Bullets and Blenders

Filed Under (Musings and such..., Toys, Virtual Toys) by Will Bain on Jun 19, 2014

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Thanks to open-source programming, there are some very sophisticated and utterly engrossing ways for you to continue the cycle of Keva creation and destruction in the virtual world.

First, check out this video of Keva structures brought low by toy balls and Newtonian physics.YouTube Preview Image

Then go here to watch more…

These videos were made possible through an open-source physics engine called Bullet Physics and an open source 3d animation application called Blender (which utilizes the physics simulation of Bullet Physics). Both of these programs are free. I can in no way comment on the coding or any other technical aspect of these programs, however, I am thrilled that these tools are out there for kids and adults– for anyone who wants to build and play in a virtual environment that so closely mimics are own.

Keva planks and Lego and Lincoln Logs and all of the other building props that I grew up with as a child were ways that I could turn the virtual world of my imagination into something tangible. These structures led to a richer landscape for my imagination. Physics bound design programs are an extension of this feedback loop. Physical Keva structures can be rendered virtual, which can be made tangible again, which can then be folded back upon itself so many times that no one can predict what will emerge. New shapes and configurations and material properties in the virtual world could result in new toys and building systems that we will be gifting to our grandchildren.

Use the links below to check out Blender and Bullet Physics. You can download from the sites.

http://www.blender.org/

http://bulletphysics.org/wordpress/

 

Keva Brain Builders

Filed Under (Creative, Dexterity, Puzzles, Thinking Games, Toys) by Will Bain on Jun 18, 2014

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Keva Brain BuilderIf you missed my earlier post about Keva planks and the fun of destruction, you can check it out here.

Keva planks are precision cut wooden building blocks. They measure about a quarter of an inch thick and the proportion of their dimensions is 1:3:15 (1 unit thick, 3 units wide, and 15 units long). The uniformity and quality of the Keva plank construction makes them ideal for building very complex and very stable structures.

Turns out, they also make for an interesting brain-teaser.

In essence, Keva Brain Builders is an exercise in architectural design and perspective drawing. The game comes with 20 planks and 30 puzzle cards. The cards are double sided. On the puzzle side is shown a diagram of something the player needs to build. The diagram shows the figure in top view, side view, and front view. The planks are color coded to indicate which side you are looking at in each view.

Your challenge is to build the structure so that it matches the picture on the solution side of the card.

The cards come in three difficulty levels. The easy ones are very simple both in the structure’s complexity and in the amount of balance it takes to create the structure. As the puzzles get harder, the diagrams become somewhat more difficult to suss out, but the manual dexterity to build the solutions becomes much more challenging.

01 AwardKeva Brain Builders lends itself to free play. Although many of us at Major Fun liked playing with the challenge cards, just as many liked building our own structures. I imagine that there will be many kids who will be perfectly happy to take the planks and make their own designs. I had fun trying to come up with complicated designs that I would then draw in all three perspectives.

Ultimately, this is a great introduction into Keva planks, it’s a nice small building set, and the puzzle challenges are a clever way to improve spatial awareness. It comes in a compact, zippered pouch; although if your household is anything like mine, that will get stuffed with dolls and the Keva planks will be incorporated into some other Frankenstein structure of train tracks, Lego, and toilet paper rolls.

Solo play. Ages 7+

Keva Brain Builders is © 2014 by MindWare.

Fun and Threat

Filed Under (Musings and such...) by Will Bain on Jun 16, 2014

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Keva TowerIn preparing one of our upcoming Major Fun Award reviews, I came across a short video of the construction of a world record tower constructed out of Keva planks and its subsequent destruction. There are all sorts of videos out there documenting the destruction of things: buildings, bridges, bunkers, and virtually anything ever associated with Mythbusters.

The Keva tower took around 10 hours to complete and consisted of over 4000 blocks of wood. It stood over 50 feet tall when complete. It is a testament to human ingenuity, patience, and play. It served no purpose outside of the challenge of creating such a structure (OK—and probably the promotion of Keva planks but as advertisements go it’s very restrained). The video is short, compressing the entire process to just over 3 minutes.

YouTube Preview ImageWhat struck me was the part at the end when they were trying to knock the thing down. Instead of just pushing it over, the creators allowed kids to swing a plumb bob at the structure to knock out the planks that comprised the base. At this point in the video, you can see the crowd that has gathered. You can hear their cheers and gasps and laughter. It takes many swings to bring the structure crashing down and the tension is palpable as is the joy. When the tower ultimately topples over, there is a swell of noise not just from the collapsing blocks, but also from the assembled witnesses.

