Recommend
41 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

ICECOOL» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Ice Cool - A Detailed Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dr. Dam
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
flag msg tools
badge
May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Image Courtesy of bgedgars

This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

If you liked the review please thumb the top of the article so others have a better chance of seeing it and I know you stopped by. Thanks for reading.

Summary

Game Type – Dexterity Game
Play Time: 15-30 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4 (Best 4)
Mechanics – Area Movement, Targeting
Difficulty – Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes)
Components – Excellent ++
Release – 2016

Designer – Brian Gomez (First release of note)

Overview and Theme

Students...they are always trying to sneak out of class for one reason or another. But when the students are penguins and the school is offering up a smorgasboard of fish...well they don't need a second invitation!

Welcome to Ice Cool, a dexterity game that pits students in a quest for fish against a Hall Monitor looking to catch them out!

Good dexterity games are great fun, but they are easy to execute poorly from a production and design point of view. So how good is Ice Cool and is it a must have dexterity game?

This will be the first in a series of reviews that I intend on becoming a tradition. It isn't easy to find the time to write reviews in the week leading up to Christmas, so from this year onwards I will release a new Dexterity Game Review on Boxing Day! Kind of kills two birds with one stone. mb

Distract the teacher will you? I just need to duck out to the gym to write this review...and maybe grab a snack!

mbmbmbmbmbmbmbmbmbmbmbmb

The Components

Ice Cool is a pretty fabulous game to look at and it also brings to the hobby a new innovation!

d10-1 The Boxes – Which would be the box\board design. Brain Games have created a new packaging and design system in one called Box in a Box. Essentially it consists of (in this case) five 3D-boxes that are all manufactured to be sheer millimetres bigger or smaller than one another. This allows the boxes to stack inside one another when the game is packed away and the largest box serves as the base, thus the game only requires a lid to seal the game. It's rather spiffy.

But those boxes also constitute the playing surface of the game as well as allow the game to be 3D in nature, which is rather important for this dexterity game. Each of the boxes in Ice Cool represent an area of a classic high school. Each box has one or more doorways or arches that allow a Penguin to move through and the whole production is coloured to look like ice.

The boxes also feature a couple of icons to denote where to attach the beige coloured Fish Tokens (see below) and the player's Fish Tokens. To help with the setup, coloured icons appear on the floor below doorways\arches to ensure that the school is built in the correct orientation. It's clean, efficient design. Good job people. thumbsup

It's really very cool and eye-catching on the tabletop. I'm really surprised that Brain Games haven't released another title to make use of the technology\production idea of Box in a Box yet. Perhaps they just haven't found another good game design to complement it. I think a dungeon crawl design would be the perfect fit as the board would already have 3D walls to bring the dungeon to life and still allow for modular dungeon creation. Get onto it people!


Image Courtesy of Sandman1973


d10-2 The Penguins – These are critical to the playing of the game. Each of the 4 Penguins are made from hard plastic and are weighted in the base (think those inflatable punching toys that can wobble back and forth and you have the idea). This allows the Penguins to be flicked in ways that allow them to curve around corners and jump over walls.

These pieces will become semi-iconic over time I think.


Image Courtesy of TheBoardGameFamily


d10-3 The Fish Tokens – These lovely wooden tokens are equal parts functional as they are a part of the scoring.

All of the Fish Tokens are designed similar to a peg. They have the fish shape to them but they have a slit that allows them to clip onto the walls of the boxes.

The functional part comes in the form of the beige coloured tokens. These belong to no-one but they are required to be placed at key locations to secure the 5 boxes to one another and keep the whole shebang in place.

The other Fish Tokens are then coloured to match each Penguin. These are the fish that the players hope to collect and eat in order to score points. These are placed above doorways\arches as indicated by icons, ready for play.


Image Courtesy of kalchio


d10-4 The Fish Cards – Making use of the small card format, which works fine here by the way, are a series of cards that come in values 1, 2 or 3. Each card offers up nice, serviceable art to support the theme, depicting fish...the delight of any self-respecting Penguin.

The value-1 cards are a little different as they feature an image of an Ice Skate and an icon bar at the bottom of the card outlines their potential benefit. You can read more about that in the body of this review.

These cards even feature a matte\linen finish, which is lovely.


