Evacuate! (In Our Moment of Triumph?)
Designer: Tony Mastrangeli, Jeff Petersen
Artist: Kent Hamilton, Alyssa McCarthy
Publisher: Petersen Games
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Community deckbuilding / science fiction, horror
Outwit and outlast the other players as you race through a spaceship that is flooded with intruders.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
Outwit and outlast the other players as you race through a spaceship that is flooded with intruders. Be too fast and you’ll run right into trouble. Too slow and they’ll pick you off from behind. Outsmart your opponents and make it to the escape pod!
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
Evacuate! is a game that has players revealing new ship cards as they run from an unseen threat. Each time a player loses one of their runners, they select and add a new card to the community deck—some cards are helpful, but most are pretty bad. As the game progresses, all players take part in building the deck, adding more threats and a slight reprieve here or there.
Each round, players select one movement card from their hand. Then, when everyone is ready, they are all revealed simultaneously. Starting with the first player, that player moves their runner as many spaces as shown on the card they revealed. Some cards have special abilities on them, and those activate as well. Players take turns activating their runners. Then, once everyone has moved, the top card of the community deck is drawn. From there, players will see who loses a runner or, if everyone’s lucky, something good might happen! But usually at least one runner will be lost.
Evacuate is a game of outsmarting the other players. You don’t want to run too far ahead, or you’ll likely run into trouble. If you find yourself behind the pack, you’re also easy pickings. The key is to stay in the middle, but with everyone playing cards simultaneously, that is easier said than done.
Once a certain number of runners have been picked off (the number varies depending on player count), the escape transport card is shuffled in to the community deck. The game continues until that card is drawn, and the player with the most remaining survivors is the winner! Ties go to the player in the front of the pack. If there are multiple in the same row, they begrudgingly share the victory.
The gameplay of Evacuate is fast, frantic, and a lot of fun. It’s not a game of deep strategy; rather it’s all about outthinking the other players. Of course, you’re all bound to outthink each other so well that you unwittingly sabotage yourself (and others, of course). The various rooms of the ship are revealed as players run off the last card (representing the ship), and the rooms have special powers that are usually really painful. Petersen Games is well known for their lengthy Cthulhu Wars and other big games, but Evacuate is a breath of fresh air when it comes to fast and engaging gameplay.
The game is simple enough that my five-year-old (now six) was able to play with us without any trouble (we did ignore all card abilities for the runners, though). The room cards and the community deck are all common knowledge, so we could read and explain them to him. So while 12 is the recommended age, you could certainly play with younger kids. That said, it’s definitely a game meant for an older crowd, as the abilities can really change the way you play the game. The game is full of laughs as the unthinkable inevitably happens, and the vengeance is oh-so real.
Theme, Artwork, and Rule Book
The artwork plays well with the theme, although most of the art is pretty minimal. The different racers you can play as have gorgeous art, and may even have come from the Hyperspace game they are publishing soon from their past Kickstarter. But the corridors, Nomia cards (i.e. community cards) look like you would expect a vagrant sci-fi ship to look.
The rule book is laid out well and is pretty straight-forward. It’s not a difficult game to learn, and once you start playing, you’ll see how everything interacts together.
The fast-paced race aspect of the game is so much fun. You never know what the other players will do, so you’re bound to end up in a comedy of errors.
The community deckbuilding aspect probably sounds cooler than it is, but it’s still pretty neat. You can at least know what’s in the deck and what’s coming, and if the other players are jerks and only add Nomia Attack! cards, then you can counter their surly actions by adding some helpful cards to the deck. Unfortunately, they help everyone, so do so at your own risk.
While players may be eliminated from the game, the nature of Evacuate is such that they won’t be waiting longer than a few minutes before the rest of the players are dead or the escape pod appears and the game ends.
It’s a light game, so don’t expect any deep, AP-provoking turns. However, that’s one of the bright spots of the game—it plays fast, it ends fast, and you can get in a bunch of plays in the course of an evening.
I like Evacuate! It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a frantic ride through a ship that’s quickly succumbing to invaders. If you like lighter games and outthinking/tricking your opponents, Evacuate will probably be a good fit for you and your group. You may need to play the game once to get a good feel for the game, since there are some things that don’t exactly feel natural. But, once you get going, things will fall into place. It’s a great little game for a night of laughs and potential hurt feelings.