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Subject: Character balance rss

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Notsteve Notlawton
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After playing each survivor at least twice I thought I'd discuss character balance in Fallout. Admittedly a lot of this game is dependent on luck of the draw(good loot drops, consistent faction card draws, and favorable S.P.E.C.I.A.L pulls have more of an impact on who wins than on what character they select)but the character selection still had a noticeable impact on my overall performance.

1. Vault Dweller- Begins the game with a bunch of small but useful bonuses that help in a wide variety of areas. +1 armor that can stack with late game armor making it an indefinite advantage, a reroll on endurance checks but only a 1/6 chance of starting the game with endurance, and the Luck trait which comes up fairly often when encountering in ruins. While other survivors typically have one area they excel at the Vault Dweller is a jack of all trades. The most generally well equipped survivor that isn't pigeonholed into any particular niche, which is why I consider him arguably the best survivor in the game as due to the large luck element present in Fallout having a character that can adapt to whatever situation they get thrown into is an invaluable advantage.

2. Brotherhood Outcast- Starting the game with 2 armor is crazy powerful as you can blitz through most early game encounters without having to camp every few turns. While the one movement point is annoying early on it doesn't hurt you that badly as the faction markers progress slowly and a lot of your actions will be spent on explore actions anyway which halt your movement. HOWEVER in the late game when several quests cost caps, objectives are spread all over the map, powerful enemies are coming at you from all angles, and the faction timer is ticking at a faster and faster rate that movement penalty can be an absolute death sentence. The Brotherhood Outcast really relies on finding a way to upgrade his suit by the mid game. If he fails to get the T-60 suit in a timely manner he is seriously screwed, but his starting armor and Intelligence makes it much easier to get said suit as he can push through encounters without stopping and has an easier time passing the related quests. The character with the most snowball potential but if you fail to get that early lead you're in a very tight spot.

3. Ghoul- A very situational hero, The Ghoul's strength seems to depend entirely on which scenario you pick and how the map forms. He completely breaks the Far Harbor scenario and takes what is meant to be a very challenging and stressful race against the clock and makes it a peaceful stroll through the park. His ability to ignore radiation in a scenario that's completely dependent on radiation being an obstacle completely negates his starting health disadvantage. On The Pitt or The Capital Wasteland The Ghoul can be useful as he can take easy shortcuts over the river rather than being forced into the bottleneck at the bridge, but unless the irradiated tiles are in a position to actually impede other players' progress its probably not going to save you as much time as you lose in camping out more often to recover your smaller pool of health. The Ghoul is utterly handicapped on The Commonwealth as the lack of any irradiated spaces on the scenario specific tiles and the fact that all dangerous tiles are clumped up on the far end of the map makes your ability to ignore radiation pointless and your lack of health a serious problem late game. Definitely seems the hardest to balance as his power is directly proportional to how annoyingly placed the irradiated spaces are.

4. Wastelander- Starts out with a good weapon, but only has a 1/6 chance of actually having the stats to make it worthwhile. That seems like a very bizarre design choice, as the Vault Dweller gets a free Endurance Test reroll at all times even if he lacks the endurance stat whereas the Wastelander NEEDS the strength stat to fully capitalize on her weapon otherwise she needs to exhaust her weapon just to reroll a single die. If the Wastelander can get a lucky draw and pull the strength stat early on then she is in a very good position to dominate the early or mid game as her two potential rerolls can be a very valuable asset in combat, however if she is unlucky with her perk draws then she's left with an incredible niche weapon that's better off getting sold for caps and it's doesn't even fetch that high of a price. Also starting off with the Agility stat is very meh. While a lot of guns use agility she'd have to throw out her wrench to use said guns and if you have to ignore half of your abilities to use the other half of them that just seems like bad character design.

5. The Super Mutant- Bad. He's the only survivor I'd say is straight up bad. Not situational, not easily put into a bad spot, just bad. Starting with the Super Mutant status effect does almost nothing and whenever it does come up on a card it's almost always bad for you. Getting 1 XP per rad damage taken is empirically weaker than the Ghoul's ability since you still take the rad damage, meaning you become weaker every time you use your ability. You effectively have to trade health to gain experience, which sounds like a risk/reward element and could potentially be rather interesting except for the fact that the reward is garbage. 1XP is also a pathetically small amount considering the fact that most enemies will net you 2XP and most quests offer more than an enemy or involve fighting an enemy, in the early game there aren't that many irradiated spaces or enemies and in the late game 1XP won't level you up any time fast. You either have to avoid radiation like everyone else and end up with only 3-4 XP gained in the entire game or tank a substantial amount of rads and leave yourself incredibly weak with maybe a perk or two to show for it. Yes, you CAN reset your rads if you get the Lead Belly perk or happen to buy one of the ONLY TWO Rad-Aways in the entire game. But you aren't guaranteed to start with Endurance and if you're playing with multiple players they're liable to take that perk just to deprive you of it and make the game easier on themselves. It's entirely luck dependent. On top of that the Super Mutant's ability doesn't even make sense from a thematic perspective. Super Mutants are really stupid but extremely durable, they're big fat lumbering bruisers that can eat a rocket for breakfast but couldn't tell you how to spell "rocket". Yet in the board game it's the exact opposite, they're extremely frail from overexposure to radiation yet gain greater insight and knowledge than all other classes. Their ability doesn't represent who they are in game which makes it even worse that the ability is terrible as you're not even able to roleplay. Also I should point out that I HAVE won games whiles playing as the Super Mutant, it's just that after those games I always end up thinking "That would've been way easier if I were playing someone else".

