In the classic game The Settlers of Catan, the players are on an island composed of hexagon-shaped tiles that they use to earn resources and build up the island. The action of Survive: Escape from Atlantis! , from Stronghold Games, also takes place on an island composed of hexagon tiles -- but this time the players want to get off there as quickly as possible.

In Survive: Escape from Atlantis! players control a number of people, worth one to six points each. (The numbers are on the bottom of each piece.) All the people start on an island of 40 hexes in the middle; hexes are beaches, forest, or mountains. During the game, players want to move their people off the central island to the four safe islands on the corners of the board; when the volcano is revealed (on the bottom of a mountain piece), players score points for the value of each piece on one of the safe islands, and whoever has the most points wins.

It's a bit more complex than that, though. Each turn, a player can use one tile they got (turned over) from a previous turn. The player then removes a tile from the central island (starting with beaches, then forest, and finally mountains) and either follows the instructions immediately or saves it to play later. Next, players have up to three points of movement: Pieces on land or in a boat can move one multiple spaces, but a piece in the ocean can only move one space. Finally, the player rolls a die and moves the creature rolled up to its maximum. Whales can move three spaces and remove an occupied boat from the board. Sharks can move two spaces and eat any swimming pieces (but not ones in a boat). And Sea Serpents move one space and destroy all people in their space.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! has absolutely terrific pieces. In addition to the fairly generic "meeples" you're trying to get off the island, you'll move around the shark fin, a whale (with tail sticking out of the water), and the towering sea serpent. The island hexes are also appropriately thick -- mountains are higher than forests, which are taller than beaches -- giving the impression of topography. Gameplay is nice, if a little basic: You'll be trying to send the creatures away from your people and towards your opponent. Since the number of each figure can't be looked at once the game begins, you'll have to remember which pieces are most valuable while figuring out/guessing which are most valuable to your opponent.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! is a nice game, with terrifically cute pieces and fairly basic strategy. This game won't fill up the whole day for you and your players, but it's fun for a few quick games or an introductory game for new players.

Overall grade: B-

Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: