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English language edition of WMS's Rette Sich Wer Kann

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Product Awards:  
Deutscher Spiele Preis
5th place, 1994

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Ronald Wettering

Manufacturer(s): Z-Man Games

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Product Description

In uncharted waters, the ship, Santa Timea, has collided with a reef, and the sailors set off in the old lifeboats for a hair-raising journey to sheltering shores. As the lifeboats move closer to the islands, water rushes in and sailors get thrown overboard. But it's all done democratically and the majority rules -- unless you happen to play the Captain's Hat at the right time to overrule everyone.

In Lifeboats, players use their cards to vote for which boat moves closer to safety, which boat springs a leak and who gets thrown overboard. Negotiation skills are a must and backstabbing will not be uncommon -- after all, you will do whatever is necessary to get your sailors to shore... and so will everyone else!

Product Awards

Deutscher Spiele Preis
5th place, 1994

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Ronald Wettering

  • Manufacturer(s): Z-Man Games

  • Year: 2006

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 90 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,084 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 7 wooden lifeboats
  • 61 cards
  • 42 wooden sailors
  • 15 wooden leak discs
  • 1 start player token
  • 1 gameboard

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.4 in 5 reviews

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Terrific, Unique -- Great Dynamic
July 13, 2002

This is what the home board game of Survivor SHOULD have been! Everyone who plays loves it, very interactive, negotiating and backstabbing but all in good fun. The 'switching life boats' at the end of every turn really makes the game. You and your guests will all be raving about how enjoyable such a simple game can be--ours all were, and everyone wanted to play again next week.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
What a hoot!
November 24, 2001

When I first read the description of this game, I thought the concept was brilliant. I only hoped the game itself would do justice to it. I'm happy to say I was not the least bit disappointed.

The only thing you're armed with in this game are your powers of persuasion and penchant for selfishness, as you try to prevail in a struggle for survival, which is deliciously drawn out over many rounds.

EVERYTHING that happens in the game is driven by majority rule, and alliances shift rapidly as everyone scrambles to preserve their own self-interests. There are other games that use voting as their primary driver, but few have the immediacy of consequence as Rette Sich wer Kann.

Be prepared for an evening of loud, boisterous fun that everyone will be talking about for days after the game is over.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Vicious, and that's a good thing
August 05, 1999

Best time to play this: Just before the 'main' game of the day. It will create factions for you, and jump start the enemy-making process.

Don't play this one with Mom or the kids. Save it for your gaming buddies who know to expect the knife in the back (in this game it's getting tossed overboard).

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Hog the lifeboats while throwing everyone else to the sharks
February 02, 1999

Your ship has just sunk. There are a certain number of lifeboats, each with a limited capacity. Every player has officers and seamen who must try to fit into these lifeboats.

Each turn, one lifeboat springs a leak. This lowers its carrying capacity by one. If there are too many passengers, one gets thrown to the sharks. Then, one (and only one) lifeboat gets to advance one space towards a safe shore.

What's remarkable about this game is that every move described above is determined by majority vote. As a result, you try to get into lifeboats that are also populated by players who need something from you, like you, or dislike someone else more than you.

This is a game where strategy is second to negotiation. Unlike some heavier negotiation games, however, this scenario leaves you laughing all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

Our casual quartet is not sure how much replay value this game has, but the idea is a lot of fun so far. If you can keep exposing new players to this game, you will probably have more fun.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Are you sure you know who your friends are?
January 19, 1999

Rette Sich wer Kann is democracy at its best. Each player has six tokens (two captians and four mates) who must try to make it to shore on one of several boats before they drown. If you make it, you earn points depending on the island you land on and captains are worth double the mates.

All the movements in this game are based on votes. All players vote (using nicely-designed seceret voting wheels) to see which boat receives a leak, which passenger will be tossed out, which boat moves closer to their shore, etc. Each player can also vote their three 'captain's hats' which gives them absolute authority for that decison just as long as no one else tried the same thing. Deals are made and broken, and the fun part of the game is trying to persude everyone else of a strategy that lets you win!

Not a game for everyone, since it is quite free form and requires good interaction of at least four people (ideally 6) to be the most fun. But, recommended if you like negotiating and matching wits with your friends. Just make sure you have your own ride home!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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