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Bruce Murphy
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For folks unfamiliar with the title, Survive (And Escape from Atlantis) were published as family games almost 30 years ago and have recently been picked up by Stronghold Games for their classic reprint line. During the game, players will all frantically try to rescue all their own playing pieces from the sinking island while also controlling the way the island sinks and the various dangerous sea creatures in order to stop all the other players.

The components of the new Stronghold edition hold to the standard Euro model. Cardboard tiles for the combination island parts and action tiles and a illustrated board set the scene, while the player pieces and the various sea monsters are represented by brightly coloured wood figures.



At the start of the game, the island is set up in the middle of the board with random land tiles. These make up beaches, forests, and mountains, with each type having a different thickness of cardboard to give the island a nice 3D effect. This island formation is effective, I feel a lot more uneasy when my players are on the beach near the sharks.



In the second setup phase, players take it it turns to place their islander pieces on the island one at a time. This is a race to claim those pieces of the island that are both close to the water and easy escape and not too vulnerable to immediately sinking under the waves. After all the people pieces are placed, players have an opportunity to place two boats next to the edge of the island ready for their people to dash to. Of course, there will be enough boats around the island, that the first few moves are going to be a mad scramble to grab any near you, regardless of who placed them.



Each turn consists of four steps. Optionally playing a tile from your hand, moving your people and boats, sinking one part of the island, and rolling the creature dice and moving the relevant beastie about the board. A few of the land tiles, when revealed are taken into your hand and can be played on your turn. These are boat or swimmer movement bonus tiles and creature teleports.

Players have three moves to spend each turn. Movement is easy on land, pieces can freely move. Boats can also move in water, but can only be controlled if they’re empty or if no other player has more pieces in the boat. Hitching a lift is always helpful. Boats are shark proof, but (very frequently) destroyed by whales.



Pieces can also end up swimming in the water by having their boat destroyed, the island sinking under them, or by jumping off in panic. This doesn’t necessarily doom them, although they’re vulnerable to sharks and sea monsters and can only move 1 space per turn towards safety. It’s still possible to be overlooked and completely the long road to safety, perhaps by a sea monster who decides to go after bigger game such as a boat.



Players who manage to get their pieces to one of the four corner islands can either clamber out of the ocean or step quickly off the boat onto the shore. These pieces are safe until the end of the game and are the only way to score points.



After moving their pieces, players must choose one of the pieces of the island to remove. This can be occupied (in which case any pieces on it are dumped unceremoniously into the ocean. The lowest-lying beach tiles must be removed first, followed by forest then mountain, and a tile touching the ocean must be chosen if possible. From this, you can have a pretty good idea of which parts of the island will still be around in a few turns, and probably also start to develop a fear of beaches.

Each removed landscape tile has a picture on its back. These come in several varities, good for you (extra moves or ability to zap a creature that attacks you, even a free boat!), bad (whirlpools that suck everything in, volcanos, sharks, whales), or bad for someone else (tiles that let you move one of the creatures to a new location on the board where it can wreak havoc). Some tiles are kept until later, some have immediate effect. They’re all quite clearly laid out with iconage.



There are both good and bad event tiles, so the decision of which part of the island to sink is an interesting one (in terms of how close you want to be to it). It’s always frustrating to have a handy boat come up under an opponent’s piece, but usually they’re going to be lost to whirlpool or like the yellow piece below, sink directly into a newly shark-infested patch of sea. (sound effects practically mandatory)



At the end of each player turn, the red creature dice is rolled. It has two faces for each of the sea-creatures. Once a creature is rolled, the player may choose to move one of the creatures of that type that is already on the board. Each creature moves a different amount, whales move 3 spaces and destroy occupied boats, sharks move 2 and eat swimmers, while the Great Purple Sea Monster is slow and only moves 1 space, but both destroys boats and eats the people from them. In the example below, yellow has rolled a shark and now decides who gets eaten.



As the game goes on, the island slowly shrinks, tossing people off into the water until finally nearly everyone has fled, frantically trying to cross the water spaces to safety (or has been eaten). The game ends immediately when the Volcano tile is drawn, with all people still in boats or the water lost.



Finally, at the end of the game, the players reveal which of their pieces actually made it to safety on the islands. The numbers on the bases report how many points each of them is worth, and the player with the most points wins. During the game, players have to keep in mind where their most valuable tokens are because they remain secret until the end of the game.



In addition to the base rules, the Survive box contains extension pieces to play the variant Escape from Atlantis as well as several other scoring variants which mostly make the game more forgiving or easier. The variant rules for Escape I’m keen to try out with the cute wooden dolphin pieces who can protect a swimmer... for a time.

Survive is not a deep engine-building game with complex economics, it’s a classic family game where everyone gets involved in the death-by-shark of the other guy’s islanders fleeing the volcano. It has some randomness, but most moves are under the control of one of the players, so perhaps chaos is a better description. Table-talk is a necessity and the one thing you should absolutely not bring is anyone whose feelings are easily hurt (unless you play with the gentler Escape from Atlantis rules). I’m delighted that this game is getting another outing and is available for folks to buy and play again.
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Tyler McLaughlin
Canada
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Nice review Bruce.
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Steve Herron
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Quote:
you should absolutely not bring is anyone whose feelings are easily hurt.


Sounds like a great game. I know my son would pick on his sister so that may be the reason I shouldn't get it. She would play it once with us and probably that would be the last time.
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Michael Basil
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Great review and great pictures!
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Eric Henson
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Albuquerque
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Wow, these are some superb pictures!
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Mark Buetow
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Hmmm...I don't recall the restriction in the original Survive that you had to go in order of beach, forest, mountain. The only rule was that it had to be touching water.

The components are certainly a nice bump up from the original!
 
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Bruce Murphy
Australia
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Which original? Survive or Escape from Atlantis?

B>
 
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Mark Buetow
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thepackrat wrote:
Which original? Survive or Escape from Atlantis?

B>


Survive. Edited above. Never played EfA.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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Malacandra wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
Which original? Survive or Escape from Atlantis?

B>


Survive. Edited above. Never played EfA.


Cool. No, definitely there (in addition to the ocean part) in this rule set and necessary so that you can't hit the volcano in the first few tiles.

B>
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Mike Hulsebus
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Welp, just ordered this.
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Anthony
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Malacandra wrote:
Hmmm...I don't recall the restriction in the original Survive that you had to go in order of beach, forest, mountain. The only rule was that it had to be touching water.

The components are certainly a nice bump up from the original!


I still love my original copy though I'm seriously considering getting the new one as it looks fantastic.

Anyways the original rules are as follows:

-------------
2. Sink an island piece. The second part of your turn is to turn over any one land piece which has at least one edge exposed to water. Each player will do this on a turn starting with the beach pieces. When all beach pieces have been sunk, do the same with the forest pieces, the the mountain pieces.
-------------

So you were kinda right, you could do a forest piece if there were no sand ones touching water, but once it was exposed it would have priority again.
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Ray Palmer
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thepackrat wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
thepackrat wrote:
Which original? Survive or Escape from Atlantis?

B>


Survive. Edited above. Never played EfA.


Cool. No, definitely there (in addition to the ocean part) in this rule set and necessary so that you can't hit the volcano in the first few tiles.

B>

That rule is in the original version of Survive as well.
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Kevin Nesbitt
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Yoren wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
Hmmm...I don't recall the restriction in the original Survive that you had to go in order of beach, forest, mountain. The only rule was that it had to be touching water.

The components are certainly a nice bump up from the original!


I still love my original copy though I'm seriously considering getting the new one as it looks fantastic.

Anyways the original rules are as follows:

-------------
2. Sink an island piece. The second part of your turn is to turn over any one land piece which has at least one edge exposed to water. Each player will do this on a turn starting with the beach pieces. When all beach pieces have been sunk, do the same with the forest pieces, the the mountain pieces.
-------------

So you were kinda right, you could do a forest piece if there were no sand ones touching water, but once it was exposed it would have priority again.


That is exactly right. Any remaining beach tiles which are landlocked are not sunk, but as soon as they are bordering water they must be selected as the sunk tile if no other beach tile options exist.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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otrex wrote:

That is exactly right. Any remaining beach tiles which are landlocked are not sunk, but as soon as they are bordering water they must be selected as the sunk tile if no other beach tile options exist.


Hm, the new rules have multiple readings. The second part simply notes that any locked beach tile will be the last of the beach tiles to be sunk, not than forest would precede it. I think we deliberately avoided that arrangement of the island anyway.

B>
 
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Kevin Nesbitt
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thepackrat wrote:
otrex wrote:

That is exactly right. Any remaining beach tiles which are landlocked are not sunk, but as soon as they are bordering water they must be selected as the sunk tile if no other beach tile options exist.


Hm, the new rules have multiple readings. The second part simply notes that any locked beach tile will be the last of the beach tiles to be sunk, not than forest would precede it. I think we deliberately avoided that arrangement of the island anyway.

B>


This may actually be a mistake on my part then, as the printed rules would definitely take precedence over me. blush

EDIT: Okay, Magic 8 Ball confirms I am mistaken! (see dice roll)
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  • Magic 8 Ball Says:
  • Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:41 pm
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  • Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:42 pm
Mike Adams
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sherron wrote:
Quote:
you should absolutely not bring is anyone whose feelings are easily hurt.


Sounds like a great game. I know my son would pick on his sister so that may be the reason I shouldn't get it. She would play it once with us and probably that would be the last time.


I own the original Survive as well as one edition of Escape from Atlantis. I prefer Survive myself, but my kids prefer Escape from Atlantis, partially because of all the plastic pieces but partially because there is less direct conflict. The helpful dolphins, the more restricted creatures movement (diving creatures can only surface in vacant spaces), and no numbers on the people make it more of a race game than a conflict-ridden bloodbath. It's rare for very many people to die in my edition of EfA. It ends when someone gets all their remaining people to the corner islands and whoever has the most that escaped wins.

Still, I prefer the more aggressive Survive myself, but EfA works better with my kids, especially my daughter who hates conflict.
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Bruce Murphy
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That's fair, well since this edition contains all the bits + rules you need to play either game, it should be somewhat suitable for people with easily hurt feelings.



B>
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Mike Adams
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thepackrat wrote:
That's fair, well since this edition contains all the bits + rules you need to play either game, it should be somewhat suitable for people with easily hurt feelings.


And my daughter thinks the whales are cute in the new edition. That helps as well. Cuteness offsets meanness. But then I worry she'll mentally adopt the whales so when someone harpoons one that tries to attack their boat...

I want to pick the new edition up just for the looks of it even though I already have both old Survive and EfA. So tempting.
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Jeffrey Speer
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mikehulsebus wrote:
Welp, just ordered this.


Yea... me too.
 
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Mike Stevens
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Great review Bruce. A picture is worth a thousand words and your pictures were fantastic. I hope the game plays as good as you made it sound. Congratulations your review has made another sale for Stronghold games.
 
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