Radio Review #84 – Survive: Space Attack

 

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(2015 – Stronghold Games)

 

“Goodbye to all my friends….goodbye to people I’ve trusted….”

 

Originally released in 1982 from Parker Brothers, Survive! was eventually redesigned, combining elements from Survive and those found in another 1980’s release, Julian Courtland-Smith’s Escape From Atlantis. The new game, conveniently titled Survive: Escape From Atlantis (also designed by Courtland-Smith), was distributed by Stronghold Games in 2011, and saw players attempt to successfully ferry their inhabitants off of the sinking island of Atlantis, all while encountering sea serpents, sharks, whales, and even squids and dolphins (included with future expansions). The highly cutthroat game has risen pretty far within the board game community, currently settled in the top 200 ranked games on BoardGameGeek as of this writing, which in many ways can be considered a classic.

One of Stronghold Games’ most popular franchises at the moment revolves around its family of Space Cadet titles (Space Cadets, Space Cadets: Dice Duel, and Space Cadets: Away Missions), two of these three designed by the Engelstien family; Geoff, Brian, and Sydney Engelstein. While not a Space Cadets title, Survive: Space Attack takes the rules and mechanics found in Survive: Escape From Atlantis, and combines it with the galaxy trucking themes prevalent throughout the Space Cadet titles.

In Survive: Space Attack, each player controls a set of crewmembers, inhabiting an outpost space station that is being destroyed, piece by piece. Players will attempt to load their players into numerous escape pods and fighter ships, ferrying them to jumpoints located in the four corners of the board. Each crew members has a hidden value on the bottom of their token. On a player’s turn, he’ll also be able to control the movement of various aliens around the board, attempting to destroy opponent’s crew members and ships, as well as choose the next tile of the space station to remove. These tiles have hidden abilities on the bottom that the player can use at certain points during the game. After the space station has been completely destroyed, the players total up the values on their rescued crewmembers, and the player with the most points wins.

 

 

 

Components:

– Survive Space Attack game board

 

– Space Station tiles

 

– Creature tokens & die

 

– Fighter Ships

 

– Escape Pods

 

– Laser Turret markers

 

– Player Crew Members (a set for each player color)

 

 

 

Setup:

The game board has been designed for quick setup, as spaces on the board are printed and highlighted with icons and borders of where tokens and markers will go to begin the game. At the beginning of the game, all of the Space Station tiles are shuffled together, and randomly placed face down within the white-bordered area at the center of the game board. This area is considered the Space Station and will be the location from which player’s crews are attempting to escape from as it falls apart.

Four of these face down Space Station tiles are considered Reactor tiles, represented by a blue triangular icon on the back of the tile. At the beginning of the game, a Laser Turret marker is placed on each of these tiles.

Next, a Queen creature tile is placed at the appointed center space of this Space Station, along with four other spaces designated by icons on the outer areas of the game board.

Each player receives a set of 10 Crew Members and 2 Escape Pods. Each crew member has a value at the bottom ranging from 1 to 6. Players will use their escape pods to shuttle their crew members off of the space station towards a jump point, which are located in each of the four corners of the board. The higher the valued crew member that reaches these jump points, the more Victory Points the player will receive. Each Escape Pod can hold up to 3 crew members at a time.

Beginning with the Start Player and moving clockwise, each player will place one of their Crew Members on an unoccupied space station tile. This continues until all players have placed all 10 of their Crew Members on the board.

Finally, each player (beginning with the Start Player) will place an Escape Pod on an unoccupied space outside of the Space Station area that is directly adjacent to a Space Station tile. This continues until all players have placed both of their Escape Pods on the board. All other components including other creature markers, the creature die, and ships are placed near the central play area. After setup is complete, the game should look something like this:

 

 

 

 

Gameplay:

In Survive: Space Attack, players will perform a turn that consists of four possible phases; the Placement Phase, the Movement Phase, the Station Phase, and the Die Phase. After a player has resolved the required phases of his turn, play goes to the next player, and so on. Let’s take a look at what these phases consists of and how they work.

 

 

I. The Placement Phase

Players will be able to control where the alien creatures moves at the end of their turn. During the game players may have the opportunity to capture these creatures and set them in front of their personal play area. I’ll explain more about how this works later on in the review, but it’s important to note that at the beginning of a player’s turn, he has the option to play any of his captured alien creatures onto unoccupied spaces of the game board before continuing with his turn.

