Everyone simultaneously voting for what the outcome of a game is peak game mechanic. Lifeboats is a great game of trying to get your survivors to shore, while making sure the other players survivors don’t. Over the course of the game you will vote on which boats will leak, which people will get thrown off if there isn’t room, and which boats will move towards the shore.
Cutthroat games are definitely not for everyone, but Lifeboats is cutthroat without being mean.. Having taught this game to a large number of groups, it is always fun to see the people who would never screw over their friends, gleefully throwing their survivors off the boat.
While the game is essentially vote after vote (you do shift boats as well) there winds up being quite a bit of negotiation and tactics. Where in some games you would just want to fill a single boat with your own survivors and push it quickly to the shore, that doesn’t work in Lifeboats. You need a boat with lots of different players in order to get support to move your boat over the others. But then you run the risk of those other players turning against you and throwing you overboard at the earliest convenience!
Lifeboats is one of the most player interactive games that we play. It is always great fun to see people really get into the spirit of the game desperately trying to get their survivors to shore.