A review by
Enter the wasteland
Hello. I am transmitting from my remote outpost in the mountains. A long time ago, there was a great civilization. Long tendrils of tarmac snaked From the western seas all the way across to the eastern coast. Vast centres of population called cities at each end. Millions of people lived in these cities and if our ancestors are to be believed they lived in peace and luxury. That was until the great fires raged from the skies. A war, no THE war. Nuclear and biological missiles rained down on the earth. Destroying these cities and wiping out populations. Death and destruction everywhere. Afterwards when the powers of the world were no more and the missiles all used up. The land was left scorched and almost totally uninhabitable to mankind. Survivors emerged. Not many at first, but enough. At first the radiation and poison in the air killed many. Over time though they persevered and they grew. Coming together for safety and survival. Scavenging what they could, taking by force if they had to. The most successful grew into settlements. Then came the gathering. The ten most powerful started to work together to help each other and to rebuild. As in the past. Power corrupts and each faction seeks to rule all others. Are we doomed to repeat our past or will there prove to be one faction that can unite and heal this broken land?…….
After the Apocalypse.
Fallen Land is set in just this environment. A ruinous post apocalyptic America. You are the leader of one of the 10 great factions. Assemble your party. Equip them for battle. Then send them out to explore the wastes. They will search for resources and equipment. Encounter mutants and cannibals. Take on missions for the great council. You will need to use what they find to help you defend and fortify your town. You will make and break treaties with other factions as you strive to dominate the wastelands.
Inside your copy of Fallen Land you will find quite a haul of useable parts.
- 1 Game board.
- 10 Town play mats (1 per faction).
- 10 Plastic party markers.
- 80 Character cards.
- 140 Spoils cards.
- 135 Action cards.
- 60 Plains encounter cards.
- 40 Mountain cards.
- 40 City/rad encounter cards.
- 40 Mission cards.
- 5 Turn order cards.
- 1 First player reference sheet.
- 100 faction tokens (10 per faction).
- 45 Town technology tokens.
- 80 Salvage coins (in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10).
- 25 Town defence tokens.
- 140 Damage tokens.
- 10 Mission location tokens.
- 10 Points of interest tokens.
- 1 Turn marker token.
- 7 NPCM mercenary tokens.
- 5 Week penalty tokens.
- 4 D6.
- 6 Colour coded D10.
Out on the town.
Each faction leader will have their player mat. They will also have their factions tokens, Party marker, some money and according to which faction they are some starting bonus. This could be extra spoils, actions, money. They will also start with some town technologies as well. Once all of this is allocated they are dealt six characters. Five of which will form their initial party and one will go under the player board into a “Town roster” think of it as a reserves bank. You will then receive a stack of spoils cards (equipment or vehicles) which you can equip to your party members. Some of these characters will be more proficient in different areas so it is a good idea to try to get a good balance of skills. You will also discover that some characters will gain bonuses when using certain items e.g. ranged weapons, shotguns, melee weapons or medical equipment to name a few. Almost every piece of equipment has a weight value. Your character can only carry up to their weight limit. So again planning is required. If your lucky you will also gain a vehicle, this can increase your movement, gain you skill bonus or other benefits. Do not be tempted to rush this stage and just equip randomly because it will come back to bite you. Fallen Land is not a fast paced game it strategic and as such needs careful thought. It is only when you have done all this are you ready to venture forth.
Out of the town.
OK so you have your party already and you have taken care of the first part of the turn which involves town business. It is time to venture out into the wastelands. You will roll for movement and add on any bonus movement. Then off you go. Be careful though as different terrain requires different amount of movement. You also have the option of facing encounters, player v player combat, resource claiming or destroying, healing or attempting a mission for the council of 10. Each of these options takes a different amount of time. The passage of time in Fallen Land is measured in weeks. Your movement phase is worth one week. While attempting a mission takes three weeks. During your party phase each round you only have four weeks worth of actions. If you ever find yourself desperate to take another action (healing for example) but you do not have the weeks left. You can take a one or two week penalty. This will allow you to carry out the action but at the cost of losing those weeks from the next round. You will need to carefully weigh up the need to do something against the loss of weeks from the following round.
