Post-apocalyptic games don’t always have to involve zombies, and that’s exactly the kind of setting that “Survivalistic” entails. In this easy-to-play collectible card game for two people, you’ll be doing your darndest to keep your clan alive by providing them with food and water. While you’re attempting to grow your clan, the other player will be trying to ensure that their clan reigns supreme. Will you lead your clan to victory by growing it so large that your opponent will have no choice but to give up, or will you opt for a more aggressive approach? Before we take a look at this game in further detail, I’d like to thank William Connor Mandry from Mandry44’s Games for providing me with a review copy.
Editor’s Note: I was informed on 2/28/14 that the game was redesigned based on reviewer and customer feedback. I’ve updated the text in this article to reflect the new rules. Time permitting, I’ll update the pictures and video as well.
Cards – The game consists of a number of cards, ranging from food and water cards to clan and equipment cards.
Dice – The game also includes a total of sixteen dice: twelve red and four black. The red dice serve as health counters for the clan members on the table, while black dice are used for combat.
Setup & Gameplay
Firstly, the deck of cards is shuffled and placed in the center of the table. Each player receives five cards to form their starting hand. If a player doesn’t receive at least one clan member, they’ll reveal their hand to their opponent, shuffle the cards back into the deck, and draw five more. At this point, it’s worth noting that the deck will be officially referred to as the “resource pile”. Players roll a six-sided die to determine who goes first.
A player’s turn begins by drawing one card from the resource pile. If there are no cards to draw, then players simply skip that step on their respective turns. After that, any of the below actions can be taken, in any order the player desires:
1. Set and attach cards – The current player may play clan and equipment cards onto the table in front of them. Players are limited to having three clan members on the table at a time, as well as a total of three equipment cards per clan member. Once cards are assigned/played on the table, they cannot be picked back up.
2. Nourish clan members – The current player may play food and water cards and assign them to specific clan members. The game uses the term “nourish” to describe a particular clan member’s state.
3. Use equipment card effects – The current player may use any of the equipment currently on the table (equipped by clan members). These may involve granting some sort of passive buff to a clan member’s strength, agility, and/or wisdom, though the card effects vary.
4. Use clan member abilities – The current player can make use of the special abilities that the clan members come with. A clan member’s ability can only be used once per turn.
5. Battle other clan members – The current player will pick one of their nourished clan members and attack an opposing clan member. Each stat (strength, agility, and wisdom) is compared and players are awarded black dice for having the higher stat. After a dice roll, the winner (the player with the single highest number) gets to take a card from the losing player’s clan member. A player can battle with each of their surviving clan members once per turn.
It’s worth noting that for the very first round, players can only set and attach cards. At the end of a player’s turn, they’ll check to see if each of their clan members is considered “nourished”. Clan members without appropriate food and water (the requirements are listed on the card) receive hit counters. At any point in the game, if a clan member’s hit points reaches seven or more, they are killed and removed from the table.
Players continue taking turns until a player has three nourished clan members on the table after one entire round, in which case they win the game. If a player has no clan members on the field at any point during the game, they lose.
The above doesn’t cover all the rules found in the manual, but should give you the general idea as to how the gameplay flows. For more information, please check out the links at the end of this article.
Firstly, I’d like to commend the art style used on the cards themselves. The landscapes and portraits seem cartoonish at first glance, but the color schemes and detail really bring out the best in the cards. The rulebook was a bit confusing, but not overly so that I couldn’t understand the rules after reading it a couple of times. Some of the finer details seem out-of-place, while others repeat themselves unnecessarily. I’m known for my OCD, so take what I say in that department with a grain of salt. All in all, the components and the rules received a passing grade and then some.
Editor’s Note: The game’s redesign (as explained above) has addressed most, if not all of the issues I had with the rulebook.
The premise of the game is relatively simple…keep as many of your clan members alive for as long as possible while trying to see to their basic needs. If you’re feeling combative, you can even attempt to hasten your opponent’s clan count down a notch. I liked the fact that you have to provide both food and water to your clan members. I’m big on open-world survival games as my video game followers know very well, so I’m all about resource management and related gameplay mechanics. It gave me a reason to care about the clan members I was putting down and even served to add a tactical side to the game. Should I attempt to place my maximum of three clan members straight away, for example, or hold off with one or two until I know I have the resources in my hand to sustain them?
That’s just but one example of the many strategic options that this game offers. The clan cards each have some type of special ability, coupled with stats that make them either suited for battle or better off as a support character. To top that off, there’s a lot of choice in regards to where you assign your equipment cards and more importantly, which clan members you nourish with food and water when supplies are low. The combinations of clan members you’ll have at your disposal will change from game to game, providing players with a unique experience each and every time. For as simple as the premise of the game is, players will be presented with choices from start to finish.
“Survivalistic” offers a lot of replayability and is backed by superb artwork. I’d be interested to see what other card decks could be introduced to the base game, just to give it a little more flavor and variety. When I asked the developer about such a feature, he mentioned that plans were in the works to introduce expansions down the line. Understandably, he couldn’t provide a definitive date, though he did mention 2015…looks like fans of this game will have something to look forward to. As it stands though, “Survivalistic” makes for an excellent two player game…the kind you can bring out and put away all within a half hours’ time. The variety of card combinations and the choices available to players at any one time is, in my opinion, well worth the twenty dollar price tag (as of 1/2/14). While it’s true that post-apocalyptic games are a dime a dozen these days, “Survivalistic” is one that you’ll most certainly want to look into.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Survivalistic” by visiting the following websites: