How to Play Survive: Escape from Atlantis – Board Game Setup

Survive Escape from Atlantis
It’s a mad dash to escape from an island that’s poised to explode. Toss in shark-infested waters, ship wrecking whales, and deadly sea serpents, pepper in some occasional sabotage, and you’ve got a recipe for a truly epic board game!
Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a relatively unknown 2 to 4 player board game that’s easy to learn, relatively inexpensive, lasts about an hour, and incredibly addictive for both kids and adults.
The objective of this Plato-inspired board game is to rescue as many of your explorers off an island as it slowly “sinks” into the ocean and before it eventually explodes!

Gameplay: 45 to 60 minutes
Age: 8+
Players: 2 to 4
Transportability: Low
Difficulty to Learn: Low
Setup Time: 5 minutes
Expansions: Yes
Price: $40 – $45

Survive Escape from Atlantis

Survive: Escape from Atlantis Board Game Contents

So, what comes in the Survive: Escape from Atlantis box? Well, the board game consists of the following:

  • One large game board
  • 40 hexagonal terrain tiles representing sand, forest, and mountains
  • 4 sets of 10 colored explorer meeples
  • Shark, whale, sea serpent, and boat pieces
  • Sea creature dice
  • Printed set of instructions
All the components are made from high quality materials. The board itself is simple, yet the graphics and the pieces are designed with a lot of precision.

CAUTION: Because this board game has a lot of small pieces that are choking hazards, the suggested age for playing is 8 years old and up.

Board Game Setup

Setting up a game of Survive is very simple, and only takes a few minutes.

To setup the board game:

  1. Open the board and randomly arrange the hexagonal-shaped terrain tiles onto the game board. A thick border signifies the outer edge of the island.
  2. Each player is given their explorer meeples and 2 boats.
  3. Players take turns placing their explorers on the island, initially maintaining one explorer per tile.
  4. The boats are then placed in turns, along with the sea serpents (we call them krakens) onto their respective sea spaces.

And now, you’re ready to play. Let the madness begin!

Survive Rules

The rules for the Survive board game are very simple and easy to follow. However, there are a few unique and important details you need to know when playing.

The complete rules for Survive can be found here.


Gameplay consists of following 4 sequenced actions on your turn:
  • Action 1 

Play a red-edged tile in your hand. At the beginning of the game this action is skipped since no one has any red-edged tiles.

  • Action 2 – 

Move your explorers and/or boats up to 3 spaces. You can only move empty boats or boats where you occupy an equal or majority number of positions.

  • Action 3 

Remove a terrain tile, starting with all non land-locked sand tiles, then forest, then mountain.

Any terrain tiles that you remove that are green-edged must be revealed immediately. Green-edged tiles can reveal anything, from a shark, to a whale, or even a whirl-pool.

Red-edged terrain tiles are to be kept secret and can be played before your next turn or in defense. Some red-edged tiles can move your boat up to 3 sea spaces before your regular three moves. Or can summon a helpful dolphin to help you swim 3 sea spaces. They can also cancel a shark or whale attack from an opposing player.

  • Action 4

Rolling the sea creature dice and moving the respective sea creature. Krakens can move up to 1 sea space, sharks move up to 2 spaces, and whales move up to 3 spaces. Sharks eat people in the water but don’t affect boats, whereas whales destroy boats by don’t affect people. Krakens wreak havoc and destroy boats and people. Pretty standard Jaws / Moby Dick / Pirates of the Caribbean rules.

Players take turns clockwise, following the 4 sequenced actions until the volcano, which is one of the mountain tiles, is revealed which ends the game.

Throughout the game players attempt to ferry their explorers to safety while avoiding whales and krakens. But, you don’t necessarily have to rely on the boats. Explorers can attempt to swim to safety.

Numbered Explorers & Memorization

Explorers are marked with a number indicating how many points they are worth. Only at the beginning of the game do you see this number, so memorization is an asset!

Explorers in the Water

Explorers, once in the water, can’t move back onto land and can only move one sea space per turn. However, if a boat occupies the same sea space as an explorer, they can board the ship, which counts as one move. Also, only one boat can occupy each sea space.

Moving Sea Creatures

When moving sea creatures, once they cross a sea space with a destroyable object, they stop. A red-edged tile played to negate the effects of a sea creature removes the sea creature from the board.

End of Game & Scoring

As I mentioned, the game ends when volcano tile is revealed. Players then tally up the points indicated on the bottom of their explorers who made it safely to shore at the corners of the board. The player with the most points wins!

Survive Strategy & Tips

Survive isn’t that complicated to play. Yet, the randomness of the tiles, and the competing strategies of the players, results in a very dynamic game.

It’s all about navigating the waters effectively, using advantages correctly, and perhaps invoking the right to parley.

My Strategy

Sometimes, I tend to purposefully not occupy a majority of the positions on boats to entice others to climb on. That way we can work together to move the boat on our turns.

Other times, I maximize my explorers on boats and make a b-line for land. This usually puts a larger target on my back, but I can fill these boats with low scoring explorers as a diversion.

Pro-tip: It’s hard to completely memorize the positions all your explores, but try to keep track of at least your 6, 5 and 4 point explorers. They should be given a lot more attention compared to the others.


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