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Fallout: New California board game expansion has one PC mod team scrambling

Fantasy Flight’s choice of a name could spell disaster for team working on Fallout: New California, aka Project Brazil

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Update: It appears that the crisis has passed. In an update made yesterday on the Fallout: New California PC mod’s Facebook, the development team says that they’re in the clear.

“We got word second hand from on high that we’re fine and our name is safe,” said a spokesperson. “But, if we’re gonna share real estate, we should send a welcoming gift to our new neighbors.”

The team asked that if any fans do pick up a copy of Fantasy Flight Games’ Fallout: New California tabletop game expansion, they should note in the order, “From Thain -- with love.”

Original story: The Fallout board game from Fantasy Flight Games was a huge success, so much so that the developer and publisher is making a lavish new expansion. However, its choice of a name for that expansion has left one dedicated team of PC game modders scrambling.

The modders in question have been working for more than five years to create Fallout: New California, a prequel to 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas. The mod was previously known as “Project Brazil.” It tells the story of an adopted resident of Vault 18 who, in 2260, leaves their underground shelter deep below Los Angeles. Outside they find a three-way battle raging between the Survivalist Army, the New California Republic and the Super Mutants.

New California was set for an October release date. That is, until Fantasy Flight announced its new expansion.

The tabletop Fallout: New California includes new modular game board tiles, new miniatures and a fat stack of cards. They all combine to add additional narrative missions to the game, drawing from the Fallout franchise’s rich lore.

In our review of the Fallout board game, we made note that the Fallout board game is an excellent engine for storytelling at the table. Using a card driven narrative system, the game creates multiple branching storylines that feel very much like quests from the modern games. Fantasy Flight is leaning into that feature, and is including multiple copies of some cards that will take players in different directions across the wasteland. That should add more variety to repeated playthroughs.

New playable characters, left to right, include the Lone Gunslinger, an Enclave Deserter, a Caravan Merchant, an New California Republic Ranger and a Mister Handy robot.
Fantasy Flight Games

However, the team behind the modded PC game is now deeply afraid of receiving a cease and desist letter. In a Facebook post made earlier this week, a representative says they’ve elected to move up the release date with all possible haste.

“They have every legal right to C&D us without hesitation. It would be effortless on their part to wipe us out with a single email, erasing 7 years of work,” wrote the team’s leader. “They either never googled the words New California or they knew and just didn’t care, because they have the bought and paid for license and we don’t. I am not in the mood to find out.”

They said the current plan is to release the mod in a working format some time in August, with a more official beta release in October. By December the game should be in a nearly final state. You can find out more on the mod team’s official website.

Fantasy Flight’s expansion is expected in the fourth quarter of 2018.

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