The tower falls as if it has fainted. It happens quickly but with a fluidity that gives the impression that it was held up with wires. The Keva planks pile up in a drift across the floor like a wave that freezes the moment it strikes the shore. Destruction markedly devoid of violence.

We often talk about violence in games and the media. And rightly so. There is a distressing amount of interpersonal violence that permeates much of our culture. What I want to note here is that there is perhaps a fine distinction that should be made between violence and destruction. That our fascination with destruction—with the undoing of static order—can devolve into a morbid nihilism is probably not surprising, but every so often it is good to observe closely as things fall apart.

exploded toiletI have always loved those exploded-view diagrams of common objects. And high-speed photography of events that occur between the blinks of my eyes. In these examples we get a peek at the complexity below the placid surface of mundane matter as well as the elegant order at the heart of even some of the most confusing phenomena. I would love to see a slow-motion, high-resolution video of that Keva tower as it succumbs to gravity. Even in the few seconds that we have in the video you can discern some of the logic behind the collapse.

stick bomb - andreOne of my daughter’s friends set a world record recently for longest stick bomb (click on picture for video). That’s STICK bomb, not STINK bomb. And before you alert DHS agents, there are no explosives. By weaving popsicle sticks in a specific pattern, you can create a mat that looks a lot like a trivet you would make in elementary school. Remove one specific stick and all the kinetic energy that went in to bending the sticks around each other is released. The sticks jump up off the floor with surprising force. It’s like a domino topple as the woven line of sticks unravels down the length of the construct. And here we find ourselves back at the undeniable fun and fascination that adjoins acts of destruction. Very few people want to watch, let alone participate in, the creation of large scale domino installations, but they will come out of the woodwork if it means they can watch the whole thing fall down.

I think, to a certain degree, fun is contingent on threat. There must be a chance of failure. There must be a tension in the construction of something, no matter if that is something physical like a stick bomb or something abstract like a chess strategy. For there to be fun there must exist stakes. And as those stakes are raised and challenged the tension mounts until it must be released, either tragically when a careless elbow destroys the tower before a record can be achieved or triumphantly when everyone has had a chance to admire their handiwork before they enthusiastically swing a plumb-bob until the tower is nothing but a pile of wooden blocks.YouTube Preview Image

Pivit

Filed Under (Family Games, Thinking Games) by Will Bain on Jun 14, 2014

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PivitAs you might imagine, we play a lot of games here at Major Fun, and after a while those games start to fall into rather predictable categories. In turn this can lead to a certain predisposition toward the ones we see most frequently. Tiling games are common and although I enjoy many of the ones that we get (see recent Major Fun Award winners here here and here…) when I open up the box I’m already settling in to a comfortable, laid back mental slouch.

So when we dumped Pivit out on the table and started flipping the tiles over, I had slipped into leisurely chat mode. It’ll be like Qwirkle, I thought. Lots of down time as each person takes a turn. Good for catching up on gossip with my friends.

To be fair, Pivit is a lot like Qwirkle in basic mechanics. You have tiles of different shapes and patterns. You arrange the tiles in interconnected lines so that either all the colors or all the shapes are the same in the line (but NOT BOTH). There are even WILD tiles. How hard could it be if it has WILD tiles?

Well, Pivit is more like a marriage between Qwirkle and Banangrams. I did not appreciate this confluence of game mechanics until I got my butt handed to me three games in a row by my step-daughter. You turn over your tiles (24 of them) and then try to be the first to create a crossword-style matrix. Your opponents are your timer. There are score blocks that are laid out in the middle of the table—one fewer than the number of players. Once you complete your matrix, you grab the highest score block you can.

The pressure is intense. Not only from other players but from the01 Award concentration it takes to differentiate the patterns. The patterns aren’t subtle but they have enough similarities that it is easy to confuse them in the heat of the moment. Mistakes were common which means that you could go from having the highest point block to nothing very quickly.

This is not a leisurely paced tiling game. It is a great lesson for those of us who have gotten complacent in what we expect from familiar categories of games.

We’ve been playing a lot of great games from MindWare recently and this one is no exception. The design of the materials, the clarity of the rules, and the elegant game-play speak highly of the care that goes in to their games.

