The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. This week’s column is written by featured blogger Rick Grayshock.
The island is sinking all around you. In the water are sharks and sea monsters that are after you. Grab a spot in a lifeboat and paddle towards the closest beach, but watch out for whales – they capsize your boat and then you are a swimmer.
Theme: Tropical Island survival
Number of Players: 2-4 (more interesting with 3 or 4)
Game Time: about an hour
Age Appropriateness: 7 and up
Game Type: Tough to nail this one down. It’s kind of a racing game with some sabotage.
Each player tries to get their own meeples from the sinking island to the nearby shores to safety. Each meeple has a point value on the bottom. The winner is the player that has the most survivor points at the end of the game.
Game Play: Players take turns placing their meeples on the island during the set-up. This is the last time a player may see what point value their meeples are worth until the scoring at the end of the game.
Each player’s turn is comprised of removing a tile from the island and playing it (preferably forcing an opponent into the water), taking three actions with their meeples (moving one on land, swimming to the next hex or moving a boat containing your meeple towards the shore) and finally rolling the creature die and moving one of the whales, sharks or sea monsters. Sharks eat swimmers. Whales destroy boats, but leave the meeples in the water. Sea monsters eat boats and meeples.
Boats hold up to three meeples at a time. The player with the most meeples on a boat is the captain of that boat (meaning it moves on that player’s turn.)
Component Quality: (I have the 30th anniversary edition, which is the latest edition.) Excellent components. Wooden meeples and creatures. Solid cardboard tiles for the island. Beautifully colored board.
My Take: Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a good family weight game. However, the game has the potential to be mean. Players are forced to make decisions in the game about which other player’s meeples get eaten or their boat smashed or even just a tile taken from under their player on the island making them a swimmer.
If you try to avoid causing harm to other players, well everyone ends up with all their meeples safe, and the game is really boring. Being cut-throat is what the game was designed for. If your group is good with that, you will have a ball with this one. If you want an object lesson in ‘life isn’t always fair’ then this might be a good one for you as well.
I haven’t been able to get this to the table with a group of hard core gamers to experience a really cut-throat game. That would be interesting to me.
The game can be explained fairly easily once you know and understand how everything works together.
Expansions and Replay-ability: There are a few expansions for Survive: Escape from Atlantis. There is a 5 and 6 player expansion, a giant squid expansion and a dolphin and dive dice expansion. The latter two simply add more creatures to hurt or help you along the way. Dolphins help protect meeples. The squid can grab boats or meeples and sink them.
This is one game that I think might have a limited number of plays in it for me. I’m not there yet, but I could see that day happening as there are many other family weight games that I like better.
Rick Grayshock is a husband and father who is a digital content producer for FOX Sports Ohio and is a co-founder of the Cleveland sports website WaitingForNextYear.com. Rick is excited to contribute to Meeple Moments and to write about his ‘other’ favorite hobby.