Image Courtesy of TheBoardGameFamily


d10-5 The Player Cards – These consist of two types of cards. One is nothing more than a colour identification card, which helps all players remember who is who. The second is a Student ID Card in one of the four colours used in the game. This is more important as these can be taken by the Hall Monitor\Catcher player if they nab a naughty Penguin.

There isn't much else to see here but I do like the added touch of each Penguin having slightly different artwork on those colour identification cards. It's a little thing but it speaks to the love that was put into the production of this game.


Image Courtesy of kalchio


d10-6 The Rules – The Rule book is an excellent creation. It comes in a small booklet format that fits nicely into the smallest of the 5 boxes and it offers up two languages.

All of the rules are nicely laid out, no ambiguity exists at all and it is full of examples and illustrations. This is a rule book for a simple game done pretty right.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


Overall Ice Cool cannot get anything less than top marks for production. It is equal parts quality and innovation and it is worth every cent of the asking price alone.


Image Courtesy of bgliga


Set-Up

Setting up Ice Cool is literally a case of creating the playing space as the game is made up of 5 boxes that all fit inside the lid, with the largest box actually forming the bottom of the game.

There isn't any room to create varied designs, but that is not a big deal. Each box has a set orientation and once all the boxes are in their correct positions, 4 neutral fish tokens are used at set locations to connect the boxes together to secure the playing surface. A series of semi-circle icons are also printed on the doorways\arches between two boxes and if these line up after set-up then you know you've got it right.

It really is very easy.

The players take a Wobbly Penguin of choice and also take the matching cards and Fish Tokens (based on colour).

All players peg their Fish Tokens at the required locations as outlined by icons on the walls and they place their Penguin Card and Student ID Card in front of them.

The Fish Cards are shuffled up and set aside ready to be drawn.

Image Courtesy of HedgeWizzard


The players decide in some way who will be the first Hall Monitor, who must place their Penguin in any location within the red lines (which are around the outer edge) in the Kitchen.

The first player to the left of the Hall Monitor will go first. They must place their Penguin on the red circle in the Classroom.

The game is ready to begin. All of this takes less than 5 minutes.

The Play

The play of Ice Cool will see all the Students (the rule book refers to them as Runners) take a turn by flicking their Penguin, then the Hall Monitor (or Catcher) gets a chance to flick their Penguin. This cycle continues until the current round comes to an end.

Let's look at the play in a little more detail -

d10-1 Aim of the Runners – As hungry students, they just want to elude capture and gobble up their 3 available fish each round.

d10-2 Aim of the Catcher – The Catcher is tasked with trying to catch each of the truant students. If they can touch another Penguin they get to take their Student ID Card away from them and they will earn a reward for each ID Card snared in a round.

d10-3 Collecting Fish – As a Runner the players are trying to flick their Penguins around the various rooms of the school. If they can cross underneath one of the doorways\arches that has one of their own Fish Tokens pegged there, they get to collect it.

To collect however, a Penguin must move completely through such an arch, it can't be stuck halfway through. It is also possible to claim more than one fish in a single turn if a skilful flick is executed.

Once a fish has been collected, it cannot be lost for the round.

d10-4 Catching Students and Getting Rewarded – The Catcher simply needs to make contact with another Penguin. This can occur due to a flick from the Catcher player, another player hitting the Catcher in their turn or a player hitting another Penguin that then cannons them into the Catcher.

Making contact means the Hall Monitor has caught a naughty student and they get to take their Student ID Card, which cannot be earned back in any way during the current round. The Student player is not out of the round though and can continue to try and collect fish before the round is up.

d10-5 Ending a Round and Scoring – A round comes to an end when the Catcher has nabbed all other player's ID Cards or one of the Runners collects their third and last available Fish Token.

All players earn a Fish Card for each Student ID Card they are in possession of. This means the Catcher always earns 1 Fish Card +1 extra card for each ID Card they collected.

The Student Players can earn 1 Fish Card if they were not caught and thus kept their ID Card. They then can earn one extra Fish Card for each Fish Token they collected in the round.

After scoring, all players have their Student ID Cards returned to them if they were lost, all Fish Tokens are returned to their starting positions above doorways\arches and each player removes their Penguin from the school.