Limber up your fingers and your minds and check out Pivit. It’s Major Fun.

2-4 players. Ages 8+

Pivit was designed by David Peterson and is © 2013 by MindWare.

Castle Blast

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Toys) by Will Bain on Jun 11, 2014

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Castle BlastAs anyone knows who has ever played with building blocks, the apotheosis of the constructive activity is the moment when you bring it all crashing down. For every castle or city or log cabin there is some dragon or dinosaur or marauding army that is merely biding its time.

Castle Blast is a building game that comes with its own wrecking ball. The good folks at Mindware embrace the Truth that what goes up must come down (especially since the game will probably have to go back in the box eventually). It’s about time kids learned that nothing made by human hands will endure.

In the words of Percy Bysshe Shelly, “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! For only my Twinkies and long-chain hydrocarbons remain!”

Or something to that effect.

The rules are simple: build a castle to protect 3 items (a princess, a treasure, and a dragon); roll the die to see how many swings you can take; swing the wrecking ball until you knock the three characters out of the fortification. The game comes with a small game-board and a castle design that you can follow. Or not. Build your own castle and see how it goes.

In the end, it all falls down.

When you successfully knock a character out of the castle, you get a token that corresponds to that character. Collect all three character tokens to win. Depending on how many players you have, you will probably have to reconstruct the castle multiple times.

01 AwardThe game looks great. The wooden blocks are solid and smooth and colorful. The rules are simple and provide several variations of play for those who want to add some variety to the endless cycle of creation and destruction. If you already have wooden blocks scattered underfoot and in the bottom of toy boxes, you could incorporate them in very easily.

Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. Major Fun is loosed upon the world… (apologies to Yeats)

2-4 players. Ages 5+

Castle Blast is © 2013 by MindWare.

Staxis

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games) by Will Bain on Jun 9, 2014

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MindWare’s Staxis is like playing a game of pick-up-sticks in reverse. And I don’t mean that way you start the game by dropping a handful of long toothpicks in a pile, but rather imagine having to carefully place each stick so that they stand on end or balance against each other without touching the table.

The game comes with a base structure that looks like a Soviet era satellite has come to rest in your home. Once you have Sputnik assembled on your playing surface, players divide the 50 long stacking sticks between them. The first player to get rid of all their sticks is the winner.

Before you balance one of your sticks on the Epcot Spaceship Earth you have to roll a die. This tells you how many points of contact your stick must have with any wooden part of the structure. A single point basically means that you have to balance your stick horizontally across another stick. A double point means that your stick must touch two other sticks.

Although the two-point option seems easier and more stable, it proves very tricky as the game proceeds. Sticks balanced on two points generally form angles that make the single-point rolls even more challenging. The double-point sticks also seem to cause the weight to shift in unexpected ways.

A player must successfully balance one stick on his or her turn, but any sticks that fall off are collected by that player. This encourages players to take chances in order to leave their opponents with increasingly unstable configurations.

awardStaxis takes a steady hand and a keen eye. The tension builds steadily which lends itself to a lot of good natured trash talking and goading. The rules are barely necessary and that’s only for the first time you build the base Tesla Tower. The game is well constructed although you should be careful with the wooden stacking sticks. They do lend themselves to splinters.

Our kids had a blast with Staxis and it made for a great game with mixed ages. Major Fun game for dexterity, balance, and show-boating.

2-6 players. Ages 6+

Staxis was designed by Paul Wickens and is © 2013 by MindWare.

The Awesome Power of a Fully Inflated Earth Ball

Filed Under (Musings and such...) by Will Bain on Jun 7, 2014

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Yesterday was Field Day for my daughter’s school. Grades K through 8 converged on a local park and rotated through a series of field games. Each team was made up of about 12 to 15 students from all the grades. They had team names and colors and many of them came in coordinated costumes.

The day was beautiful: blue skies, light breeze, and a broad expanse of grass and clover that was tall enough to cushion a fall but not so tall as to get everybody worried about ticks and chiggers and poison ivy. The kids were in high spirits. The teachers and parent volunteers were relaxed (well, as relaxed as can be expected with 200 or more kids in a field full of games).

With 15 minutes to go before the buses arrived, I was trying to work out in my head the rules for a game that would utilize two giant “Earth” balls AND would not result in debilitating injury.