Anyway, those are my impressions on each survivor, what are your opinions on their relative strengths? Do you think I've made fair assessments or that I'm way off base?
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Christopher Scatliff
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Deredbaron wrote:
she needs to exhaust her weapon just to reroll a single die.

Yes, but she can also exhaust her weapon to re-roll all the dice. Having a weapon at the start of the game with a re-roll that isn't dependent on having a specific stat is very useful. I suspect you are playing something wrong if you don't see the upside here.
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Notsteve Notlawton
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Smoo wrote:
Deredbaron wrote:
she needs to exhaust her weapon just to reroll a single die.

Yes, but she can also exhaust her weapon to re-roll all the dice. Having a weapon at the start of the game with a re-roll that isn't dependent on having a specific stat is very useful. I suspect you are playing something wrong if you don't see the upside here.

I see. Still, that exhausts your weapon meaning you’ll either have to camp and slow down your early game exploration or go without your weapon until you camp making it less user friendly than the Vault Dweller’s item, which gives a free reroll no matter how often it’s used plus 1 armor that stacks indefinitely. It doesn’t change my opinion on the wastelander, that she can get a lucky draw and dominate the early game but needs to take a substantial lead into the late game otherwise when people start getting better weapons she’ll be in a very tight spot.
 
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Christopher Scatliff
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I suspect you'll change your mind after more playthroughs. I put the Wastelander almost on par with the Vault Dweller. Having an early weapon is such a great advantage. Not quite as good as being able to start using drugs right out of the gate, but still great.
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Notsteve Notlawton
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Smoo wrote:
I suspect you'll change your mind after more playthroughs. I put the Wastelander almost on par with the Vault Dweller. Having an early weapon is such a great advantage. Not quite as good as being able to start using drugs right out of the gate, but still great.

I would’ve put her in third place, but since The Ghoul is so map dependent I couldn’t think of anywhere else to put him than in the middle. He’s absolutely overpowered in one scenario, is completely useless in another, and is situationally good or mediocre in the remaining 2. He’s so hit or miss that I feel there’s no other place for him than right in the middle.
 
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Chris Thompson
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Smoo wrote:
Not quite as good as being able to start using drugs right out of the gate, but still great.


Sounds like a great personal quote.
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cthompsonguy wrote:
Smoo wrote:
Not quite as good as being able to start using drugs right out of the gate, but still great.


Sounds like a great personal quote.

Surely this has been stitched on a pillow somewhere

As for the main converstaion, agreed generally across the board, especially with the ghoul breaking Far Harbor. It's readily apparent to me that this was not play tested competitively. It is a HUGE advantage.

Just like the Agenda Cards, the luck factor of this game makes it a terrible competitive experience.
 
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Joe
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I think the ghoul is definitely better on some maps, sure, but that 12 hp max can be a big problem. As for breaking the Far Harbor scenario, I finished a solo game with the vault dweller. I didn't get any items to help with radiation, though I did get the lead belly perk. I ended up using it after being attacked by a ghoul to heal all FOUR of my radiation damage that I had acquired through the entire scenario.

So with my experience, I think they are well balanced with the exception of the super mutant. I'll probably end up house ruling that super mutants can't take radiation damage, as we all know they shouldn't.
 
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Stl0369 wrote:
I think the ghoul is definitely better on some maps, sure, but that 12 hp max can be a big problem. As for breaking the Far Harbor scenario, I finished a solo game with the vault dweller. I didn't get any items to help with radiation, though I did get the lead belly perk. I ended up using it after being attacked by a ghoul to heal all FOUR of my radiation damage that I had acquired through the entire scenario.

So with my experience, I think they are well balanced with the exception of the super mutant. I'll probably end up house ruling that super mutants can't take radiation damage, as we all know they shouldn't.


The ghoul would still play vastly different in that scenario. With him there's hardly any need for condensers so you really just run right through it.

I think your point about 4 rads really just speaks to the easiness of the game itself more than anything, which of course, combined with the random agenda cards make this game more of a "I want to have fun" vs "I want to play a competitive game."
 
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Joe
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Well, I put down one condenser, but then my agenda cards encouraged me to accept the fog. Even with so much radiation on the map, I agree that it was easy.

Yeah, I haven't had too many takers at my local game night yet since I promote it as a thematic romp rather than a strategic game. Still, I have fun playing it and that's why I play, so hopefully I'll get enough of the right crowd together.
 
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David Umstattd
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One thing I love about this game is how different the various classes are. Even from a very simple thing like a starting item it can wildly change your play style. Yet all of them are relatively good.
 
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Stl0369 wrote:
Yeah, I haven't had too many takers at my local game night yet since I promote it as a thematic romp rather than a strategic game. Still, I have fun playing it and that's why I play, so hopefully I'll get enough of the right crowd together.

This. It's good to sell it like that and with the right group, is amazing for that.
 
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Justin Shaikewitz
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I agree on the super mutant being underwhelming at best.

I had some ideas for changing the Super Mutants ability.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1915592/super-mutant-ch...

Haven’t tested any of these yet.
 
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