Games Gazette Logo
Ice Cool has been nominated for the most prestigious board game award “Spiel des Jahres 2017” in the category “Kinderspiel des Jahres 2017” (Best Children's Game)!
ICE COOL - BRAIN GAMES   (Oh! I just noticed that ICE COOL from BRAIN GAMES is designed by BRIAN (Brain ?) GOMEZ (Games ?) )

Brian Gomez   2 - 4 Players. Age ?: (as long as they can flick a dobber (Penguin) they can play.

To me, ICE COOL from Latvian company Brain Games, was the surprise hit of the UKGE show. It’s a bit of an enigma really as everyone was absolutely raving about it and yet it isn’t a gamer’s game; it is a family game for kids, grown up or young, who like to flick things around. 

I think what has drawn so many players to it is the fact that it features the excellent idea of creating the playing board from the Box, which is in a Box, which is in a Box, which is in Box which is in the Box. Well, that and the fact that flicking the Penguins is highly amusing and any game that can keep the players happy just has to be a good game.

The game has four Penguins, round based dobbers with facial features that include a beak, which are coloured Red, Blue, Green and Yellow – coincidentally the same four colours that make up the publishing company’s logo. These pieces, along with 2 identification cards (one being the colour reminder and one being a sort of Penguin Passport) are the components used by the players. The other pieces are: 3 wooden fish in each of the player colours, 4 “white” fish (actually plain wood coloured fish that are used as pegs to hold the boxes together)and a pack of cards showing 1, 2 or 3 fish as Victory Points.

The play takes place in a school for Penguins (or perhaps it’s a school on Winter break and the Penguins have broken in to have some fun?). One player is denoted as “the Catcher” and the others as “Runners”. You should play one round per player so that each of them has the chance to be the Catcher, scoring VPs at the end of each round and totalling each round’s score at the end of the game, so that a winner (most VPs) is found.

The Catcher always goes last and play continues in clockwise order beginning with the player to the left of the Catcher. On their Turn the players have to flick their own Penguin around the Ice House. They should attempt to flick them through the open doors, collecting VP cards (drawn randomly from the supply deck) whenever they go through a door that has a wooden fish of their colour above it; once through the door the wooden fish is removed. When one player has collected all three of the fish in their colour the Round ends.

Another way for the Round to end is for the Catcher to have caught all the other Penguins. The Catcher is flicked in the same manner as the others but its intention is to touch (as in “tag”) the other Penguins. If the Catcher tags all other opponents the Round also ends. Players add up the value of their cards to see who is leading but keep hold of these cards until the final countdown/actually it’s a count-up but I got carried away with the name of a great power song.

When the Catcher tags another penguin the Catcher player gains the ID card of the tagged Penguin. These also count towards your score at the end of the game. There are a few other rules that clarify various situations, being in a doorway for instance, flicking your Penguin out of the box and onto the table or collecting two 1s as VP cards; plus there are slightly different rules for the 2-player game which has the Catcher having to tag the Runners twice.

Take note of ICE COOL as it will make a great Christmas present for any of your friends with children aged from about 5 upwards. For a family game it’s price is more akin to what we call a gamer’s game. It runs out at £30.00 UK retail price, (expensive if you compare it something like Monopoly that has a lot more pieces and yet sells at around £18.00) but then here you are paying the cost for it being innovative and from an independent company which makes it expensive to produce. I find with games like this it is best to think of it as costing less than a computer game but with much more playability, and then it doesn’t seem expensive at all.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015