Whilst I am not overly familiar with the Fallout franchise, I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic settings. When offered the review copy, I spent an evening reading Nukapedia Fallout Wiki only to discover that the setting was compelling enough to explore further.
The Wasteland Warfare RPG Expansion is designed primarily for folks who have purchased the Wasteland Warfare minis game and want to branch off into role-playing sessions. As long as you have this background knowledge as your lens, there will be very few surprises. As such, the game assumes you have the custom dice, character cards, and other card decks included in the minis box. That said, the purchase of this game includes the digital character cards and playmats, so this alleviates some of the issues. You could also buy the requisite decks, and the custim dice seperately if you really just want the RPG experience.
The expansion book allows you toplay a wide selection of character types, from fixers, researchers, pilots, foragers, and bandits, through to infantry, snipers, Brotherhood of Steel Paladins, and even ghouls or a Mr Handy Robot. Most of the game is icon-driven as shorthand, so the icon reference sheet will be a must at the table (although I'd imagine that those already playing the miniatures game, or playing the RPG for a sustained period of time will learn the icons). Characters are customised by selecting Gifts (such as Dead Aim, Famous, Sense of Time, or Wealthy), Scars (such as Hemophiliac, Dullard, or Diseased), and then some Perks (like Bloody Mess, which means that enemies tend to be intimidated by displays of your combat techniques; or Lead Belly, allowing you to ignore the irradiation effects from consuming tainted food and drink; and every party will love Scrapper as it generates more resources when scrounging).
The system is very straightforward; with Tests conducted on Skill Dice, Armour Dice, or any of the four Effect Dice. The results are interpreted and applied depending on the type of test required. At this stage, I want to commend the authors for the use of icons - on p. 52 there is specific mention of the icon design incorporating colour blindness; thus any gamer accessing this book who percieves colour differently can rely on the icon shape to indicate the type of dice rolled, rather than simply the colour. As the dice are all very different, identifying them becomes relatively simple too. It's the first time I've seen a company consider this in game design.
Included in the book are rules for iincorporating the RPG with the Wasteland Warfare miniatures game which may be of interest to gamers seeking to maximise their enjoyment and use of both games, and again is a nice touch. The one hundred pages of setting background, rules, and advice is rounded off by a chapter for the Overseer (GM) with plenty of tips on running games that fit the Fallout mood. The remainder of the book is given over to a thirty page module (very interesting premise with lots of potential), five pages of miniature gallery photos, a one-page icon reference (that also includes the page numbers upon which those concepts are found), and an index. For a 138-page book, this fits a lot in, and gives you the tools to play in the Fallout Wasteland. I'd imagine those more familiar with the video-game franchise will be able to make excellent use of the book, but for someone who was only vaguely familiar with the setting (I now know why you need to collect Caps, and how important Vault-Tec is, so I'm getting there) I can see so much potential for post-apocalyptic mayhem. The only rules I failed to see in the book concern vehicles (vehicles are mentioned in a lot of the background setting sections, and the images show wrecked cars, so I assume vehicles exist). That said, there are plenty of repair, Armour, and Object rules that creating your own shouldn't be too difficult (it certainly beats walking everywhere, and scavenging fuel would be a session of challenge, I'm sure).
In all, this has a lot of promise, and I intend to try it out very soon. One of my gaming group has the miniatures game, so between us we have the resources to host a sessionor four. I'm very much looking forward to downing a Nukacola, fending off ghouls, and scavenging for my life in the Wasteland. Highly recommended.
[4 of 5 Stars!]