Survive: Escape from Atlantis 30th Anniversary Edition

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In Survive”, you try to lead your Explorers from the sinking central island of Atlantis to the safety of one of four islands nearby. Your Explorers can get there quickly by boat (if they find one) or more slowly by swimming. But it will be a perilous journey as they must avoid Sea Serpents, Whales, and Sharks! When the volcano on Atlantis explodes, the game is over. The player…
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Golden Pear


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • High quality components.
  • Quick turn taking.
  • Great player interaction, be that through conflict or co-operation.
  • Quick and easy to learn.

Might Not Like

  • Gameplay could get repetitive, as there isn't much variation from game to game.
  • Doesn't really allow for strategy, as the game changes so much on each turn.
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You have to go back to 1982 to when the original Escape From Atlantis board game was first released. For context, hot songs of the era were ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ by The Human League… Woah, wa-wa-woah – wait, come back! Unlike some questionable tastes of the ’80s, this game was way ahead of its time and absolutely deserves to sit alongside modern titles of today.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis is a 30th year anniversary reprint of that ’80s classic. On the whole it’s the same game, but this has received both some TLC on component quality, and some rules tweaks. Each player places 10 stranded people on the island of Atlantis (made up of terrain hexes in a modular fashion), and they have to try to get them off to the safety of neighbouring isles before Atlantis sinks.

Gameplay works on an action point allowance system, where you can have three movement actions available to you, so you may opt to move one person three times, or a variety of people once. People will be scrambling to get their people into the limited number of boats that sit on the island’s edge, and then, if they ‘control’ the boat (have the most people in one), they can move the boat towards one of the safe isles, too.

At the end of your turn, you’ll pick a tile to remove from the island’s perimeter. Any occupants on that tile don’t drown, they just ‘tread water’ for now… But that’s trouble, because now you have to obey the action stated on the tile’s reverse. This is the fun bit: the tiles might introduce extra boats on the shoreline, or maybe sea monsters – a whale that capsizes boats, a shark that eats swimmers, or a serpent that eats multiple people! You’ll quickly realise just how cutthroat Survive: Escape From Atlantis is – this is a survival game, personified.

Your turn ends with you rolling the sea monster die, and you then move the appropriate creature (away from your stranded swimmers, presumably, and towards your opponents)!

The wonderful thing about Survive: Escape From Atlantis is that at the start of the game you (and only you) know the value of each person you place (worth 1-6 points each), which is printed on their base. Once placed, you cannot then re-check their value, so you’d best remember which ones are worth more than others! You’ll only score points off any lucky people you successfully get to the other islands.

Like we said, this is a reprint by Stronghold Games, and it’s credited to the designer of the original title, Julian Courtland-Smith. We love the wooden sea creatures here: the light blue destructive whale, the ominous black shark fin, and the greedy serpents. There are other monsters in expansions available too, such as Survive: The Giant Squid that add even more fun (or terror, depending on where you’re floating in the water)…

Player Count: 2-4
Time: 45-60 minutes
Age: 8+


Survive: Escape from Atlantis pits you as a group of explorers attempting to escape from the sinking remains of Atlantis. You and up to three more players take it in turns moving your meeples to safety on one of the other adjacent islands. Sounds simple right? WRONG!

There are a limited number of boats, the island shrinks each turn, there are sharks, whales and sea monsters lurking in the depths and all the while you have got to try and remember who in your team is worth saving and who is best left to drown.

First Impressions

The first thing to note is that the artwork on the box is lovely, always a good start. Inside, everything is neatly organised and can be kept neat even once you’ve got everything out of the little bags. The components are great: from the board all the way to the meeples.

The plastic meeples, with the allocated points on the bottom, are lovely and weighty. The giant-sized board is vivid and bold. The hex-tiles are genius, with three different height levels depending on the terrain (a thin hex-tile for sand, medium for forests and thick tiles for mountains). Every component of this game has been crafted with thought and consideration and I really can’t fault the design.

The rule book is concise and clear, with great visuals to support your understanding. Also, on the side of the board, there are some nice images to help you remember some of the movement rules. After a quick read of the finer details, you are pretty much ready to dive straight in (pardon the pun).

Playing the Game

The first thing you do is build the island of Atlantis by randomly placing the 40 hex-tiles together. Each of the hex-tiles is a different thickness depending on the terrain (beach, forest and mountain). Next you place the five sea monsters into their starting positions.

To start the game you get 10 meeples, all with an allocated value from 1-6. The key to success is to remember that the winner is not the person who saves the MOST meeples, but the person who saves the highest combined value of meeples. I’ve won a game by saving only two of my 10 meeples; however, these two meeples happened to be my ‘five’ and ‘six’ value meeple. RESULT!

You then take it in turns to covertly place your different value meeples onto an unoccupied terrain tile around the island. Once your meeples are in place you may place two boats into the surrounding waters of Atlantis. Think hard about where the boats go, because you don’t want your highest value meeple hanging around waiting for a lift.