 

 

II. The Movement Phase

After the player has either placed previously captured alien creatures onto the board or chosen to skip this step, the next thing he has the option of doing is moving. The player is given three movement points to either move his individual crew members, move escape pods/ fighter ships he controls, and/or fire turrets.

Crew members can be moved to adjacent station tiles, from a station tile to an adjacent escape pod/fighter ship, or from an escape pod/fighter ship to an adjacent escape pod/fighter ship. It’s important to note however, that once a crew member has left the space station, that crew member can not return to the station.

If a crew member is ever ends up on a space of the board that does not include a space station tile and he is not in either an escape pod or a fighter ship, he is considered a drifter in outer space. Crew members that are drifters can only be moved a max 1 space on the player’s turn. If a drifter ever ends up on a space with a Queen or Spawn alien creature, he is destroyed and removed from the game.

Players can load their crew members onto escape pods and fighter ships as long as there is an available space on them. Each escape pod can carry up to three crew members, and each fighter ship can carry only one. Players will attempt to move their crew members to one of the four corners of the game board.

There are two stargate spaces per jump point corner space. Escape pods and fighter ships can occupy these stargate spaces in order to unload crew members. Multiple players can have crew members in the same escape pod, however the player with most crew members in a particular escape pod is considered the controller of the ship and is the only player that can move it. If there is a tie based on majority, then all players are allowed to move it on their turn.

If an escape pod ever finds itself on a space with a Queen or Warrior alien creature, the escape pod is destroyed and all crew members are now drifters. After the escape pod is destroyed and removed from the game, if this space contains a Queen or Spawn alien creature, the crew members would also be destroyed.

For instance, the following escape pod finds itself on a space with a Warrior alien creature. The Warrior would destroy the escape pod, leaving the three occupant crew members as drifters in space. If the Warrior had been a Queen however, not only would the Queen had destroyed the escape pod, but she also destroys any drifters on her same space. Therefore once the crew members had been turned into drifters, they too would have been destroyed and removed from the game.

 

While escape pods can only be moved from one space to the next adjacent space, fighter ships can move any number of spaces in a straight line for 1 movement point (with some restrictions). It can never pass through or end up on a space containing a space station tile. It can however move through other fighter ship and escape pods, though it can not end its movement on that space. When a fighter ship moves on a space with an alien creature, it must ends its movement and the controlling player captures any and all alien creatures from that space, placing them in front of his personal play area. These are the creatures that the player will be allowed to place back out during the Placement Phase on his future turns.

Queen and Warrior creatures can still destroy a fighter ship (this resolves the same way as with the escape pod), but only if they move into a space with a fighter ship. If the fighter ship moves into a space with the creatures, the player captures the creatures. Players are actually allowed to move fighter ships even if they have no crew members occupying them. However, in this case, the player does not capture an alien creature if the ship is moved into a space containing them.

The green player currently has a crew member in a fighter ship (as seen above). Using a single movement point, he can move his fighter ship in a straight, direct line to the new location, seen below. Because he ended his movement in a space with a Queen, he is allowed to collect that creature and place it in front of himself, for use later.

 

Alien creatures can also be captured with the use of Turrets. When a crew member occupies a station tile with a turret present, that player can spend 1 movement point to fire the turret. As with moving a fighter ship, the turret can fire in a straight line, as many spaces as the player chooses, until it comes into contact with a space with an Alien creature. All alien creatures on that space are then captured by the player that fired the turret.

For instance, the blue player currently has a crew member on the station space with a turret, seen above. He could fire in a direct line to the southeast to hit the space with a Queen and a Spawn currently on it. He would collect both of these creatures and place them in front of him, to be used during the Placement Phase on a future turn.

 

During the Movement Phase, players can also play any number red station tiles from their hand. As we’ll see in the next phase, players will remove station tiles and collect them into their hand from the game board. The bottom of these tiles will reveal different colors and special abilities. For now, just know that all red tiles can be played during the Movement Phase. They can be played at any time during the Movement Phase, no matter whether movement points have been spent yet or not. Let’s take a look at the 8 various red tiles and what they can do:

When playing the tile to the far left, the player can move a drifter onto any adjacent space station tile. Normally crew members can not return to the space station once they’ve left, but this tile will allow them to do so.