The role of the Catcher passes to the next player in clockwise fashion. They place their Penguin as per the set-up and the player to their left becomes the first student to act in the new round.

d10-6 Endgame and Winning – Ice Cool lasts for as many rounds as there are players. In this way the game never lasts much more than 30 minutes...unless the players are still developing their flicking skills.

Following the above format, every player gets to play the Catcher role just the once.

When the final round is over the players simply count up the points they have earned in Fish Cards (they range from 1-3 on each card). The highest total takes the victory. In the event of a tie, the player with the most Fish Cards takes the win as they have been the most successful overall.

d10-7 Gaining a Bonus Flick – There is one final rule that is important to outline. To make up for the low scoring nature of the value-one Fish Cards, a player can earn a bonus turn (straight after they finish a turn) if they can reveal two such cards. The value-one Fish Cards are illustrated with an Ice Skate, so playing a pair allows a Penguin to go Ice Skating. This is a nice thematic addition as it reflects easier movement and justifies the extra turn.

The two cards must be revealed and cannot be used again during the game but they are still kept for end of game scoring. Whilst this does reveal to the other players your potentially low scoring, the extra turn can help secure an extra Fish Card, help to evade capture or capture a Student Penguin, should you be the Hall Monitor.

d10-8 Wall and Door Issues –

Image Courtesy of elijah_weerts
I almost forgot this one. Much like local pub pool, it is possible to be in a position that is very close to a wall and this makes it hard to get a flick away. If in this position a player is allowed to move their Penguin in a straight line to the nearest piece of red line (each room is bordered by a red box that is about 5-8mm in from the edge). This works very well and keeps the game approachable.

The same also goes if a player finds their Penguin right underneath a doorway\arch at the beginning of their turn. In this case they can move their Penguin to whichever room's red line is closest, or they can choose if they are dead center.

That pretty much sums up how to play Ice Cool.

Playing with 2-Players

The 2-player rules are almost identical. Both players still only control the one Penguin and the only difference is that the Catcher has to catch the Runner twice before the round is ended by the Catcher. The first time the Runner is caught, they lose their ID Card and are then moved to the Classroom for a restart. The Catcher cannot use a pair of Ice Skates at this moment.

For me this is really not a functional format worth playing. The play is just too static and there isn't enough action. Ice Cool works well enough with 3 but is at its best with 4 as the action is most varied and the scoring works the best also as the Catcher has a decent enough chance to earn some decent Fish Cards.

For me, simply go to Klask, Catacombs, Flick 'em Up! or Animal Upon Animal if you only have 2-players and want a dexterity fix.

Show Me the Dexterity!

All of the above is great but it doesn't really explain how to 'play' does it? Dexterity Games have never been famous for their rule-sets, in reality they are nothing more than a set of goals and restrictions to play within.

No...Dexterity Games live in the memory for the techniques that are required to make the game fun and interesting. For the cool flicks we can execute that look great and take skill. So what does Ice Cool allow its players to do?

Essentially there are 3 techniques that can be employed to flick your Penguin around.

mb The Push – This is the simplest technique to employ and works 99% of the time. It simply requires a player to position their finger behind their Penguin and use a push motion. This will result in your Penguin moving in a straight line...if that is desirable. devil

mb The Curve Shot – This is the hardest technique to pull off but also the most impressive. The weighted Penguins are designed in such a way that they can be made to curve around corners and a really good shot can see a Penguin curl its way in a lovely arc that sees it pass through multiple doorways\arches in the one flick.

The trick is to flick your Penguin on the same side as the curve you wish to create. How much power is used is also an important consideration to generate the right amount of curl to create the trajectory you are after.

I won't say it is easy, because it isn't. But get it right and it is most satisfying and impressive for all watching on.

mb The Jump – It is also possible to jump your Penguin over the walls of the school! This is executed by flicking your Penguin firmly in the head, which makes it hit the floor hard, bounce backwards to do the same and then it can get airborne as a result of the whiplash.

This is not as easy as the first technique, but much easier than the Curve Flick. With a bit of practice I think I have a success rate of 70-80%.

This technique can be useful for quick evasions or to close the gap on those pesky students.

The designer and publisher are clearly aware that a Dexterity Game can be a winner or quickly forgotten based on how difficult it is for players to come to grips with the techniques required to play the game. For this reason the rule book has a scannable VR Code to reach a website where flicking techniques can be watched and learned. It's a clever idea and probably a mandatory addition for dexterity games going forward.

The Final Word

Image Courtesy of henk.rolleman


So in summing up, what do I think of Ice Cool? I think it is a decent title, not quite as compelling a dexterity game as I'd like it to be but it is pretty good. The theme is pretty neat and the production is excellent for sure. If a family or group of friends can develop roughly equal skill levels then there is a good time to be had here, but the player count needs to be at 4 to get the most out of the experience.

So how does Ice Cool fare in the pantheon of Dexterity Games? Well Crokinole is still the king and in truth Ice Cool doesn't come close. Loopin' Louie also has it beat for sheer simplicity and the fun factor.

Ice Cool is a good game but it won't set everyone's world on fire. That's because it does have a skill requirement that takes a bit of practice to get good at...and for some...the investment in time won't be forthcoming.

But it isn't that difficult that it turns players away completely. Its strengths are the shortish time frame and the cat-and-mouse nature of the play, plus feeling very clever when you pull off a great move.

But the game isn't as epic or exciting as a huge PitchCar either, although the set-up, play time and the space requirements here are much more forgiving.

Two other dexterity games spring to mind in Bisikle and RoadZters. These both used a similar concept in the form of special marbles called the Z-ball inside their transport of choice, which allowed moves up hills that could come to a halt and defy gravity. Whilst I haven't played those games I suspect the skill factor has held them back from becoming highly popular titles. I state this as they have very low play counts.

How much value you get out of a game like Ice Cool is very dependent on what you are after. If you are after quick, low technique games that are more about a steady hand (and still great fun) then Animal Upon Animal and Rhino Hero are great go to games. If you want some theme and low technical difficulty then Catacombs, Flick 'Em Up and Ascending Empires are great options. If you want some direct action games then Weykick and Klask are great options. If you want outdoor fun then look no further than Molkky\Klopp\Finsca or to a lesser degree Boche.

So who is Ice Cool for? Well that's a great question because really, in my opinion, it does fall in an awkward middle ground. The skill required is a little challenging and will turn some people away but it can be a great time for players prepared to put in the time to get good at it. Then there are the scoring rules that are really quite random based on what cards you draw. Given the skill needed to acquire Fish Cards I think Ice Cool's randomness of scoring has the potential to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

But I may be a bad judge as it has accumulated 10,000+ plays since 2016, which is a bit less than a quarter of the logged plays for Crokinole here on BGG (and that's a pretty good effort considering how long Crokinole has been around for). Sure I get that not all Crokinole players will log here on the geek but it is a reasonable stat none-the-less (I looked up many of the other games I reference and it [Ice Cool] favours quite well).

One of the ways to judge a good dexterity game is to see which ones are being played at Cons. Ice Cool is still being seen at most conventions I think but how many people try it and move on is another matter. So from that perspective it will be interesting to see how the play stats fare over the next 2 years compared to the first two.

Anyhoo, I think you should have a fair idea if Ice Cool could be for you or not. Till next time stay in school...kind of...and grab a snack along the way!



Image Courtesy of bgliga


Review Links

Access to 400+ indexed reviews is a click away in this Geeklist -

25 
 Thumb up
5.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris in Kansai
Japan
Otsu
Shiga
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I got this from Secret Santa and am having great fun playing it with my 6-year-old daughter.

To even things up a little I flick with the ring finger of my non-writing hand - it's pretty challenging!

Great game though.

thumbsup
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brandan Parsons
United States
Carmel
California
flag msg tools
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Wow a detailed review indeed! Very well thought out and well written. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Da Pyrate’s Younger & More Handsome Brother
Australia
Port Macquarie
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Thanks Neil, for stopping me from purchasing this cute/delightful game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dr. Dam
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
flag msg tools
badge
May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Da Bucaneer wrote:
Thanks Neil, for stopping me from purchasing this cute/delightful game.


I offer a double service my good pirate...sometimes people buy and other times they save some money. meeple
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Turner
Australia
Melbourne
VIC
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Da Bucaneer wrote:
Thanks Neil, for stopping me from purchasing this cute/delightful game.


Just saw this at $40 from Dungeon Crawl, and my buying-finger was twitching... but I think your review echoed my concerns about picking this up back in the days of it's hotness

$40 saved!
1 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.