D-PADS AND DICE - 'Survive' game pits players against the sea

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For me, "Survive: Escape from Atlantis!" is an oddly gleeful board game. It reminds me of the way many little kids play, building a little world and then destroying it.

And half the fun of this game is to see a little world get ripped to pieces by the forces of nature. To see boats wrecked by sea serpents and watch people try to outswim sharks. To see a boat capsized by a whale.

The board game's premise is this: Atlantis is sinking into the ocean and its citizens are trying to escape all sort of horrible natural disasters and monsters and get to dry land.

Each player has a little group of wooden people, each worth a certain number of points known only to the individual player. A person can run around on land, ride in a boat and swim in the sea. Swimming is slower than the other methods of movement, however, so for the most part you'll try and have all your little wooden people in a boat.

This is made difficult because Atlantis is sinking. At the start of the game you place a lot of hexagonal tiles at the center of the board. With every turn the ocean rises a little more and you remove a tile. You do different things depending on what you see on the bottom tiles.

Some tiles, like those with dolphins, allow you to move your swimmers more than normal. Other tiles cause sharks or whales to surface and bring about trouble for the fleeing Atlanteans. Whirpools, too, might show up and suck down anything and everything nearby.

You never quite know what sort of chaos will happen as Atlantis sinks.

To make matters worse for the little wooden folks, every die roll will randomly select a beast to move around on the board. You can chase down people in the water and devour them with sharks, use a whale to smash boats and force the passengers to swim, and nasty sea serpents reduce boats to splinters and gobble stragglers.

The components give this a lovely tactile feel. The beach tiles sink before the forest tiles, and forest sinks before the mountains. Everything else is simple but distinctive wooden pieces.

Made by Stronghold Games with a suggested retail price of $49.99, "Survive" is an excellent way to destroy an island in a hour.

Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. He's currently a graphic arts student at the Evergreen State College, working on various art projects and game designs. Send him your questions and comments at noahhinz@gmail.com.

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