Several months ago, I decided to finally branch out and try a new wargame as I was burnt out on MESBG as a solo painter and player because I was struggling to get many games in despite doing a lot of painting and making terrain. I chose Fallout Wasteland Warfare because it is solo-friendly, has great support from Modiphius, and I love the post-apocalypic setting and video games. Needless to say, I was both nervous and excited to finally play it as I’ve been painting quite a few models and am pretty invested in the game without having actually played it. How did the long awaited game go? Read on to find out!
First Fallout Battle Report – Since this is my first time playing Fallout, I want to acknowledge that I likely made a mistake or two along the way. I didn’t have a lot of time to pore over the rulebook before I had time to play and I’m sure some mistakes happened as a result. Since many of my regular readers have not played or even read the rules for this game, I wanted to share a few things you’ll see in the play-by-play to hopefully make it easy to follow and understand.
When you attack in Fallout, you generally roll at least one modifier dice which can cause different effects on the attack. For example, an accuracy dice can make your shot more accurate and there is a damage dice which does exactly what it sounds. Weapons also have different ranges which can cause different effects too. The game has a readying system where you have to ready a unit and then you can decide if you want to act with all readied units or pass. So you’ll see that this tends to result in actions quickly alternating between the two sides which I really liked. It also gives the battle report and very back and forth feeling as you’ll see.
The Scenario – Troubled Beginnings is the first tutorial scenario and I played it with the recommended basic rules. So shooting, close combat, movement, and terrain rules are all there. There are quite a few rules which would give the game even more spice which will not appear in this playthrough. A few of these rules came up with various dice rolls so I just skipped them.
Truthfully, I didn’t have too high expectations for this scenario because the rules are stripped down which usually means it isn’t as fun based on my experience playing other games. The concept of the scenario is made up and doesn’t occur in the Fallout video games as well. Its totally plausible but not screen accurate if you know what I mean. I also had some concerns that I don’t have enough terrain yet though as you can see from the image, the setup is very vague in terms of terrain (most scenarios show buildings you should include and this one does not). I would imagine they did this to make it as beginner friendly as possible but I did find myself wishing I had a bit more to put down on the table.
With that said, the goal is simple, the survivors need to free the trapped dog (who is on top because I can’t open the cage without damaging the paint unfortunately) and kill the super mutants to win. The super mutants only need to open all four traps before the four round turn limit is up. Seems easy enough!
The Forces – Since I had no experience with this game and you’re given the forces for both sides, I didn’t know how either side would play and didn’t have a set strategy. In fact, I just kind of improvised and did what I thought each side would do in each moment which was fun. Long time readers know that I usually try to come up with a strategy that fits the narrative and seems like it can plausibly win the game but this time I just did it all on-the-fly.
To keep things simple for me and so I could focus on learning the rules, I did not use the game’s AI system. At this point, I’m quite used to playing against myself and since I always found MESBG fun that way, I didn’t have any reservations about doing it here. I will give the AI system a try as soon as I feel comfortable with the rules but for the tutorial scenarios, I will skip them.
For the Survivors, I did actually name the combatants for the first time in my wargaming history and I have to admit, it was a lot of fun. In the picture above we have, from left-to-right, Bob the settler (He needed a comical name because I think he is a little sad and overwhelmed looking), Jeff (I gave the sole survivor my actual name just like I do in the video games which also proved to be comedic in this game), the dog (who is not the exact model you should use but I like how this one looks and think it is painted well so I’m going with it!), and finally, Daria, the other settler.
I didn’t name the super mutants but I will probably try to come up with names for them in the next report. I also realized as I got ready to play that I didn’t really have models that were accurate to the scenario. I used the Aviator as the Brute (even though he doesn’t have a sledgehammer) and the remaining two are regular super mutants (which is accurate to their sculpts, even the weapons don’t match).
Finally, I played the game with the Fallout Wasteland Warfare app instead of using cards on the table. While I love the cards and it kind of pained me not to use them more, the app has cards which are updated with errata and I had heard that Dogmeat was overpowered in this scenario if you use the card given in the starter set. I’ll talk more about how I felt about using the app at the end so stay tuned for that.
Battle Report – Here is an excerpt from the Campaign Handbook that sets the scene well.
“Having woken up in the cryo facility in Vault 111 days earlier, Jeff is still trying to make sense of the harsh and strange world in which he finds himself. Is this really the same world he knew before? Armed with a pistol, and traveling with a group of settlers he met on the road, he hears a scuffle nearby. Over the hill, he sees a group of ogre-like creatures amongst the squalid trees. They are attempting to grab a cattle dog caught in a trap. Not on his watch…”
The survivors won the advantage for the first turn on a roll-off. The Sole Survivor aka our brave hero, Jeff, walked up to cover and prepared his pistol for a shot. Striking the super mutant (thanks to the -1 on the accuracy die), the Brute took three damage. A promising start!
