Retro Gamer - - RETRORATED -

It seems like ev­ery­body wants a piece of the board game boom, though it’s safe to say that not ev­ery li­censed re­lease re­ally does jus­tice to its sub­ject mat­ter. The path of least re­sis­tance is to sim­ply re­skin an ex­ist­ing ti­tle, as ev­i­denced by the mil­lions of ver­sions of Mo­nop­oly based on pop­u­lar fran­chises out there, al­though there are pretty much only a hand­ful of prop­er­ties for which a fun­da­men­tally bro­ken cap­i­tal­ism ex­per­i­ment is ac­tu­ally a good fit. The best ex­am­ples – things like XCOM and The Witcher – in­stead clev­erly adapt game me­chan­ics into table­top ones, and Fall­out is right up there with those top flight board games in terms of cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence that gen­uinely feels like Fall­out.

The com­plex nar­ra­tive webs and free­dom of player choice of the videogames would per­haps lend them­selves best to a more open D&d-like table­top ex­pe­ri­ence, but trust Fan­tasy Flight to be able to dis­til the essence of the open-world ad­ven­tures into some­thing a lit­tle more struc­tured and ac­ces­si­ble. Mod­u­lar tile-based maps of­fer free ex­plo­ration, dy­namic event decks of­fer en­gross­ing branch­ing nar­ra­tives and ran­dom en­coun­ters, and the player progress sys­tem is beau­ti­fully on-point, us­ing an adapted ver­sion of the videogames’ SPE­CIAL traits sys­tem to al­low for spe­cial­i­sa­tion in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines.

World­build­ing is fan­tas­tic, then, but com­bat was al­ways go­ing to be that much more dif­fi­cult to em­u­late. The

This month we look at Fan­tasy Flight Games’ adap­ta­tion of Fall­out, go on a quest with eight ad­ven­tur­ers in Oc­topath Trav­eler and find out if Tem­pest 4000 was worth the wait (it was)


dice-based sys­tem here is in­ter­est­ing enough, with each en­emy re­quir­ing a cer­tain num­ber of hits to des­ig­nated weak points to de­feat them. The three cus­tom dice have var­i­ous per­mu­ta­tions of said body parts (head, torso, arms, and legs) along with pips which, in com­bat, in­di­cate dam­age done by the en­emy, and equip­ment and skills al­low for a cer­tain num­ber of rerolls as you chase the nec­es­sary hits or try to mit­i­gate in­com­ing dam­age. It can be quite tricky as en­e­mies hit hard and you start out pretty weak, so scav­eng­ing for a few bits of gear be­fore get­ting into com­bat usu­ally tends to be the smart play.

The base game comes with four dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, each of which has its own map lay­out, unique war­ring fac­tions and spe­cial con­di­tions that mod­ify the flow of the game slightly. The com­mon theme is that each has tracks for chart­ing the progress of each fac­tion to­wards its goals and ul­ti­mate vic­tory, with player choice in story mis­sions typ­i­cally bump­ing one of the two up the lad­der a lit­tle at the ex­pense of the other. Hav­ing the game au­to­mat­i­cally end if ei­ther side reaches the fi­nal space of the track fre­quently leads to an­ti­cli­mac­tic fin­ishes just as things seem to be get­ting in­ter­est­ing, and this cou­pled with the points-based win con­di­tion for play­ers makes the endgame eas­ily the weak­est part of Fall­out. Al­liances are formed via ran­domly drawn Agenda cards (which also make up the scor­ing com­po­nent, with vary­ing amounts of In­flu­ence af­forded based on com­plet­ing cer­tain tasks), so there’s not re­ally a lot of skill in­volved in ac­tu­ally ‘win­ning’ – top-deck a good Agenda card and you might dou­ble your In­flu­ence and even end the game, while other times you just end up milling through low-scor­ing cards or ones that con­flict with your ex­ist­ing ones. It’s even messier with more play­ers as each will be fol­low­ing dif­fer­ent agen­das and there’s no di­rect player in­ter­ac­tion, so it’s not like you

can even do any­thing to stop some­one else from com­plet­ing some­thing that might in­ter­fere with your own plans.

It’s a shame that some­thing so fun­da­men­tal as scor­ing is so weak, es­pe­cially when ev­ery­thing else about Fall­out is ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. Adopt­ing house rules to pre­vent damp squib end­ings and re­ward play­ers more fairly for progress goes a long way to­wards rem­e­dy­ing the is­sue, and even some­thing as sim­ple as ex­tend­ing the fac­tion track to lengthen the game can lead to more sat­is­fy­ing fi­nal acts. Hope­fully the in­evitable ex­pan­sions will do some­thing more of­fi­cial to remedy this one black mark against an other­wise great game but in any case, this is a won­der­fully au­then­tic Fall­out ex­pe­ri­ence for the most part and one that can re­ally shine if you’re will­ing to de­vi­ate from the rule­book a lit­tle in or­der to get the most out of it.

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