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Subject: Description, counter manifest and comments rss

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Brian Train
British Columbia
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Text originally appeared in Simulacrum #27.


Designer: Keith Gross
Publisher: Metagaming Concepts Inc.

Players: 2
Playing time: 2 hours
Era: modern
Scale: tactical

1 - 4”x7” plastic bag with folding flap
1 - 8 x14” unmounted mapsheet
1 – sheet of 135 strip-cut, single-sided counters
1 - 24 page rulebook with color cover illustration

[Joe Scoleri, in his review in Simulacrum #13, alludes to a Second Edition of the game that was in the small box, with two duplicate map sheets and a smaller number of counters (84, in a blue and white colour scheme). He concludes that it is likely a boxed edition of the game was in preparation as Metagaming folded, and that any examples of this were assembled from parts by third parties (probably Excalibre Games, which still sells large numbers of Metagaming Microgames)].

Counter Manifest

USA (brown on white) (43 counters)
10 x Tank, 12 x Infantry, 5 x Outpost, 6 x Hovercraft, 6 x Recon Sled, 4 x VERTOL transport

ESA (white on dark brown) (58 counters)
1 x Command Sled, 5 x Missile Sled, 6 x Transport Sled, 6 x Armoured Sled, 8 x Transport Hovercraft, 8 x Armored Hovercraft, 6 x Light Hovercraft, 8 x Tank, 10 x Infantry.

Markers (brown on white) 34 counters)
5 x Satellite Search, 29 x Terrain Converted.

What the designer says

ICE WAR simulates a raid on the Prudhoe Bay oilfields launched from over the polar ice cap. The ESA (Eurasian Socialist Alliance) raiders are equipped with armed hovercraft and sled vehicles. Transports carry infantry and tanks, and missile sleds carry long-range missiles. The US Army must locate the ESA force, hold it off until reinforcements arrive, and destroy it before the oilfields are burned. The US has infantry, tanks, hovercraft, outposts, recon sleds, air transport and satellites.” [ad copy on the back of the rules booklet]

“Ice War is my first published design… the missile rules and future history are derived from an earlier, unpublished, larger scale game of mine…. The basic system remained more or less unchanged after initial development, though additions were made to the game and the rationale behind it…. Adjusting the unit strengths, movement factors, and point costs was tricky. Play balance is difficult when the two sides are so different from each other…The optional rules were added last when the length of the basic rules was known. Many optional rules were tested; some worked and some didn’t . The rules for US secrecy, ESA missile types and US MIRVs were selected because they added new aspects… without taking a great deal of space in the rulebook.” [Keith Gross, writing in his Designer’s Notes, Space Gamer #18]

What the reviewers say

“There are five modes of movement: tank, infantry, sled-mobile, hovercraft and VERTOL. These interact with the four types of possible terrain: tundra/mud and ice/water, to make for an interesting situation, especially since terrain can change in the course of a game via combat ... The game begins with the selection of units. Each player has thirty points to expend ... In choosing a force, the strength of a given unit is an important consideration but so is the mode of movement ... The US player has the unique opportunity to greatly increase his force by taking them as reinforcements, the cost of all such units being cut in half ... Play is simple but challenging, especially if the players take the time to examine the problems and possibilities that face them.” [Tony Watson in The Dragon 26]

“There is heavy emphasis on limited intelligence and the effect of various weapons on the ice pack off the bay ... Simple, but fun.” [Dave Ritchie in Ares 1]

"Excellent though the idea is, I can't help feeling that this subject would be better handled in a larger, more expansive (and expensive) format." [Don Turnbull in White Dwarf 15]

Player’s Value :

The main challenge in this game is anticipating where the Godless Commies will strike and how to stop them. The first part of the game centres around satellite searches of the ice to the north of the oilfield, and blowing holes in the ice with nuclear weapons!

Support Material

Analysis: Space Gamer 18 (designer’s notes), Space Gamer 22 (analysis), Space Gamer 39 (player’s notes on tactics)
Reviews: Ares 1, Dragon 26, Vindicator vol 2 #3
Scenarios/ variants: Space Gamer 20 (new rules and counters), Space Gamer 21 (optional rules), Space Gamer 23 (combining Ice War and Ogre)
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