have to go with your gut and pick what you think you would actually do……and hope it turns out to be the right choice. Because of the sheer amount of replayabilty I can see myself coming back to this over and over just for the questing.
Negative Final Thoughts
Let’s just be honest, the end game mechanic is just not good. I don’t like having to mess with the influence cards and trying to manipulate the cards to get more influence just sucks the fun right out of the game. That and trying to manage how much influence the AI’s get so they don’t win as well is just annoying. ESPECIALLY when sat next to the incredibly fun questing this game offers.