Fallout: The Board Game Review
There’s a certain semester of college that I fondly remember as the “Fallout Semester.” I was taking relatively easy online courses, living in an apartment with my best friend, and separated by distance from my girlfriend (now wife) who was in her home state. Aside from Board Game Resource, which was in its formative stages, there wasn’t a lot keeping me busy.
And then Fallout 4 came out.
Hours became days, days became weeks, and weeks became a solid month or two — a month or two of just me and Fallout. Responsibilities be damned — I roamed, I explored, I blasted the heads off of super mutants, I built elaborate bases, and I got ripped apart by Deathclaws.
It was a good time. Am I proud of it? No, but it suffices to say that I’m a pretty big Fallout fan, and I was elated when I heard the news that an official board game was being made, and by Fantasy Flight Games no less. I knew I had to get it, and I was at Gamestop on day one, fortuitously on time to pick up the sole copy they received.
So, does Fallout: The Board Game live up to its expectations? The answer is, well, it’s complicated. The game fires on many cylinders, creating an exceptionally enjoyable experience in many ways, but it also has some puzzling design decisions that will bring the game down a notch or two for many players. I will say upfront that the Fallout Board Game will be a worthwhile purchase for many gamers, and that it has many praiseworthy aspects. But it’s hard to recommend it to everyone. Keep reading if you want a detailed, comprehensive look at Fallout: The Board Game.
Note: This section is here to give a concise summary of how the game works, not to cover every small detail in the rules. If you want a complete summary of Fallout: The Board Game’s rules, click here to view the rulebook online. Additionally, if you want to read actual impressions of the game, feel free to skip this section.
There are two big questions people tend to have about Fallout: The Board Game, and you probably have at least one of them on your mind, depending on where your fandom lies.
If you’re a tabletop fan, you might be wondering, “Is this just a cash grab reskin of an existing board game archetype?” And if you’re a Fallout fan, the big question might be, “Is this anything like the games?”
Put simply, the answer to these questions is no and yes. Fallout: The Board Game is unlike any other tabletop game I’ve ever played, for better and for worse, and in every playthrough, it felt as familiar a romp through the irradiated wasteland as my previous experiences in the video games.
The Object of the Game
Fallout: The Board Game plays like an interactive adventure on the tabletop. Each player starts out together on a single exposed hex, assuming one of the eccentric roles of various wasteland dwellers. Your character choice isn’t just cosmetic; it will give you some kind of trait that can affect your experience in the wasteland.
True to the spirit of the games, the entire wasteland lies unexplored in front of you, represented by flipped over tiles that are revealed as you explore them. With every piece of the world that is exposed, new locations, quests, and monsters will be made manifest, presenting new options to the players. Every player will make their own mark in the wasteland, and while there is almost no direct player interaction, the actions of each player will affect the overall world, thus influencing the options that are available to everyone else.
The object of the game is fairly simple — each player has secret objectives, and they earn points for each one that they fulfill. Everyone is dealt two objectives in the beginning of the game, and can earn more throughout the game. Acquiring a new objective card (referred to as agenda cards in-game) can open up a whole new window of possibilities that informs your strategy going forward.
There is a point threshold that determined victory (based on the number of players). Once a player has fulfilled enough objectives throughout the wasteland, they reveal their hand and win the game. In Fallout: The Board Game, every player has different motivations, making every session a unique experience.
How it Works
You might still be confused on how exactly the game works. While you’d be better off reading the rulebook online to learn all the fine minutiae, I’ll explain the basics here.
The gameplay of Fallout: The Board Game is actually relatively simple. The game is played in rounds, and in every round, each player gets one turn. On your turn, you get to perform two actions. There are six actions to choose from, and you can mix and match as you please.
- Explore: Exploring allows you to uncover one of the undiscovered hexes, opening up new locations and opportunities in the wasteland.
- Move: Allows you move a certain amount of spaces across the board, determined by your character and gear.