When playing the 2nd tile to the left, the player can choose any two crewmembers on the space station (doesn’t even have to be his own) and swap their places with each other.

The next tile will allow a player to teleport any creature to any unoccupied space.

The tile to the far right will allow the player take an unused Warrior and Spawn creature, and place them on the board. The Warrior is placed in a space adjacent to a Queen, and a Spawn in a space adjacent to another Queen. If there are no unused Warriors or Spawns, then the player can choose those already on the game board to use.

When playing the tile to the far left, the player can swap the places of two crew members on escape pods and/or fighter ships (doesn‘t have to be your own).

When playing the 2nd tile to the left, the player can move an empty escape pod or fighter ship to any unoccupied space.

The tile in the middle will allow the player to fire any turret, even if he doesn’t have a crew member there.

When playing the next tile to the right, the player is allowed to move any fighter (even if he doesn’t control it) and will keep any creatures captured.

Finally, when a player plays the tile to the far right, he can move a drifter onto a ship that is located in the same space as the drifter, or in an adjacent space. This type of movement is not normally allowed, except for with this tile.

 

 

III. The Station Phase

After a player has performed his desired movement, he will remove a station tile from the board and add it to his hand. Players can only remove a station tile if it is adjacent on at least one open space (meaning a space with no station tile). If any crew members were located on a tile when it is removed, they have now become drifters. Each station tile has an icon indicated when it can be removed from the space station.

– Cargo Bay tiles have three small yellow sparks depicted on them. All Cargo Bay tiles must be removed first.

– After all Cargo Bay tiles have been removed, players will begin to remove the Habitat tiles, represented by a red circle on them.

– Next, all Bridge tiles are removed. These station tiles include green squares on them.

– Finally, there are four Reactor station tiles. These are to be removed last. One of these tiles includes a Core Breach explosion on its opposite side. When this particular tile is drawn, the game immediately ends and all crew members and ships that have not reached one of the four corners of the game board are destroyed.

When a tile is removed from the game board and goes into the player’s hand, if it has a green border on its opposite side, it is immediately played and resolves. One of these is the Core Breach tile that we just discussed. Let’s take a look at the other green tiles:

When revealing the tile to the far left, the player will place a fighter ship onto the space where the station tile was just removed. If crew members are present on this space, the player can choose one of them to occupy the fighter ship.

Similarly, when the revealing the tile in the center, the player will place an escape pod onto the space where the station tile was just removed. If crewmembers are present on this space, the player will choose up to three to occupy the escape pod.

When revealing the tile to the far right, the player will place this black hole on the space where the station tile was just removed. This black hole destroys all crew members, alien creatures, escape pods, and fighter ships from the space it is on, as well as all adjacent open spaces to it.

When revealing the tile to the far left, a Spawn token is placed on the space where the station tile was removed. If drifters are located on that space, they are destroyed and removed from the game.

Similarly, when revealing the tile in the center, a Warrior token is placed on the space where the station tile was removed.

The green tile to the far right is the aforementioned Core Breach tile. As explained before, when this tile is revealed, all crew members who have not reached one of the four corners of the board are immediately destroyed and the game ends.

 

 

IV. The Die Phase

The final step of a player’s turn is rolling the Creature Die. This die contains two facings for each of the three different alien creatures (Queens, Spawns, and Warriors). After rolling the die, the player can move a creature matching the rolled result in an attempt to attack other player’s crew.

When a Queen result is rolled, the player can move a Queen to an adjacent open space (one not containing a station tile). If you’ll remember, when a Queen enters a space, it will destroy and escape pods, fighter ships, and/or crew members.

When a Spawn is rolled, the player can move a Spawn up to two spaces, though if it enters a space with drifters, its movement immediately ends, and all of these crew members are destroyed.

When a Warrior is rolled, the player can move a Warrior up to three spaces, though if it enters a space with an occupied escape pod or fighter ship, its movement immediately ends, and these ships are destroyed. Any present crew members will then become drifters.