Enraged after being shot, the Brute stormed past the barricade and charged Jeff. With an equally lucky roll, the brute smacked Jeff with his sledgehammer and the Sole Survivor took two wounds.
Daria received a ready token but decided not to act just yet as she considers her strategic options and looks for the right moment to support Jeff.
The first super mutant moved twice to come in base contact with the first trap. He would try and retrieve his prize next turn.
The second settler, Bob, readied and while he could try and help Jeff against the brute in close combat, his improvised weapon seemed likely to bounce off the brute’s rusty armor so he charged ahead towards the trapped dog. Daria made the same determination after some thinking and so she tucked in behind the barricade and decided to take a shot at the second super mutant with her hunting rifle instead. Striking the super mutant’s armor, the shot results in a single wound.
The second super mutant excitedly ran to the trap located in the camp so that once that trap is emptied, he can swing back and bash the settler who shot him!
With no casualties on either side yet, the advantage switched to the super mutant’s side. Eager to see what the brute could do, he readied first so he could try and smack Jeff around some more. The first attack was a critical but no extra damage was rolled (this was a rules mistake I made on the previous turn. If a model charges into combat, they get a bonus accuracy or damage die and I took neither). Jeff took two wounds as his armor failed to protect him. With only three wounds left, Jeff had woken from a long sleep, seemingly only to be killed by a super mutant! With another swing of his sledge, the brute racked up four damage but Jeff’s armor stopped two leaving him with one wound! Whew!
Knowing Jeff was safe for the rest of the turn while the other super mutants focused on traps, Bob readied and then ran forward to the whimpering dog. With his second action, he freed the mutt from the super mutant trap and the dog snarled, ready for revenge!
The first super mutant readied next, it was time to open the first trap! With his first action, he pried it open with ease and found a tasty looking mole rat. Yum! With that safely tucked away, he turned around and headed towards the other trap on his side of the board. The super mutants were more cunning than they appeared and seemed to be cruising towards victory in the early part of the game.
Jeff readied and stepped away from the Brute to fire his pistol cleanly. His nervous shot caused a single wound and was mostly blocked by the Brute’s armor. Still, the super mutant’s leader was half-dead.
The second mutant strolled over to the trap left in the campsite and tried to open. In his excitement (he thought putting a trap in such a great location would surely lead to some excellent food!), he failed to pry it open with his second action. This delay could prove vital for the survivors’ chances of winning.
Seeing an opportunity to shoot the brute down from behind, Daria readied her hunting rifle and lined up a couple of shots. By being so close, she seemed poised to negate the brute’s armor. The first shot was a miss (but generated a quick action which is something that is in the full rules so I ignored it) and the second shot hit with two wounds thanks to the accuracy dice! There were two wounds left but Jeff was still looking very vulnerable…
Was it time for the dog to come to the rescue? With a massive charge range, the mutt easily made contact with the brute. He snarled and attempted to bite the brute but was batted away! Dogmeat got two quick actions as well which might have made an impact using the full rules but since that rule was not included in today’s game, it was once again ignored. Either way, this dog seemed to be quite powerful!
With the super mutants now at a lower model count, they keep the advantage. Since the brute was panting heavily and nearing the end of violent life, he readied first to try and cause some more damage. Charging Jeff, the brute viciously pummeled him into the ground where he would lay bleeding and traumatized for the rest of this battle. Tragically, Jeff found that adapting to life in the wasteland was no easy task! Would his sacrifice prove worth it for the survivors?
Still wanting to get revenge on their captors, the dog once again charged into the back of the brute. A nearly disastrous roll was saved by a -3 modifier which caused the mutt to strike! The dog’s bite was enough to finally drop the brute! Could this mean that things would finally get better for the survivors?
With his remaining action, the dog loped towards the first super mutant. He couldn’t prevent him from getting to the trap but he would terrorize the mutant as much as he could and ensure he played no further part on the other side of the board.
Hoping to open his second trap before the pesky humans got in his way, super mutant one approached the trap and pulled out a young radscorpion from it. Another tasty snack! 2 traps down and 2 to go for the super mutants.
Bob ran around the trap that he freed the dog from and just barely lined up a close range shot with his rifle. Easily hitting the mutant’s exposed back, the second super mutant took two wounds and had three left. The momentum was swinging back to the survivors and it looked like they had a good chance to defend the final trap.
Wanting to get that last trap on the left side of the board opened before it was too late, the super mutant tried and successfully pried it open. He then turned and started towards the final one. Unfortunately, it was clear that he couldn’t get to and open the trap in the next round so the four round limit seems a bit off, especially considering there wasn’t a draw result that I could see. More on this later.
