Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Fish are friends! Humans aren't!:- Survive: Escape from Atlantis

GameSurvive: Escape from Atlantis!

ManufacturerStronghold Games
Designer: Julian Courtland-Smith

Survive :Escape from Atlantis is a 2-4 player hate-simulator in which you vindictively murder your opponent’s meeples while desperately trying to escape with yours. Alliances will form as you share precious boats, then fall apart as soon as it’s no-longer convenient for one of you. Wars will begin as sea monsters eat boats and meeples alike in a horrible bloodbath of unfairness. If you can’t handle being angry at your friends then this game isn’t for you!

Survive simulates the sinking of an island while all its ill-prepared population try to flee. There aren’t enough boats for everyone, there are sharks and monsters in the water, the land is falling apart underneath them, it’s every man for themselves! Well, sort of, each player has a coloured tribe of meeples which they own and must endeavour to get as many as possible off the central island and onto one of the 4 islands in the corner of the game board. Each meeple has a number on the bottom, hidden from every player (you can look at it at the start of the game, but from then on you have to remember) which is the number of points that meeple earns you if it survives. Personally we treat these points as an optional rule, the winner is the player with the most people alive, but ties are broken by the numbers.

Each turn you get 3 actions, moving a meeple you control 1 hex, moving a meeple in the water 1 hex, moving a boat you control (have the most/joint most meeple on) 1 hex or climbing onto a boat. Meeples in the water can only use one action to move each, but every other situation you can choose to spend as many of your actions on 1 meeple as you’d like. After moving you can choose an island tile to dunk into the sea, along with any meeples on it. You have to deplete all the beach before you can dunk forest, then all the forest before the mountains. The reverse side of the tiles have an action on them, this can either be on you save up (such as shark repellent or helpful dolphins helping a swimmer) or they can be instant actions which you have to do, such as spawning sharks/whales or whirlpools which kill everything in the sea near them. 
The game set up ready for play, each player places their own meeples 1 at a time and then 2 boats which they hope to use to escape

The game ends when one of the revealed tiles shows the volcano, at which point everyone not on one of the 4 corner islands is considered killed by the eruption. Your final action is to roll the dice, this tells you which of the three kinds of creatures to move. Whales move fast but can only destroy boats, they are harmless to meeple. Sharks move at a moderate speed and kill meeple, but can’t get anyone in a boat. Finally there are the slow moving sea monsters, they move 1 space, but destroy boats and kill all meeple on the tile, plus there are 5 of them on the board to start, 4 right next to the safe spots and 1 in the middle of the island. It’s probably pretty self-evident that all of the anger in this game comes from who gets dunked and where the monsters are moved. Sure no-one can blame you for taking your chance to use a seam monster to eat a full boat... well actually everyone will blame you, and you’ll spend the rest of the game with sharks under your boats at every opportunity!

The tiles under the land, from left to right, volcano, whirlpool, boat, move a boat, move a sea monster, move a swimming meeple, spawn a whale, spawn a shark, move a shark, shark repellent and whale repellent.
Survive is fast-paced, unforgiving and sometimes ludicrously unfair. People claim that it’s the game that ends friendships, while I can see their point I don’t really think that’s the case unless your friendship was very flimsy anyway. That being said I wouldn’t play this game with someone who was in a bad mood. I think the game is too luck based, especially with the numbered meeple, sure you could argue that people target the meeple you seem most determined to have survive was it’s likely to be your 6, but honestly the attacking other players is so random. You can dunk someone and reveal a shark which leads to instant death, but you can also dunk someone straight into a boat. The other way to attack people is with the dice, but that does rely on you having the right roll at the right time. The game doesn’t translate particularly well to 2 players either as you lose all the feeling of being victimised and ganged up on. With 4 players the game really shines, you never know how the board will look when your next turn comes around and almost no-where is safe as your opponents can always roll the right combination of whales and sharks to each almost anywhere.



  1. Hi Fiona,
    Nice to see Survive: Escape from Atlantis! made it onto The Game Shelf and everyone enjoyed "vindictively murdering their opponent’s meeples!" Great write-up!
    Yours playfully,
    Julian Courtland-Smith
    Hastings, UK

    1. Thanks for your comment and for designing a great game!