Board Game Review: Ice Cool by Brain Games
When I was at Gen Con earlier this month, I stopped by the Brain Games booth to speak with Līga Bizune about Ice Cool, a new dexterity game featuring penguins who are trying to collect fish and outrun The Catcher. Before the interview, I was already familiar with Ice Cool because there was a lot of buzz about the game on Facebook. The game was also included in BoardGameGeek.com’s “Hot Games” room at Gen Con. Ice Cool was so popular at Gen Con that it sold out before Saturday (Thursday – Sunday convention).
It’s nearly lunchtime at school, but some penguins just cannot wait to collect their fish! A few quick penguins are running the halls and trying to collect their fish before the hall monitor catches them. Players take turns as the Runners and the Catcher. Penguin pieces are flicked to curve, jump, dive or bump against the walls or into other penguins.
- Designer: Brian Gomez
- Artist: Reinis Pētersons
- Publisher: Brain Games
- 2-4 Players; Age 6+
- 20-30 Minutes
- BGG rating: 7.3/10.0
- BGG weight: 1.0/5.0 (Light game)
- Categories: Action/Dexterity; Children’s game (Don’t let that category fool you – this game is fun for adults, too!)
Brain Games boasts two major features for Ice Cool:
- “The first flicking game with pieces that curve and jump”
- Its Box-In-A-Box setup – the box that the game comes in is also part of the game board, so utility and space are both maximized
HOW DO YOU PLAY?
Explaining the game is quick and easy. Līga went through the rules with me in just a couple minutes and then started showing me different flicking techniques to get penguins around the board.
In each round, one penguin is the Catcher and other penguins are the Runners. The number of rounds equals the number of players. The Catcher rotates each round with each player being The Catcher once per game. All players start with a school ID card. Before you start, you will need to shuffle the deck of Fish Cards (victory point cards) to create a draw pile.
Runners start in the Classroom and take turns flicking their penguins through the halls, trying to get through the doors to collect fish of the same color. For each fish collected, the penguin gets a Fish Card. Fish Cards have victory points on them, which are kept secret until the end, and some Fish Cards give you the opportunity to immediately take an additional turn. For Runners, a turn is as follows: flick your penguin once, collect any fish you may have earned, then draw a Fish Card for any fish collected. Play passes to each Runner and then it is the Catcher’s turn.
The Catcher starts in the Kitchen and tries to catch all of the Runners before they collect all of the fish. Runners are caught if the Catcher bumps into them. If a Runner is caught, the Catcher takes their ID card, but the Runners can continue to attempt collecting fish.
A round ends as soon as any Runner has collected all 3 fish tokens of his/her color OR if the Catcher catches all Runners. At the end of a round, each player gets one Fish Card for each ID in their possession (Runners only get one if they were not caught and the Catcher will get one for each ID collected). Rounds continue until each player has been the Catcher. After all rounds have been played, total up the victory points on each player’s Fish Cards to determine the winner.
WHAT DID WE THINK?
After the interview at Gen Con, Līga sent me home with a complimentary copy of the game in exchange for an honest review.
I played this game with my husband, Greg, and our friend Krystle. The setup was very easy and straightforward. I love the Box-in-a-Box setup! I am not usually very good with dexterity games (you do not want me on your team for Flick ‘Em Up…), but the way the penguin pieces move is so FUN. Because of how the pieces are weighted, just holding them is fun. Getting awesome shots that put your penguin through multiple doors or make them jump over walls is exciting. I love that the scoring is based on random card draws, too, because it lets people of varying skill levels play together (great for families!). I recommend playing at a table that allows players to move around it so that you can more easily make flick shots. I found this game to be very fun playing with a group of adults – it is something that can span multiple age groups, which makes it a great addition if you are looking for something that will work for just kids, families, or just adults. If your skills are at my level, you might want to take a few practice shots before the game begins! Check out this video by Brain Games to learn some trick shot techniques.
Krystle said she thinks it is a great game that kids will really enjoy.
Ice cool is a fun dexterity game easily assessable by all ages. The nesting rooms board make it easy to setup and teardown. The low doors force trick-shots to make the game interesting and the ability to hop walls adds an interesting dimension to the game. The piece shapes with half-sphere bases allow for interesting shots. The use of random points for scoring allows novice players to compete with expert players without removing the benefit of skill from the game. For more competitive skill-based play, static scoring could simply be used. The game scales well and plays fast with little downtime. It could also be played solo to hone those penguin-flicking skills. All in all a fun, simple, action packed game.