Daria readied last and could fire two long range shots or move closer and take one. Deciding that the second super mutant had to die to prevent a loss, Daria readied her aim. A critical and -1 armor result meant the super mutant had one wound left! The second shot missed however as the round ended.
The super mutant’s maintained the advantage due to their low model count and so the first super mutant charged the dog to try and end its annoying life! Unfortunately for him, he swung the butt of his pipe rifle and the dog evaded it.
Feeling confident he could take down the pivotal super mutant with one would left, Bob proceeded to miss on both shots! The pressure was rising on the survivors now.
The second super mutant readied and got behind cover. He was still a move away from the trap. Perhaps the cover I put down would finally matter in the battle!
Daria readied and the fate of the game rested upon her shoulders. She put the super mutant who was nearing the final trap into her sight and squeezed the trigger. Her first shot hit and the mutant toppled over! The super mutant’s had almost no chance of victory now. Daria moved closer to the remaining super mutant with her final action.
Acting last, the dog readied and prepared to chew through the remaining green brute. The dog’s first bite attack received two extra damage and the super mutant’s armor did nothing to help, so it suffered four wounds and now two remaining. Suddenly, the game had swung towards the survivors and if they could finish off this super mutant, they could still grab a victory before the turn limit occurred. The second bite unfortunately did not damage the mutant so victory within round limit was not possible. A draw did not seem like the right result so I decided to play one more round to see what happened next.
In the “bonus” round, the Super mutant landed four wounds on the dog stubbornly before the mutt got their revenge and took down the mutant! Victory goes to the survivors but the damage that was inflicted was significant and while the super mutants would likely go elsewhere next time they need food. While Jeff proved to be a somewhat brave and unskilled leader (who would need serious medical attention after this game), the dog he named Dogmeat would become part of the survivors band to hopefully help them survive in the wasteland. Stay tuned to see what happens next as more conflict between the survivors and super mutants seems inevitable!
Post-Game Thoughts – That was a heck of a lot of fun and really exceeded my expectations. I hoped that the game would have plenty of theme and expected it to be lighter on strategy for this scenario but it ended up being more fun on both accounts than I expected. I really enjoyed naming the characters and coming up with narrative explanations of things that happened. That was something I’ve experienced in MESBG but not to this degree. I look forward to more of it in the remaining four scenarios from this mini-campaign. The Fallout rules are very thematic, particularly how weapons work differently at different ranges and the variation in the weapon behavior was very much appreciated. A pistol felt like a pistol, a rifle like a rifle, and the sledge was obviously nasty as Jeff learned the hard way! While the super mutants probably should let the survivors shoot them and grab as many traps as they can to have any chance at winning, I think the way I played was more fun and thematic and it let the brute do what he’s best at and get stuck in.
Part of me is curious as to what I was missing by playing with only some of the rules. I did make a mistake or two that might have kept Jeff alive longer than he might have been otherwise but there is no doubt that the brute wouldn’t have made it much longer thanks to Dogmeat. I’d be tempted to play this one again with the full rules just to see if it is as much fun as this first go around.
This first play through was not perfect however. I think the lack of cover on the board was a bit of a disappointment and it kept things from being as immersive visually as I would like. I always consider a successful battle report one that has an interesting narrative with a decently balanced game and striking photos to boot. I think the photos part is the one area where I can improve in the future and I’ve already ordered a couple of pieces of terrain from Sarissa Precision to help remedy this problem! There is a mat that I have my eyes on that would match my terrain and the environment of Fallout 4 much better than this one does as well so I wouldn’t be surprised if I order that in the near future either.
One thing that I did really enjoy is the Fallout app. It is not officially made by Modiphius but they have given it their blessings (an interesting arrangement, I know) and using my phone to look up stats and track damage worked really well and was easy. Fallout has a ton of counters and a lot of cards too and while they’re beautiful and I want to use them, but they require a good storage solution which I don’t have. Also, some cards get errata’d (like Dogmeat) and then you have to print a copy out on paper which is not satisfying to me. All this is to say, the app was great and I think all wargames should have something like this. I especially think of MESBG where Games Workshop did not make enough profile cards and they could easily remedy this (and still make money) by having an app like Fallout which makes the game easier to play. Less bookkeeping is always a good thing in my opinion!
Overall, I’d rate this scenario four out of five stars which is a lot better than I expected. The fun factor was really high and the narrative/theme was much better than expected. Troubled Beginnings doesn’t have deep strategy to it and is a bit straightforward in that regard but that is the only area where it could be stronger that I could find. It really was a blast to play and I hope it has made for a fun battle report, even if it is admittedly a bit long. Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to get my next game of Fallout in! 🙂