1-2 players, Competitive/Cooperative, Miniature Wargame
Designer: James Sheahan
Publisher: Modiphius Entertainment
Overview of Gameplay
This is not your typical board game for those unaware. This is a miniatures wargame. And honestly most general board gamers might be turned off at how the war gaming market works and its complexity. For those of you interested in learning about this and how this game plays, read on.
So this is a review for the 2-player starter set of Fallout Wasteland Warfare. In this package you get just enough stuff to play up to 2 players but also there are numerous solo missions if you want to try your hand single player. To play you will need to unfold both of the included paper mats and set them next to each other to form one gigantic 3 foot by 3 foot map. Then you will need to follow the directions on whatever particular scenario you are playing to set up the rest of the components. You will also want to have some terrain (does not come included) to create obstacles in the environment. (I’ll talk more on this later). Once you have the game area set up, you then take turns activating your minis and performing actions trying to achieve victory based around the conditions set by your particular mission.
This game is wayyyy more open ended that your typical board game. As someone who came from playing board games normally and this being my first miniature wargame, this was like a breath of fresh air. There are rules (And LOTS of them) but the game just feels more open than normal. On your turn you activate one of your team of minis which consists of you placing down a tiny little “ready” token face up next to the mini, at this point you either end your turn or take a couple actions with the mini. The actions consist of moving, using your expertise (search, computers, lockpick and presence), attacking, preparing yourself (which is like counter attack and movement), and Charging (movement and attack). Once you have done 2 actions the next player gets a turn. This goes back and forth till all minis have been used then a new rounds starts and you do it again. Usually the missions only last a certain number of rounds so you need to focus on whatever your mission is and get to it!
Now I’m not going to explain every tiny detail of this game as you would be reading for a good long while. I’m just going to point out a couple of things that really stood out to me gameplay wise. Firstly the movement is unique. The game comes with 12 total “range” sticks (see: rulers) in different colors that you use to measure the distance your minis can move and attack. Now this seems extreme to most general board gamers but this is one of my fav things about the game. You can literally move you mini anywhere on the map but can only do so within the range of their marked movement, which will be highlighted on their character card. It’s the same thing for the attack, you can pick up other weapons by searching and each will have different range depending on the weapon which I thought was really awesome. PLUS, and this is why you need the terrain, movement over terrain slows you down so you would use a shorter ruler to measure and shooting through terrain actually lessens your chance to hit when you roll the attack dice. I think both of those things are simply amazing.
Beyond that the game is all about strategy, how you position your mini behind cover and what actions you take. But there is also the luck aspect with the attack dice so it’s not 100% strategy.
Win Condition /Length
The win conditions vary depending on what missions you choose. Usually it’s searching through stuff to find things or defeating all the opposing forces or rescuing dogmeat, stuff like that. Another cool thing though is that some of the scenarios have multiple endings based on what happens. Like if you were to rescue dogmeat but not perform some other action that was needed you will get ending A or if you were able to do it all you get ending B. And this is the same for both sides; the starter set comes with the settler survivor minis and super mutant minis. It also comes with a Deathclaw…..which is awesome.
The length is also highly variable. Missions could last you from an hour to many, many more depending on how long each player takes to think about their moves and strategies. I would say based on a typical 2 player game with an average amount of thought going into each move, you can expect to play for an hour and a half give or take, and this is for a shorter mission.
The minis look great but honestly I was not impressed by the rest of the components. There are a bajillion tiny cardboard tokens with sooo many different icons on them. These are not terrible quality but nothing fantastic about them either. The two biggest let downs for me were the cards and the game board. The card stock they use for this game was by far the thinnest card material I have ever seen in a game, super slick and very flimsy. The same could be said for the game mat. It’s two large pieces of paper that are folded so when you lay them down the creases are very pronounced, so you will need to flatten them out with some books and then probably roll them up and store them somewhere else if you plan on getting the game out a bunch. I mean both the cards and game mat WORK, but very poor quality.
