I finally have the chance to write about one of my favourite games. We have played this more than any other game as a family, with friends and as a couple. It has a lot going on but it’s actually really easy to learn. The base game is perfect as it is, and you don’t need the expansions but we still sometimes like to play using them for variety, especially the 5 – 6 player expansion.
My oldest autistic son was really excited to play this one when I picked it for game night, especially when I told him I really wanted to use the expansions this time. We cooked a lot of pizzas and put loads of snacks up the table, always scary for me, letting kids have food when playing a game. I recommend threatening them with jobs around the home if they get any pizza on the board.
Setup took a lot longer than I was expecting, my youngest autistic son really wanted to take his time placing his meeples down and he wanted to be as close to his mums as possible. Each turn on meeple placement involved a lot of encouragement, or we would all still be waiting for him to finish now. Everyone else was really quick getting their meeples and boats where they wanted them.
I had to look up the rules again even though we have played Survive a lot, as I can never remember all the rules to any games after playing so many games over the years. Playing Survive with the kids can go either way, the kids will be OK with the others destroying their boat as they are just about to make it to safety on an island before the others get the rest with sharks. Or they will argue and scream that isn’t fair, ‘you got me already on your last turn’. It can be hard to referee them sometimes when playing any game.
Sometimes we forgot to add a squid when we put a whale on the board, also forget sometimes that can move them instead of a whale. For this I recommend leaving a reminder close to the board, either the expansion booklet or some other reminder.
I was worried about arguments and our youngest being able to play using rules, this is why I really wanted to have loads of food up the table which sometimes helps distract them from killing each other. At first our youngest was happy to play using the rules, although lately he really doesn’t like touching dice, so I had to roll for him. I’m not sure what he doesn’t like about touching them at the moment, but that’s autism for you.
My youngest was happy to flip the tiles over and move his meeples around the board, although he would get upset if anyone went for his too often. To avoid that we had to not take any of his for several rounds after. My oldest autistic son had enough and left the game. May seem unfair to the others but this is one of the challenges we have when playing as a family.
The kids absolutely love the squids and dolphins, who doesn’t want a dolphin companion. You easily get attached to them, goodbye Dave my loyal friend. You may have been stolen from me but I will always remember the time that we had.
The kids love to get their parents as much as possible playing this game. They almost but not quite, work together. I think it’s revenge for all the times we use the kids most feared and loathed word ‘No’.
They are quite good at surrounding our meeples with sharks and whales whenever we try to get to a safe corner of the board. Although I was distracted by the kids dropping crumbs on the board and giving the look which reads ‘you better brush that off’.
The blue dive dice are interesting because the sea animals can now move either more spaces or less than before in the base game including the sea serpent. They all can also dive and then emerge from anywhere there is an empty space. The kids prefer to use them now, I think I prefer the standard rules but it’s still a lot of fun to change the game sometimes. The expansions allow a lot of variety and work as well on their own and together really well.
The game really is a perfect 10/10. Perfect game design and the board and pieces make it visually appealing and the game is so fun to play and everyone should own a copy. After a game you immediately want to reset the board and play again. It is that addictive replay value that keeps pulling you back in time and time again. Like Jumanji you can hear it calling out to you, begging to be played.