During the Die Phase, players can also play any blue station tiles from their hand. After rolling the Creature Die, players can play a blue tile to help them move extra spaces or manipulate the type of creature that will be moved. Let’s take a look at these four tiles and what they can do:

When playing the tile to the far left, the player can move his creature an extra space during its movement.

When playing the 2nd tile from the left, the player can turn a Warrior into a Spawn, or a Spawn into a Warrior.

When playing the next tile to the right, the player can turn a Spawn into a Queen, or a Warrior into a Queen.

When playing the tile to the far right, the player can turn a Queen into a Spawn, or a Queen into a Warrior.

For instance, Player B has rolled a Queen creature on the die. There is currently a Warrior next to an escape pod full of crew members. Normally, if he had rolled a Warrior and moved it into this space, it would destroy the escape pod, but would leave the crew members are drifters. Warriors do not effect crew members, on escape pods and fighter ships.

 

However, Player B plays a blue station tile that will allow him to turn this Warrior into a Queen before resolving his movement. Once doing so, he moves the new Queen one space into the adjacent space with the escape pod and crew. Because of being a Queen, both the ship and crew members are immediately destroyed.

 

 

 

 

Yellow Tiles

While most tiles are tied to being played during a certain phase (red – Movement Phase, green – Station Phase, and blue – Die Phase), there are a group of yellow tiles that players may receive as well. These tiles can be played at any time during the game in response to a particular event happening, as depicted on the tile itself. Let’s take a look at these:

As seen on the far left, when a Spawn creature would attack a drifter, a player can play this tile in order to block the attack. He will then move the Spawn creature up to three spaces. The creature will resolve its attack on the space it ends on, if applicable.

The 2nd tile to the left shows that when a Warrior creature would attack a ship, a player can play this tile in order to block the attack. He will then move the Warrior creature up to four spaces. The Warrior will resolve its attack on the new ending space, if applicable.

The next tile to the right shows that when a Queen creature would attack a ship and/or drifters, a player can play this tile in order to block the attack. He will then move the Queen creature up to two spaces. As with the Spawn and Warrior creatures, the Queen will resolve its attack on the new ending space, if applicable.

The final tile to the far right can be played when an opposing player would capture creatures on his turn. The player can then play this tile to receive those captured creatures instead, essentially stealing them from the opposing player.

 

 

 

End-Game Conditions:

As mentioned before, one of the Reactor tiles contains a Core Breach. When this tile is revealed, all crew members and ships that have not already made it to one of the four jump points (corners of the game board) are immediately destroyed and the game ends. Players will total the number of Victory Points listed on the bottom of their crew members that were able to make it out safely. They’ll also receive a bonus Victory Point for each corner that they had one of their crew members in. The player with the highest total wins the game!

 

 

 

Thoughts:

Obviously when reimagining a classic, the new title is bound to be compared to its predecessor. Stronghold has done a thorough job of keeping the feel and simplicity found in the original Survive, while introducing quite a bit of new elements within Survive: Space Attacks. For instance, where the original used boats to “ferry” people off of the island, the new title’s counterpart were the escape pods. However, Stronghold’s also introduced single piloted vessels called fighters that can capture enemies and allow players to redistribute them later in the game. The introduction of turrets as defensive counters to enemies also allows players to capture these tokens.

Another difference is the added complexity found within the actions available on the bottom of the station tiles. While the original game contain tile actions used for adding enemies to the board, moving enemies/boats, and countering enemies attacks, many of these were simplistic versions of the actions that can be found in Survive: Space Attack. Being able to swap crew members from different ships, evolve enemy creatures, teleport enemy creatures onto any empty space, amongst many others are abilities not found in the original.

There are other minor differences, such as gaining an additional victory point for each corner you have a crew member in at the end of the game, and the thickness of the different types of tiles giving the play area a more 3-D look. But for the most part, those that enjoyed the original should enjoy the rethemed space version just as much. The original game still exists within the box of Survive: Space Attack, though with a bit more complexity and chaos added in. There’ll probably be debate on whether that makes for a more interesting game, or that Survive: Escape From Atlantis was better off with its more simplistic model. However, the great thing being that gamers have the choice of deciding between the two games based on what they’re looking for. If you’ve played the original Survive and found it to be a bit too simplistic, then Survive: Space Attack might be just up your alley.

 

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