I got the skills.
Right. You have gone running into the wastes and you want to get some spoils for your town and yourself? You need to attempt an encounter or try to claim a resource. First draw the card from the correct terrain you are in, plains, mountains or city/rad. The cards will have some nice flavour text to set the scene followed by your skill requirements. Select the correct number of die based on your party and roll away. Word of warning here. All the die are colour coded to the position a character is in so no trying to allocate the die to your benefit here. You compare your roll against your skill level. If your Dice roll is lower than the skill level it is a pass. Get enough passes and you succeed. Often there will be more than one skill check needed to complete an encounter. If your successful you will gain some rewards and read the “good text”. Fail however and be prepared to get some serious damage. This is no one or two points of damage softly softly approach. You can find yourself having to allocate 25-30 points of damage to your party. When each party member might only have 6 or 7 hit points. This is no laughing matter. There are ways to modify dice rolls but I am not going to spoil all your fun now.
Loads of spoils.
You have survived your encounters. You have collected resources and you have loads of money. Time to improve your town. You can buy town technology, upgrade existing town technology both of which will grant you extra success’ in skill checks. Or you might decide to upgrade the defences. Either way you want your towns health to rise. If you can get your towns health to 80 or your prestige to 20 before anyone else you have proved your the best suited to lead the council of 10.
Oh yes. Increasing your towns defence is definitely going to be needed in Fallen Land. No friendly co-op here. All players are free to cajole, beg, befriend or even bribe each other, Alliances will be formed and then broken again when it suits a player. If your leading do not be surprised if a couple of other factions decide to pay you a visit (were not talking tea and crumpets either). This is the post apocalypse world, you do what you need to survive. Resources are precious. Weapons are brutal and wasteland justice is swift. In two player it is possible to complete a whole game with no player v player combat. With five players however, expect carnage.
On the home stretch.
Fallen Land is a brutal and violent look at the post apocalypse survival world in the remains of America. It is also a sandbox adventure. This is a game that will not tell you what to do. You decide. You choose. Your factions fate is in your hands. Fallen Land does all of this very well. A group of players buying into the theme and ready to tell adventure stories while stabbing each other in the back. Will find this to be a fantastic experience which they will talk about long afterwards. This is not for players who want to be told a story. You can play it without weaving a story into the game. But you will miss out on a lot of the atmosphere. Yes Fallen Land is absolutely dripping with atmosphere. The whole world is designed and built with atmosphere coming out of its seams.
Fallen Land is however a long game. For your first game the rulebook suggest you only play three player and I agree. Allow at least 4 to 4 ½ hours for the first game with three players. A five player game will easily take the estimated 5 hours and more depending on the story you weave.
Nothing is perfect though. I found that I would have liked more “World effect” cards. I say this because they can have a huge impact on the game for everyone. At the lower player counts you do not actually see them. While the encounters were really difficult to start with. After the midway point of the game. I did experience a couple of occasions where rolling for kill checks was almost irrelevant due to my equipment (you still have to roll because there are auto fail conditions). Set up time is quite long unless you are super organised and you are all familiar with the game. You also need to be aware that Fallen Land eats up table space. Each players tableau around their town mat will just grow massively. I also found keeping track of the skill stats to be a bit of a chore. Even with these negatives I really enjoyed my time in the wastelands and look forward to returning. Especially once I started to discover the Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. Some of these are so clever you almost want to sit and look through the decks just to find them. The “Enigma Machine” vehicle resplendent in 60’s psychedelia anyone?? This is a game to be embraced because of its flaws not in spite of them. Upcoming games set in this post apocalypse era have a high bar to aim at. This review only scratches the surface of this game. I could easily write double the length of this review. Just giving you more detail of the depth. But I won’t. I will let you discover the joys of that for yourself.
Let the dust settle.
- Cards lots of cards.
- Dripping theme and atmosphere.
- Play surprisingly simple but nuanced.
- Clever artwork.
- Easter Eggs throughout.