The end is nigh and I love it! I have made no bones in the past about loving the post-apocalyptic setting in all forms of entertainment. Whether it’s movies, video games, or comic books, if it’s set in a dystopian future, you at least have my attention, if not my dollars (or caps, or scrap).
As it turns out, tabletop gaming provides plenty of opportunities to bring the end of the world to the table. Today, I wanted to highlight a few options for both board gamers and RPG players to explore. Bringing these games to your tabletop will surely give you a leg up on doomsday prepping for the dark times to come.
OneDice: Twisted Tomorrow
To start off, I’m perhaps presenting a bit of a cheat. Twisted Tomorrow is one of the fantastic roleplaying setting books using the OneDice system by Cakebread & Walton. In Twisted Tomorrow, gameplay takes place in a world that’s probably best described as Pre/Mid-Apocalypse.
As the title suggests, the world is slightly askew of what we see today. The old governments are collapsing, new governments and cultures are on the rise, and everybody kind of sees that things are taking a turn for the worst.
The setting is definitely a tongue-in-cheek, satirical look at the pre/post-apocalypse. Don’t expect to go full Mad Max in Twisted Tomorrow. The book offers several scenarios for players to work through, but savvy GMs will already have a ton of stories to draw upon from real life. The best way to set up a story for Twisted Tomorrow is read the news of the day, dial it up to 11, and present it as a scenario to walk players through.
I ran a session awhile back where a pop starlet hired the players to murder his hologram replacement because it was syphoning funds from his tour sponsor’s rewards app. It can get weird, folks.
As far as the gameplay system goes, OneDice is probably one of the easiest systems out there for play. OneDice is a simple d6 system that allows players to easily create unique settings and characters so they can jump right into gaming.
The rules-lite game comes complete in nearly any of their setting books, whether it’s Twisted Tomorrow, Fantasy, or World War One. The rules are easy to learn, offering players the chance to tell the kind of stories they want without getting bogged down by rules minutiae. Fans wanting a bit more crunch in their RPG system will like the next two recommendations.
Mutant Crawl Classics
Roleplaying fans of the bizarrely currently absent OG/D&D setting Gamma World have a couple of options in the RPG department to replace their beloved setting. The fine folks at Goodman Games have created a suitable retroclone of the original Gamma World editions. Like they did for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with Dungeon Crawl Classic, Mutant Crawl Classics gives players the feel of playing in the post-apocalyptic gaming world of the 1980s.
Players take on the role of wasteland wanderers searching for prized technology in a world torn asunder by technology, war, and mutated rebirth. Players get to immerse themselves in a crunchy system that feels old school with a modern twist. Character creation is easy, and like Dungeon Crawl Classics, the level zero adventures provide manic (and lethal) fun that virtually no other tabletop RPG provides. While there’s more crunch than systems like Fate or OneDice, it’s still a relatively intuitive and simple system that’s pretty easy to grasp.
The Mutant Epoch
Like Mutant Crawl Classics, The Mutant Epoch RPG provides that crunchy Gamma World/OSR feel that many nostalgic gaming fans crave. Produced by Outland Arts, The Mutant Epoch was released in 2012 and has a proverbial beggar’s banquet of material available for all your gaming needs. Using the Outland Systems d100 mechanic, players will create diverse characters that will navigate a changed and dangerous world. Need crunch? The Mutant Epoch has got you covered. The book is chock full of tables and charts that give both GMs and players plenty to sort through.
Options are key for The Mutant Epoch. The core rule book alone features over 100 mutations, 8 character types, 30 different castes, 36 skills, and much more for player to choose from. Character creation isn’t necessarily a breeze, but the options available allow for players to create their own truly unique characters. A bevy of supplements provide more monsters, options, and adventures.
Similar to Mutant Crawl Classics, the setting of The Mutant Epoch should be pretty familiar to the denizens of Gamma World. With plenty of mutated monsters, insane cultists, hazardous cyborgs, and zany twists, The Mutant Epoch deftly fills that Gamma World sized hole in the 21st Century RPG market.
Fallout/Fallout: New California Board Game & Wasteland Warfare
Fallout fans rejoice! Once you’ve <insert Fallout 76 joke here>, the wastelands and plenty of Nuka Cola awaits you at the game table. Fans of the venerable Fallout series actually have several tabletop options at their disposal once they decide to put their console controller downs or <insert Fallout 76 joke here>.