The second thing……this game does not come with the main thing that it really needs to play, terrain. For those war gamers out there, they know you need terrain to properly play a mini wargame such as this. Without terrain pieces on your mat the game would basically devolve into your minis standing in one spot continually shooting at each other. Not only that but the rulebooks have extensive rules sections explaining the proper use of terrain and how to navigate it. Seems very strange to me indeed to not at least have a couple pieces of terrain included just too properly play a game the way it was meant to be played.
This is another pain point for me, the setup takes a very long time. I mean based around what you get in the box there doesn’t look like there would be that much to set up and you would be right! However if you also buy some terrain to litter about your mat, this increases the setup time considerably. And since you really don’t want to play this without terrain……the setup time is considerable. THEN once you have the whole thing set up, the take down is just as long putting all the stuff away. For the optimal experience you really need a dedicated table set up JUST for this game. That way you can keep the maps laid out flat and can easily rearrange the terrain when you need to.
The box isn’t half bad. It comes complete with an insert to keep all the minis and cards organized but that’s about it. I did notice one strange thing though, the spot where you store the mini cards is very deep and yet there are no side cutouts of the insert to be able to get your fingers down to easily remove the cards. It’s basically a deep pit of no escape. One good thing though is the insert does hold everything in place very well!
Visual Appeal /Theme
This is where the game really shines. I love Fallout and its theme and this game delivers on all accounts in this department. Everything is oozing fallout from the cards to the artwork to the minis and the tokens. If you get some cool post-apocalyptic themed terrain pieces to place on your mat the final setup really stands out and looks awesome. It makes you really FEEL like you are playing Fallout and I love that aspect of this game.
There are 3 rulebooks included. There is a beginner’s guide that walks you through the very basics if you are totally new to miniatures war gaming. This is supremely helpful and it’s not very long and super easy to read and understand. Then you have a VERY thick main rules guide. This beast of a book has everything. At the beginning it has sections for how to properly assemble resin minis (which you don’t need to worry about with the basic plastic starter set) and even an entire section on painting minis which is just awesome. Even though these things are something that a lot of regular board gamers probably don’t mess with, I love how they included this to really get new players interested in starting something fun like this. The last book has some finer points to it and has all the scenarios and setups for them. Also a large book this will have everything you need to setup each game and the intricacies of the maps.
I found the books pretty easy to read on a whole but there were some confusing written points and mistakes that I have found. That said with as much content this game has, good gravy, I don’t expect anyone to fully utilize ALL of the rules and setup items for every game. You can easily tailor the game play to your whims based on how deep you want the game to be just by leaving out some details. For example there are a TON of smaller cards that have events and mods and boosts and heroic abilities and wasteland dangers and so on. You could easily play a basic game without all that just moving around and attacking (and there are tutorial missions that have you do just that) and not use any of those cards and be fine. For a deeper and more rules intensive game, add in some of those cards.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
The game is super fun, and not only that but you will be chatting up a storm whilst playing it. It is so much fun just because you are so open on what actions you can take and where you can move. You will be discussing strategies out loud and plotting and planning. But still the more terrain, the more options, the more discussion, the more fun.
Optimal Player Count
Considering this game maxes out on 2 players with this starter set there isn’t much to go on. The solo game is very awesome as it comes included with a complete set of AI cards to manage another player. And it is pretty clever if I do say so myself. 2 players is probably the optimal player count as challenging another living person would create a much more robust play, I cannot dismiss the coolness of the AI in the game. That said if you buy some of the character expansion you can increase the play count I believe up to 8 with each player controllers a particular faction which is really cool. Also you can integrate the AI into any player count (if you have the expansions) so you could play a 3 player game with two humans and the AI. I think this is really awesome.
I recommend it. BUT please do your research and know what you are getting yourself into with this game. You could just buy the 2-player starter set and not buy anything else to go with it and have an ok time. Without terrain this game is very bland. For $60 I would expect a complete game but apparently this is just not the way miniatures wargames work. You are expected to buy much more to get a complete full experience. If you have the time and money (both are in short supply) then I highly recommend this game. Pick up some terrain, grab another character expansion and heck even pick up the settlement card pack to even FURTHER expand the game. If you have a dedicated group of players then this is even better as you can really get some cool ongoing campaigns going.