- Quest: Allows you to fulfill an action on a quest card (described below). This is a context-specific action that is only available on certain occasions.
- Encounter: This is a fun action that allows you to have “encounters” in the wasteland, either in the wilderness or in settlements (also described below). This can be triggered in specific locations, providing you with choices that will be met with rewards — or consequences.
- Fight: You can use this action to engage in combat with enemies on the map. You can only fight wasteland enemies, not other players directly.
- Camp: Allows you to take a rest, regaining some lost HP, and opening up a window to trade with other players who might be sharing the same spot.
Quests and Encounters
Again, much like the video games, Fallout: The Board Game is driven by a narrative that’s presented via quests. You, of course, have the power to choose your own destiny. Will you be the moral paragon who fights for the good of the common people, or the morally bankrupt sleazebag? The choice is yours, which is a big part of Fallout’s charm.
In the Fallout video games, your experience is defined by two different types of quests — the main story, and side quests. The board game is no different. There is indeed a story that plays out through the main quest, and as the game continues, various side quests manifest themselves that can give you different objectives.
Every quest card has a narrative that provides lore and context, along with objectives. There are multiple ways to resolve each one, each option having its own rewards or consequences. Furthermore, these represent branching paths — the way you resolve a quest determines how its story pans out.
One of the earliest quests has you investigating the phenomenon of synths in the Boston wasteland — artificial beings who look, feel, and sound exactly like humans. Do you kill a synth on the map and pick them apart to learn more about them, or head to Diamond City to learn more information through word-of-mouth? Each one will have its own implications, and the choice you choose will determine the card that’s drawn to continue the storyline.
The bulk of Fallout: The Board Game is spent pursuing the objectives on quest cards. These will reward you with gear that will make your life easier, advance the story, and quite often help you to complete the tasks on your personal agenda cards (through which the game is won).
Encounters are similar to quest cards, but instead of being on-going story threads that are available for every player to pursue, they are one-time events that are triggered by players when they stumble upon certain locations. They are presented and resolved in one turn, and typically present the player with some kind of moral dilemma, true to the spirit of the Fallout games.
Encounters can happen out in the wild, or in settlements, and in every occasion, it’s fun to see how the players at the table decide their fate.
The Other Stuff
If I were to explain every little component of Fallout: The Board Game, we’d be here for a while, and that’s not exactly the point of a review, even a comprehensive one. The goal here is to give you a general idea of the game’s main takeaways, but there are still a few facets that are worth mentioning.
- Weapons, Armor, Gear, and Companions: There is a multitude of wasteland delights you can equip your character with, and fans of the series will see a lot of their favorites. These all have an effect on your character’s abilities. Whether you’re traveling with your pup Dogmeat or ripping Deathclaws apart with the flaming sword Shishkebab, there is plenty of loot in Fallout: The Board Game.
- Character Progression: You have your own little Pip-Boy of sorts in your player area, which presents your character’s progression. You have seven stats, dubbed as S.P.E.C.I.A.L., and upgrading these allows you to be more adept at skill-checks, which are often required to resolve quests. These, naturally, are upgraded when you level up, which happens when you kill enemies. If this sounds complicated, not to worry — it’s all very easy and simple in execution.
- Four Different Scenarios: Fallout: The Board Game comes packed with four different unique scenarios, each with their own storyline and overworld. These scenarios are directly lifted from the Bethesda games, using the narratives of Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and a couple of their expansion packs.
- Factions and Morality: Each scenario has two main factions that you may or may not be incentivized to ally yourself with. It’s not uncommon for your personal agenda cards to encourage you to side with one faction over the other, which gives you an incentive in how to fulfill the main quest each game. Your character, through your choices, can also become a moral paragon or end up being vilified — conditions that will affect your standing in questlines and encounters.