Earth BallFor those who don’t know, an “Earth” ball is just a giant, inflatable ball (also called a cage ball). I grew up calling them Earth balls because they are huge (anywhere from 48 to 72 inches tall) and because the ones I played with as a youngster were scale replicas of good ol’ planet Earth. I spent many years as a camp counselor and many more working for camps and adventure programs. I’ve led countless field games that use giant cage balls of every color and yet I always call them “Earth” balls.

This is the second year I have volunteered at Field Day. Last year, I noticed that they had a giant pink “Earth” ball for a game called Sumo Wrestler. I immediately volunteered to be the adult supervisor. In part I volunteered for this activity because “earth” balls invite all kinds of fun, physical play: jumping, hitting, pushing, kicking, etc… But the bigger reason I volunteered was because all of those activities inevitably result in injuries—injuries that always take us adults by surprise.

It was my hope to fend off at least a few of the worst ones, because nothing ruins a field day more than a dislocated shoulder or a case of whiplash.

The game of Sumo Wrestler is one of those games that are instantly attractive to kids and most adults. The idea is that the giant ball is in the center of a circle that is split in half. Two contestants start on opposite sides of the ball and try to push it past the opposite side of the circle. Kids get really excited about challenging their friends. Even kids who don’t usually go in for physical conflict will line up to take a turn in the ring. I attribute this to the fact that they focus on the ball more than the conflict. Adults also see it as a safe way for kids to wrestle. The ball is big and soft and filled with air—how could a big ball of air hurt, right?

newton's second lawWell, all that air and the membrane that surrounds it are excellent conduits for Newton’s laws of motion. Especially the second law. In short, if there is even a small difference in the mass of the kids who are pushing against the ball, the smaller one will almost always be catapulted away with often surprising force. It gets worse if one or both of the kids manages to get even a little running start before they hit the ball. After all, force equals mass times acceleration. And if the kids are not pushing on opposite sides of the ball, if they are both even a little to one side of center, the ball shoots off and the two kids collide with whatever part of their body was foremost at the time—generally the noggin.

Although I abandoned Sumo Wrestler early in the day, my attempts to come up with an energetic replacement that would involve fewer than two kids leaving my station in tears left much to be desired.

So this year, with a little trial and error, I came up with a game that I called Sumo Volleyball (please feel free to make suggestions in the comment section—PLEASE). Teams get to push not just one but two giant balls. Here’s the set-up and rules:

  • Set out cones to form 2 parallel lines (about twice the width of your ball apart and maybe 30 feet long).
  • Teams face each other across the space between the lines. Teams play on their knees at all times.
  • An adult stands at each open end of the lines to keep the ball in play.
  • GOAL: push one of the balls over the opposing team so that it lands on the ground behind them. As soon as one ball hits the ground behind a team, stop play and start over.
  • RULE #1: all players must stay on their knees at all times. No standing up. No squatting. If someone gets off their knees, stop play and give a point to the other side.
  • RULE #2: Knees may not cross the line of cones. You can reach across the line but you can’t “walk” across the line. If someone crosses the line, stop play and give a point to the other side.
  • OPTION: every 2 points have the teams switch sides (gives them a chance to stand up, rearrange, and not have a disadvantage because of wind)

Earth Ball GameOnce the kids got over the disappointment that they wouldn’t be knocking each other out in a semi-sumo match, they had a blast. With 2 balls almost everyone is included and you can still get a very satisfying hit on the ball although it is harder to generate as much force compared to when you are standing up. You can still be knocked over, but when you are on your knees your center of gravity is much lower. The greatest risk actually comes from getting knocked over by one of your own team mates. The ball can still shake up a smaller child, especially if it catches the child on the head, but I saw that happen only twice and both times the kids came back after sitting out for a round.

What I loved seeing was that there were many times when the kids just loved hitting the ball back and forth. I think if I had made the lines farther apart they would have been just as happy to spend 20 minutes or so battering these giant balls back and forth with no score at all.

Field Day play at its best. Silly, active, and fun.

Book Review: The Book of Odds

Filed Under (Books, Library) by Will Bain on Jun 5, 2014

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The Book of OddsI’m starting to review books and other materials for the site. No awards just yet, but consider reviews on this site to be positive recommendations. If you would like me to consider something, send me an email or comment. If you are a publisher, send me a review copy ♥

The Book of Odds
Amram Shapiro, Louise Firth Campbell, & Rosalind Wright
Harper Collins, 2014

Convincing people to read a book full of columns and tables and lists of numbers is not an easy sell. Nothing says “gripping narrative” like actuarial tables. And yet, The Book of Odds is one of those books that I will pick up any time I have a few moments.

As its name proclaims, The Book of Odds contains thousands of events that could befall the reader and the odds that such events will occur. Want to know the odds of meeting you’re a love interest through a blind date? Want to know the odds of going on a cruise for your honeymoon? Want to know the odds that a high school senior will binge drink? How about the odds that you will die from heart disease? (Answers provided at bottom of this post)

The authors have been compiling data from many sources since 2006 and these sources are cited with each collection of information. Much of the information comes from the U.S. census and other government or academic studies; however, polls and research by more popular/commercial sources such as Cosmo, ABC News, and AskMen.com also appear.

The book design is very sparse: solid colors, geometric graphics, and a smattering of silhouette watermarks. Each page contains anywhere from two to five tables and columns filled with numbers along with short analytical sidebars that connect common trends. The design isn’t crowded but it is busy.

So what’s the attraction?

Maybe it’s the gamer in me.

Probability is at the heart of most games. Even those games like chess that do not use random events require players to understand the possible outcomes of any particular move. I would hazard a guess that the best games are the ones in which events are predictable but not certain. Players take action on the predictions they make and they take actions that will increase the accuracy of their predictions, but there must always be some degree of uncertainty. Great game design balances the rational with the uncertain.

But I think this book taps into something more profound than our ability to create simulations and diversions. Certainly we are a curious species—an information species. We gossip. We share bits of trivia, and in that regard, The Book of Odds is a like the Tree of Knowledge’s weedier cousin: the shrub of data.

Lightning_hits_treeIt helps that almost all the odds are expressed in terms of “1 in something.” In this fashion all the events can be compared. Your chances of being hit by lightning can be matched against your chance of being killed by the flu (1 in 1,101,000 vs. 1 in 733,871) and these matched against your chance that your baby will actually be one of a set of triplets (1 in 723). We like to compare ourselves to others. We want to see where we stand. The Book of Odds is a great way to learn about the statistical outliers like lightning strikes, shark attacks, and Ebola outbreaks, but I think it is really at its most engaging when you recognize yourself in the numbers.

And the authors aren’t above a little prurient titillation to keep you moving through the chapters. Chapter One is titled “Sex” while the final chapter is “Accidents and Death.” The intervening chapters move chronologically (more or less) through a typical life cycle addressing dating, marriage, birth, childhood, school, health, psychology, and beliefs. Everything is here for thousands of sound bites for our 24 hour “news” culture: sex, drugs, and all the dangers and threats that will keep the audience coming back after the commercial break.

Your friends might give you grief about having a book like this on your coffee table, but leave them alone for a few minutes with it and chances are they will be flipping through the pages and asking you, “Hey can you guess the chances of…”

Will Bain
Major Fun

ANSWERS for paragraph 2 (in order): 1 in 34.1 / 1 in 10 / 1 in 3.2 / 1 in 427

Do you want to play a game?

Filed Under (Musings and such...) by Will Bain on Jun 4, 2014

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At some moment on the hazy horizon of memory, I am sitting in the tiny breakfast nook my mother called the “kitchenette.” This me is probably still in elementary school but I’m guessing that middle school is not far off. In this particular recollection I am eating cereal from a white Corelle bowl, but I could just as easily be playing with the last few strands of spaghetti from dinner. I am repeating a phrase over and over, sometimes out loud and sometimes just under my breath.

“Do you want to play?”

Each time I emphasize a different word.

Do you want to play?

Do you want to play?

Do you want to play?

Each iteration carries a slightly different meaning without changing the grammar. The emphasis alters the tone of the question which in turn directs the kind of answer that I expect from my imaginary interlocutor. I’m fascinated with the way the tone shifts with only a little extra volume on a single word. I am especially struck by what is implied when I ask, “DO you want to play?” As if I am speaking to a liar or someone who is only humoring me.

OK, so I was no Blaise Pascal, but in the solipsism of youth, the idea that language could be more than the sum of the literal words was quite a revelation. And that fascination with the subtle (and not so subtle) relationship between the denotational and connotational nature of language stuck with me.