The simplicity of Survive: Escape from Atlantis is that you only ever have three moves to perform per turn, each with the overarching aim to get your meeples off the island and to safety. You could move one of your land-based meeples, you could move a boat, you could even move one of your less fortunate meeples stranded in the sea.


After your moves have been used, you get to remove a terrain tile (starting from the lowest beach tiles, until you eventually remove the thickest mountains). The fun with removing the terrain tiles is that you get to scupper your opponents’ plans by landing their meeples in the water by removing a tile they were standing on. Once in the water, the meeples have a survival rate lower than a swimmer in a Jaws movie.

On the reverse of the terrain tiles are different actions which result in spawning sharks, whales or boats; alternatively they provide you with an additional action to be played later in the game (like bonus moves, or the ability to relocate a shark, whale or sea monster).

Once the meeples have been moved and the tiles removed, the cutthroat action begins and you roll the sea creature dice. Depending on what it lands on, you can direct the allocated creature to do your bidding against your opponents. Be warned however, if you use a whale to crush an opponent boat one turn, they may well eat you with a shark later in the game.

Play proceeds with the cycle of: move three times, remove a tile and move a creature. Each player takes their turns until either all of the remaining meeples have escaped to safety, or a volcano is revealed on the reverse of one of the mountain terrain tiles. The player with the highest value meeples saved wins the game.

Sink or Swim?

Survive: Escape from Atlantis is great fun. It is so simple and yet so rewarding to play. The true enjoyment lies in trying to remember who is worth saving and trying to deduce where your opponent’s high value meeples are. Sometimes you are simply trying to eat an opponent with a shark, or crush their boats with a whale. Other times however, you and another opponent may be trying to work together by boarding the same vessel and getting it to safety as quickly as you can.

Turns are quick and everyone is engaged with what each other are doing during their turn. Are they going to help you or hinder your plans? The game creates interaction in that your choices directly affect your opponents and boy will they remember every time you’ve screwed them over. This game certainly swims and I have yet to experience a sinking feeling when playing.

Final Thoughts on Survive: Escape from Atlantis

This game has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and yet it still feels fresh and is entertaining new hobbyists today (myself included). The reprinted version of the original looks stunning and plays fantastically well for any combination of 2-4 players. Game play lasts for around 40 minutes and it truly is 40 minutes well spent.

Overall, Survive: Escape from Atlantis is highly entertaining and features everything from direct conflict to light co-operation; also, who doesn’t love controlling a sea monster? The game is beautifully crafted, plays brilliantly and is outstanding value for money. I will certainly be adding it to my ‘keep forever’ shelf.

Survive – Escape from Atlantis from Stronghold Games is a four-player game where you are competing to remove the most treasure from the sinking island. The game starts with your explorers scattered across the landscape of Atlantis and the aim is to get the explorers back to dry land before they get lost at sea. Each explorer is removing a secret number of treasures, so this means you can still win even if you have not saved as many explorers. It is the player with the highest amount of treasure that wins the game.


To setup the game you need to follow the steps below;

  • Lay the game board out so it is in reach of all players
  • Locate the 5 sea serpent tokens and place one on each matching symbol. There is one in the centre and one at each corner of the board.
  • You will now need to create the island of Atlantis. In the box you will find 16 beach tiles, 16 forest tiles and 8 mountain tiles. Place all 40 tiles randomly within the black border in the centre of the board, they should be displaying the landscape face up. It is important that players do not know what is on the other side of each tile.
  • Each Player selects a colour and takes 2 Ship Tokens and the 10 matching explorers. (If you are playing with just two players then you take two colours each)
  • Each explorer token has a number from 1 – 6 displayed underneath it which represents the amount of treasure they are carrying. Starting with the first player, you may look at the number of your explorer before placing it on an empty tile on the Atlantis landscape. It is important to note that this is the last time you can look at the number so you need to try and memorise where the high numbers are located. Taking it in turns, the explorers are placed one by one until all 10 are on the island.

Starting with the first player, each player will take turns to place a ship token on an empty sea space that is adjacent to a landscape tile of any type.

Gameplay Actions

On each players turn there are four actions that are taken in a specific order. Players will take the special action of a landscape tile that they had gained from a previous round, Move Ships or explorers, remove a landscape tile from Atlantis and finally role the creature dice and resolve the action. These actions are taken in this fixed order and will be completed each turn until the game ends.

Action 1 – Landscape Tiles

This action is not able to be taken on the first go but in subsequent turns this is the phase that you are able to play any special abilities that you have gained from tiles. You are able to play one tile per turn during this phase and take the appropriate action.

Action 2 – Explorer / Ship movements

During this phase in Survive – Escape from Atlantis , you have three spaces of movement to take with your explorers and the ships. You can use your three moves in any combination, for example, you can move the same explorer three spaces, three different explorers one space each or move an explorer one space and a ship two spaces etc.

