Ice Cool Review

Ice Cool board game

Every now and again, a new game comes along that looks a bit different and draws me back in to say a few words about it.  Most recently, that game was Ice Cool.

In Ice Cool, players take charge of a penguin in a game of tag.  Each round, one player plays the role of "catcher" and the other players are "runners."  The catcher's goal is to hit each of the other players' penguins.  The runners, meanwhile, are trying to successfully collect 3 fish by going through 3 doorframes on the board (and they collect a fish card every time they successfully go through a doorframe with one of their fish on it).  Once the catcher has hit all of his opponents' penguins, or a runner has caught all 3 of their own fish, the round is over.  At this point, the catcher takes a fish card for every runner that he successfully ran in to, plus one for being the catcher.  Then, a new round is started with another player taking the role of catcher.  Whoever has the most points worth of fish cards (each card ranges from one to three) at the end of the game wins.

closeup of Ice Cool game
The penguins are weighted on the bottom
Clearly, the best part of Ice Cool is the wonky penguins.  The penguins aren't weighted like a "normal" flicking thing.  I've played PitchCar, Catacombs, Crokinole, Bisikle, and basically every other flicking game that I can get my hands on, and this is the biggest difference between Ice Cool and those games - the penguins are not symmetrical.  What this means is that you can (try to) intentionally make the penguin do odd things - like jump over a part of the board, or make an arced shot to go around obstacles.  Now, I am not very good at this, but I have done it often enough to envision someone getting very good with these trick shots.

The next pro that I have for Ice Cool (aside from it being a dexterity game, and thus great fun by default) is that the one-point fish cards aren't complete disappointments.  In most games where you get a random score card for doing well, the lowest card sucks, and you just stare at it in irritation when you collect it.  In Ice Cool, there's a minor bonus prize for collecting ones - at the end of your turn, you can flip over two cards of value one to get another flick.  (You don't lose the points, either.)  I'd still rather collect three point cards, but the extra flick can definitely be very valuable.  (Though, it's still annoying when you collect them as the catcher at the end of the final round.)

Box in a Box picture
I would have to say that my biggest complaint with Ice Cool is something that only ever existed in my mind.  When I heard about the game, and saw pictures of it, one of the pictures I saw was the "Box in a Box" picture.  Now, what this picture is trying to communicate is that inside the box, there are several sub-pieces that fit together.  (In fact, you take these out and form the playing area, with walls and such.)  However, in my mind, I saw the picture and thought, "oh my gosh - how awesome is that!  A flicking game where the playing surface isn't completely flat, but has different angles and stuff!"  That's not a thing - the playing surface is flat.  So, whereas I was horribly disappointed with this, it's not likely something that will bother anyone else!

Does my personally being very bad at making jump shots land where I want count as a con?  No?  Oh.

Overall, I give Ice Cool a 8.0/10.  It's not going to replace PitchCar for me, but it does have enough of a difference to it that I can see myself coming back to it (not to mention that it's much lighter and faster to set up).

I would like to thank Brain Games for providing me with a review copy of Ice Cool.