- Shared Victories and Group Defeat: It’s possible for two players to win at the same time if they’re allied with a certain faction, in which case they share the victory. It’s also possible for everyone at the table to lose. Each major faction is on a timeline, and if the main quest progresses to its endpoint without a victor, one of the factions will “win” the game, resulting in a shared loss between all the players.
It’s easy to get the impression that Fallout is a long game. Its video game forefather isn’t exactly known for its brevity, and it’s reasonable to assume that a game with quests, combat, story, and progression would be a doozy in the length department.
I assumed the same, despite its advertised playtime (which, let’s be honest, never seems to be true to reality), but I was surprised to find that, once you know what you’re doing, Fallout: The Board Game can actually have a modest play time. I use the word “can” because it is very possible for this game to run long, and it will really depend on the group you’re playing with.
A group who’s down to business, familiar with the game mechanics, and competitive in their objective-chasing could easily meet the game’s advertised playtime of one and a half to two hours. But if it’s your first time or you have a group who’s not exactly speedy, you could definitely end up with a three-hour long game or more. If you’ve got someone in your group who suffers from major analysis paralysis, beware.
I can say with reasonable confidence that your first game will probably be a longer one, but once you’ve got things more figured out, most groups will be able to cut down the amount of time it takes to get through a session.
Fallout: The Board Game is fairly forgiving when it comes to setup time. Although there’s a lot going on, it’s not as scary as it seems. The board is pretty easy to assemble, being a collection of hexes that are randomly placed, and each player doesn’t start out with very much in their play area — just their SPECIAL board and starting character cards.
The biggest hassle in Fallout’s setup is its bonkers amount of different card decks, par for the course for any Fantasy Flight Game. You would do well to organize these into separate decks that are readily available, something that will definitely slim down the setup time.
Overall, if you’re worried about games that take forever to set up, on top of an already long playtime, you could do a lot worse than Fallout — but if you’re willing to invest the time or money to make a box organizer, it will cut down setup and takedown time substantially. And, as always, you can check out our tips for board game storage if you want some easy ways to keep things organized.
The Fallout Board Game supports one to four players. That’s right — this game can be played solo. At last, you can take a break from all the time you spend playing Fallout on a TV…playing Fallout on a table.
Fallout, fortunately, scales pretty well across player counts. While I have limited experience playing the solo version, I found the experience to be pleasant across all player counts. This is probably because, for the most part, everyone is doing their own thing in this board game rather than directly interacting.
Three and Four-Player Games
I found that the Fallout Board Game feels pretty similar with three and four players. At these counts, a lot of things are in motion across the wasteland. The biggest difference with each player added is the quest density, which, admittedly, is very important. The more players you have, the more quickly you’ll burn through quests. This is exciting at times, but it can propose its own problems.
On one hand, it’s interesting to see every player pursuing their own agendas. With three or four players, you have the option of players representing each major faction. You might find that two or more players ally themselves with one side while you find yourself on the other. Perhaps the fourth player is playing their cards close to their chest, which keeps things interesting. If you’re working against the faction that the other players are rallying for, you’ll have to be especially relentless in pursuing the main quest. It can be fun seeing players push the story forward and reacting accordingly — and you might find yourself changing your plans because of it. Sometimes it’s fun to go rogue and let the other players duke it out in the main quest while you pursue your own independent goals.
Having three to four players also increases the amount of interaction you can have, which is surprisingly little for a game like this. The biggest thing is trading — if you rest in the same spot as another player, you can trade gear with them. This is an option that isn’t very common in two player games, and obviously impossible in a single player experience. It’s nice, and adds some depth.
How Does it Hold Up As a Two Player Game?
You know the drill — a lot of games that market themselves as two player games have to make sacrifices to actually make it work. Fortunately, the Fallout Board Game is not one of them. The game holds up very well with two players, and if you’re looking for a new unique game to add to your two-player game collection, Fallout is definitely a viable choice.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a game where you’re mostly pursuing your own goals, and kind of having your own adventure in a shared world. So, the experience isn’t really hindered when there aren’t other players to join you. You’ll still be able to embark on quests, unravel the story, slay Deathclaws, and live out your own unique Fallout adventure.