Action 3 – Removing A Landscape Tile From Atlantis

During this phase the island of Atlantis will continue to sink, you will need to select a tile and remove it from the board. All beach tiles will need to be removed first before forest tiles and then finally the mountain tiles. When removing a tile, it must be adjacent to a sea space. If there are any explorers on the tile then they are placed directly into the sea. If a beach tile is land locked then it will need to be the last tile of the beach landscape to be removed. Without showing the other players, look at the back of the tile. If it has a green border then it has an action that has to be done immediately, if it has a red border then it is a tile that you save and can only play during action 1. If it has a red border with a red cross then it is a defensive action.

Action 4 – Dice Rolling

There are three different creatures within the game – sea serpents, whales and sharks. Each creature has different movement and associated actions. During this phase you will roll the dice and then move the associated creature in order to help your route to dry land or hinder another players.

Movement Rules & Restrictions

During Action 2 of each turn, you can make movements of explorers and ships, however, there are specific movement rules that needs to be complied with.


There are different restrictions on movements of explorers depending on where they are located on the board. If they are still on a landscape tile then they can be moved to adjacent tile or move to an adjacent ship. Explorers on land can move up to three spaces, however, if an explorer is in a sea space (known as a swimmer) then they can only move 1 space per round. An explorer can move into the sea or onto a ship but they cannot return to land. A swimmer can only move into a ship if it is sharing the same space. Once the game begins; explorers can share the same spaces and occupy the same tiles.


The ships are used as a quicker way to get your explorers to dry land. The ships can carry a maximum of 3 explorers at a time but can move around with any number and can also be relocated if they are empty. The ships do not belong to any particular players and can be used by whoever gets there first! The ships can be moved a total of one space per action (total of three per turn). If the ship is empty then any player can move them, however, if the ship is occupied then the player who owns the majority of the explorers is the only player that can use their actions to move the ship. If there is an equal split then either player can move the ship. If you move the ship into the same space as a whale or a sea serpent then the consequences still occur.

Be Aware Of The Creatures!

The creatures can be a blocker to your progress and can result in explorers being removed from the game. During the 4th action of your turn, you will roll the dice and take creature actions. Creatures can share spaces with other creatures, explorers and ships but cannot travel across land.

Sea Serpents

Sea serpents can only move one space at a time, if they move into a space with a boat or a swimmer then they are completely removed from the game.


A shark can move up to two spaces, if they end their movement in a space with swimmers then they are removed from the game. If the explorers are in a ship, then nothing happens.


A whale can move up to three spaces and if they end their turn on a space with a ship then the whale will capsize it. The explorers will turn into swimmers and the boat will be removed from the game. Nothing happens if a whale shares a space with a swimmer.

Tile Actions

When a tile in Survive – Escape from Atlantis is removed from Atlantis there are different special abilities. If they have a green border then they are actioned immediately. This can include adding a creature to the space that the tile was removed from, adding in a new ship or creating whirlpools that remove creatures, explorers and ships from the board. A red bordered tile is saved and can be played once per turn. The different actions can include helping your swimmer or ship move faster or relocating creatures to valid spaces. There are two tile types that have a red border with a cross and these are defensive tiles that will protect you from shark or whale attacks. Each action is represented with an illustration but the back of the rule book gives a clear explanation of what the action is and when it can be used.

Escaping With The Most Treasure

When the explorers reach one of the four corners of the board they can be moved onto dry land and will stay there until the end of the game. The four corners are equal in worth and any player can move to any corner. These explorers are now safe and have escaped the dangers of the sea creatures. The end of the game is triggered when a volcano is revealed under the tile of a mountain landscape. The volcano erupts and any tokens (explorers, ships, creatures and landscapes) that are still on Atlantis or in the sea are removed from the game. The players will then total up how much treasure they have manged to gain from Atlantis. The explorers will be turned upside down to reveal the number, these are then totalled up and the player with the most points wins!

Alternative Gameplay

Survive – Escape from Atlantis provides several alternatives to make the game different or more challenging. This includes explorers sharing tiles during setup, ignoring the volcano and playing until all tiles have disappeared, ignoring the treasure numbers and the majority of explorers saved is the winner or continue playing until all explorers either make it to dry land or are removed from the game. These alternatives give you an opportunity to change up peoples tactics and make the game more replayable. The main rules however, do give a lot of room for strategy so go and find the treasure but beware not to run in to too many creatures or the expedition will be in danger of succeeding!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • High quality components.
  • Quick turn taking.
  • Great player interaction, be that through conflict or co-operation.
  • Quick and easy to learn.

Might not like

  • Gameplay could get repetitive, as there isn't much variation from game to game.
  • Doesn't really allow for strategy, as the game changes so much on each turn.