Outlive is a post-apocolyptic area movement, worker placement game. It took a while for me to get a hold of. I eventually found a copy on ebay for a reasonable price, about $46.00, and offered to buy it for $36.00 with free shipping. Also, I bought the expansion straight from its French publisher: La Boite de Jeu (Currently it has about 100 copies available for US shipping and 20 for Europe).
You begin the game by shuffling a character deck and choosing between two randomly selected “leaders” each with unique starting locations and equipment. Then, you form your underground bunker by shuffling “room” tiles and choosing only six of the eight rooms you drew. These rooms are currently useless, until you eventually ”build” them and staff them with survivors so that they can provide various bonuses to gameplay.
There are six days of play split between a day and a night cycle. During the day you move one of four hero meeples to perform many different tasks such as collecting resources, hunting wildlife, scrounging abandoned cities for supplies and/or equipment, or rescuing survivors so that they could be put to work in your bunker. Also, each morning you draw a card from an Event Deck that generally provides some negative effect until you or the AI resolves this at night.
When night approaches you might want to resolve any Events, check for radiation build-up, distribute food and water to your survivors (if not they die), and distribute resources to build new rooms or repair broken equipment. Equipment can provide useful perks such as added resource collection or protection from negative encounters. The AI: called the Horde, is very straightforward and easy to manage. It is literally controlled by a deck of cards with a list of priorities to accomplish in order. When you draw a card, if the first objective cannot be complete, you simply move on to the next one. There is always something that can be done. What this means is that you have some potential to block the AI’s progress, provided they don’t “pressure” you first. Pressure is an interesting mechanic that applies if the AI lands on one of your territories. If their hero has a higher strength than yours they effectively bully/threaten you for resources. This creates tension in play as you need to factor this in each and every move you make. Also, you cannot pressure the AI.
At the end of the sixth night you tally up your “survival points” by counting the number of events resolved, survivors rescued, rooms populated with them, and items repaired (with bonuses applied for matching equipment). Excess radiation in your bunker detracts from your score. The same is done for the AI with slight adjustments. Whoever has the higher score wins! Thematically, this game provides a lot of atmosphere. The story is about trying to impress an underwater base filled with elite survivors that your clan has what it takes to join them. The “Horde” or enemy AI faction is a band of mutated humans that live in the open air and have no fear of radiation or intimidation from players. They also require less food/water for sustenance.
The Underwater expansion provides a larger game-board (an absolute plus!) with an underwater base area for more alternative options during the day phase. There are new items, event cards, leaders, ability to recruit scientists as well as build a shiny new robot to act as a fifth hero (for resource-collecting).
In conclusion I’ve had a lot of fun with this one. There are different levels of AI challenge, lots of options in-game to customize your experience, and lots of variables to consider during play.