The first thing that might surprise you about the Fallout Board Game is that it’s deceptively easy to learn. On the surface, this appears to be a game that’s riddled with complexity — you’re looking at a giant hex-based board that’s rife with miniatures, cards, cardboard tokens, and plastic pieces. It’s easy to assume that it’s going to take eons to learn and teach, but when it comes down to it, most of Fallout’s concepts are surprisingly easy to stomach.
Learning From the Rulebook
Because I’m a big weirdo who still prefers to teach myself games from reading the rulebook (instead of watching easily-digestible explanatory Youtube videos), it’s always important for me to have a solid rulebook that teaches concepts clearly.
Fallout’s rulebook, for the most part, gets the job done. Fantasy Flight Games is pretty seasoned when it comes to publishing games, so they (for the most part) know how to create a well-crafted rulebook that teaches concepts clearly.
Unfortunately, there are still some concepts that slip through the cracks. The whole agenda card/victory point system could certainly be better explained than it is, and we had some confusion in every game about how certain quests worked.
For example, many “main quest” cards instruct you to put certain tokens on the board which represent different storyline entities or enemies on the board. It’s not always clear how these evolve and change as quests move on, and, honestly, don’t be surprised if you find yourself hopping onto BoardGameGeek to find answers to some obscure rule issue that other game groups have also struggled with.
Teaching to Others
Fallout: The Board Game is in a weird spot, because it looks really complicated, and then you learn that it really isn’t, and then you explain it to other people, and then you realize it still is.
In other words, Fallout’s main concepts are extremely easy to stomach — you basically have four major actions to choose from each turn, and most of the game just revolves around understanding those. The actual core gameplay loop is very easy to learn and teach.
It’s all the little things that will extend the length of your teaching sessions. Leveling up your character. The nuances of gear and equipment. All the little icons on enemy tokens. If you try to teach all of this at once, it can kind of add up, and an explanation that should be simple can turn into a twenty- to thirty-minute affair.
The best way to teach Fallout is to teach the most basic gameplay actions, and then explain all the other stuff on a “need to know” basis.
At the very beginning, players don’t need to know much more than how to explore and interact. Once monsters come into play, maybe then you can explain combat. Once somebody actually defeats one, maybe then you can explain how leveling works. Just take it one bit at a time and let the players learn on their own — teaching every single concept at once would be a drag.
As always, I recommend reading our article on how to teach board games clearly and effectively — those tips could come in handy for a game as loaded as Fallout.
Oof. This one is tough to answer for a game like this. But let’s just get one thing out of the way, even though I’ve already mentioned it in this review — if you’re looking for a consistently strategic, fair, and competitive game, Fallout isn’t for you.
I repeat my sentiment that Fallout should be treated as more of an experience than an actual game that you play with the intent of winning. There is strategy, yes, and you won’t win any games through dumb luck, but Fallout: The Board Game is much more interested in being a fun, thematic romp through your favorite wasteland rather than being a tightly designed competitive game.
It suffices to say that Fallout is a game that has a lot of luck, but strategy also plays a significant role and there are many meaningful decisions to make.
Luck Factor: The Dice
Yep, this is a Fantasy Flight game, and yep, it has its own set of unique proprietary dice. And, like many other FFG games, the dice are central to a few critical gameplay components, but you have ways to mitigate the luck factor.
The dice are used for two things — combat, and skill checks. The combat process is pretty streamlined here — one roll of the dice determines both your offensive power towards your enemy, and the amount of damage they do to you. In combat situations, it’s possible to get unlucky, but for the most part, I rarely felt cheated by the results of the dice. You can use weapons and armor to allow yourself a certain amount of re-rolls, and you can also acquire cards that give you automatic hits or advantages against certain enemy types.
The skill checks are where the dice feel more problematic. There are “skill checks” for many quests and encounters. This echoes the game — you need to have intelligence to hack a computer terminal, and if your character is a big dummy, you’ll probably fail.
While the game provides many reroll opportunities if you play your cards right, I ran into a lot more situations where players failed skill checks against all odds. Sure, the player is asking for it if they go into a hard check with no preparation, but we experienced many occasions where the player had the right skills and cards to reasonably achieve a positive result, only for the dice to betray them.
Maybe I call out skill checks specifically because it’s just more frustrating to fail them. Losing a skill check usually just ends your turn and you feel like you wasted your action. What’s especially frustrating is when you require a certain check to progress in a quest, and you continually fail it due to bad luck, even with reroll opportunities.
It’s just annoying, and I often found myself wishing that the game gave you more ways to essentially guarantee successes if you prepared enough.
Luck Factor: The Agenda Cards
The other major luck factor I feel compelled to point out is the agenda cards that provide your personal objectives. The bottom line with these is that not all objectives feel equal.
Some are just easier to achieve than others, and it’s also possible to draw cards that conflict with each other. A big part of the game is earning points by allying with certain factions — but this is determined by the cards you draw.
For example, one player could draw four cards that belong to the “star” faction — this means every time they advance said faction’s agenda, they’re earning four points. The other player might draw two cards for each faction, but this is less useful. When you ally with one side, the cards for the other become useless. One player can gain a major point advantage by just getting lucky pulls with their objectives.
We found that the game worked better when we made house rules to balance the objective cards. This is a little frustrating, since it’s the entire object of the game, but it is what it is.
Strategy Factor: Chasing Your Objectives
Despite the game’s luck, it’s unfair to say that it’s not strategic. You have a lot of choices to make, and if you don’t have any kind of plan, you’ll more than likely lose to players who do.
I enjoyed the liberty at which you were able to pursue your own points. Your objective cards, although frustrating at times, give you a roadmap of what to do throughout the game. They might heavily incentivize you to play the main quest, or ignore it completely in favor of more independent objectives, such as uncovering a certain amount of the world map.
On the other hand, if you have an idea what direction your opponents are heading in, you can block them. If they’re really eager to help out a certain faction, they might be doubled up on objective cards that would give them massive points should they succeed. Even if it doesn’t help you directly, you could choose to help the opposing faction so your opponent doesn’t get ahead.
While I have beef with certain aspects of the objective cards, I appreciate how they give you plentiful choices, and a different strategy to take every game.
Strategy Factor: Preparing Your Character Against the Wasteland
The other strategic element in this game is building your character to weather the challenges of the wasteland better. If you deck yourself out with good gear, companions, and experience, many challenges of the game will come easier to you. Lategame quests will be easier to fulfill. Skill checks will yield more easily. Enemies on the board will be less of a hindrance.
Yes, while there is much luck that comes from enemy encounters and dice rolls, you don’t have a huge right to be frustrated if you’ve done nothing to help improve your odds. Players with a better loadout almost invariably have more success in pursuing their objectives, and it’s often worth it to take a small detour from your quest chasing to have a shot at gaining some sweet gear.
What can I say here, except that this is a Fantasy Flight Game? For the uninitiated, Fantasy Flight Games are about the closest thing we have to a “AAA” studio in the board game world, and their games, regardless of their design quality, are usually packed with quality components, and the Fallout Board Game is no exception.
Cardboard pieces, cards, and plastic miniatures make up the bulk of Fallout’s components, and they’re all of fine quality. Like most FFG fare, they’re printed with great artwork that doesn’t really leave you wanting. The miniatures will no doubt be fun for people who are fans of the games, as they capture their respective characters in impressive detail. Who doesn’t want a cool, detailed miniature of a Brotherhood of Steel paladin? Miniature painting aficionados will love painting these guys, or just hardcore Fallout fans who have never tried miniature painting but want to get started.
