Nowadays there are LOTS of games releasing, and honestly many games just get overlooked because they are so similar to 20 other games out there. So, I am always on the lookout for a game that separates itself from the rest. So when I heard about Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game, it perked my interest because it was doing some things that other board games weren’t doing. After having a discussion with the designers, they sent me a copy of the game for review.
Fallen Land is a sandbox game. The best way to describe a sandbox game is a game where you are free to explore the boundaries of a large world instead of working towards a set goal. Fallen Land is sent in the post-apocalyptic remains of what was once the United States of America.
Ten surviving factions are striving for survival and working to expand their territory and their agenda. Fallen Land is a hybrid board game that combines a card-driven strategy board game with elements of a role-playing game. In the base game, 2-5 players each direct a faction and over the course of the game, work towards victory by earning 20 Prestige or amassing a town health of 80. As we discuss the game further, you will see how this happens.
At the start of the game each player is going to roll a 10-sided die to determine the faction they will control that game. The players each take their respective town board. They also will be dealt character cards, spoil cards, and action cards at the start of the game, along with 10 salvage coins which is the currency in the game.
The players will set up their town by assigning characters to these “character crowns” and equipping them with stuff that is contained on their spoils cards. each card has several stats including a carrying capacity so a character cannot be loaded up with the whole world.
Each of the character crowns that contains a character refers to a specific color die that is used for skill checks throughout the game. The reason for the different colors is that many actions take place as a party and it is easy to differentiate what each character does with the different dice colors.
Each faction is unique in that they have some starting technologies that other factions do not start with and they all have their own unique faction perks. For example, The Swamp Runners start with control of a resource location so they will start off generating more income and town health.
Over the course of the game, players will be moving around the board and having encounters, taking control of key areas, taking on and completing missions, and even combatting their opponents.
Fallen Land is played over 4 phases for each round. The phases are detailed on a really nice First Player, where the first player directs the phase sequences.
The Effects phase resolves card effects from World Encounters and any other card effects. This is the time to also apply infected wound damage and to discard characters that have expired due to maximum damage or have incurred too much psychological damage, thus them succumbing to PTSD.
During the Town Business Phase, players receive an Action card and generate their resources that will give them salvage coins and town health. Open bartering on Spoils Cards in auction houses takes place for all players. This is where players can wheel and deal to get the stuff they need to move their faction forward. Players also will resolve town events by rolling a d10 and resolving the result. This is a time also where players can sell off spoil cards and action cards to the bank in exchange for Salvage coins. Players can purchase technologies and town defense chips and even hire Non-Player Character Mercenaries.
Most of the Action takes place during the Party Exploits Phase. During this phase, each player has action points, designated as weeks in Fallen Land to assign to take various actions known as Deeds. This includes moving the faction party on the board, having encounters in different areas, attacking another party in the same hex, claiming or destroying a resource hex they occupy, healing party members, or taking on missions. Each of these different deeds have different costs to perform.
Finally, at the end of the turn, the turn marker chip advances and the First Player sheet passes to the next player on the left. This continues until the game ends.
GAME PLAY HIGHLIGHTS
Fallen Land presents itself with many opportunities to do many different things. Many of the actions and events are driven by cards. Action cards allow players to do different things, either to enhance their own faction, or to slow the progress of their opponents.The game has many encounters and missions that players can take on as well.
The success or failure of different actions is determined by skill checks, much like role-playing games. Results are determined by rolling a d10 die and comparing to stats on the various characters and their spoils.
Other highlights include optional and advanced game rules to fit personal preferences and also there is a spot in the rulebook to add house rules as well.
REVIEW AND FINAL THOUGHTS
At the top of this article I mentioned I am always looking for a game that stands out from the rest of them and Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic board game does that. The sandbox game play style coupled with the role-playing aspect lends to a unique experience every time the game is played, leading to a ton of replayability. Sure there are games like Arkham Horror that use a skill check system but the modifications by spoils cards in Fallen Land give this game an edge up over the previously named game.
Starting with production value, this game offers a LOT for its price point. the game comes with 6 sheets of punchboard tokens, 10 faction party markers that could be thought of as minis, and almost 450 cards in the game, the game board, plus faction mats and 10 dice. That is a lot of product. The game has a rulebook that is 42 pages long, full color with plenty of examples. The Rulebook does a nice job of giving a nice back story that sets the tone for when the game takes place. But to me, I feel the rulebook’s weakness is in how it is organized. There is a lot of stuff going on in this game and the rulebook jumps around to try to explain and cover everything. While it seems a bit of a hassle at times to have to go through the rulebook, thankfully there is an index at the end to get you to specific spots in the rules. In my overview, I just gave an overview of how the game is played. The rulebook goes into specifics as to everything and how things are resolved.
Gameplay itself….I will start by saying this game has a kind of steep learning curve. First of all you need someone with a good handle of the rules to be able to explain how to play to other players. So expect the first couple of games to take significantly longer to play. With a game time of one hour per player, Fallen Land will certainly not appeal to those looking for a quick game that is done in an hour or less. Once players have gotten the handle of things Fallen Land offers an experience that has you reminiscing about it long after the game is over. Fallen Land is dripping with theme and so those who are fans of thematic games will be quite happy with this one. With the back story and also flavor text on hundreds of cards….you can tell a lot was put into the thematic elements in Fallen Land.
The sandbox style of gameplay allows players to choose what they wish to do each game. Whether they choose to exploit their faction perks or do something completely the opposite is completely up to the player. Opportunities for alliances and backstabbing abound as this game can feel like Diplomacy just as much as it can a civilization building game. Players can choose to spend their time having encounters or working to build up their characters for all out assaults on other players. There are lots of things the game offers and it would take a lot longer to talk about them.
I can tell that time was put into designing this game. In fact, 13 years were invested in creating Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game. The thematic elements of the back story, the flavor text on all of the cards, each of the factions… great work on the thematic elements of the game. I have played this game a few times and it does take some time to play, but if you are willing to take the time to play Fallen Land, you won’t be disappointed. The game stands out to me because I feel more like I am directing a movie than I am playing a game. I feel like I am developing my own storyline for each faction when I play the game. I don’t mind the randomness of the dice rolling to determine skill checks….I mean people have been rolling dice for years like this playing Dungeons & Dragons. I like the tableau style building up of characters in the town and the varying effects the spoils have on each of the skills.
I also like the amount of control the players have in the game. Players can determine how many encounters and missions they have based on how they spend their weeks. This too adds to so much replayability for this game. I highly recommend you give Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game a try. For me I really enjoy it and I look forward to taking on the expansion that includes solo-rules. My review for that will be posting in January. As for this one….SPOILER ALERT…..Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game is my choice for Game of the Year 2017.
**Disclaimer – This copy of Fallen Land was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review**