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Board Game Retro: Brush Up On Wilderness Skills With ‘Outdoor Survival’

3 Minute Read
Mar 25 2020
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I’m not saying you should abandon civilization (yet), but might be a good time to learn some basics of survival, courtesy of Avalon Hill.

Some things are life are bad, they can really make you mad. Other things might make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, play board games. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.

While society is collapsing around us, strap on those hiking boots, mix yourself up some gorp and grab your favorite walking stick. It’s time to take to the woods! Rather than go learn for an expert or some legitimate resource, we’re going to infer as much information as we can from board games. Namely…

Outdoor Survival

Outdoor Survival is a scenario based tactical strategy game from Avalon Hill. It was released in 1972. It follows a lot of the same basic mechanics as many other retro Avalon Hill games, but with less artillery.

Discounting, of course, the Cannon Ball Tree

The game comes with 5 scenarios, each with their own setup and victory conditions. But in general the goal remains the same, get to a certain point before you die.

The gameplay rules for Outdoor Survival are actually pretty simple. At the start of each player’s turn, they will decide if they want to move or not. If so, they must roll on the Direction Ability chart on the scenario card. It’s Avalon Hill, you know they got charts for everything!


The Direction Ability table changes per scenario, but at least some of the time (none in this scenario), you’re going to be walking in a random direction. How far you can move depends on how well you’re covering your necessities. Those simple bare necessities: food and water.

Each turn you go without food or water, your Index in that necessity goes down. Each time it hops one of those breaks, your Life Level decreases by the listed amount. Your Life Level controls your maximum move speed each turn. Note the last few spaces have 0 movement. You’re not quite dead, but you need someone to drag you. But, that’s gonna slow them down and tire them out. Tough choices, mate.

That’s kind of it! Any additional rules will come within the scenario, along with the optional Random Encounters Table.


The scenarios’ win conditions are usually “Start here, End Here”, but there are also options to find missing people and carry them out, or the final scenario which has one player being pursued by the others.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Outdoor Survival is a resource management game and a press-your-luck game. A large part of the difficulty comes with controlling your random movement and trying to keep yourself from going off too far in a random direction. If you could freely move throughout the whole game, there would be no challenge.

I could see it being frustrating with the high levels of randomness, but it doesn’t take long to die… I mean, play. So you can start up a new game fairly quickly if one isn’t going well.

Thanks for reading!

Author: Matt Sall
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