Fallout is a post-nuclear adventure board game for one to four players. Based on the hit video game series by Bethesda Softworks, each Fallout scenario is inspired by a familiar story from the franchise. Survivors begin the game on the edge of an unexplored landscape, uncertain of what awaits them in this unfamiliar world. With just one objective to guide them from the very beginning, each player must explore the hidden map, fight ferocious enemies, and build the skills of their survivor as they attempt to complete challenging quests and balance feuding factions within the game.
As they advance their survivors' stories, players will come across new quests and individual targets, leading them to gain influence. Who comes out ahead will depend on how keenly and aggressively each player ventures through the game, however if a single faction is pushed to power too quickly, the wasteland will be taken for their own, and the survivors conquered along with it.
Throughout each Fallout game, players will develop deeply unique survivors with which to adventure. At the core of the survivor board is the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skill system, breaking up the survivors' abilities into seven main categories: Strength, Perception. Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Each survivor will begin with two base abilities—one determined by their character type and another drawn at random. Depending on the quests pursued, enemies engaged, and encounters attempted, these skills may come in handy as the players progress throughout the game.
In order to gain new skill tokens, players must level up, allowing them to draw new skill tokens. The number of skills a player has collected will determine how quickly they are able to level up again, a function tracked beneath the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. tile slots. The peg, however, will only move to spots which fall under fulfilled skills, so the more skills a player has collected, the longer it will take them to advance to another one.
Additionally, if a player's leveling up results in drawing a skill they have already obtained, they are given the opportunity to claim a perk in that area instead, having already trained the skill. Perks are powerful, one-time-use abilities, such as collecting a piece of revealed armor for free or moving to another location on the map without following normal movement rules. While the perks may only impact the survivor's game once, used wisely, they can turn the tide of a game very quickly.
Also on the survivor board are three token slots, which may indicate positive or negative traits of a player. Some of these tokens can be acquired and changed while others will impact a player's entire game. Each of these tokens may force certain events should the inflicted survivor attempt to complete a quest or encounter, though whether the result is positive or negative can vary.
Along the bottom of this board is the all-important health track, though with one important difference to many others—radiation. On the right side of this track represents HP, while the left tracks a survivor's accumulated radiation (or rads). While HP in many games has to hit zero for a player to lose their life, in Fallout, survivors must keep a close eye on both HP and radiation. If the two pegs would ever occupy the same space or cross along the track, the survivor will die, respawning the following turn (a few possessions lighter) back at the starting space.
Scenarios and Quests
Though character creation is a significant piece of the Fallout experience, at the heart of the game are the quests and encounters that tell each scenario's story. At the beginning of the game, the players will choose one scenario which determines the map layout, warring factions, and major questline of that game. Once the scenario begins, players will cycle through their encounter decks and quest objectives, populating them from the 159-item card library.