Escape From Atlantis

4.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2 – 4

Year of Publication: 1986

Creator(s): Julian Courtland-Smith

Escape This:

You have to imagine the Jaws music
You have to imagine the Jaws music

So I thought I’d open with that just to get your attention. Escape from Atlantis is a game that’s really up there for me, it’s just really good fun. I remember if from when I was a child; I can’t remember exactly where we used to play it, either my Grandma or my Godmother had a copy, but I used to love it. Now, my sister being the wonderful person she is, bought me an original copy of the 1986 publication, complete and in very good condition, off the internet for my birthday. Naturally since then we’ve played it more times than any other game we’ve played recently.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff.
The Stuff.
  1. A playing board.
  2. A instruction booklet
  3. An Atlantean Swirler
  4. 7 Grey (rock) land tiles
  5. 12 Green (hills) land tiles
  6. 18 Yellow (sand) land tiles
  7. 6 Sea Monster Pieces
  8. 6 Shark Pieces
  9. 6 Octopus Pieces
  10. 6 Dolphin Pieces
  11. 12 Boats
  12. 48 wooded play pieces divided in two twelve set of four colours (Blue, Yellow, Green and Red)

Playing The Game:

Objective: To save more of your Atlanteans than any of the other players by the time one player saves their last surviving piece.

The board at the start of the game.
The board at the start of the game.

You start the game by setting up the island in the middle and then taking turns placing your pieces on it. You can only have one piece occupying each yellow space at the beginning of the game. You then each place a boat on a space adjacent to the island.

The board after all pieces are placed.

Then you start movement, each player can move three spaces per turn. These three spaces can be used on one man, or split across any combination. They can also be used to move un-manned boats or boats you have control of. You have control of a boat if there are more of your men in the boat than any other players, you share control if you both have one piece in it; meaning you both can move it. If you only have one piece to another players two you cannot then move the boat. Men who’re in the water (not in a boat) can only move one space per turn but three moves still apply so you can use the other two to move something else.

Yellow has control as there's only one red piece in the boat.
Yellow has control as there’s only one red piece in the boat.

The next phase of your go after movement is to take a piece of the island away. Each piece of island has a symbol on the underside representing one of the following; A whirlpool which sucks everything on adjacent spaces (that aren’t land pieces or on land pieces) in and destroys them, a sea monster, a shark, an octopus, a dolphin or a boat; these are all created on the uncovered sea space. Any men that were on the removed land tile are moved to the closest available space on the island – unless it’s the last piece, then they’re cast into the sea. The yellow land tiles are removed first followed by the green then the grey.

The symbol is a triangle which means shark, so a shark has been placed in the space the land tile was on.
The symbol is a triangle which means shark, so a shark has been placed in the space the land tile was on.

The last phase of a players move is to spin the Atlantean swirler. This shows either a; sea monster, octopus, shark or dolphin and the numbers 1 -3 and the letter D. This indicates that you can move the relevant sea creature the relevant number of spaces or if it says D (meaning dive) you can move the creature to any unoccupied space on the board. The sea creatures are the fun part of the game, if you move a sea monster onto a space with a boat or swimmers in it will eat the lot, if you move a shark onto a space with swimmers it will eat them but it will not eat boats, octopuses will only destroy boats and make everyone in them swimmers but will let them live and dolphins are friendly and will carry a swimmer to safety at the cost of the player next three moves.

Dolphins save lives!
Dolphins save lives!

As the island disintegrates and more monsters appear, more pieces end up in the water and so the game becomes much more fun! The winner is the person with the  MOST pieces on the coral islands in the corners when the first player runs out of pieces either by saving them or having them eaten. Now, while the rules don’t specifically state this, we decided this meant no suicides as it could be beneficial to kill your own men off (by swimming them into sea monster/sharks or the other way around) when you have the most men on the islands. We decided this was not in the spirit of survival and should not be allowed.

The end of the game.
The end of the game.


The primary strategy to this game is… DON’T GET EATEN! But there are a few other things to consider; like it’s always useful to make someone else save your pieces by putting it is as a tag along/third man in a boat controlled by someone else. Also dolphins are your friends. The best tactic I think is to remember to move not just to aid your escape but to move to hinder the other persons; move empty boats away from the island, block the escape island entrances with sea creatures (preferably sea monsters) and destroy land pieces that hinder the other players as much as possible.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. The game was originally released under the title Survive! in the USA.

    Original Survive! Picture lovingly borrowed from Wikipedia.
    Original Survive! Picture lovingly borrowed from Wikipedia.
  2. It was released like this in 1982 but was remade with 3D pieces to the addition we own and released in the UK with revised rules in 1986.
  3. In the original game the island was built at random in the middle and pieces where removed at random (as you might be able to see from the picture) which resulted in the island sinking in an less-uniform manor.
  4. From 1987 the game sold in many countries, in many languages including Finnish, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, French and German.
  5. In 2010 Stronghold Games announced they where going to reprint Escape from Atlantis and title it Survive! Escape from Atlantis. Which they did in February 2011.
  6. In June 2012 they then released Survive! Escape from Atlantis – 30th anniversary Edition with revised rules and a slightly altered theme involving the explorers actually finding Atlantis and then having to escape from it.
  7. French publisher Asmodee released the game under the title The Island in 2012.
  8. Stronghold Games released three expansions for the Survive: Escape from Atlantis! – 30th Anniversary Edition in 2013 called: 5-6 Player Mini Expansion Kit plus Dolphins & Dive Dice Expansion Kit and The Giant Squid Expansion Kit and because of these this version of the game and the expansions must be added to our Game we Want page.
  9. The game has won best family game of the year 2012 as well as “2012 Juego del Ano Finalist” (what ever that means exactly… Some sort of finalist for something)
  10. World sales of Escape from Atlantis now exceed 1.25 million units.

To Conclude:

This game is up there with my favourites, it’s a classic that’s just really, really good fun. I will have to get the new one to compare it, so expect a post on that when I do. However never forget the fallen:

To quote a terrible Star Wars film: "the death toll is catastrophic".
To quote a terrible Star Wars film: “the death toll is catastrophic”.

One thought on “Escape From Atlantis

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