It will be a cold day in hell before Fantasy Flight doesn’t expand a game that’s based off a successful IP, and, in a move that surprised no one, FFG has already announced one expansion, which just recently released at the time of this article’s publishing.
Fallout: New California has just barely been released, and it looks to provide a significant dose of content. This expansion includes two new scenarios (an impressive number, given that the base game launched with four), with their own maps and questlines, and also provides five new characters to play with — also an impressive number, equal to the number of characters provided in the main game. This will double the number of characters you can play with and give you new ways to play.
This expansion also solves one of the criticisms I have about the base game — branching narratives for encounter cards. In a nutshell, the amount of encounter cards (one-time events that are not to be confused with quests) is fairly small in the main game, and you can go through almost all of them in one game, which spoils the rewards and outcomes for future playthroughs. Fallout: New California appears to include multiple copies of each encounter card with different outcomes to ensure that they stay fresh for longer than the original encounters in the base game do.
I haven’t played the expansion myself, but the game comes with an assortment of new quests, items, characters, and scenarios. It also seems like there is an entirely co-operative scenario. If you want to know more about Fallout: New California, the game’s official page does a better job at giving the juicy details than I can.
How Much Would This Game Benefit From Expansions?
The simple answer to this question is “probably a lot.” This, of course, depends on how much you play the game. Fallout: The Board Game is very much designed to be a fun interactive experience, and much of the thrills come from resolving questlines and encounters without knowing their outcome. The game is still fun when you’ve been through the quests, but much of the novelty is lost. If this game hits your table frequently, I don’t imagine it would take very long to experience just about every quest line the game has to offer, despite the enormous deck that the base game is equipped with.
I think every expansion that adds more quests and variety to the Fallout Board Game will be a boon to its longevity. I love games that are so well-designed that they have no need for expansions, but the very inherent systems of this game call for more content.
And, to be honest, this is a game that could benefit from rule corrections and revisions that expansions often bring. Fallout feels a little rough around the edges in the way many of its systems play out (an example, again, being the agenda card system which is the object of the game), and it would be nice if Fantasy Flight could work out better solutions that make the game flow better.
Thematically, the Fallout Board Game fires on all cylinders. There will be many players who criticize certain design decisions of the game, but it’s hard to deny that the game does a very good job at feeling like Fallout. This is no surprise for a Fantasy Flight game, which often prioritize thematic experience over elegant gameplay systems.
But it’s all here — many of your favorite weapons, characters, and ideas from Bethesda’s Fallout games make an appearance here, and the art design is reminiscent of the games. Quests feel decidedly Fallout in nature, many of them leading to outcomes that range from downright grim to hilariously bizarre. I honestly loved seeing how creatively some of Fallout’s systems were implemented into this game, from VATS targeting to the familiar level-up perks.
If you love Fallout, it will probably be easier to look past some of the game design deficiencies because it’s just so fun seeing this world play out on your table.
It Feels Original
I’m not going to say Fallout isn’t like any other game, but it’s definitely much different than any game that I personally have played. I’ve heard of comparisons to Mage Knight, though that’s a title I haven’t played so I can’t comment on the similarities.
But, at the end of the day, Fallout feels like something new, for better and for worse. It’s a bold attempt at converting a deep RPG into a surprisingly light, casual-friendly tabletop experience, and it’s hard to find another game to compare it to.
It’s nice having a game in your collection that feels like it covers a specific niche that no other game can touch. There are many games that reuse familiar mechanics where you often find yourself saying “Oh, it’s like that other game but a little different.” This is hardly the case with Fallout — it’s a bold attempt at something new, and it succeeds in many ways, and has room for improvement in others.
Surprisingly Casual Friendly
One thing that impressed me the most with Fallout was how easy it was to introduce to players that were neither experienced with heavy games, or fans of the game series it’s based on. In fact, the game was much more of a hit among my more casual gaming buddies than it was for the hardcore gamers who have played everything under the sun.