When I tell people what I do as Major Fun, their first reaction is generally one of good natured jealousy. “That must be fun!” And it is! I get to play games and then write about the ones that I think are amazing. I can also write about any and all of the things that I think about as I decide what fits the criteria for the Major Fun Award and what doesn’t. I can write about the fun and playful nature of language.

That part of me that was fascinated by how emphasis shifts the tone of a question also drives me to do more than just play the game, but rather play WITH the game and everything it implies.

Do I want to play this game?

Do I want to play this game?

Do I want to play this game?

Do I want to play this game?

I think many folks regret engaging me in this conversation. It’s about as much fun to listen to wonky abstractions as it is to listen to someone as they relate their dreams. Fortunately for them, in our age of the internet, clicking the Back Button is a handy escape. If you have made it this far then perhaps you are enough like me that from time to time, you will want to splash around a bit in the abstract end of the pool.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis

Filed Under (Thinking Games) by Will Bain on Jun 2, 2014

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SurviveSurvive: Escape from Atlantis has been traveling a long time to make it to Major Fun.

Created in 1982, Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a board game with hexagonal tiles that change over the course of the game in a fashion similar to what you would find in more recent games like Forbidden Island and Settlers of Catan. As the story goes, you control a team of explorers who have discovered the island of Atlantis only for it to disappear beneath your feet. You must escape across hostile waters, either by boat or by swimming, to safe ground (the corners of the game board) before the volcano rumbling beneath the island goes all Pompeii on your…

As for tiles, you have three basic kinds: beach, forest, and mountain. These sink at different rates. The beach tiles disappear first, followed by the forests, until only the mountains remain, only to finally succumb to the inevitable collapse of the soon-to-be-lost continent. The tiles are cleverly constructed so that the beach tiles are thinner than the forests which are thinner than the mountain tiles. In this way players can instantly and intuitively tell what spots are most imperiled. Stronghold Games has done a fantastic job of designing all aspects of this edition.

Surrounding the island there is a wide expanse of ocean that teems with sharks, whales, and sea monsters. These entities slowly awaken as the island collapses and wreak havoc upon the explorers as the players try to make guide them to safety. Whales capsize ships. Sharks eat swimmers. Sea monsters destroy anything they catch.

Once the island is created in the center of the board, each player has 10 explorer pieces to place. The explorers have numbers 1 – 6 on the bottom of their bases which represents how many points each are worth. The goal is to have the most points at the end of the game, not necessarily the most survivors. When you place your pieces you decide where they go but once they have been placed you can’t look at their value. In the chaos of the game it is easy to forget which piece is which so there is a lot of tension as your explorers become threatened or are close to rescue.

On your turn you take four actions in this order: play a special tile (if you have one), move your explorers, remove a terrain tile, and roll the creature die. The terrain tiles are double-sided: one side shows terrain the other gives you a special action. Sometimes this allows you to summon a creature. Sometimes you can move your explorers. Sometimes you can prevent others from attacking you. Some tiles you can hold on to. Some must be played immediately.

awardOnce you move your explorers you must remove a terrain tile from the board. Beach tiles must go first. Mountains are last. If possible you try to dump your opponents into the drink. Because that’s where the creatures are and, as the blood-thirsty competitor you are, you get to command those creatures to smite your foes.

Your last action is to roll a die and move whatever creature comes up. This is how you prevent your opponents from reaching safety. Eat them with sharks. Capsize their boats with whales. Obliterate them en masse with monsters and whirlpools.

The removal of terrain tiles, in addition to the special actions they provide and the fun of dropping your opponents into a watery grave, also serve as the game’s timer. Under one of the eight mountain tiles there is a volcano. When it is turned over, Atlantis explodes killing any explorer who has not reached safety. Players tally up the score for each survivor.

The game has a lot of pieces but the art design and the instructions make the entire process very easy to follow. The most difficult aspect is probably the movement rules because there are different rules for swimmers, but once you have that down, the rest is very intuitive.

And very fun. Survive is a strategic game but one in which your plans often have to be scrapped and replaced as the island disappears and the ocean fills with flesh-hungry monsters. Of course, we control the flesh hungry monsters so maybe that says more about us as a species than we would like to admit. But revenge is so much fun!! And the sea creatures are so very very hungry…

2-4 players. Ages 8+

Survive: Escape from Atlantis was designed by Julian Courtland-Smith and is © 1982 by Stronghold Games.