ESCAPE FROM ATLANTIS: Board game review

Posted: November 8, 2015 in Vault of Board Games!!!!!
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Welcome weary traveller. I have a story to tell, one of adventure, harrowing danger and great consequence. One that a traveller like you may have dreamt about in but a dream but never experienced in person. Take a seat and listen to my tale if you will, for I am but a lonely old man who lost all that he once loved and who he once was back in his homeland of Atlantis;

I see in your eyes that you’ve heard of the magical place of Atlantis. It was once a kingdom of beauty and prosperity. A place where man stood side by side as equals, not as enemies. I was born there and lived a happy life. It was there I met my beloved. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I had eyes only for her and she only for me. It wasn’t long before I fathered a daughter. Together the three of us lived a life that was perfect. We thought nothing could take that away from us.

I sat watching my beloved and my daughter, noticing that the temperature had begun to drop. Growing up on this island, I knew that this was an early sign of a storm approaching. I called out to my family as a bolt of lightning hit the ground not 50 yards from where I am. Startled my beloved turned to me and saw the look of panic that crossed my face. I motioned for her to come, to get to me. She scooped up our daughter and began to run towards me. That’s when the hail began. Large chunks of ice fell from the sky, smashing into the ground below. I swung myself around as a chunk struck me in the back, knocking me to the ground. Feeling around I noticed a dampness emanating from my wound. Blood. Lifting myself to my feet I see my beloved by my side. ‘We have to go’ I tell her and she nods. Where would we go? At that moment another bolt of lightning crashed against the island, followed by another.

Supporting myself with my beloved, I push myself forward towards the hilltop. The hail had stopped but that simply meant we were in the eye of the storm. Was it a storm or was it something else?  We stood on the hill top looking down on the port. Chaos echoed below us. Lightning still struck the island, causing flames and panic. People were running to the boats, knowing only to depart the danger. A deep rumbling made my beloved and I turn . The land that we had once known cracked and trembled sending panic across my beloved’s face. I grab her and pull her down the hill towards the port. As we ran, she held our daughter against her chest. Pain coursed through my back as my blood ran flowed freely from my wound.

Behind us we heard a tremendous crashing as the earth vanished to the raging sea below. The darkened sky illuminated by the lightning that ignited the chaos in which we found ourselves. As we reached the port and fought our way through the panicking Atlanteans we saw that most of the boats had departed. Feeling our time was soon to come, we rushed to the nearest boat. I ran on first but was quickly pulled onto the deck by the surge. My beloved’s hand letting go of mine, I turned to see the plank thrown overboard leaving the other Atlanteans to the fate of the island.  

My family! Were they on board? I ran to the side of the boat and looked over the side as the boat turned to starboard to begin its hasty escape. There at the front of the crowd I saw my beloved and my daughter. My heart dropped. A tear in her eye as she waved. She knew this was her end. I tried to jump over the side of the boat but a fellow passenger grabbed my shoulders. ‘Let me go’ I screamed.’ The man looked me in the eye, then seeing my wife, ‘ We’ve lost enough of us, there’s no sense in losing another. She wouldn’t want that.’ I fell to the deck crying as I heard the final bit of earth erupt beneath the port. The screams we short as they pierced the storm. I grabbed my ears tight not wanting to hear, not wanting to accept. The boat had escaped but the storm still raged around us. Suddenly a nearby boat exploded in a crash of wood. A Kraken from the depths surfaced from beneath it. We all gasped in terror. To our port side another beast erupted from the ocean, a large serpent, a horror beyond description.  We could see land in the distance, not too far, it was our only hope. The beasts did not follow, they stayed around what once remained of our beloved home. We were safe, we had escaped.

That is where my tale ends, although it is an experience I feel every night. Part of me hopes my beloved and my daughter survived the chaos and our living out the rest of their days in happiness. But the other part knows that this probably isn’t the case. Either way I know that my heart still lies with them.

A tale such as this, is one that I myself lived out as I pulled out and played the classic board game ‘Escape From Atlantis’. A game for 2-4 players, the aim is to get your Atlanteans from the crumbling isle to the safety of the corner of the board. This can be done by ship, or by risking your life by swimming there under your own steam.

The game begins with the construction of the island in the centre of the map. It’s very much an old fashioned game where you have large plastic pieces that help to get you into the atmosphere of the game.  Each player then places his little figures onto the island until all are placed. Then comes the simple yet perfect gameplay. On your turn you can move 3 spaces in any direction (although it is advised to head for the coast as the island is collapsing.), but the catch is that after you move, you have to remove a piece of land starting from the edge of the island. Beneath it could be a symbol. A shark spawns a shark that eats any players that fall on it, a serpent that destroys boats and people, a kraken which only harms boats, a dolphin who protects players and a whirlpool that destroys each square directly around it.  It’s a simple mechanic but one that can be hilarious in the chaos it can cause.

In our first game, each player lost all but a few our Atlanteans due to drawing constant whirlpools. It is a brutal game that holds no hands, and doesn’t try to make friends. While not co-operative per say there will be a few times that players have to work together to get the boats to dry land with one another.  A dice is rolled at the end of the turn which tells the player which of the creatures that have spawned moves this turn. This is where you can get mean and just send them towards other players. My friends and I played it slightly different and moved the creatures towards the closest person, even if that happened to be yourself. We felt it worked better and added more ‘realism’ to the proceedings.

The game ends when there are no more Atlanteans. They have either escaped or died. The players add up their survivors and as with most games the one with the highest number wins.

It really is a simple (even if I’ve described in in the most complicated way) game which is a great way of wasting a large chunk of time. It’s great to play games like this from the 90’s where there are lots of cool plastic pieces. The version We have is one of the older releases with these pieces and some epically cool box art that just gets you in the mood.

If you like board games you could do far worse than this and I believe that most people will have a genuinely great time with this game.

So what do you say traveller, would you too like to experience the danger and the peril that lay in store in ‘ESCAPE FROM ATLANTIS?

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