With the end of a disastrous year 2020, it was time for a good disaster board game. Outlive is right up that ally as it sets the scene in a world that has ended. In Outlive it’s not because of a virus, but because of the world running out of clean water. As only 30.000 souls survive, four tribes form to fight for their existence and build a underground shelter. You have search for useful items, water and food, etc, with your tribe in order to grow your community and survive. We already loved this setting and were excited to build our own shelter.

How to Play.

Outlive has many small components and parts that have it’s own place in the set up. It might sound complicated, but in the rulebook the set up is very well explained with detailed pictures.

A game of outlive lasts for six days and six nights and each round has three phases called dawn, day and night. In the dawn phase, restock all the items or resources that players in the previous round might have collected. In the first round, this phase will be skipped as everything will already be in place due to the set up. When everything is back in place, it’s time for the day phase. The first player always begins with revealing the event of the day. During the entire game, six events will be revealed with different effects like losing resources for example. On every start of the day, you will have to apply all of the effects of the events that have not yet been overcome. Meaning, if there are three active events, each player will have to apply the effects of all three events. When the effects have been applied, it’s time for your tribe to move above ground.

Each player has four members of their tribes above ground each round (four meeples). Each meeple can move up to two spaces and (if possible) has to move to a new location on the map. All the meeples will start by laying down, then, once you have moved one of them, leave them standing up so everyone can see which meeple has already been used. You can only have one meeple of your color in the same location at the time, other players meeples can still be there or move there. You can always move trough a location that contains one of your meeples, but you cannot stop. Each meeple has their own power number between three, four and five. If you stop at a location with a meeple from another player that has a lower number, you can apply pressure. The player will have to give you items of his choice. If you meeple has a number of five, and the meeple you apply pressure on has three, the owner of that meeple will have to give you two items or resources, unless they carry ammunition. For each ammunition they discard, one item is saved.

Each location you land on, has different actions you can perform. You can perform as many actions as your meeples number on that location. At the military base you can stock up on munition or harvest anti radiation algae which brings the radiation level of your base down with one point. There is only one dose of anti radiation algae available each day. With a number three meeple that would mean you can either collect two ammunition and one dose of algae, or three times ammunition. The forest, mine and fairgrounds all have the same actions. You can either scavenge for resources (the available resources on each location are printed on the board), or you can hunt to get meat. You may only hunt on one location each day. Each hunting location will have a wild game stack, with each icon containing numbers between three and seven. As the first tile is always placed face up, you will see what choices are available to hunt at each location. Wild life can only be hunted by a meeple with the same or a higher number then the wild game tile. For each remaining number not used in the hunt, you can scavenge for resources. A number four meeple could hunt a number three wild life for example, and then still scavenge for wood at the forest one time. Every time you collect more wild life of the same number, you will get one extra meat, indicated on the wild life tile. Keep the wild life tiles you have hunted next to your player board to easily keep track of how many meat you may collect.

You can also travel to the cargo ship. The first player to move there, will be first player starting from the night. You can place your meeple on the matching number and take the canned good that you find on that number, together with another survivor. The survivor can be placed immediately in one of your build rooms in your base, or in your airlock. The dam is a great place to collect water, but in order to activate the filtration system, you will need a microchip token. Once you have discarded a token, you may collect as many water as the number on your meeple. If you decide to travel to a city, you can pick up equipment that are place face up there as an action. The equipment you collect are always broken, but can be fixed with the right items later. Equipment can provide bonuses that make it easier to move for example, or gather wild life, and many more. You can also push your luck and try to find useful resources in a city’s search pile. Take as many tiles as the actions you perform to discover what you have found. Every item, resource or piece of equipment, etc you find during the day. Can always be placed in the designated places on your base.

After the day, night will fall. During the night you may try to overcome the events that are still active. Each event has different resources you need to provide in order to overcome them. If you succeed, they can give you a lot of survival points which you need to win the game. But it also means that the negative effects an event can bring will be stopped. You also need to take care of your survivors. For every survivor, either in build rooms or your airlock, you will need certain amounts of food and water. If you can’t provide this, you will lose one survivor for each missing supply. You also have to manage the radioactivity level. Each round the radioactivity will rise and depending on how many survivors counter this while based in your airlock, your radioactivity will rise giving you minus points. It will go up one square for each point that is not countered by a survivor.

If you have any supplies left, you can buy survivors and place them in your airlock. Survivors can be very useful as they not only prevent radioactivity, but also activate build rooms and their abilities. To build rooms in your base, simply spend three building resources and flip an unbuild room to the build side. You may also move survivors to this room once it has been build. If a build room is filled up with survivors, you can use the ability of that room. There are a lot of different rooms with a lot of different abilities, like giving you more water, or helping with managing radioactivity. But remember, build rooms cost more food and water from the moment they even contain one survivor. You can also repair equipment in the night phase. Each piece of equipment will show you what it needs in order to be repaired. Once repaired, you can use the equipment’s ability one time every round. The last step of the night phase is to take a look at what supplies are left. Meat for example deteriorate fast and if you have any left, you have to discard it now. Canned food can always stay. You can also end the night phase with a maximum of two water tokens. Once everything is in order, a new day begins with the start of the dawn phase.

Outlive will end once the sixth day is finished. In order to win the game, you have to collect the most survival points. Every event you overcome, will give you points, as well as each number of build rooms filled with survivors, survivors in your shelter, the level of your radioactivity and every piece of equipment you have managed to repair. A detailed description on how to count the scores, can be found in the rulebook.

Playthrough of the game.

As we were trying to survive and building our underground base, we were struggling with the events. If you don’t overcome them during the night, they stay active the next day. We had events limiting us in hunting, gaining resources and even one that made us lose a survivor each night. I was determent to find the resources during this day to overcome at least one event. While Tomasz was busy harvesting materials for his broken equipment, he stole most of the wood away. Thankfully I had a member of my tribe with power five, where Tomas’s his member only had three. So when I moved there, I forced him to give me two items. He had to give in because he didn’t had any ammunition (which I had already seen of course), and he gave me one wood and one steel. With the remaining time of the day, I was able to gather everything I needed to overcome not one, but two event. Scoring many points, but more importantly, keeping my tribe alive. It also gave me enough points to win the game in the end with the final scoring.

Outlive is a game where you have to plan ahead and think as strategic as you can. You know for example that meat from hunting will not stay good very long, so if you go hunting, you need to know what you will use it for. Every day you have to make difficult choices, because if you don’t, the choices during the night might be unforgivable. With two players, we noticed that you can easily avoid each other during the day if you want. We can imagine with three or more people that intimidating would we an unavoidable part of the game. But it didn’t cause us to have less fun. Outlive is a different worker placement game with many components and all the phases are very well thought off. The game is not easy and can be very punishing for all players. It’s very rewarding to create and expand your own base and build your rooms and equipment.

Final Thoughts.

Outlive is a thematic strategic game where you try to survive in a world with almost no drinkable water. In order to rescue survivors and create and expand your underground base, you need brave tribe members to explore the above grounds for resources. We had a lot of fun with this game and we really like the theme. The day has it’s struggles, but the nights can get cold and lonely. You need some serious planning and strategy to survive in the best way you can. We found with two players that you can easily avoid your opponent while minding your own business, but with more player you will intimidate your opponents and get more resources in the process. But with two players, this game is still awesome and has amazing art and components.

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