Hello, BGG! Just to warn everyone upfront, I decided to do this review a little differently than I've seen on here before. I tried to write this as though you are reading my thought process as I take a look at things. Therefore, you will not be able to find out how to play this game completely from this review, nor will you know every little thing that comes in the box.
I wanted to write this so you all can see how it feels to play this game and to understand the experience rather than just get a boring overview of a product.
Please leave any comments or criticisms if you feel inclined as I would love to keep writing reviews in this style. I would like to see if this style helps other BGG users make informative decisions as well and if you would be interested in more reviews like this. Thank you in advance!
Alright, now, fellas, what’s cooler than being cool?
Well, Ice Cool, in this case.
So what is Ice Cool?
Well, it’s a game where you flick penguins through doorways in order to collect fish while trying to avoid the player who’s trying to flick his penguin into yours.
Alright, I’m intrigued. Let’s give it a shot.
Let’s give this box a quick look. The cover arts shows a cute, little penguin on an all white box. Very minimalistic style. It’s cute, but it doesn’t really draw me in and give me a feeling of excitement. Let’s see what in it.
Wait, there’s another box inside this box. And what’s this? Another box? And a few more? What do I do with these? Oh, upon reading the rules, I discover that the box is used to play the game. Interesting. The art on each box catches my eye. The bottoms all look like ice rinks complete with the lines ice skates would leave. The walls are built like classrooms and give a good sense of being in school. I may not have been in school for a few years now, but this school I am definitely interested in. I wonder what else comes in the box.
Ah, yes, there’s four colored penguins with rounded bottoms. Wow, these things are a lot heavier than they look. And I’m supposed to flick these? Let me give that a few tests. Hmm, they move surprisingly well, but man, they hurt my fingers a few times! I hope the rest of the components don’t do the same!
I pull out the pile of fish tokens that resemble clothespins. They’re wooden, but very light. They remind me of Pac-Man for some reason. And while Pac-Man eats dots, looks like I’m gonna be eating fish tonight.
Finally, I find the cards. Small Mini Euro size, to be exact. They have numbers 1, 2, and 3 on them. There are also cute pictures of penguins and ID cards featuring said penguins on them. Looks like they all have penguin names, but I can’t tell what they say. Each side has a male and female penguin on them for each of the four colors. Props for being able to choose my penguin gender.
I read the rulebook and have no questions. The rules seem very simple. I guess I’m ready to play. Let’s get it started!
Let’s see, first I take these five boxes, line up the dots, and hold them together using some of the provided fish tokens. Give each player a penguin card and its matching ID card, then shuffle up the rest of the cards to make a draw pile. Then I figure out who’s going to be the catcher for the first round. Setup was pretty simple. Took less than a minute, I’d say.
Ok, time for the first round to start. The catcher places his penguin in a classroom on the other side of the board from where I am. I place my penguin on the red dot and flick him with all I got. The next player does the same. Then the next. Then the catcher does as well. We alternate like this until the round is over. How does the round end? When I or another player’s penguin gets flicked through the three doors with fish above them and one player doesn’t have any fish left. Or maybe it’s when the catcher flicks his penguin into the penguins who are trying to collect the fish. Each round will end differently depending on who is the better flicker.
Once the first round is over, a new player becomes the catcher and we continue just like we did the last round. We do this until every player is the catcher once. Well, twice if I’m playing with two players only, but that’s not the case this time. There’s four of us. Four rounds. Lots of time to score points.
Points, you say? How do I score these points? Well, each time you get a fish, you draw the top card of the draw pile and score 1, 2, or 3 points depending on the card. And at the end of the round, a player will draw a card for every ID card he has in front of him. The catcher will most likely have multiple ones. It’s very random, but the game goes by fast.
My fingers hurt by the end of the game. But I just had a blast. I remember the moment I flicked my penguin over a wall and narrowly hit the catcher, only to have my penguin go behind a wall where he has no chance of being hit. I remember when Joe flicked his penguin and sent it rolling through three doors and collected multiple fish in the blink of an eye. I remember the screams of joy and laughter we all had when we did the most amazing shots.
But now that that’s over, I’m hit with the stark reality of points scoring. How did my my ten cards not win me the game? The next best player had half that! I lost due to pure luck, not flicking ability. I feel sad. But hey, that only took 15 minutes or so. Let’s get another one in! And after that, another one!
Oops, we may have just played that 5 times in a row. A smile spreads across my face. I felt like I was five years old again.
Ice Cool is a fast-paced, fun, little game. The game screams cuteness from the moment you open the box and then brings a bunch of smiles and laughter to everyone as they play.
The random card drawing to score points can be a little frustrating, though. Winning and losing can be based purely on luck, especially if everyone performs equally well. But the funny thing is, it doesn’t really dampen my spirits. I didn’t waste a lot of time playing this game, so it doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal.
All of those crazy trick shots and amazing moments make me want to come back for just one more game. And then maybe another one after that.
I’m not disappointed in this game at all. For the $40 I paid for it on Amazon, I feel like I have my money’s worth. If the game was set at $30, I feel like it would be an absolute steal.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s a pretty average game. Flick penguins through doors and collect points. Nothing too difficult about that. But the magic that this game brings comes in the experience you get when you’re making all of these amazing shots and screaming out in joy. It’s something that escalates with each game you play because you continuously get better at flicking these penguins around.
Overall, I would rate Ice Cool a solid 8 on the BGG rating scale.