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GAMEPLAY Players play as a group of amnesiacs who wake up on an island only to realize the damn thing is crumbling into the ocean. Fortunately, some kind soul has left boats all around the island for your escape. Only one problem – these are some whale/shark/dragon infested waters and they hate boats and/or amnesiacs. Can you get your people to safety in time before the volcano erupts? I’m sorry – what? On a turn, you perform three phases. First, you can move your meeple(s) three spaces; second, you flip a tile on the edge of the board going in order of beach, jungle, and mountain; and third, you roll the death dice and possibly move a creature. Everyone is trying to get their meeples to one of the four corners of the board. Whoever is left on the other parts of the board when the volcano tile is flipped, goes up in cataclysmic flames. Players flip their meeples over to see their worth and then count their score. THOUGHTS Survive is the board game I never knew I wanted when I was a kid but didn't find until 34 years after it first came out. Oddly enough, for being a gateway-type family game, it’s quite mean. You’re constantly upending your opponents into the water making it harder for them to move or menacing them with the various creatures through the death dice. But, because it fits with the spirit of the game, and because you have so many guys at your disposal, it doesn’t feel that bad to find yourself one meeple lighter. Plus, there are a couple cool twists to keep the game flavorful. The meeples have various VP values (from 1 to 5, I think?) on their base. So while a player may have got four 1-VP meeples to safety, an opponent can outstrip their score with just one 5-VP meeple. But, can you remember which one is which? Or, more importantly, can you figure which ones are most valuable to your opponents? Also, the boats add for some fun co-opportunity. You may want to load a boat up with only your meeples but if you do so, you are a big target. Far better to invite your opponents to share the boat with you to ensure you have some mutually aligned goals. These days, I don’t clamor to play Survive, but it’s one that I’ve had a lot of good times with, especially with my Korean in-laws. As such, I always recommend this as a good gateway game as long as the people you’re playing with have thick skins and don’t mind a bit of randomness in the tile flips and dice. PROS -I never played on the original but I really like Stronghold’s reprint. The quality of the components are top notch, especially the 1-foot thick mountain tiles. -The scoring system where meeples have hidden values is simple but clever and I can’t think of another game that I’ve played that’s copied this. -Even though it’s random, it’s cool how the tiles have different effects or abilities that can either harm or hurt you. -Probably the coolest part of the game is the shared incentives of multiple players on one boat. Among other things, the table talk really shines here. NEUTRALS -There’s a lot of randomness in Survive: which tile your opponents flip, what’s on the backs of tiles once flipped, and how the death dice play out can all have immense effects. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Normally this wouldn’t work for me but, in a game of this weight and style, I don’t mind. -I got all the mini-expansions thinking they would make the game even better but I quickly realized that most of them actually hurt the gameplay. I don’t need the extra meeples for the 5-6 player game, squids just cause crazy randomness and devastation, and I suppose the dive dice are okay but they negate the dolphin tiles. CONS -If a couple of your high VP value meeples get killed early on, it can feel like you’re ruined in the first few minutes of a 60-90 minute game. Not the end of the world but it is frustrating.
Fun gateway game. Since it's pretty old, the modular hexes are boats are kind of flimsy, and are easy to accidentally knock around on the board. A fun game of strategy and a little luck (no, not the whale!!)
Unfortunately, just a bit too random - if you keep drawing tiles that favour other players while they have a bunch of red tiles in store you'll just be out of the game in the last third of the game and there's nothing you can do about it. Too long play time for that sort of random nonsense.
Like a childhood game that feels a little strategic. Such fun to push your friends off of boats. I have a soft spot for this one. Easy to teach, easy to play. Good clean, deadly fun.
Ever run that scenario through your head where you and your buddies are running from some kind of monster? This game isn't about out running the monster, but about tripping your buddy. Lots of fun and silliness. Bought on a whim and still no regrets.