Return to the Wasteland but this time you won't be alone! Your scenarios will be doubled and all of your options and choices magnified for you and your friends. Fallout: Atomic Bonds Co-operative Upgrade Pack acts as an expansion for Fallout: the Board Game and the New California expansion. With the additions of modifications, mutations and workshop upgrades, could this be a worthy addition to your collection?
This Upgrade Pack makes the game more straightforward, better end condition, closer to the IP wherein you finish the story. The inclusion of workshop cards instead of agenda cards is excellent. Goals are fun. However, both of these additions could be much more varied!
One thing to note is that there are far more pieces! This increases a fiddly setup with yet more decks of small cards. There's lots to keep track of, lots to manage whilst you play.
Fallout The Board Game: Atomic Bonds is a new expansion to Fantasy Flight Game’s adventure game based on the extremely popular video game IP. This is the second expansion following New California and this new addition makes every scenario in the game playable in a co-operative mode. The expansion also adds some new stuff. It does a lot to soothe some of the various issues with the base game.
Atomic Bonds comes with scenario cards to make each of the scenarios from the base game playable in co-op mode. The fanbase was absolutely screaming for this! Atomic Bonds is long overdue. We also see a new assistance die, new C.A.M.P. tokens and a number of new decks of little cards (which we needed more of).
War never changes… but this game did.
Setup with Atomic Bonds is very similar - you take the original scenario sheet and build the map accordingly, including the asset deck, unique asset deck, loot decks, tokens and so on. The only new thing is you don’t use the agenda cards; they’ve been replaced with something much better. Pick your character and sort your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. board as required. Once set-up is done, get the matching scenario card from Atomic Bonds and choose which scenario to follow. You then place the new double-sided faction token on the side of your enemy to track their progress. Lastly, place the new decks nearby: modifications, activation, workshop upgrades, goals and mutations.
You don’t need to play with this version of the game, but after the New California expansion added a co-operative option, it was a great idea to make the other scenarios co-operative. It opens up a wealth of new experiences in gameplay and takes you closer to the original feel of the IP.
The base game was great, but it had its issues. Endgame conditions were very lacklustre, often seeing you win the game in the middle of a questline. Setup was fiddly with a lot of decks and tokens. Even in co-op from the last expansion, you don’t really interact or do much together.
Here, we’ve got much, much better endgame conditions. Each scenario has a different condition for each side of the main feud, be that Institute vs Railroad or Brotherhood of Steel vs Enclave, but largely it’ll see you required to fulfil X goal cards and finish the main quest line. Much closer to an RPG! You’re freed up to go and enjoy the meaty side quests, the encounter quests, hunting for vaults and your favourite companions from the video games. This just feels much more like a game that was meant to be co-operative. It’s just disappointing to see it take years after release to realise that.
The co-operation aspect is on show at last, especially with the assistance die - a fourth V.A.T.S. die that allows fellow players to chip in on combat rolls if they’re close by. The fact they risk taking damage just adds to the sense of tension.
Setup has not been improved, and it’s been made even more fiddly. There’s a variety of decks to manage now and your play area can look a scattered mess right away.
The pace of the game has really increased with the Atomic Bonds expansion, which it absolutely needed. Opening up new ways of playing the game in a variety of co-op modes is very welcome. Setup was disappointing in the base game and it’s even more of an issue now, though, so if a long setup bothers you, steer clear.
This isn’t the best adventure/RPG-like board game on the market, not even close to it. You’re here for the IP, you’re here from the video games, and there’s so much theme in here. Finding the Rockville Slugger at a settlement before you go into the wasteland and run into a Deathclaw, it’s so on point.
If you love the theme and setting, you’ll accept the problems with the game - especially now Atomic Bonds does such a great job of fixing most of those problems.