GenCon is happening right now, and that means boardgame publishers the world over are announcing all their new and shinies.
For Fantasy Flight, that includes two games based on beloved gaming franchises – Fallout, and Sid Meier’s Civilisation. I break down both, after the jump.
Sorry for the old-schoolers, this is a Bethesda co-lab which means the game covers the areas you’ll find in Fallout 3 and 4, as well as their DLC. Players will start out with a map with only a couple of locations revealed, and be tasked with exploring the unknown. This means the map will be modular – every set up will be different, which alters the experience each time. Variability in set up goes a long way in helping a board game achieve longevity.
This is a competitive game, not co-operative, but players can still choose to work together at times to further both their own positions, instead of dying alone in a wasteland.
As you would want from a Fallout game, players are pretty free to do whatever they want. You can go after sweet loot, pick up companions, get experience, follow the main quest or go looking for vaults instead. You can also, of course, collect Caps. The warring factions in the area will gain power as the game progresses, and players will have to decide to pledge loyalty or rebel.
The game also sports asymmetrical characters, which means depending on who you choose at the start you’ll have different starting stats and abilities. In addition to that, depending on which scenario you choose different unique factions will be at war with each other, and you’ll track the progress and power level of each of these factions.
There’s a lot to like here. The game offers a real RPG feel as you explore an unknown area, push forward a narrative through doing quest objectives, collect various items and weapons, get progressively more powerful and have your choices impact the game in a meaningful way. The quests appear to unfold in an organic manner. Depending on what players choose to do and which quests they complete, this will queue up other quests behind it in branching narratives.
While the game only comes with four scenarios in the box, this isn’t likely to hurt replayability too much. With variable setups, different characters to play, a new map to explore each game and new items to collect and strategies to explore, having the same basic objectives is unlikely to make the game feel stale too soon. Plus, this is FFG – expect expansions.
The game is reportedly 2-3 hours, and plays from 1-4. This is pretty standard for a medium to heavy big box title like this, but the ability to play solo is a nice touch. That being said, I feel like 3-4 players is where this game is going to shine as alliances are formed and broken and players back different factions. FFG has been doing justice to their licensed games as of late, and are good at pulling the theme through strongly. I expect this to be a hit with Fallout fans.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn
That was a bit of a mouthful, but it’s an important distinction as a Civilization board game actually already exists. It’s a big, epic 2010 release that requires a pretty hefty time commitment and is relatively heavy on the rules. It has also been somewhat overshadowed by Through the Ages, the heavy civ game of choice for the discerning gamer.
That’s where A New Dawn comes in, because it’s none of those things. FFG have distilled the 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) Civilization experience down to 1-2 hour game, with significantly less rules overhead and an overall more streamlined experience.
Much like Fallout, Civilization boasts some delicious variability. The victory conditions change with each game. Players will play as one of eight leaders from Roman emperor Trajan to the Aztec warrior Montezuma, and each will come with their own unique abilities.
As you would expect, the game progresses from ancient history to present day, which gives your civilization a very satisfying sense of progression. You’ll have different goals that you’re trying to achieve to progress your society, some more important than others but requiring a bigger time investment.
The path to world domination can be different for each player. Do you want to stomp everyone with your mighty military, or perhaps just by accumulating massive wealth? Maybe you’re more of a hustler and want to become a trading powerhouse.
I haven’t played the 2010 version of this game, but I absolutely love Through the Ages. The problem is, you don’t always want to sit down for a 4 hour game, and as a result it rarely gets played. This take on a Civ game promises a full-fat experience in half the time, which has me very, very interested. If you’re new to boardgaming and love the idea of a proper civilisation game, this more streamlined, accessible offer is definitely something to keep your eye on.