The people that enjoyed Fallout: The Board Game the most were my wife, my sister, and my dad. All three have experience playing heavier games, and are good at them, but they generally prefer games that are lighter to medium weight, and not a single one of them are fans of the Fallout games. These players liked the mechanics and gameplay of Fallout enough to want to own their own copy, despite having no familiarity with the property.
Since the Fallout moniker is arguably this game’s biggest selling point, I was surprised to find that the biggest fans of this game were the people in my group that had no familiarity with the theme, and I was equally as surprised at how easy the game was to teach to them. That’s not to say that this will always be a commonality for other people who buy it, but it was a certainly a surprise to me which spoke to the accessibility of this game.
The Agenda Card System Feels Half-Baked
Just to be clear, agenda cards provide you with personal private objectives. Completing them gives you victory points, and when you complete enough of them, you seize the victory.
This is the object of the game.
It’s a shame, then, that the system feels…incomplete? It feels like they had a solid concept that wasn’t playtested enough to feel meaningful, and it’s definitely one of my biggest gripes about the game. Let’s just cover a few of the problems:
- Objectives Aren’t Created Equal: Some of the objectives are just easier to complete than others. Given that they’re randomly distributed, this is a problem.
- Bad Draws Can Make the Game Unwinnable: This is unlikely to happen on a frequent basis, but if you draw a bad combination of agenda cards, the game can literally be unwinnable. This happened to me in a four player game. We dried up all the available quests, leaving me with no way to draw more agenda cards, and the ones I had couldn’t be fulfilled in harmony with each other. It wasn’t possible for me to accumulate enough points to reach victory, and it was frustrating. This, again, is unlikely to happen regularly, but I think design decisions should have been made to prevent this from happening at all.
The Faction System Needs Balance
This is similar to the point above, since it comes down to the agenda cards, but it’s significant enough to warrant its own point.
In a nutshell, about three-fourths of the agenda cards are “loyalty” cards that incentivize you to support one of the two major story factions. It is my understanding that the effects of these cards stack, which means your points could be doubled or tripled by helping one side out. If one player gets lucky in pulling a lot of cards for one side, they can ostensibly gain points much faster than other players, especially if said players have drawn an equal distribution of cards for both sides.
There’s a lot I could say here, but it suffices to say that the system just…needs work. The game seems designed to incentivize you to play the main quest, but in doing so, you often run into imbalances that reward certain players more than others.
I don’t have a perfect solution for the faction and agenda card system, but I’m also not a full-time game designer. I’ve seen many fans work out homemade solutions to solve these problems, and at the end of the day, I think Fantasy Flight could have done better. It’s a system that feels like it has promise, but wasn’t thought through to completion.
Fallout: The Board Game’s quest and encounter system is both its greatest strength, and one of its biggest weaknesses. Much of the novelty and excitement comes from unraveling certain adventures and being unable to predict their outcome. You’ll share lots of laughter and shock as the events unfold in your game, but they have much less of an impact as you go through them again and again.
Fortunately, many quests have branching paths and play out differently depending on if you pass or fail skill checks, so it’s not like you’ll get the whole picture just by going through each quest once. But if Fallout is such a hit that it comes to your table frequently, you’ll eventually become familiar with most outcomes.
This is why I think that expansions will be a boon to this game — it will invariably have a longer and longer life the more content that is added to it.
Fallout: The Board Game delivers a Fallout experience on all cylinders, and will be thematically satisfying to those who are familiar with the games. However, seasoned tabletop gamers may find themselves vexed by some of its mechanics, which at times feel half-baked and unbalanced. Fallout: The Board Game should be thought of as an experience first, and a competitive game second. On that front, it delivers well, and it can even be introduced to casual players who have no familiarity with the series.
About the Author
Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, spending time with his lovely wife, or writing about video game stuff for Insert Gamer. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his (long neglected) gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach!