Olá Leitor.

 

Esta é a versão em inglês da resenha do jogo “Survive: Fuga de Atlândida”. Se você ainda não a leu pode encontrá-la aqui.

 

Abraço e até breve.

 

+++

 

Hello Reader!

 

I’ve almost let February go without publishing a new article here on the blog, but I WON’T fail miserably on my goal of publishing at least an article a month during 2016 (ok, we’ll see how that goes as the year progresses, but I couldn’t fail right at the beginning, as that would be too shameful).

 

“Wow! That’s super cool! What’s today’s article about?” Well, I’m trying my best to get up to date with the painting and wargaming articles here on the blog, but those take some time, so for the time being we’ll stick with board games as, hobbywise, that’s where I’m seeing more action these days. If you’re not into board gaming I do apologize and promise we’ll eventually get back to other articles, but today I have another board game review to share with you. If you read the article’s title you’ll know by now that today our goal is to survive the end of the world in the game “Survive: Escape from Atlantis”.

One of the great dilemmas we face as board gamers is how to introduce this hobby to uninitiated friends and family members, as inviting someone who’s not familiar with board gaming to play a game of “Eldritch Horror”, “A Game of Thrones: The Board Game” or “Twilight Imperium” is a certain recipe for a disaster as games like these are at best described as complex, and frequently demand a lot of time to be played, often described as “too long” by those not familiar with them.

 

That’s exactly when the so called “gateway games” shine. These games get the name from being ideal offerings to those unfamiliar with the hobby, as they’re often simple, with easy to explain rules, fun and fast, and that’s exactly where “Survive: Escape form Atlantis” excels in my opinion.

 

The box for the Brazilian edition of the “Suvive: Escape from Atlantis” board game. It’s often weird to only have games like this being published here years after its original release date.

 

Ranked at the fourteenth position in the “150 best gateway games” list by BoardGameGeek, Survive promises, and delivers, its players a fantastic gaming experience with agile turns, straightforward gameplay, and an interesting theme. In it players are trying to survive the downfall (and utter destruction) of the island of Atlantis, rescuing their explorers (represented by meeples) as the island begins to sink into the ocean and trying to get them to the safety of nearby islands.

 

Sounds simple right? But that’s when the real fun begins. Players (from two to four of them) begin the game spreading their “explorers” through the still intact island (formed by 40 hexagonal pieces depicting the different terrain types found on Atlantis – beaches, forests and mountains) and from then on they’ll take turns doing four possible actions in sequence: playing a tile from their hands (the opposite side of terrain tiles have special actions the players can use to help their meeples get to land), moving their meeples around the board (on land, swimming or in boats), sinking one of the terrain tiles (in the following order: beaches, forests and mountains) and finally rolling a dice to control one of the creatures on the board.

 

The board’s main island being assembled. There’s countless ways to set it up.

 

Set-up is finally complete.

 

This is how the board looks after all players have allocated their meeples. There’s some empty tiles as this was a 3 player game.

 

“Creatures?!” Yes! And this is one of the greatest parts of this game. As the game begins there are five hydras on the board and as the island tiles sink into the ocean new creatures, like sharks and whales, are revealed (on the opposite side of the terrain tiles) and in each turn, depending on what’s rolled on the creature dice, the player can control one of these creatures and use them to “eliminate” meeples from one of the opposing players. The game would be ok without this element (a simple race to save meeples) but it becomes brilliant as players start sabotaging each other’s plans with each passing turn and that’s when the struggle to save your meeples begin.

 

An ongoing game in its early stages. There’s still beaches to be sunk and not that many creatures in the water.

 

The same game further on. On the left you can notice the discarded terrain tiles. Green edged ones are events to be used as soon as they’re drawn (like creatures appearing) and red edged ones can be kept to be used during the game (they’re normally bonuses for the player that got them).

