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Fallout TV show fans should watch out for Fallout Factions

The upcoming miniature wargame in the Fallout universe has tons of character and easy to use rules that make it great for newcomers to mini gaming

Cover art from Fallout Factions - a pair of raiders duel in melee, one armed with a flaming sword, the other with a wire-wrapped baseball bat - recommended gaming for Fallout TV show fans

Whether you’ve just discovered the world of Fallout via the Fallout TV show, or you’ve been playing the videogames since they were isometric RPGs made by Black Isle Studios, Wargamer has a hot tip for you. We’re currently testing Fallout Factions, an upcoming miniature wargame set in the Fallout universe, and so far, it’s great.

Fallout: Factions is made by UK-based games studio Modiphius, which already makes a huge range of Fallout miniatures. You can get models for everything from ghouls, to power armor, to 3D printer files you can use to print your own custom Vault. They’ve even released a set of custom minis based on the Fallout TV show.

Fallout Factions - a psycho armed with a bat and a pistol squatting on a sign, wearing a bird mask

This hefty range of miniatures was originally created for an existing miniature wargame, Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. That game has characterful, in-depth rules for exploration and scavenging that turn it halfway into a roleplaying game. That makes it complex, so it’s tough to recommend it to people who’re new to tabletop wargaming.

Fallout Factions is a different beast. When we spoke to the game’s lead designer James Hewitt, he said “Wasteland Warfare is trying to emulate the big sandbox part of Fallout, whereas Factions is about the action scenes”. Players each control a crew of around ten fighters and scrap it out for control of Nuka World, the Nuka Cola theme-park added to the setting in Fallout 4 DLC.

The starter set comes with two different gangs of raiders, the slick Operators and feral Pack, plus rules for the fanatical Disciples. Rules for all the other factions like Brotherhood of Steel and New California Republic will come after the starter set launches in July.

The new raider minis are already available, and they’re very detailed recreation of the designs from Fallout 4, with a wide variety of different weapon options. My gang Boss with a Shishkebab and Plasma Pistol is a personal favorite.

The game is played on a 3’ x 2’ board, and the starter set comes with punch out cardboard terrain and a paper playmat, so unlike Warhammer 40k you won’t need a massive playing space. It also plays quickly, typically in around one hour for a game. It’s a good contender for a game you can bring into work to play on lunch break – though it does require a decent amount of miniature scenery on the battlefield for gangs to hide behind, which may not fit into an average day bag.

Fallout Factions - a Sniper perches on a building overlooking a scuffle in the street

Players take it in turns activating their models, moving, fighting, shooting, rummaging through loot containers, and trying to complete objectives. That’s pretty standard for a skirmish wargame, but the combat system has a very nice push-and-pull that creates room for outrageous luck and interesting tactics.

Combat works by rolling a pool of ten sided dice (D10s) and looking for lower results than your character’s relevant SPECIAL stat: Strength for melee weapons, Perception for rifles, Agility for pistols. If you can score as many hits as the target’s Endurance stat, you’ll Wound them. One wound is enough to take out most basic fighters.

Fallout Factions - an envrionmental storytelling skeleton slumped in a chair next to a map of a theme park and a reel of tickets

Scoring a Wound in one hit is hard but possible. You can add extra dice to your roll by catching the enemy in the open, having supporting characters give up one of their actions to boost the attack roll, or with the special traits of certain weapons. It’s a big investment with a big payoff.

Alternatively, if you can score at least one hit on an enemy, you will put a point of Harm on them. Each point of Harm on a model grants an extra dice on attack rolls against it, so if you keep bullying the same enemy, you’ll take them out of action. But if you focus fire on an enemy that has already activated this turn, you’re probably ignoring one that is about to get into position to clobber you with its own massive attack…

A gang leader stands in the street, holding a plasma pistol, in Fallout Factions

The game has a campaign system, allowing you to develop your gang over multiple games, upgrading weapons, suffering injuries and casualties, and cementing your control over Nuka World. Unlike some similar systems, this campaign doesn’t need a referee or administrator.

Each player picks a quest for their gang to complete, which gives them goals to pursue. I’m following the questline that will turn my operators into “The Professionals” – my current goals are to upgrade my arsenal, kill enemies with ranged attacks, and search for lots of loot. There’s a choice of quests for each gang, and they emphasise their playstyle and lore.

Fallout Factions - two slickly dressed operators stand at the entrance to a bridge, one carrying a shotgun, the other a pistola nd baseball bat

The questline gives an arc to your adventure with the gang, eventually culminating with a victorious retirement. Unlike many other campaign systems, you don’t have to play this with a consistent group of players, and can instead dip in and out as you please. Your goals also give you objectives to complete alongside the main goal of a mission, so you can lose on one and triumph on the other.

There’s a balancing system in case you come up against a stronger or weaker opponent. For every fifty points difference in gang rating you’ll get an extra Ploy token, a very rare resource you can spend on a powerful special ability with game-changing effects. Then, if there’s a gap in value of less than fifty points, you’ll get to spend that buying one-use chems for your gang, like Psycho that lets you buff an attack roll, or Stimpaks that can remove Harm from gangers.

We could go into much greater detail for the game, but we’ll save that for the review when we’ve finished testing. Suffice to say we’re impressed, and we think it’s shaping up to be a great entry point for newcomers to miniature wargaming, and a satisfying and swift experience for current skirmish wargamers.

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Fallout Factions is currently available for pre-order from Modiphius, with the new ganger miniatures are already on sale.

If you’d like some more insight into Fallout Factions, check out Wargamer’s interview with creator James Hewitt. If you’re a Fallout fan looking for a tabletop fix, check out the MTG Fallout commander decks, and our overview of the Fallout tabletop RPG.

If you like the sound of tabletop wargaming but think that Fallout Factions still sounds a little crunchy, check out the upcoming Halo Flashpoint miniature game, which is based on the super-smooth Deadzone rules and promises to be an ultra-accessible entry point.