ICE COOL 2 by Brian Gomez 2-4 Players Aged 6+ Average Price: £25.00
The surprise hit of 2016 amongst all the heavy armoured, multi-miniatured, fantasy and historical boardgames, in no doubt was ICE COOL; a game within a box, within a box, within a box etc etc etc. This is the Dungeon styled action game where characters zip around hoping to be the first to collect all the treasure before being caught. The Dungeon is made up of box-inners, each a size smaller than the previous, so that they all fit nicely and neatly into the main box that sits loud and proud on game store shelves across the country.
The main differences between ICE COOL and other Dungeon style games is that a) the Dungeon has ice-floors, walls and ceilings, and b) all of the protagonists are Penguins.
ICE COOL 2 Takes Over: But First an ICE COOL ICE(re)CAP
In both games, ICE COOL and also ICE COOL 2 players flick their penguins with their fingers in Subbuteo Soccer© style, propelling them across the icy floors and through the square-cut doors. We have irregularly played ICE COOL throughout the 3 years and up until the arrival of ICE COOL 2 I had never managed to do what virtually every other player can, including youngsters aged 6 and upwards, and that is making the Penguin 'jump' over the walls to avoid contact with the other Penguins who may be blocking the doors - Penguins don't like bumping into Penguins unless they do it on purpose. Now I am an expert at making my Penguin fly over the walls .. sometimes!
Of course although it's great fun in ICE COOL to jump your Penguin over walls, they do not catch the fish when they do; only when Penguins go through doors do they get the fish. I though that this was a pity because the fish are already up in the air it would make more sense to catch them while flying - hark at me talking 'sense' and logic about a game which involves Penguins playing 'tag' through an ice labyrinth. But then along came ICE COOL 2and Tasks.
Of course, because it is aimed at families, ICE COOL doesn't use the 'Dungeon' analogy, instead its theme is a Penguin school with each player Penguin in turn taking on the role of the Catcher (aka the h'Ice s'Cool's Hall Monitor) and trying to tag the little rascals, aka OPPs (other Player's Penguins), and taking their ID cards. Runners score Fish cards for each ID card they have including their own, at the end of the round. Runners only get Fish cards if they weren't caught and still have their ID.
Then along came 2018 and those 'little rascals' have grown up into responsible gamers and new crazy kids have taken their places. ICE COOL 2, from the original designer, Brian Gomez, and the same publishing company, 'Brain Games' brings ICE COOL to new players and adds new fun rules, special abilities and the possibility of combining both games to make one heck of an ice-cool labyrinth, so that it is attractive to experienced players looking for new challenges.
Each player is given a Penguin and 3 'peg' Fish of the same colour, along with a colour reminder and an ID card. The boxes, which are specifically numbered, are set up in the basic orientation as shown on page 3 of the rules, the smaller square box fills the central area and all 'doors' in the other boxes are matched together with the four White Fish pegs are positioned to hold the labyrinth together. Shuffle the 54 Fish cards and create a face down Draw-pile, decide on a Start Player to be the Catcher and you are ready to go; setup is that easy, though I will add that you need a flat area large enough for the labrynth of boxes to sit on, any uneveness causes the boxes to rise and part even with the holding pegs in place.
When you flick your Penguin through a door you gain the fish of your colour that is pegged atop the doorway; none of your Fish there? then you do not get one, obviously. You also collect a card from the draw pile. When you have collected two cards of Value '1' you can flip them over face up, leaving them like that until the end of the game as they will still score for you, and take another turn immediately.
ICE COOL 2 plays the same as ICE COOL with a few small changes. Tasks found on the bottom of the Value 1 cards score you extra points for bouncing off walls and going through doors, going through multiple doors in one flick or jumping over a wall, you still don't catch fish though. When you have collected two cards of Value '2' you can move any fish from above any door to any other door except into a room where your Penguin is.At the moment there is no Task for collecting two value '3' cards, though there is also no ICE COOL 3 yet.
Most of the rules are the same and the pages in the rules book are reprints only with different photographic examples. This is great because once you have ICE COOL and ICE COOL 2 you can play 2-8 players as the Penguins are Red, Blue, Yellow and Green in IC2 and Turquoise, Purple, Orange and Brown in IC. You can use the base rules for 2-5 players but once you step up to 6 or more players the crazy race gets crazier.
The game is already a race but IC2 has a specific 'Race Game Mode' which is best played with 4, 6 or 8 players (there are rules amendments for an odd number of players) because the players split into teams with each having one Catcher and the others as Runners. In team games players can flick any of their team's Penguins, otherwise the rules are the same as in the basic game.
However you play, once you introduce IC to IC2 you are going to require a larger flat surface now there are 10 boxes (you don't have to use them all) available, the game just got so much cooler, and yet there is even more coolness to come (see below).
Speaking of using up to 10 boxes, ICE COOL 2 has three illustrated ideas on how you might set up your rooms for the larger games followed by two additional setups where certain boxes can actually be slid between rooms to alter the layout. All Penguins in rooms on the piste remain on the same spot which means if you are a Runner you can move away from a catcher but if you are a Catcher you can move Runners closer to you.
ICE COOL is a real fun family game. There are no actual strategies, well not until you add more players and you are super skilled at controlling and manoeuvering your Penguins. Core gamers will enjoy it as a break from the regular tile-laying, area control, man or resource management games (as long as they have a sense of humour) and younger players will love it because it has Penguins and they get to flick them and try to hit other Penguins. Picking on Penguins is wonderfully entertaining, non-relaxing, maniacal mayhem.
Just a thought and totally off-book, but I think that role-players and/or miniatures gamers could easily transform this game's ice labyrinth into an undergound fantasy ice labyrinth by filling it with monsters, treasures and traps etc thus creating a dungeon adventure, and then laying pieces of card across the top so that it can be slowly revealed as the heroic party explores - just make sure they don't run into any Killer Penguins! Using the boxes from ICE COOL and ICE COOL 2 gives you an inexpensive access to multiple dungeon designs (no need to buy expensive scenery) and when you have completed the scenario you can then play IC/IC2, so many games from so many boxes.