 

The game ends when one of the players sinking one of the mountain tiles reveals the hidden volcano underneath destroying whatever is left of the island and survivors in a huge explosion of lava (an imaginary one, of course). “Wow! Wow! I know! In the end the winner is the one who saved most meeples right?” Nope! And that’s another factor which makes the game even more fun, as each individual meeple has a points value engraved on the bottom (from 1 to 6) and the winner is determined by adding the points value of each of the saved meeples of each player.

 

The game ends as soon as the volcano tile is revealed, no matter how many terrain tiles remain on the board to be sunk. A variant rule suggests treating the volcano as another whirpool and carrying on with the game until there are no more tiles to be sunk (a whirpool destroys all adjacent tokens – creatures, boats, and survivors are drawn into it).

 

This game lasted a couple extra turns as the volcano was revealed when there were only two mountain tiles remaining.

 

All of that combined, results in a game filled with laughter, fun and some tense moments when your survivors will inevitably be eaten by hungry sharks (invariably at the imaginary, or not, theme song of the Jaws movie), monsters, or have their boats wrecked by marauding whales.

 

The dread of sailing your boat this close to a hydra…

 

… is only surpassed by the joy of chomping down an opponent’s boat. This one held the 6, 5 and 4 points meeples.

 

As the game progresses, falling into the water gets increasingly dangerous.

 

It should come as no surprise to you (especially if you’re following our Instagram and Facebook pages) that Survive has become one of the favorite games at home, with my daughters and, to my surprise, even my wife, regularly asking to play a few games on the weekends and in our gaming nights (they played it without me today as I sat down writing this article).

 

“Ah!, so that’s another of those boring family games I’ll never get to play with my friends?” Well, Survive is indeed an excellent game to be played with your family, but it is also FANTASTIC when played with more experienced groups of players, which is the reason it is always on the gaming table when we get together for our gaming days in my hometown.

 

To tell the truth I was first introduced to Survive in the more competitive environment of my board game group and I must admit it was a radically different experience from my family games. In that opportunity, as we had a bigger group, we played the game using two expansions, the first of them allowed the inclusion of a 5th and 6th player to the game, while the second added yet another deadly creature to the game: Octopuses.

 

The innocent faces of those about to experiment Survive for the first time in a group of backstabbing, cutthroat players.

 

With that set-up (that makes Atlantis a MUCH more crowded place) and with players already accustomed to backstabbing their friends at the gaming table we had a memorable game, which can also be appropriately described as a bloodbath, with grown men at the verge of tears as their survivors were torn to pieces by a friend controlled shark, pulled from their boats by an octopus, eaten whole by a vicious hydra or having their boats sunk by a marauding whale with the beach in just in sight for their next move and their six point meeple aboard. All of that double crossing made rescuing survivors a VERY tough proposition resulting in a very different experience from that ordinarily had with only the base game and four regular players, making it a firm favorite of my gaming group as well.

 

With well crafted components, and simple well done art, the game pleases gamers of all ages (as I’ve mentioned its loved by my 6 and 9 year old girls), especially because it’s not language dependent or even reading dependent for that matter (as long as there’s someone to teach the simple rules to those too young) and works well both as a gateway game for inexperienced groups or as a game for veteran gamers.

 

A photo showcasing the box with the componets arranged in it. The insert is great and keeps everything in its place.

 

One factor that could displease some gamers out there is the luck factor present in the game, as you’re never sure if that meeple you’re saving is the 6 point one or the 1 point one (as you can only look at the points value of each meeple as you place them on the board, making it easy to forget which is which when the chaos ensues with the sinking tiles and general carnage of creatures eating your survivors) making it a very unpredictable game until the points are tallied in the end.

 

Created and developed by Julian Courtland-Smith and originally published by Parker Brothers in 1982, Survive is now a classic game that has been reedited by different companies. It is currently being published by Stronghold Games in its 30th Anniversary Edition with three different expansions published by the same company, sold separately or in a bundle.

 

After so many games with family and friends, “Survive: Escape from Atlantis” remains one of my favorites and I couldn’t recommend it more. If you have the chance of adding it to your collection, don’t think twice and dive into it, and your family and friends will thank you for it.

 

My best regards and I’ll see you soon.

 

Over and out.

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