I wrote about the Fallout board game from Fantasy Flight Games last year, but an expansion called New California has been released since then. The expansion importantly adds cooperative play. It also features two brand new scenarios, lots of items, and new encounters for players to test their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills. It’s a fun and lethal game, but well worth the effort getting into. Players will need both the main Fallout game set and the expansion to bring all of the VaultTec approved fun!
The Wasteland Warfare miniatures game from Modiphius gives fans the opportunity to tryout miniature wargaming set in the Fallout universe. The game allows players to face off against each other using different factions from the video game series. The game caters to the miniatures painting and assembling hobby, of which I am a brand spanking new member. A core starter set is available along with several scenario and faction expansions. There’s also an upcoming Wasteland Warfare Roleplaying Game that gives players the option to turn their wargaming into a more narrative experience.
While the Wasteland Warfare Roleplaying game isn’t a 100% pure/true RPG in the D&D sense of the word, fans should take heart. Modiphius promises a full blown Fallout RPG in 2020 using their 2d20 system. Stay tuned!
Mutant Year Zero
Mutant Year Zero is the latest version of the popular Swedish roleplaying game Mutant. Mutant Year Zero is the first time the popular Swedish RPG has been released to a wide international audience. Produced by Modiphius in 2014, players in Mutant Year Zero reside in The Ark, a safe zone where those trying to make it in a dead world etch out lives on the margins. Players are the heirs of mankind’s mistakes, but aren’t exactly human any more.
Character creation is much simpler than Mutant Crawl Classic and The Mutant Epoch. Players looking for a balance between OneDice and the crunchier confines of MCC and TME will find much to love about the system from Modiphius. One of the best parts about Mutant Year Zero is the emphasis on problem solving outside of combat, which is very lethal. If your group decides it wants to charge a dungeon plasma guns blazing, a TPK will likely be the result. Mutant Year Zero rewards players for thinking outside the combat roll. With a bevy of supplements available, Mutant Year Zero is easy to jump into and feel supported as both a GM and player.
Mutant Year Zero also has a popular and well-received video game out now called Mutant Year Zero – Road to Eden. From The Bearded Ladies game studio, the tactical adventure game takes the RPG setting and superbly translates it for the console or PC. Road to Eden might not be a tabletop game, but Ihighly recommend it for those curious about the setting.
Fallen Land is a new board game to me, but I’m looking forward to giving it a spin as soon as mutantly possible. In Fallen Land, 2-5 players jump into a pulp post-apocalyptic America vying for control over the vast wasteland that remains. Fallen Lands promises a unique experience each time you play due to its many choices and potential outcomes. No two times will be alike!
The developer Fallen Dominion Studios describes Fallen Land as a mix of strategy, role playing, and deck building all in one game. The goal of the game is to provide players with an immersive storytelling experience. That being said, the learning curve on the game looks a little steeper than, say, the Fallout games mentioned above or Wasteland Delivery Service.
But don’t let that deter you from checking it out. Fallen Land promises an immersive gaming experience. With two expansions already available, Fallen Land gives players an in-depth dive into the post-apocalypse. Having purchased it over the summer, I’m looking forward to giving it a first play through very soon.
Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Wasteland Express Delivery Service has gotten some buzz around the halls of Nerds on Earth lately. It was recently on sale during the Amazon Prime Day event and a few of us took the bait and purchased the game. Produced by Pandasaurus Games, Wasteland Express Delivery Service puts players in the driver’s seat of post-apocalyptic delivery men and women. Yeah, the world may have descended into a living hell filled with radiation, raiders, and other horrid dangers, but people still need valuable resources delivered!
Though unpacking the game will take a hot minute, the storage system provided by Pandasaurus is simply amazing. While the game comes with a ton of parts, the organization and initial unpacking is made all worthwhile in the gameplay. Once assembled and set up, gameplay is quick and easy to pick up. Players have lots of options in the missions they take, the cargo they can carry, and the way that the can mod their own vehicles. It’s a beautifully rendered and easily played game.
The object of Wasteland Express Delivery Service is to complete as many first class missions as you can while trying to stay alive in the wastes. Players have five actions they can attempt each round. That might sound time consuming, but players will catch on fairly quickly after a couple of rounds of play. With a focus on supply and demand mechanics, this game is less about fighting and more about busting hump to get your deliveries through an unforgiving wasteland.