Atomic Bonds

Just before Christmas, we had a game of Fallout, which I didn’t hugely enjoy. Some of the comments on Mastadon suggested that the Atomic Bonds expansion, which enables fully cooperative play, made the game better. So I ordered it, and it turned up in time to give it a go over New Year.

There were three of us playing it, and though we were completely defeated, I think it did give a better game.

We tried the Far Harbour scenario, and we took the side of the Church of the Children of Atom. We had a number of objectives, which included giving up two non-starting weapons, and donating a large sum of Caps (twice) and kill a couple of rank 3 enemies. There were four objectives, and we had to complete at least one each in order to win.

Our characters were a ghoul (me again), a Paladin and a Wastelander. Since we were all working towards helping the Church, we only needed to track how well the Far Harbour faction was doing. When they got to the end of their track, we would lose the game. So we had to complete our goals as quickly as possible.

As it turned out, we didn’t do that very well. In the end, we didn’t complete a single one of our goals. We almost got enough Caps for one of them, but never got to actually use them to complete the quest. We moved quite slowly across the board, and only revealed a rank three monster right at the very end.

Atomic Bonds has rules for helping other characters. Normally, in combat or skill checks you roll three dice to see how well you do (and possibly get re-rolls if you have a matching skill). If there is another character in your space, then they can aid you, adding another die. They also get to help fight enemies as well.

I also managed to die – fighting a rank two enemy I rolled 4 pips – which meant 2 x 4 damage. That wasn’t what killed me, it was the next monster that moved onto my space and finished me off before I could heal. Death isn’t permanent – you just move back to the start and lose some of your equipment (of which I had none). You only die permanently if your Rads reaches your maximum hitpoints. Since ghouls never gain Rads, it does mean that the ghoul can’t be killed permanently.

Playing the game cooperatively was more interesting, and (though we failed utterly) did in theory make it easier to know what we needed to do. However, gaining Caps and weapons meant encountering settlements, and since it’s rather random what you get out of it, it meant it can be down to chance how quickly you proceed. One issue with a game like this is that there’s a lot of cards out on the table, and some of those are the plot cards. They can only be in one place, and in this game they were on the far side of the table to me, and facing away from me (in the photos, they’re in the top right hand corner, and mostly unreadable). This meant I didn’t have easy access to double checking what the plot options were. At least once I ignored a possible plot point I think we should have followed up on because of that.

I think we spent about four hours playing the game, including setup – the latter of which took about an hour. This isn’t a quick game, though should hopefully get quicker if we play it more often. We finished just before the end of the year.

Samuel Penn